Club Soda and Salt

No more stains

Empathy fail

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on June 25, 2009

Whenever I hear Americans whinging about the rare occasions on which they need to get a visa to go somewhere, I just roll my eyes. They usually think they are going to impress me with their tale of woe dealing with Brazilian bureaucrats, and I end up brusting their bubble by explaining to them that whatever they've told me is basically the same thing the US does to visitors, if they're lucky. Anyway, that came to mind when reading this article about a Trinidadian Muslim organization having a representative from the US embassy at their event yesterday. Specifically, the representative, Len Kusnitz, is told this (all too common) story by an attendee:

One of those who complained of victimisation to Kusnitz yesterday was Farouk Khan, public relations officer of the Trinidad Muslim League (TML).

Khan, a former primary school principal, told Kusnitz that during one of his annual vacation visits to the US in December last year, he and his family, including his 83-year-old mother, were interrogated by US security officials for hours, eventually had their visas revoked, and then, were sent back home.

"It is not my intention to make you uncomfortable; I'm not even begging for my visa back, but I just need to have my good name cleared," Khan said.

The standard response here is clearly, "How unfortunate! I'm sorry about that. I'll do an investigation into what happened," at which point Mr. Kusnitz would have been free to return to sampling the sweets on offer and never thinking about the story ever again. But no. Instead:

However, Kusnitz said he, too, was a victim of his country's harsh security measures and assured that it was simply not a case of discrimination against Muslims.

"Since 9/11, (the World Trade Centre bombings on September 11, 2001) the US has become more security conscious, I myself have been pulled into secondary (security checkpoint), along with my 14-year-old son, and had our shoes searched," Kusnitz said.

 That's right. This man – a professional diplomat, mind you – just compared deportation with having to remove his shoes. I'm not sure what Mr. Khan's reaction was, but I assume that punching the US official in the face would have made it into the story, so I admire his restraint.

Guys, there's a time to empathize, and a time to sympathize. Please try to tell the difference in the future. At least around me.

3 Responses to “Empathy fail”

  1. splitsun said

    lol! really gave me a good laugh. Had his shoes searched you said…and those of his 14 yr old son? Oh the tragedy!

  2. sl said

    The horror. I came in yesterday and they searched me thorougly. Even though I have a valid passport (for five years), a valid student visa, a valid I-20. Worst yet, they had this cheesy propaganda infomercial saying Welcome to America with all races of people. Frauds, hypocrites; may the empire fall by the hand of God.

  3. sl said

    I meant to say in the immigration line televisions were showing some propaganda video.

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