Again, King might be controversial, but he’s no terrorist. Granted, some conservatives, citing uprisings in Baltimore and Ferguson and random cop shootings in Baton Rouge, New York City and Dallas, are ever eager to conflate Black Lives Matter with violence. But that’s specious reasoning — like conflating the mainstream pro-life movement with violence because of deadly shootings and bombings by anti-abortion fanatics in Birmingham, Wichita, Colorado Springs, Brookline and Pensacola.
And anyway, CBP never accused King of terrorism. So, one is hard-pressed to explain what happened Monday as anything other than a clumsy attempt at political intimidation, the government’s unsubtle way of letting a critic know that Big Brother is watching. I asked a CBP spokesperson if the government is monitoring Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization and how that squares with the First Amendment.
In response, I received a written statement which said in part: “Each traveler must present themselves to CBP for inspection in order to be admitted to the United States of America. This was a routine inspection typical of daily operations at our ports of entry across the nation. CBP treats all international travelers with integrity, respect and professionalism while keeping the highest standards of security.”
Bad enough the statement did not address the questions I posed. But … “routine”?! Is this kind of thing really routine?
All I can say is that I’ve traveled to 13 countries and it’s never happened to me. A friend who’s journeyed to 25 countries said she’s never experienced anything like it. Another, who’s been to over a hundred countries, thought it outrageous. And King himself told me that he understands random and routine screenings, but, “This was not that.”
It certainly doesn’t sound like it. Indeed, one feels the ragged breath of authoritarianism moving the hairs at the nape of the neck. One hears George Orwell whispering, “I told you so.”
Some people will think King’s politics justify what happened. But short of calling for or engaging in violence, nobody’s politics justify it. Sure, he’s a controversial guy, but guess what? In America, you have that right. What happened Monday should induce us to remember just how important our rights are.
And how fragile they can be.