Last Saturday I spent the day driving from St. Paul to Detroit, and then flying back to St. Paul. It was a long day, but gave me a chance to reflect on some of the events at hand.
The day after we began striking Afghanistan, several hundred protesters showed up outside the Federal building in Minneapolis to protest. There was a good mix of college students and older people (“long-haired hippies who protested the Vietnam War,” as someone on the bus put it, in a tone that made the Vietnam War sound like the Second Coming of Christ). They carried signs that said “An Eye for an Eye Makes a World Blind,” and “Drop Food, not Bombs”–which I found ironic considering we are dropping food.
On my way home I saw lots of American flags–patriotism like we’ve never seen, even during the Gulf War. I also saw close to a dozen billboards reading “In God We Trust. United We Stand.” I’m still not sure what to think
When I pulled up to the $2 tollbooth on I-90 just east of Chicago, I noticed that the woman taking my money was wearing rubber gloves. I’ve never seen that before.
When my dad dropped me off at the airport, there were three National Guardsmen in camouflage, talking to a police officer. When I got to the security checkpoint, there were three more standing around observing, all with pistols at their sides. I made it through the metal detector fine, but they still made me spread my arms and ran the wand over me. Anything time the wand beeped, they felt the metal to make sure that’s all it was–including the snap on my jeans. When the guy was almost done, he asked me to lift my feet, and he ran the wand over the soles of my shoes. I watched others go through the checkpoint–anyone with a belt had to remove it, and I saw a number of people have to put their shoes through the x-ray machine.
When I did finally board the plane, I had to check my backpack. Purses, laptops, and diaper bags were the only carry-ons allowed. I put a couple books and a notebook in a plastic CompUSA bag, and felt like a refugee.
When I got off the plane in Minneapolis, we weren’t greeted by anyone. Passengers only. As we rounded the corner and walked down the stairs to the baggage claim, three more National Guardsmen were standing guard–but these guys had M-16’s over their shoulders. One of them looked like he was 18.
It’s a different world.