An Innocent Man

I’m an American citizen. I’ve never been convicted or even accused of a crime. I always vote and I’ve even done jury duty. I haven’t served in the military but I have served my community in a lot of other ways. My oldest friend is a federal law enforcement officer. And I can’t fly in my own country.

This isn’t hyperbole or some theory of civil liberties. I literally can’t go to the airport and get on a plane. I don’t have that right. Why? My dad (who passed 11 years ago) spent the last couple of years of his life sneaking into and out of Cuba. His name, which I share, is on a list somewhere in Washington even though he was never arrested for anything other than brawling in Key West bars. I can’t see that list or dispute that my name is on it because that list is ‘secret’. If I try to get on a plane I’m ‘detained’. I’m searched and questioned and held until long after the airplane is gone. Here. In America. The land of the ‘free’.

I stay on the west coast. I didn’t attend my high school reunion, in part because I didn’t want to drive all the way across country. I really want to go to Scotland and keep hoping that my rights will be magically restored someday. It sucks not having a basic right that most everybody else enjoys but I’ve adapted. Although as you can imagine it’s made me very skeptical of, and sensitive to, the repressive nature of current government.

In the last few days there’s been genuine concern for our public safety and a lot fussing about background checks for gun purchases. I fear that more repression, lists, searches, checks and restrictions are coming. It won’t make anybody any safer, but, well, you know, something has to be done.

So I have a favor to ask. The next time you think that we’d be ‘safer’ of ‘more secure’ if the government could just check on us a little more, or start to argue that a background check couldn’t hurt, please pause and give me a thought. Consider the fact that I’ll likely never see my brother again since he lives 3000 miles away and can’t fly for health reasons. Remember that I can’t take my kids to see where I grew up. Know that I’ll never visit my grandpa’s grave and probably won’t attend my mom’s funeral. Think about it that the next time you fly away to some family function or long awaited vacation. You know, like I don’t have the right to. Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.