I Miss Hating Russians

I miss hating the Russians. Americans were definitely happier hating commies than they are hating terrorists. Russians were tangible – they were big, drank plain alcohol, wore drab clothes and spoke with gruff accents. If you met one personally it was possible to take an instant dislike. And they actually had weapons of mass destruction – you didn’t have to guess.

The big problem with terrorists is – you never get to meet one. I’m sure if I did I would dislike him instantly. I imagine if I had to sit next to one on a plane all the way to America, that he would have halitosis and evangelize about his religion until I finally volunteered to light the fuse in his shoe bomb. But this never happens. And what does a terrorist look like? You could spot a Russian a mile away with those fur hats. My image of the modern terrorist looks something like Cat Stevens – and I like Cat Stevens – it ruins the hate.

So I’m a bit annoyed that I can only hate the individual Russian who was sitting in the seat in front of me on the plane to Philadelphia. He was loud (and I suspect smelly) and took advantage of the fact that his seat was broken by reclining practically into my lap. I left the plane feeling slighted that I could only hate the man, as opposed to all Russians and anyone who ever read The Communist Manifesto.

At immigration in Philly, I was sent into the interrogation room where an officious man grilled me on why I had travelled to America on my Irish passport last February and my US passport this trip. I explained that my US passport had expired last year so I had used my Irish one instead. The immigration man wasn’t expecting such a good answer – poor guy he doesn’t know what a terrorist looks like either. He was crestfallen that I was not a national threat. I could tell in his eyes he was desperate to catch a terrorist (if only to see what one looks like) but the odds are that one will never pass through his airport, let alone while he is on watch. He looked so forlorn I just had to cheer him up. Before I left I said, “There is a dodgy looking Russian back there.”

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