America The Unfriendly, Ctd.

My friend, Bruce Bawer, writes:

Every time that my partner and I fly to the US and I have to fill out a customs declaration form, it galls me to have to write "0" under "Number of family members traveling with you" given that my partner is, in fact, under the law of Norway, not only my family but my next of kin.  So on one recent trip, I wrote "1."  At passport control in Newark, the woman asked me where the other member of my family was.  I explained that he was a Norwegian citizen and had therefore gotten in line with other non-US citizens.  She asked what our relationship was.  I explained that we were domestic partners.  She spat out, in a vicious tone: "THAT'S NOT FAMILY!"  I replied, in a civil tone, "It is in Norway."  She said nastily, "Well, it's not here," and, grabbing a pen, changed my "1" to a "0."  Not wanting to jeopardize my partner's chances of getting into the country, I chose not to argue with her.

Every one of my closest friends here in Oslo has had at least one unpleasant experience at US passport control.  One of them, a musician who has twice won the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammys and who is an entirely civilized and presentable person, was once asked by an immigration officer: ”What drugs are you taking?  When was the last time you were in prison?”  I've lost track of the number of Europeans whose most disagreeable memories of the US are of their treatment by these people.  I spend a lot of time defending America from unfair criticism by Europeans, but this situation is indefensible.