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Why Waste All This War on Other Countries? If we could just wipe out domestic tourism, we could truly teach Americans that 'preventing us from moving around and trashing our privacy are the only ways to protect our freedom.'

You're Only as Good as Your Last War

A modest proposal for keeping the war machine rollin' by addressing the threat of domestic tourism

By Art O'Sullivan

To: Dick Cheney, Vice President Dear Dick: As a patriotic American and a big fan of your bold new faith-based foreign policy, I know a way we can turn Santa Cruz's candle-holding pacifist activists into raging, torch-wielding xenophobes.

After you guys have finished destroying Iraq (except of course the oil fields, which belong to the Iraqi people), won't there be a seat opening up on the Axis of Evil? I'd be proud to nominate your next target: Tourism.

Let me call your attention to an enemy within, a threat to peace and order in my community and any place else worth visiting in this great land of ours. I'm talking about the threat of domestic tourism.

I know this may seem hard to believe, but the truth actually struck me while watching television. One of the pro-war networks was running a video purportedly showing "Al Qaeda operatives posing as tourists" in Spain. Then it hit me: Those guys on the screen are not Al Qaeda operatives posing as tourists. They are tourists--followers of tourism, a cult of exploitation disrupting our way of life. This menace must be stopped. I decided to take my case straight to the top. That's why I'm writing to you, Dick.

You guys are off to a good start toward killing off international tourism. By arresting and harassing suspected foreigners, you guys send out the word to the world: Don't come to America. And by sending Junior out to decree a unilateral right to overthrow foreign governments and overrun foreign countries at will, you fellows have made Americans feel unsafe and unwelcome on the rest of the planet. Tourism evaporates--we never go there, they never come here. But there is an even more insidious threat in this great land of ours: domestic tourism.

As a longtime resident of a California beach town, I've kept an eye on the cult of tourism for many years. I know all about their beliefs and practices.

Let me tell you, Dick, when tourists strike, no one is safe. Every spring they swoop down on our lightly guarded California coast. They import noise pollution, smog and automotive gridlock. Tourists dump trash on our beaches, in our redwood forests and in my yard. They spew beer cans, junk-food bags and spent condoms. We certainly don't want our children coming across any of those things--especially the junk food bags! What if our kids try beer nuts and discover they like them? We simply cannot afford wider chairs for an entire generation.

Each day, more arrive. They sleep with our citizens. They abuse our medical marijuana. Meanwhile, local hotels are maintaining tourist sleeper cells. Shouldn't you guys be monitoring all these hotel rooms?

Clearly, we have more than ample justification to eliminate these people whose only redeeming quality is the buckets of bucks they so casually spend. Because freewheeling though they may appear, Mr. Vice President, behind those ridiculous sunglasses lurk eyes that despise us.

Yes, the tourists hate us. They hate us because we are free. They burn with envy at our laid-back lifestyles. They resent the hell out of our tans.

And most of all, we know the tourists hate us because they once tried to kill my dad.

In recent years, there have been many unsolved crimes in Santa Cruz County, from burglaries to assaults. Most of these were probably committed by tourists. Some appeasers of tourism claim that there is no actual proof that tourists have chemical or biological or even nuclear weapons. But, I ask you, Dick: Can we afford to take that chance?

I say no. America needs to take bold action against the domestic tourist threat. We need to create a new Department of Hometown Security and an Office of Countertourism. We can still use the Visitors' Bureau. But now, instead of giving out information, they'll take information from all visitors. Hotel staff who check baggage must also check the contents. From now on, all visitors must report their itineraries in advance.

All vehicles on Highways 17 and 1 will be stopped and searched. We must also narrow these roads to one inbound lane. Sure, this may inconvenience commuters, but like the rest of us they must recognize that preventing us from moving around and trashing our privacy are the only way to protect our freedom. In the old days, you couldn't just stop and search every car, but since 9/11 more Americans are recognizing the truth of the New World Order: The only way to keep the peace is by making war, and the only way to safeguard our freedom is to trim the Bill of Rights down to manageable size. I hear you.

Dick, you need to take pre-emptive action: Find out who's been thinking about tourism. Since the White House is already snooping through public library records anyways, while you're in there, see who's been reading up on tourism and maybe even contemplating acts of tourism.

Americans must understand that ridding the world of tourists won't be pretty. But in the long run, it'll keep all those special American places--places like my town--beautiful and safe. Santa Cruz, whatever its excesses, remains the hub of the universe, and must be protected at all costs. So do what you have to do.

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From the April 16-23, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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