New York/Airports

La Guardia Airport, New York — © Brian Rose

This is who we have become.

American airports have become frightening places. On Tuesday, a man was held and questioned for an hour attempting to enter the United States. He had visited Iran three years before. His passport indicated that he was no less than the former prime minister of Norway.

When I photographed the Iron Curtain back in the 80s, I had to cross the border from east to west many times. It was always a harrowing experience. The East German guards were curt and officious. Your passport was taken and examined out of sight. You never knew whether you would be allowed to pass through the checkpoint or not. Several times I was taken aside and questioned about my camera and my reason for entering the country. I was never detained for more than 15 minutes.

This was the German Democratic Republic, a brutal autocratic government under the sway of the Soviet Union.

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