Entry 683: Trip Advisor-y

Well, it may be time to rethink your travel plans, folks.

Since the beginning of June, the State Department has issued travel alerts and warnings to no fewer than 16 nations, and not all of them are countries that immediately come to mind when you think of dangerous destinations. Actually, not all of them are countries that come to mind at all.  Like Burkina Faso.

Nine of the no-no zones are in Africa, but none of them are the countries with good safari resorts. There are also two in South America, including a travel warning for Colombia, which is disconcerting because a friend of ours will be getting married there soon, and we were somewhat seriously considering going. According to the State Department website, a warning sounds more dire than an alert, which really makes me nervous about Colombia’s warning, especially when you consider that North Korea only has an alert. And unfortunately, we don’t know anyone who’s getting married in North Korea.

“U.S. citizens should exercise caution,” the State Department tells us about Colombia, “as violence linked to domestic insurgency, narco-trafficking, crime, and kidnapping occur in some rural and urban areas.”

Doesn’t “some rural and urban areas” pretty much cover most of your major types of areas? I guess the suburbs are safe; as long as you’re near a Home Depot, you’re okay.

I’d be more concerned if I was about to leave for Venezuela. “The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Venezuela due to social unrest, violent crime, and pervasive food and medicine shortages.” I can tell you this: I don’t want to go anywhere with a food shortage, especially if it’s one of those all-inclusive resorts. The buffet lines in those places can be long enough under ideal conditions. What good is all I can eat if they don’t have all I can eat?

Seriously, though, if you need evidence that the world has become a scary place, you need look no further than the frequent travel warnings. Since June 6, all of the following places have been acknowledged for their various dangers to U.S. citizens: North Korea, Venezuela, Jordan, Republic of South Sudan, Egypt, Philippines, Mali, Ukraine, Somalia, Burundi, Algeria, Colombia, Iraq, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Chad and Missouri.

Now, granted, the majority of Americans wouldn’t know if Burkina Faso was a country or a kind of Muslim headwear, and sane people wouldn’t want to go to most of these places anyway. But the sanity of Americans is very much in question considering the results of the last election, and the winner of that contest would likely fail a test that consisted of pointing to these places on a map, and…

Wait! Did I say Missouri???!!!!!

Yes, indeed I did. (If you doubt me, go back two paragraphs.) There is, in fact, a traveladvisory for The Show Me State. But don’t worry. There’s no reason to cancel your vacation to Branson…unless you’re black.

You see, the Missouri travel warning wasn’t from the State Department; it was from the NAACP, and it’s the first one the organization has ever issued against a state.

“You have violations of civil rights that are happening to people,” said Rod Chapel, president of the Missouri NAACP. “They’re being pulled over because of their skin color, they’re being beaten up or killed. We are hearing complaints at a rate we haven’t heard before.”

I’ll bet this advisory is really killing Missouri’s tourism industry. After all, if you want to get beaten up and/or killed while on vacation, you’d be better off going to Colombia, where at least you can get some good drugs.

But the violence and profiling isn’t the only reason why the NAACP thinks African-Americans should consider seeing the St. Louis Cardinals play away games. Evidently, the state just passed a law called SB43 (slogan: “Even better than SB42!”) which, according to the NAACP…

“…harkens back to the Jim Crow-era. The Bill legalizes individual discrimination and harassment within the State of Missouri and would prevent individuals from protecting themselves from discrimination, harassment and retaliation in Missouri.”

In other words, not only can you be pulled over, arrested and killed, you can’t even sue anybody afterwards!

And, by the way, if you happen to be Idaho’s black person, and you’re thinking of driving through Texas to bypass Missouri on your way to Mississippi, you should know that in May, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a travel advisory for the Lone Star State, warning the public of “possible violation of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement.”

So, to make a long story short, with all these travel advisories in effect, you’re better off just staying where you are. Unless you’re in Burkina Faso.

See you soon.

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