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we need a Department of Taste.

I got my new passport today.

I had a pretty good idea that it would be one of the new RFID passports, but what I didn't realize is that it's also been re-designed. It's not enough that passports from the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave be safe, secure, and fraud proof, you see.

Looking at the passport, I would guess that the Department of State had a lengthy consultation with fourth-grade civics classes across the country, maybe culminating in a design competition. The object of this exercise was to produce a passport that would, upon viewing, compel the bearer to arise, place hand on heart, and burst out with a rendition of "America the Beautiful."

The onslaught of patriotism begins on the inside front cover, with the last few lines of the national anthem in a manuscript font (think of all those reproductions of the Declaration of Independence) hovering over an artist's impression of, presumably, Francis Scott Key looking toward Fort McHenry. The page that bears the Secretary of State's message to the reader (now in Spanish, as well as English and French) also bears a quote from Abraham Lincoln. The photo page is accompanied by an extract from the Constitution, grand "We the People" and everything, observed by a large bald eagle. Flipping through the passport, the viewer is treated to an inspiring image of some aspect of America the Beautiful and a patriotic quote on every page; finally, the inside back cover carries an inspiring vista of Space The Final Frontier, accompanied by a quote from Ellison S. Onizuka.

I'm not sure I'll be able to cross borders with a straight face anymore.


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Comments (1)


You're absolutely right about this. I just got my new one today and I'm completely flabbergasted. It's an embarrassing and tasteless piece of propagandizing idiocy worthy of a tin-pot dictatorship with an inferiority complex. What in God's name were they thinking? (Or does that question contain a category mistake?)

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Posted on May 11, 2007 11:42 PM.

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