If you stay inside the United States you will remain free, safe, and prosperous. If you even so much as step foot outside of the United States, you will probably be murdered, if not taken. At least that is what the State Department would have you believe.
Extremists are on the loose in Europe, where they have demonstrated their ability to carry out various attacks using firearms, explosives, vehicles, and blades. Because of this, the United States has issued a travel alert for Europe.
Be afraid. If you are in a tourist location, with a crowd, or on public transport in Europe, you should probably assume everyone is a terrorist. It could happen at any time! Better to be safe and keep your clubbing to Florida.
But don’t worry, here are some steps you can take. Follow our orders, and the government and media will keep you safe.
Review security information from local officials, who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country. U.S. citizens should also:
Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
Have an emergency plan of action ready.
Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Always trust in the local government. Always stay tethered to media–it could save your life! Be prepared to have your rights violated in the name of security.
And finally, you can even enroll yourself to make sure the U.S. authorities know your travel plans.
Oh, and by the way, there is no government warning against visiting Chicago, which had 762 total murders in 2016. That’s about 200 more murders than England and Wales have had in any given year since 2011. Chicago is home to fewer than 3 million people, while the combined population of England and Wales is 56 million.
It’s Scary Out There!
Okay, yes, there are real threats out there. And yes, you should do proper research before visiting places. Awareness of your surrounding is always a good idea, as is avoiding certain places altogether.
But this alert is for all of Europe. Really? All of Europe is dangerous enough to elicit a warning from the State Department?
But no warnings against visiting places inside the U.S. like Chicago.
TripAdvisor probably has more useful and specific information on the risks of traveling to various locations.
For a long time, this attitude that America is basically safe to travel through, and outside of America is severely lacking in rule of law, cleanliness, and general safety was ingrained in me. And to be sure you can find places outside of the U.S. that are very dangerous and not worth the trip. And you can find many places inside the U.S. that rival the foreign war zones.
But since I have started traveling abroad I have been to cities that feel much safer than the typical U.S. city.
What that travel warning really reminds me of is how the government portrays the world outside of the United States in my novella Flight Grounded.
As I read this book, I couldn’t help but try to pinpoint its genre by comparing it with other works. It had that “dystopian short story” feel to it like Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron or 2BR02B, it had the constant action of any crime thriller, it had the “trapped” feeling from every non-fiction I’ve read on North Korea, and it had that “can this actually be the truth” feel from any good conspiracy theory. What I liked most about this book is how, given an open mind, the conspiracies presented in this book could actually be real and no one would be the wiser!
Basically, the “reality” presented by the U.S. government and their media affiliates is not an accurate depiction of the outside world. On the very surface, the government just seems paranoid. But the more information that they control that we rely on to form our worldview, the more they could be manipulating the perception about what actually goes on inside, and outside the United States.