April 16 NYC
The tightening of the borders in recent years, while it may be understandable regarding genuinely suspicious individuals, is in fact applied with almost no rhyme or reason — although in fact it may only appear to be without reason. A friend told me over a lunch meeting that a chunk of Pina Bausch’s troupe of dancers, based in Wuppertal, Germany, were denied entry, which effectively scuttled the performances that were booked months ahead of time. A tango group in Buenos Aires told me a week or two ago that they have toured Europe 3 times recently but have been consistently denied U.S. visas, so at this point the U.S. doesn't even figure into their performance plans. Yale says that some of the new regulations make the applicants pay when they apply, without knowing if they will even get the visa. Needless to say some individual members of many bands and troupes are refused visas, usually at the last minute, which effectively cancels the tour. The promoters in the U.S. have become loath to even book or schedule foreign acts these days, as the odds are just not in their favor. The prospect of spending money on promotion, ads and radio only to have the show cancelled by the INS when the act applies for their visas is discouraging, and financially ruinous to some small promoters — so they eventually just don’t end up taking the risk. Likewise, many small U.S. labels who might release recordings by foreign artists will think twice if there will be little likelihood of a local live show to generate press and interest. Often that’s the only way they have or generating press and word of mouth. So, many times, the labels “edit” what they release based on these legal and economic factors.
It amounts to a kind of cultural censorship. Call me paranoid, but given all the manipulative tricks the Republicans have gotten up to recently, I am prepared to believe that this has less to do with Homeland security and more to do with keeping the American public ignorant and free of foreign influence and inspiration. An ill-informed, isolated, ignorant populace is a populace easily manipulated. Fed a diet of reality shows coupled with faith-based reasoning (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and you have a perfect recipe for a country in which the government that can do more or less whatever it wants. Democracy becomes a farce without access to information. And culture — music, theater, dance, etc. — is information for the heart. Yes, we can still obtain news reports and recordings online, but without live performance there is a hole where there should be face to face “news” about how others live, how they love and why and what their passions are. If we are not allowed to feel the rest of the world then we can be told anything about it and not know what those people are really like. If the Other is hidden from you, then you don’t even know to ask or inquire about what it is you’re not getting — because you don’t even know it exists.
Any government that can cynically manufacture fake news reports, install fake reporters, create fake media outlets and then simply shrug it off when caught is capable of doing this as well.