Shah Rukh Khan is "detained" at Newark airport (where oddly enough someone I know well is getting ready to land as I type this), and it's suddenly a huge issue. He's a huge film icon, he's got the Muslim name, couldn't they have simply googled him and found the 3.5 jillion bazillion pages that reference him?
The Indian government, I read in my Hindustan Times, has "strongly take[n] up the matter with the US authorities." Not just that. A member of the Indian government, I&B minister Ambika Soni, "suggests equal and opposite reaction against Americans visiting India." Meaning, take them aside and detain them too, even their huge film icons.
But what's the complaint here?
* That the US immigration authorities detains some people? Well, if it happens repeatedly to the same person -- and I know two friends like that -- it seems wasteful and counterproductive. But apart from that, what's essentially wrong with such a procedure? After all, the Indian Customs, to take one example, is empowered to pick out incoming passengers at random and check their belongings. Do we protest that?
* That it was an icon like SRK that they detained? But so what? Is it the number of google hits that determine who gets detained? One of the two friends I mentioned has 7500 hits (I just checked). Does that exempt him? Or will he need to up that, and if so to where? 10K? 50K? 315,216?
* That we should put in place this "equal and opposite" action against Americans visiting India, and we haven't yet? Yet consider: what should be the priority of our immigration authorities? To thumb collective noses against Yanks? Or to protect our borders, and by implication Indians in general?
We live in uncertain times. Misplaced ideas about national pride -- if that's what all this was, I'm not even sure -- don't make them more certain.