Or at least according to the Singaporean guard outside the American Embassy, I am.
Let me back up. I decided to walk to the Botanic Gardens from my condo. On the walk, I pass tons of condos, shopping malls and government buildings, including the British High Council, the American Embassy, and the Australian High Commission, the latter three just about kitty corner from the entrance to the Botanic Garden. I was walking on the sidewalk and saw the giant 20 foot high seal on the American Embassy and decided to take a picture as it makes a pretty image with the flag out front (there is no sign saying not to, for the record). I was accosted by a security agent who verbally attacked me for doing something I had no reason to think I couldn’t and made to feel like a criminal. I was repeatedly told to delete it for “the safety of the embassy,” although she was incapable of explaining how an exterior shot of a public building endangered anyone/anything. She made me scroll through all my pictures, in case I had staged some shots of my daughter in between my 3 pictures of the exterior (3 because I was trying to get the right contrast to best highlight the seal engraved on the concrete exterior).
I was angry enough to notice that she was obviously NOT American, and considering I am, I found no shortage of irony in this.
I walked away feeling like a horrible criminal.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been to DC and taken pictures of the Capitol and White House from a shorter distance away. I’m sure if I scrolled through all the pictures I’ve taken in Boston the Federal Building would pop up in a few as it’s next to the Garden (TD North Garden? Who’s sponsoring it these days?).
I would have empathy if I were blithely ignoring signs that said NO PHOTOGRAPHY. Or maybe if it were a secret base…but considering the size of the giant American seal on the front of the building and the equally huge flag, it’s hard to see them being shocked when people know it’s where the Americans are. Or maybe if I’d scaled the gate, or tried to enter or done anything suspicious like zoom in on a security camera or the gate details. It was a picture of the seal and the flag. And one of a sign that said “American Embassy Singapore.”
So, as someone who pays taxes to not only Singapore but the US…I feel I have a right to ask…WHAT THE FUCK, MAN? Exactly where was the value in using my tax dollars to pay the salary of the person whose job it is to harass people on the street? Their health benefits?
As to how secret the images I wanted to share are….I did some Googling…
- Number of images that Google finds when I do an images search for “American Embassy Singapore”…99,100. But apparently mine would have blown the lid off their location and/or what they look like.
- Number of results from Google when I search “American Embassy Singapore Address”….262,000 (SHHHH…wouldn’t want you to know where they are in case you need a visa)
- Number of results from Google when I search “American Embassy Singapore” ….544,000 (The giant flag and eagle would never give it away where the Americans are)
Oh yeah…and they have a website of their own…http://singapore.usembassy.gov/ (Shhhhhh…it tells super secret stuff like where it is, what hours they’re open, and what it looks like)
If you live in the US, I’m going to have to encourage you to go to DC on October 30, 2010 to join the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart at the Rally to Restore Sanity. Because seriously American Embassy of Singapore…if you think that I’m quietly going to accept the fear mongering “safety of the embassy” excuse? You must mistake me for a fan of FOX NEWS. I’m calling bullshit, and I’m sharing my story as another example of why we need to take it down a notch, America.
One of the many images you can find on Google….
UPDATED—I emailed my senators, my congressman and the state department regarding today’s incident. I truly doubt anyone will get back to me, but I feel better for having stood up for myself. I’m frustrated that a moment that was supposed to be about American Pride turned into being treated like a criminal.