Only in America

by Ragnar Schierholz

An old Arab lives close to New York City for more than 40 years.

He would love to plant potatoes in his garden, but he is alone, old and weak. His son is in college in Paris, so the old man sends him an e-mail. He explains the problem: "Beloved son, I am very sad, because I can't plant potatoes in my garden. I am sure, if only you were here, you helped me and dug up the garden for me. I love you, your father."

The following day, the old man receives a response e-mail from his son: "Beloved father, please don't touch the garden. It's there that I have hidden 'the THING'. I love you, too, Ahmed". At 4pm the US Army, the Marines, the FBI, the CIA and the Rangers visit the house of the old man, take the whole garden apart, search every inch, but can't find anything. Dissappointed they leave the house.

Another day later, the old man receives another e-mail from his son. "Beloved father, I hope the garden is dug up by now and you can plant your potatoes. That's all I could do for you from here. I love you, Ahmed."


Good one !

Alex Boschmans, 2005-01-18


Stefan Weigand, 2005-01-18


Sascha Carlin, 2005-01-18

I have to say, its uncomfortable as an American to read things like this when in fact there has historically been much less tracking and intrusiveness in government here than in Western Europe.

I understand for example, that I could walk through the streets of, say, Berlin wearing clothing that would get me arrested and possibly jailed based on one of several symbols, for instance. I cannot say the same about New York. (beat up, maybe, but not arrested or jailed).

I'm no fan of the current administration here, but a little perspective is probably called for.


Andrew Pollack, 2005-01-18

LOL :-)))

Robert Basic, 2005-01-18

> a little perspective is probably called for.

Indeed Andrew ;o)

Ben Poole, 2005-01-18

I am sorry if I offended you and I seriously apologize in that case.
I have lived in the States for about two years myself and I know that this is exaggerated and sarcastic. But that's exactly the point of it. Exaggerate the circumstance to be criticized in order to point people's interest to it.

About being arrested in Berlin for what you wear. Well, same here, what you say is an exaggeration. What you are referring to (I suppose) and what is illegal in Germany is to wear Nazi symbols like the swastikka. That is something which has historical reasons, similar to how you might get into trouble in the U.S. when wearing KKK masks. I don't know whether that might get you into jail, though.
Another thing you could be referring to is the "Vermummungsverbot", the prohibition of mummery on public demonstrations. That is a measure against political radicalists like the RAF in the 70's or the Neo-Nazis in the 90's. It has been under hefty discussion several times.

Again, I sincerely apologize if I have offended you or any other American citizen, this was not my intention.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2005-01-18

It's an old joke...It's variations, I'm sure it existed in other countries before Sept 11.

So Andrew you're safe, it's a joke, plus we knew it was a joke, those agencies can't work that effectively with each other in real life :-)

Carl Tyler, 2005-01-18

Mummery illegal? Kewl. Now if we could just get rid of the Morris dancers....

Stan Rogers, 2005-01-18

No real offense at all, Ragnar.

As is often the case with such things, the particular post isn't really anything but funny. Its when you take it in combination with other similar kinds of things and a prevailing mood in Europe right now that remains pretty upset with U.S. policy, that causes me to make the statement.

For what its worth -- wearing a KKK outfit will not get you arrested here, though it could get you beat up. In truth, the police would be obligated to protect you. The exception would be if you intentionally wore it in an effort to cause a riot, and that would be very difficult to prove.

I understand the reasons for the laws in your country that you mention. I grew up in a Jewish household and as part of that spent a good deal of time studying such things. The belief behind it being that some things are simply too dangerous to be allowed the right of free speech. Our limits here on such things are a but further out, but then I guess that's the point I was making.

Thanks though.

Andrew Pollack, 2005-01-18

But not only in America.....The potatoes should be a clue that this is an old Irish joke, originally taking place in the UK.

Brian Benz, 2005-01-18

Does nobody read Snopes any more?

Armin Grewe, 2005-01-18

try lighting a cigarette in public places like a bar, or better still, roll your own and see what happens ;-) I LOVE America. People that kill other people by gassing them with dangeous cigarette smoke are to be prosecuted. Maybe I even quit smoking this year :-)

Deeply sorry for trolling around.


Armin Roth, 2005-01-18

Great weather, eh? ;-)

Volker Weber, 2005-01-19

I think the claim that the US continues to be 'freer' than Europe is probably a bit out-dated at this juncture. Following on the passing of the Patriot Act, it's certainly easier to obtain wire-taps and search warrants here than it is in the UK. Data-capture by the security services is also much more extensive in the US - a simple look at their size and budget is a good way of understanding how much surveillance they do on a routine basis.

It was only a joke. But it points to a more basic premise about the slide of the US away from supposed freedoms - not only for Americans, but for other citizens globally (think Guantanamo). It's a frightening path to be choosing, and one that in a country with such a huge government apparatus is bound to be abused (and already has been).

Robert Dow, 2005-01-19

first thought was LOL
secound thought sounds like a fairy tale but it could really happen

Andrea Altefrone, 2005-01-19

I travel Europe extensively. The following is just the beginning of a list that I have started to compile. I add to it when I remember other freedoms Europeans have over America.

Freedoms Europeans enjoy.

There are no speed limits on the German Autobahns.
Absinthe can still be purchased in France.
You can purchase and smoke Marijuana in Holland.
Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam.
Customer’s dogs are allowed inside most European restaurants.
State sponsored health care is better than no health care at all (i.e. 40 million Americans).
Gay marriages are allowed in Holland, Belgium and Spain.
You can go anywhere in Europe and not worry about being shot.
Public Nude beaches are common in Europe. Nudity is more accepted.
Smoking is allowed in most Restaurants.

Agree or disagree over the ethics of these freedoms all you want. The fact remains you are still free to do most of these in Europe.

Feel free to add to my list.

Les Williams, 2005-07-27

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