Friday, April 11, 2008

My New Driver's License

By Alan Caruba

I can’t remember the last time I visited a motor vehicle agency to renew my driver’s license. Here in New Jersey, whenever it came due, I would get a notice, mail them a check, and a new license would come in the mail a few days later.

On Friday, however, I had to report in person and bring several documents to demonstrate I am who I say I am and live where I say I live. I can thank Osama bin Laden for this because the State now requires that you have your photo taken to appear on the license. It is a reminder that we are locked into a battle, some would say a clash of civilizations, with the Islamists who want to declare a new caliphate.

The last caliphate was the Ottoman Empire and it bit the dust in 1918 when the allies, America, England, and France won World War One. The Ottoman Empire had bet on the loser, Germany. Having learned nothing from the experience, Germany lost again in 1945 after having laid waste to most of Europe and much of Russia. They made it two-for-two in the 20th century. When you consistently lose wars, it’s probably a good idea to avoid going to war.

These days, a Boy Scout troop could probably invade Germany or France and take over either country. This also explains why the United States has had troops in England and Europe since the end of World War Two where it knows how to fight, but does not explain why it kept sending troops to places like Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq where it does not.

The result of World War One was that two of the winners divvied up the Middle East between them. This so pissed off the Arabs who were not consulted that they are waging terrorism to lay claim to the region. After the Treaty of Versailles was signed, Woodrow Wilson came home with a plan for the U.S. to join the League of Nations. The U.S. Senate wisely rejected joining this bunch of losers in the interest of retaining and protecting our national sovereignty.

Less than a generation later, the United States failed to exercise such good sense following WWII, not merely joining the United Nations, but having created it from scratch. This explains why the winners of WWII are still the big dogs on the Security Council. This does not explain why wars have continued unceasingly with most of the important ones being led and fought by, you guess it, the United States.

What does this have to do with getting a driver’s license renewed? You may recall everything was going along merrily here up to 9/11/2001. Then, on one day, al Qaeda caused us to lose the Twin Towers and an estimated trillion dollars got sucked out of the economy.

The result, seven years later, is that I had to get a photo-ID driver’s license. Let me be honest. Based solely on the photo on the license, I would not let that man anywhere near my home, my children, or my pets. The man in that photo is either a dangerous psychopath or the sad shell of a reformed alcoholic. Okay, so I don’t photograph well.

I can, however, go to any airport in America and show both my New Jersey auto license and my passport and theoretically get on a plane to Disneyland or La-La Land. Yes, you need two photo ID documents. Feel safer now?

I had to drive over to East Orange to get my license. In the 1970s I was the city editor of the East Orange Record, the weekly newspaper. An old Irish politician was the mayor and ran a good, tight ship.

A lot of white people took pride in living there, just as they had from the early part of the century. My Mother had grown up there as a young girl in a big house with her parents, three sisters and a brother. Today, East Orange has a shop-worn look from the spillover of former Newark residents, the city it borders. Seeking to escape the drug scene and other urban failures, blacks moved to East Orange and, to no one’s surprise, brought those problems with them. The Whites fled.

It’s surprising how the many crossroads of one’s own and the nation’s history can come together in the crowded office of a motor vehicle agency.


Longstreet said...

We've had the photo driver's licesnce for many years here in NC. But now we must show an original birth certificate and an original Social Security card to get one's NC license renewed. Plus, we will not receive the license at the agency, as before. Our photos will be taken and we go home with a sheet of paper saying our license has been applied for and a couple, or three, weeks later we will receive our renewed license in the mail. (If we are lucky!)

I hate all this! But, as you know, a number of the 911 hijackers had NC driver's licenses. If you could pass the test, back in those days, you got a license. Made no diference whether you were a citizen, whether you could read or speak English,... only your ability to pass the test. I complained the the DMV about it but nothing came of it.

Heck, we had licensed drivers on the NC hiways who could not read the road signs! It was and remains... bad!

Sabra said...

I haven't been able to get a driver's license in NC since 2004! It was expiring right as we were leaving to our home overseas - Saudi Arabia [I don't need a license, here] - and I went to get it renewed and didn't have my Social Security card with me - or my original birth certificate - so no dice. Passport and soon to be expired NC license weren't good enough. And now, with the new system, they are going to make it close to impossible for me if we're going to have to wait for a couple or three weeks to get it. Guess I can do the process and always just pick up my license during our next trip "home." Thanks for the info, Longstreet.