... a passage from a 1930s-era essay by James Thurber, called "Wild Bird Hickcock and His Friends." Thurber loved reading French pulp-novel versions of American Westerns, and he described one of them thus:Go read the whole post to get background, pictures, and more finger wagging about the ridiculous "Zee muss gibt uns zeine papers!" law from the newly born 48th fascist state. You know, the one that requires police to check your identity papers to make sure you have a right to be where you are when you are and how you are. The one that makes it illegal for the police to not be suspicious of everyone because you can never be too sure who is an illegal alien. Just ask those who demand papers from Obama to prove that he is a US citizen and is rightfully elected President of the US.There were, in my lost and lamented collection, a hundred other fine things, which I have forgotten, but there is one that will forever remain with me. It occured in a book in which, as I remember it, Billy the Kid, alias Billy the Boy, was the central figure. At any rate, two strangers had turned up in a small Western town and their actions had aroused the suspicions of a group of respectable citizens, who forthwith called on the sheriff to complain about the newcomers. The sheriff listened gravely for a while, got up and buckled on his gun belt, and said, "Alors, je vais demander ses cartes d'identité!'' There are few things, in any literature, that have ever given me a greater thrill than coming across that line.
You don't have to be a James Thurber fan to appreciate the above. But I was raised on Thurber and enjoyed his downplayed homespun humour.
Oh, and I was raised in an era when a "Your papers!" was an order barked by a Nazi or an official of Fascist police state, you know, kinda like Arizona has become.