Have you ever heard a kora? Have you even heard of a kora?
I don’t think Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) would have destroyed Alasdair Fraser‘s Stradivarius violin or Eric Rigler‘s bagpipes. But they completely and utterly destroyed Ballaké Sissoko’s kora. Harper Lee said “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Surely this falls into the category of mockingbird-killing.
Our federal employees at the border, ICE, TSA, CBP, already have a poor reputation here and abroad. Wanton destruction of musical instruments only adds to staining an already sullied reputation. Elizabeth Moon has complained about the damage to our national honor. This is nowhere near as bad as putting children in cages I wouldn’t put a flea-ridden dog in, but it’s certainly not good.
It’s been suggested on Twitter that had Mr. Sissoko been a foreign musician from Belgium or Norway, his instrument would have been safe. Or if the kora was an instrument the CBP agents were familiar with, they might have handled it more gently. Unfortunately, any nation that grants Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom has an undeniable racism problem.
I can’t carry a tune in a bucket myself, but I have several friends who are musicians and they all dread travelling with their instruments, for fear the airlines will damage them. None of them ever mentioned a dread of CBP.