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Beyond Belief

“Every year, over 68 million Americans leave the safety of our borders.” For this reason, the FBI has an International Response Team that is called into action whenever danger strikes (that is, whenever an American is killed or kidnapped by a serial killer in another country).

This is the premise of CBS’s new drama Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

The team is highly competent and mobile. In fact, it is usually on the scene within 24 hours of a crime being committed. The team arrives on its own plane with its own guns and vehicles, which it presses into action without seeming to worry about whether they are licensed for use in the country they are visiting. Inevitably, the FBI team takes over the investigation from local authorities.

The show is built on some questionable premises.

First, the idea that such a rapid response is the norm is nonsense. Governments simply don’t act that swiftly, especially when it involves crossing borders and international diplomacy.

Second, the assumption that Americans are “safe” with in their own borders but in grave danger beyond them is nonsense. There are far more serial killers in the United States than any other country, the United States is a more violent society than almost any other nation Americans are likely to visit, and Americans are far more likely to be murdered in the US than anywhere else.

Third, whatever country the team visits, the local police are assumed to be incompetent, corrupt, or both. This, of course, justifies the FBI team in taking over the investigation.

Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders is built on assumptions that Americans are less violent, more moral, and more competent than people from other nations and that this justifies the American practice of ignoring local laws and taking over whatever country Americans happen to visit.

With such an attitude, no wonder Americans are disliked almost everywhere they go.


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