Last year I filled out an endless number of forms on the internet and had my photo taken this way for an American visa, that way for a Schengen one, another way for Britain. I stood in queues to gather freshly stamped documents from my bank, certificates from the revenue service, municipal verification that I own property, a letter confirming my long-term employment, payment slips, certificates of health, insurance, and so on. During face-to-face interviews I felt as if every government agent wanted to tell me: We know you—you sly, diseased, and poverty-stricken person, wanting permission to come and sponge off our social security system, to abuse our precious freedoms with your fundamentalist ideas, and to infect our population with your third-world unworthiness.

Standing in those queues, I wondered, what happened to the concept of hospitality? That is, the original meaning of...

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