Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Hope wafting up from Brazil

Metropolitan Museum of Art
     Last weekend I flew to Texas on a quick reporting trip. As we were shuffling off the plane, it struck me how fortunate the United States is to be so big yet still a single country.
     Almost a thousand miles from Chicago to Dallas. Yet no customs to go through, no passport control, no immigration lines. No reason to pause from plane door to cab stand.
     That was once very different in Europe. Also about a thousand miles from London to Berlin, with the Netherlands, France and Belgium jammed between. Differing currencies, contradictory rules and burdensome duties. Time-wasting security and regulations.
     A lot of friction going from A to B, both people and products. Wouldn’t it be better, economically, to mimic the United States? To have one unified financial system? A European Union?
     So they built one. Wasn’t easy and took years. Few liked the idea of being dictated to from Brussels about how to make cheese. Currencies that went back centuries — the franc, the lira, the mark — were abandoned for one currency, the euro. That stung.
     It worked, but time passes, and things can go so well that you forget what got you there — as we saw with vaccines. And the European Union had what some considered downsides. Brits worried that Greeks or, worse, Turks, would start showing up as their neighbors in Devonshire. A movement grew to drop out of the EU, fanned by nationalists building their castles of power upon the sand of hatred.
     On June 23, 2016, Britain voted, and 51.89% chose to leave the EU, 48.11% voted to stay — it’s astoundingly consistent how evenly divided the world is right now between those who want to proceed into the future and those who want to try to claw their way back into the past.

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  1. Are we a single country? Technically, I suppose.

  2. I wish I was as optimistic as you but the bigoted nationalism that has been festering since the end of the civil war was released, never to go back in hiding again. Trump started it but now has a strong following who knows he’s nuts but he wins. That’s all that matters to his ilk.
    There is a sense of nationalism in the country however there is more than one nation.
    I don’t know if it would work but maybe we’d do better if our country was more like Europe. Each state, independent of each other sharing only a common currency and maybe a military. I know, lots of drawbacks but worth considering.
    The way it stands now, the bigoted nation will continue to gerrymander making it more and more difficult to unseat them.

  3. The really bad part hasn’t yet come in the United States — the Rethuglican normalization of serious, widespread, and deadly political violence and domestic terrorism. It has only just begun...and they are sowing seeds that will yield strange fruit. Exactly, Mr. S. I see what you did there.

    "Strange Fruit" is, of course, the name of the song written and composed by Abel Meeropol (under his pseudonym Lewis Allan) and recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939. The lyrics were drawn from a poem by Meeropol, published in 1937. The song protests the lynching of Black Americans, with lyrics that compare the victims to the fruit of trees.

    How many lynchings of "traitors" by "patriots" will we see when the Untied Snakes finally devolves into a vast Northern Ireland? I use those labels loosely. Both teams (red and blue) will call themselves "patriots"...and their "enemies" (as they're already being called) will be the "traitors". That labeling is already in widespread use.

    Both sides will want to "save" this benighted republic by any means necessary. Lynchings. And other methods...firefights, executions of captives, revenge killings, terror bombings, massacres, riots, assassinations, street fighting...about as many flavors of "fruit" as you can name offhand. And probably more...ones that I can't even think of at the moment. Crucifixions, anyone?

    Disaster can still be averted--if the good guys control all three branches of the Federal government. They will probably lose control of all three, eventually, and we'll be screwed. Then there are all those state-level outfits. The legislatures, and their executives, and their judicial apparatus. And their law enforcement contingents. No telling what any of them might do. Secession? Call it "Stexit." Could they make it stick? Who the hell knows? Bye, Texas. See you in hell.

    Sure, Mr. S--there's still hope. The possibility that America will "bounce back"...and that the bus will finally end up slamming on the brakes before it plunges into the abyss...still exists. But the chances are becoming slimmer and more unlikely with every goddamn day.

    Today is sunny and mild. A fine November day. There are chores to do...and a lot of leaves to rake. I'll think about it tomorrow.


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