Monday, April 3, 2023

Israel today, America tomorrow

     In my home office is a globe. Two globes, actually — it’s a big office — but the one I’m looking at is an old 16-inch library globe, quite regal with its three carved wooden lion’s feet. Manufactured, it informs us, by Replogle Globe of Chicago, Illinois — still in business here, I should add, having moved to Indiana, tested the waters in the Mississippi of the Midwest, found them bitter, then returned home, howling.
     There’s no date on the globe, but it seems very mid-20th century — there’s a French West Africa; the future Vietnam is “INDO-CHINA.”
     As a tool, the globe still works. When I needed to confirm that yes, contrary to expectation, in Chicago you turn Northeast to pray facing Mecca, a globe is the best way to see that. Republicans would love my old globe, as it shows Ukraine being part of a vast orange “UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS” spanning 11 time zones.
     And with the globe I can see that the United States is right there, on the surface of the earth, and not, as many Americans seem to believe, floating above it, some kind of special star twinkling in its own separate empyrean, a realm apart that the rest of the world looks up at and envies.
     We’re earthbound, in the midst. What happens elsewhere can find its way here. COVID should have taught us that. A virus dripping off some dead bat or sick turtle or whatever in Wuhan in December showed up in Chicago one month later.
     Nor is influence limited to physical contaminants. Bad ideas spread too. In June 2016, I knew for certain, in my gut, that Donald Trump was going to be elected president after the British bailed out of the European Union because they were afraid membership might mean that a Turk could move next door. Brexit was a disastrous blunder, akin to throwing yourself off a cliff to feel the breeze.
     Nationalism was in the air. Still is, around the globe. From Vladimir Putin lobbing missiles at Ukraine to Lopez Obrador fomenting violence against journalists in Mexico — at least 16 were killed there last year. Would-be tyrants are busy seeing just how much they can get away with. Short answer: a lot.

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  1. "Looking at the convulsions in Israel might be peering into our own near future. A stable democracy sliding toward civil war over the return of a judiciary-wrecking would-be autocrat. Hmm..."

    So you think Version 2.0 is just down the road a piece? How far away? Next year? The year after that? Regardless of who wins? The past couple of years have been a time to sort of catch our collective breath.

    If we're still breathing, that is. Hundreds of thousands of folks who voted in 2020 no longer are. And, perhaps, multitudes breathing today (myself included) may not be doing so two or three years from now.

    But, hey, the moon is low. Soon it'll be sunrise. Time to cop some Zs. I'll think about that tomorrow.

  2. That is one of the most depressing columns you've written lately. And yet I have to say, "thank you", and just hope this warning spreads far and wide.

  3. France is having convulsions too, and it's time for me to reread "The Grapes of Wrath" since I have a feeling about that. Chicago election on Tuesday? The winner will be the carpet bagging scary guy. People will always vote their fear, not their best interests.

  4. Autocracy is finding its way to all levels of government. Florida is already old news as Desantis has the GOP super-majority at his beck and call.
    In my small city of Melbourne, the county commission and the school board have GOP super-majorities as well.
    Just last week the interim school superintendent, after issuing a scathing report showing how inept the school board was, was quickly fired by that same board.


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