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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/27/15

An American in Brighton

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Unprompted, a morbidly obese man laughingly said to Dan, "You know we hate you Yanks, don't you?

In Brighton, there's an American Diner that's swarming with Americana, including images of Mickey Mouse, Statue of Liberty, Elvis, Jaws, Ghostbusters, Johnny Cash, ET and Uncle Sam, etc. Shadowed by a condor, a California motor cop stands next to a Harley Davison and, everywhere you look, there's Marilyn Monroe. This president's plaything with dyed blonde hair, dead of a drug overdose, has become our most enduring symbol. Menu items include a Norma Jean Salad, Windy City Dog, Little Italy Bagel, fried chicken strips, Buffalo wings and chili con carne, but, unforgivably, no meatloaf or chicken fried steak. Placemats feature the stars and stripes, and most dishes arrive with a small flag.

Dan has gone back and forth about returning to the US. "Until I read your Postcards, which quickly bring me back to grim reality, I miss many things, though admittedly after five years I'm finally starting to accept England: we have friends now and it's familiar, though it will never be true home for me. As for America, I miss my family first. I love the geography, the wildness of many parts (and people), the friendliness and genuineness of many Americans, also their idealism (this is mainly before the Great Brainwashing/Dumbing Down/ Final Destruction of the Family during the last 30 years). It seems to get worse and worse. Now, all TV is sh*t, for example, and the people are dumber and nastier than ever. No traces remain of the beautiful, hopeful, intelligent world of the 60's and early 70's. It often seems like a great trauma has befallen the populace--and it has, deliberately and systematically, e.g. with prescribed drugs, TV and education, etc."

As for England, "Lots of little things get to me and often make me miserable or throw me into a rage: countenances on 'superior' faces (it would be impossible to be more supercilious than many middle to upper middle class English), little comments, cold people... Also, despite the generally unquestioning hyper-competitive, uber capitalist mindset, I think Britain is light years behind America in essentially everything. Does the loutish, boozed up culture contribute to this? Yes. Does being stuck in the past? Yes--not to say that I think EVERYTHING is wrong with preserving cultural continuity, or that new means good necessarily, but people seem generally so set in their ways here that there's not the remotest chance of really inventive, outside-the-box thought occurring. Related to this is the lack of true joy in living. It is killed very, very early here as a general rule, though at least many people we know here is wacky, out there old Brighton. They're trying their best to change this. Joy, love, purity of heart--these are what lead to 'progress,' which is probably nothing more than going back to a long forgotten natural state of happiness. Life shouldn't be miserable!"

While I'm no progressive, I agree with Dan that we've lost a huge part of our core humanity and capacity for basic pleasures. In the name of progress, human nature has been deformed and beauty shattered, burnt or bombed into oblivion. It's as if we can't stand our magnificent heritage. Just look at what Europe did to itself in the 20th century. Visiting Prague for the first time, I was astounded to see what an intact, major European city should look like. As Lewis Mumford pointed out, man should study his entire past, even the most distant, for lessons on how to move forward. Instead of lunging ahead, he should walk backward as much as possible.

After Brighton, I returned to my teaching job in Leipzig, Germany. Each Monday, opposing camps in the refugee, immigration debate have to be kept apart by hundreds of black clad cops. Businesses suffer. The Christmas Market has just opened, however, so downtown is even more lively and charming than usual. Each day, thousands of people browse 250 stalls for sausages, gluhwein, chocolate, cheese, artisan soap, jewelries, candles or winter clothes, etc. There are two Ferris wheels and several merry go rounds. Here come giddy children riding a lion, a tiger, a camel. As in the Brighton pub, happiness is mingling with other people in a serene setting. Not everything is so idyllic. Beggar s, most of them Eastern European, are scattered about. A shabbily dressed old German woman digs through a trash can for recyclable bottles.

With Turkey downing a Russian plane, we move one step closer to a global war. Turkey did not act alone. The US must prevent, at any cost, the economic integration of Eurasia, for should this happen, it would be the odd man out, an irrelevant sulk standing all alone in an Arctic of his own making. With 19 US military bases, Germany would be a missile magnet. Along with the erosion of their identity, already welcomed by many Germans, they risk being pulverized. A sticker in downtown Leipzig, "You say Deutschland, we say die!" The US Empire looted and slaughtered its way to the top. In its death throes, I fear it will unleash unprecedented mayhem.

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Linh Dinh's Postcards from the End of America has just been published by Seven Stories Press. Tracking our deteriorating socialscape, he maintains a photo blog.

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