Ah, la belle France! We’ve been in Europe for almost a month now and, yes, I can say with all honesty, I have missed the United States.
Guns are non-existent here. The news is full of stories that actually matter. I can drive for miles without grotesque yellow arches rearing up on every street corner. Pharmacies are little shops with real people who truly care about your particular ailment, not some conglomerate drug superstore disgorging, “Have a nice day!” every twenty seconds while a robotic server chants, “Welcome to Walgreens,” every time the automatic doors slide open, whether anyone is entering, or not.
In France the supermarkets don’t sell OTC medicines, and the pharmacies haven’t got racks of alcohol, food, and cigarettes available for the casual consumer. And they all close on a Sunday. Yes, that’s right, Sunday is still a day of rest for the working populace – though that’ll change if the multinationals have their way. Already some of the bigger supermarkets open Sunday morning till midday. Damn those corporations. Come the revolution, brothers!
France is, of course, the home of revolution and that spirit hasn’t gone away. It doesn’t take much for the people to shoulder their (metaphorical) arms and march on the seat of government. Whether it’s taxi drivers rebelling over Uber cabs stealing their livelihoods, or French farmers dumping a thousand tons of animal dung outside the Palais Bourbon in protest at European farm policies, the French people know how to control their government, and aren’t afraid to do so.
This is in total contrast to their transatlantic (and cross-channel) cousins who’ve now become so bloated and brainwashed by a combination of poisonous fast food and corporate media output, that any action requiring a movement of the buttocks from the couch for purposes removed from fetching another beer or reaching for the TV remote, is quite beyond them. The very notion of going out to protest is no longer in their mindset. Revolution is fine, but only during the adverts while Green Bay play the Chicago Bears, or Liverpool hammer Arsenal in the FA Cup.
Is anyone in America aware of the migrant crisis presently ripping through Europe, I wonder? Prior to leaving the States, I noted it warranted barely a mention from the evening news media. It came as something of a shock to be informed by European news agencies that the situation was dire. Half a million Syrians, Afghans, and Iraqis, fleeing the barbarism of ISIS have, to date, crossed the Mediterranean and landed on European soil. Germany, alone, has pledged to take 800,000 immediately. The United States – a measly 10,000.
But why should the US shoulder the burden of European migrants? That’s a question quick to be asked, slow to be answered.
In 2003 the United States invaded Iraq. Tens of thousands of Iraqis were rounded up and, without trial, incarcerated in Camp Bucca, a rough compound of tents and cinder block huts. Many ‘detainees’ were held there in appalling conditions for years. Camp Bucca was the incubator for ISIS. At its height it held 30,000 detainees, among them Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, now known as “Caliph Ibrahim”, the leader of ISIS. While in Camp Bucca he had no trouble recruiting fellow Sunni Muslims, promising retaliation against America for the inhumane treatment meted out by the US Navy’s Naval Provisional Detainee Battalion in charge of the camp.
Isis was spawned in Camp Bucca. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 directly resulted in the violent upheavals and bloody mayhem that is the Middle East today. That same bloody mayhem is driving in excess of half a million refugees from their homelands, and into Europe.
I ask again: why should the US shoulder the burden of European migrants?
The answer: because the reckless and lawless actions of the United States have directly resulted in the bloodbath that is the Middle East today. Will the United States take any responsibility for its actions? Certainly not so far.
“It’s not our fight.”
That response echoes shamelessly around the political chat shows and halls of Congress. Strange, isn’t it, that the US can militarily stamp its jackboot on the throat of the Middle East for over a decade, walk away when they realise they can’t win, then calmly announce, “It’s not our fight,” as the region collapses into mayhem?
Yes, I have missed the United States. I missed John Boehner’s fall from grace, only hearing of it a week following the event. I miss hearing of the gun crime, that useless waste of life at the hands of criminals and law enforcement alike. I miss the Republican comic-opera that passes for producing a presidential candidate. I miss not having to shop in a concrete alleyway bearing the exotic, though delusionary, title of shopping mall.
I miss all these things, and I’m so glad I do. Life is infinitely better without them.
 France has only forty-two shopping malls throughout the whole country and twenty-six of those are in the Ile-de-France, around Paris. Happily, there are none in Brittany.