One of the last foreign places on Earth where Americans can vacation
is beautiful downtown Minsk. Don't forget to bring your galoshes.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, decrying the Berlin Wall. The news was full of images of that forbidding gray concrete block barrier, separating East from West Berlin, keeping the East Berliners from escaping to freedom.
East Germany needed to imprison its people. It needed the workers, who were forced to live under grim, police state conditions.
Fatal escape attempts
From time to time, East Berliners would make an escape attempt. It seemed more often than not, they were machine-gunned to death while trying to climb over the top.
That is the kind of wall Donald Trump has built. A wall that imprisons us. He didn’t intend to build it. His intention, a formidably incompetent one, was to keep the economy going while a pandemic was taking hold. He hoped Covid-19 would “miraculously go away” before it loused up the prosperity, launched by Barack Obama, that Trump was now crediting solely to himself.
But like a spark, leading to a fuse, leading to an incendiary device, leading to a dry forest, Trump’s virus sparked, smoldered, and then exploded — all while he was denying it was a serious matter, and while nearly all of the rest of the world tamped its own fires down.
A medieval horror of a plague
—sixty-two 9/11s and counting
So now, while life in most of Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South America moves steadily back toward normal, the United States has a pandemic of medieval proportions, eclipsed only by The Black Death of 1346 to 1353. Or to look at it another way, the roughly 185,000 Americans who’ve died of Trump’s virus so far is the equivalent of nearly sixty-two 9/11 events. We quite justifiably went crazy after one 9/11. I can’t understand the relative calm after another sixty-two.
But here’s the thing. Other nations have noticed. And they’ve decided not to let Americans in to spread our pestilence to their own people. These days, you can’t casually get on a plane and go to France. You can’t go to Germany. You can’t go to Italy. You can’t go to Scotland. You can’t go to Belgium. You can’t go to Holland. You can’t go to Spain. You can’t go to Portugal. You can’t…but I’m sure you’ve got the idea by now. We’re pretty much trapped in our own country, as trapped as if there were literally a high wall around it.
Yes, there are exceptions. A handful of tiny Caribbean island nations, like Anguilla and Bermuda and Barbados, whose entire economies are based on U.S. tourism dollars, will risk their lives to let us in. Although even in some of those, you may have to present the results of a recent virus test, or quarantine for two weeks, before they welcome you.
And there are still other cheerful place you can visit. For example, there’s Ukraine. And Belarus, where you can soon experience walking through the winter slush of beautiful downtown Minsk’s brutalist architecture. Or Zimbabwe.
But hey, East Germans were free to visit Russia and Poland.
The American Iron Curtain
Trump promised a physical wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Instead, we have a currently-impenetrable iron curtain between ourselves and Canada, ourselves and most of Europe, ourselves and most of Asia, ourselves and most of South America.
Did you vote for Trump because he promised to build a wall?
Be careful what you wish for. Or vote for.