peace and justice files

Herzlich willkommen in Amerika

By SKIP MENDLER
Posted 4/28/21

I don’t know if you heard, but my German fiancée Jasmine and I finally got married last month, in a quiet ceremony on the steps of the Wayne County Courthouse. (The “Love is Not …

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peace and justice files

Herzlich willkommen in Amerika

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I don’t know if you heard, but my German fiancée Jasmine and I finally got married last month, in a quiet ceremony on the steps of the Wayne County Courthouse. (The “Love is Not Tourism” saga continues for many other couples, however.) Today, as I write these words, the last of her belongings arrived from Germany. So, I’m happy to say, after a long period of waiting and frustration for both of us, that she is here to stay—although there are many things about the U.S. that she does not understand, things that are tough to explain.

Our society’s relationship to guns, for example. She learned recently that we have these things called “active shooter drills.” She was horrified, both by the concept itself and by the thought that such things might even be regarded as necessary in a supposedly civilized country. “Nothing is more vulnerable than the soul of a child,” she wrote in a Facebook post. So, it has been a relief to hear about President Biden’s plans to take action against gun violence, although she thinks it may just be, as she says, “a drop of water on a hot stone.”

On another facet of the same dice, though, it’s nice to see that National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre and the corrupt leadership of the NRA may finally get their comeuppance. It’s about time. For far too long, the NRA has generated donations—and a reliable stream of knee-jerk votes for the GOP—by terrorizing gun owners with their frantic, false and fearful, “THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE YOUR GUNS!!!” propaganda. Now, it turns out that LaPierre may have been playing fast and loose with the money thus extorted from the NRA membership and put the organization into bankruptcy to avoid a financial investigation. (If I were an NRA member, I’d consider suing them, or at least canceling my membership.)

The American healthcare system is another puzzle for Europeans, like my wife, who generally don’t have to deal with things like “deductibles” or “copayments.” Usually, when they have a medical problem, they go to a doctor, and it gets taken care of. The idea that all human beings should have universal access to healthcare is just... well, obvious.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the weaknesses not just in our own medical system but in European ones, as well. They’re not perfect, but they have moved further than we have in many ways, and we have much we can learn from the European experience—if we can set aside our ginned-up fears about “socialized” medicine.

Jasmine is also mystified by the dynamics of our political system, where someone like Bernie Sanders can be labeled a “radical socialist” when in Europe he’d be considered middle-of-the-road. She’s used to having many parties to choose from on the ballot, and to hearing a greater range of points of view, from marketeers to Marxists.

But despite all her misgivings, she chose to come here to be with me anyway. This might give you a clue about which is the stronger force, love or politics!

But I think that my personal feelings aside, she picked a good time to come here. Change is in the air, and people are mobilizing to confront many of the problems we face.

Herzlich willkommen, sweetheart!

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