“I’m afraid to ask,” I said woozily, “but where does Trump fit in all of this?”
Oldman shook his head with contempt. “A petty Caesar drowning in the swamp. And he will not be joining us here.” He and Mark shared their first amicable glance, and, in perfect sync, intoned together, “His tie’s too long.”
Mark now asserted himself and took the lead. “Mr. Oldman and I are in agreement on something else,” he said. “We’re both Pre-Columbians.”
“Lay it on me,” I said impatiently.
“What he means is that this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into all began in 1492,” said Oldman. “We should have never left Europe.”
“Never sought to conquer or colonize,” Mark added emphatically.
I felt like I was at a tennis match. They were striking the same ball, but from opposite sides of the court.
“We should have never left,” said Oldman, “and never let anyone in.”
“So no United States?” I asked.
It was Mark’s turn. “Do you not agree that genocide and slavery should never have happened?”
“Then given how things have played out,” Oldman said by way of poach, “the Pre-Columbian position is the only way we could have assured the existence of our people.”
“Not to mention the lives of other people,” Mark said sternly.
So there it was. No jazz, no Hollywood, no Fred Astaire, no Bass Weejun penny loafers. No shining beacon on the hill. In exchange, no slavery, no Native American genocide, and no culture war. It was a circular argument, or at least it seemed that way because my head was spinning. But in the grand scheme of things, looking down on the human tragicomedy from on high, they had a point.
From opposite sides of the net they could agree that America was a spectacular failure, though for different reasons.
Excerpted from “These Are Our Failures“
By Christian Chensvold