Low Tide By Brandon Loomis
Earlier this year I stopped into a Mendenhall Valley saloon for a burger and saw these words on the wall: "America. Love it or leave it."
It made me laugh, sardonically. Excuse me, fellow Americans. I didn't mean to question your authorities. Are we deporting malcontents or just baiting them?
I'd been away from Alaska for many years, and the sign was a rude welcome home that I laughed off as a time warp to those days when wearing long hair was called counterculture. I asked if the saloon took American money.
Now I see that I was naive, and that asking people to love it or leave it these days actually is a polite invitation with a willing audience.
On Wednesday, it seems, many people woke up wanting out of George Bush's America. If you have access to e-mail and know anyone who's ever voted for a Democrat you know this to be true. Your mailbox was full of apocalyptic woe the day after Bush won re-election.
The first of these in my box concluded: "I wish I could move to France or Canada!"
That can be arranged, I thought. But soon I realized that it wasn't just Francophone Francophiles (she really is one, and still they gave her a Michigan driver's license) wanting out, and that the Canada theme is sweeping the nation. E-mails from Chicago, from Wyoming, from Washington. People can't get enough Canada this week.
On Thursday I received three separate renderings of North America suggesting that no one would have to move at all; we'd just move the boundaries. One had a crude outline of Canada incorporating the American West Coast, Northeast and upper Midwest (in blue, naturally). One had the same idea but labeled the West Coast "Baja Canada," the Bush-backing part of the Lower 48 "The United State of Texas," and, curiously, Alaska as "Russia." My favorite labeled all those red states as "Jesusland."
Which leads us to the question I know you're all asking: What would Abraham do?
Four score and many years ago, President Lincoln had a conundrum. His house was divided and he wasn't about to let it fall. You know the rest.
Lincoln wouldn't stand for this Canada talk. Of that I am confident. And probably, considering who's bearing his party's standard these days, the first blue state to secede is asking for trouble. This country's weapons of mass destruction are deep inside Bush nation. Leave America if you must, but you can't take Illinois - or downtown Juneau - with you.
I've tried to get off these mass e-mail lists for some time, most pointedly each time the instigator has bashed the media for "bias," which generally means not censoring views contrary to the reader's. It's not that I duck from criticism. I just get tired of emotional generalizations and I get enough e-mail as is. But I keep getting these, and so far 13 people have responded to the one that pined for Canada or France.
Here's a taste.
"Apparently fear, ignorance and bigotry are really popular in this country. Who knew? At least nobody can blame Clinton for everything that goes wrong from this point forward, and trust me, THINGS WILL GO HORRIBLY WRONG BEFORE THEY GET BETTER."
Indeed. Fear rules the land.
The other day both John Kerry and George Bush talked about reconciliation in America. It's a pretty idea. But surely neither of them can mean it, and if they do they're more naive than I am. Our civil union is annulled.
Expect four more years of high-pitched e-mail.
Brandon Loomis is city editor of the Juneau Empire and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.