As a retired teacher who has fled the US and is now living in Spain, and as someone who has until now eschewed most forms of social media, I am belatedly beginning to create an online presence.
To that end, I am using this WordPress website to archive some of my miscellaneous non-academic writing. I hope that some of my friends and former colleagues may enjoy this collection, which consists mainly of political editorials, light-weight essays, and silly poems. I also post here the latest version of my US History textbook, Key Moments in American History.
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Murray, good to hear from you again, but I think your pessimism is deepening. During my year in Spain, I returned to USA much enthused about the possibilities here and a certain wistfulness about
Spain (which I still love dearly) – it was a joy to return, even with its pimples and warts.
Hi Dick! I had some problems in uploading my “The Beginning of the End of the U. S. of A.?” essay to my website, but I take it that you saw it when it was briefly up on the homepage. (It is now back up on my header menus.) I do know what you mean about the joys of returning home after a sojourn abroad–for twenty years I spent two to three months every summer abroad, and from 1979 to 1983 we lived in Greece, returning to the US only twice during that period; I also spent a year in Spain during a sabbatical in 2000. I think, however, that our perspectives differ. I fled the US in 2017 (as I discuss in my “Fleeing the Death Star: Why I Self-Deported from the US” essay, which is in the Editorials from the Keene Sentinel section of the Editorials menu on my website). Spain is now my home. My visit to the US last Thanksgiving–my first return in two years–was an exercise in cognitive dissonance: everything was extremely familiar while at the same time feeling so utterly alien. I am very worried about the US. Growing up in a leftist family and coming to age as a radical in the late 1960’s, I have always been suspicious of the American military-industrial complex. My unease with what I see as systemic problems with the country came into focus in the 15 years that I taught US history and wrote my own US History textbook (also available on my website). I really did end every US History course by asking my students when they thought the US would cease to exist–that was not just a rhetorical fiction I put in my essay. I was always surprised by how many students thought that the US was eternal, a force of nature like gravity. (Although, given the general myopia of the country about history or anything beyond its own borders, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised!) But the fact of the matter is that, at some point in time, the United States of America will cease to exist as a nation state. The only questions are when, and exactly how, the disintegration of the country will occur. The point I was trying to make in my essay is that the pandemic is revealing the underlying cracks in American (and the world, for that matter) society. It’s not that I wish my former homeland ill, nor that I underestimate the nobility of everyone who is trying to make it a better, more equable society. It is just that when I saw the regional map in Cuomo’s press conference, it reminded me of my class discussions about the end of the American experiment. So, yes, I am pessimistic about the future of the United States. I am, on the other hand, quite optimistic that, once we have vanquished this virus, the world as a whole will be in a better place to address economic inequality and global warming.
Dear Murray – You are such a dear to give me such an eloquent and thoughtful reply to my comment. I suppose you are correct about the future of USA and you are a superb teacher and historian and have given me much to read and think about. For me, though, being at the end of life. I cannot think that far ahead and take joy wherever I can. You are in my thoughts as we struggle thru these hard times and I so enjoy your posts. Keep it up!! All the best. Dick Segal
Dick: That is SO sweet of you! You and Susan were such an important part of our KUUC life when we lived in Keene. I do so much know what you mean about taking joy in whatever we can as we are facing the end of our lives. Little conversations like this are certainly a joy to me.