These are memories stimulated by the November 2015 terrorist attacks on Paris:
I recall writing a letter to the editor of our local newspaper when, during the Iraq War, the civilian death toll reached the number of people living in our county (about 26,000). I wanted local people to share my feelings of shame and horror. Local Republicans wrote letters in response to mine, castigating me, questioning my patriotism.
That was a benighted county in the failing state of Michigan, in which the local ministerial association denied the Unitarian Universalist minister the opportunity to participate in National Prayer Day, on the grounds that she was not a Christian. In point of fact, she was a Christian, and many in her congregation were Christian, even though Unitarian Universalism is not. In any case, we U.U.’s wondered why one had to be a Christian to participate in National Prayer Day, and our contempt for the general stupidity and prejudice of Americans in general and Michiganders in particular increased. One of the few things that my father and I ever agreed on was the stupidity of Americans. A third generation immigrant of Jewish background, I have never really considered myself an American.
I’m also remembering my last visit to Paris, surprisingly long ago, during George W. Bush’s second term. Throughout the city I saw posters with pictures of Bush and the slogan: Bush: Le Plus Grand Terroriste.
I wonder how many Parisians remember those posters and their protests against the war, or whether their memories have been covered over by their current hatred for the Islamic State.
I remember that my wife and I were staying in an apartment in a building built in the late eighteenth century, overlooking a train station. Trains entered and left the station day and night. The neighborhood was full of Arabs and Africans, wearing their native garb. Many of the Arab women wore facial tattoos. My wife found these non-native Parisians charming, but hated the constant noise of the station. I slept through it all, but she was driven to distraction.
About the Author
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over nine hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including RAY’S ROAD REVIEW. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net for work published in 2011 through 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.