Unified Patriots by Vassar Bushmills
In 1992 I took an overnight train from Moscow to Ukraine, with an escort who knew the ropes about getting me on the train without being spotted as a chiseling American traveling as a Russian. First class tickets were sold out so we had to share our compartment with two others.
Turns out they were Palestinians (18-20 yrs, my guess) returning to Jerusalem to rejoin the Intifada after a winter’s semester at one of the Soviet technical institutes (no doubt training to make Molotov cocktails, and which probably operates in the same way today.) It was uncomfortable for awhile, until after the ticket lady had picked up the tickets, and the Arabs had ascertained, that No, I wasn’t a Jew, but Yes, I had been to New York. Often. It was a very awkward, broken conversation since my escort from Ukraine spoke almost no English, only Russian and Ukrainian, and some French, I spoke almost no Russian, but some French, and one Arab, beside his native tongue, spoke a little Russian and the other, the youngest, spoke some English. Turns out they were also “Jack-Muslims” for they put away half of my liter bottle of vodka, but it kept the conversation at least convivial, as I kept them enthralled about life in America and New York. In truth I substituted life in Cincinnati with life in the Big Apple, but they were mesmerized…until finally we drifted off to sleep, each with one eye open.
One always comes away with new knowledge in those kinds of conversations, and mine has to do with the main title, having to do with radicalization in America today, and immigration in general.
“Oh, if only I could go to New York…I would make so much money” was how the youngest Molotov cocktail-builder put it.
That echoed a theme I heard all over Ukraine and Russia, and later in the Balkans. America is a place where a man can go to make money. Not settle down, raise a family, and not even honest money[…]