One of the joys of traveling abroad these days is being able to convince yourself that you are more or less beyond the reach of Trumpism. Or at least that’s what I had been thinking over the past couple of months as Bonnie and I settled in Spain, France and now Italy. Of course, I wear my Trump button with his name crossed out and daily get high-fives from Europeans as a consequence. Also, some times we get a table in a restaurant that is “full up.” And I see bits and pieces of the news. Still, I feel quite removed from the U.S. and Trump and what he represents.
But yesterday day Trump’s ignorant and evil little hands reached across thousands of miles and touched me at a surprising moment. I was riding down in the funicular from the mountain top where the Italian town of Montecatini is located. One of my friends and house guests, Sadie Jones, the English novelist, was standing beside me as we both road open-air at the front of the funicular. Standing next to us were two elderly Norwegian couples. The husband of one couple remarked favorably on my anti-Trump button. And we started talking; talking as well as we could given their limited English and our complete lack of Norwegian. The man wanted us to know that he and his friends riding on that funicular had recently been denied entry into the United States. “Why,” I asked, completely surprised. “Because recently we two couples had taken a cruise and it called at an Iranian port.”
Well, I said how sorry I was, apologized for the hateful idiocy of U.S. governance these days, and the Norwegians couldn’t have been more forgiving, again thanking me for my button and assurances that most Americans would be disgusted to learn of their denial of entry into the United States.
It really is a small world. And this sad incident served to remind me how easily one man, with far, far more power than he or any one individual should have, and possessed of evil intent, can negatively impact the lives of innocent people who should be free of his reach. Hell, we should all be free of his reach!
Ride the funicular with us!