There are other commentators with far more to say. Of course, most of them are filibustering. I would recommend Brad Delong. He points out that the academics who have purported to lay out what the E.U. should do to reinvigorate the project are making a sad mistake by limiting their recommendations to what they consider politically feasible. Sadly, what is feasible is also insufficient. Europe (or at least Germany) needs to move the Overton Window.
I am now reunited with my family in Montgomery, Alabama, enjoying the expedition and working on things like Argentine innovation history and black migration to Canada. The U.K. is far away.
So I will talk about our exit from the mysteriously deserted South Boston! Southexit? Svexit?
Note: most Southern (and many Midwestern) towns and cities would seem equally deserted at any time, but that didn’t square with the town’s downtown. Too many shops that looked too dependent on foot traffic! Or at least people parking their cars and getting out. But we saw nobody, not a soul.
Well, we learned was what happening as we approached the North Carolina border. My phone buzzed, and ugly buzz that usually accompanies some sort of weather warning. I was driving, so I handed it over to my compa. He looked at it, said nothing, but a few minutes later he added, “You should speed up. That way.” He pointed towards the strikingly blue sky ahead of us. “No, really. I don’t want to scare you, but you should speed up.”
The phone alert was a tornado warning, telling us to shelter in place. And the sky behind us was ... well, Jesus, I never knew that clouds could actually be green. The blue skies were so blue because a twister was sucking everything up into it.
Nothing happened to us ... but we later read about some tragic property damage and one death caused by the same weather system in North Carolina. Nobody was out because everyone had been told to stay in. It just did not occur to us to check, despite all the obvious warnings from the sky.
We were relieved to make it out of the stormfront and into North Carolina. Our first stop was the Roxboro Cotton Mill. The mill was one of the last holdouts in the slow collapse of North Carolina’s light industry. The mill was one of the last holdouts, shutting down in ‘99. Right now, a public charter school is trying to raise the funds to turn the building into an auditorium and gymnasium.
I could make the abandoned mill into a metaphor for globalization and the subsequent counterreaction. Or I could throw some cold water on that by pointing out that 1999 was before China received normal trading relations (NTR) with the United States and began to hammer manufacturing communities here. But both of those possibilities would take this post close to Brexit.
What has nothing to do with Brexit? Barbecue! We made it from Roxboro to Durham without complication. There, in an excellent way to celebrate our survival, we got some barbecue. It was awesome, very good, worth every bit of plaque on our arteries. Durham, I need not add, is not a particularly southern town. But this was good BBQ!
The only thing of particular interest in Durham said bad things about America, not the South; like I said, it is not particularly southern. We started to head to the interstate around 9pm (to press on to Charlotte that night) only to get stuck in a short downpour that was so bad we had to pull off into a convenience store and wait it out. The store was only minutes from where we had the BBQ, maybe a mile away. It was modern and well-kept. It had a gas station attached. (We filled up.) It had a constant stream of patrons, even despite the near zero-visibility downpour. And all of them were black.
Obviously, there is nothing surprising about America’s extreme segregation. But it is not something, I think, that we should allow ourselves to forget or begin to think normal.