picture of my childhood house in Münster
One sunny summer Saturday in 2006 I took a train out to visit Münster, Germany, the town where I spent a few years of my young life. My family lived in Münster, in theory, because of Communism—my dad was in the Army, and the American army had to be in Germany because… you know… because of the Reds. And as I was poking around the depressingly unfamiliar streets of my old town I stumbled upon a Communist rally in full swing. “Now wait just one hot minute,” I said to myself in a moment of impulsive patriotic-nostalgic fervor, “I grew up in this town to get rid of you assholes.” But as I watched them enjoying their rally, the flash of anger cooled, and I walked on with shouts of “Down with the American butchers!” and “Israel has no right to exist!” pealing off the walls of the square, thinking to myself “Aww, let ‘em have their fun.” Rallies are so much fun.
Though we spent the first years of our lives dumbly watching its spectacular headswell and collapse, Communism evokes a relatively weak and passed-on behavioral distemper in my American generation, not like the visceral fear and hatred of our foregoers. Sure, almost all Americans, regardless of age, share an essential dislike of the thing. The contemporary weakness of the communist ideology in America (especially in comparison to our cultural relatives, the Western European nations) is a running testament to this. Still, my generation learned its anti-Red catechism just and even as we learned to speak language—passively and without critical understanding—and right before we entered the phase of American life where we might have begun to regard its presence with synapse-setting, hormone-infused, culturally mediated intellectual loathing, it was gone, just like that, with a Wall. Unlike the previous three crops of Americans, we were a generation without a nemesis. This happy state of things would, of course, last only a decade.