The arendt files, p.21
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       The Arendt Files, p.21

           Ivan Rosemblatt
 
They took turns driving, taking the back roads, stopping only to eat and stretch, each man lost in his own thoughts as they watched the country go by. Everywhere they went things were falling apart. The roads had become and endless slalom of potholes, people packed into cars like sardines or hung on precariously to the side of trucks. To John it was clear that the drop in trade trade and commerce caused by travel restrictions was taking a huge toll. He could see the change in people's as they reverted to local economies. The ramshackle sidewalk bazaars reminded him of the the trips he had made to a small town out of Compostella semester during his semester abroad, the mixture of poverty and pride. He could even see the beginnings of regional changes of dress.

  What annoyed him the most were the cars. He wondered who's bright idea it had been in the Propagandaministerium to replace American muscle with German precision. It must have been remarkably expensive but it had had a tremendous psychological effect. The whole country looked and felt different because of it. It was an effective way of attacking national pride and building cache with the people, of trying to bribe them. That has always been the problem with bribery, it works too well. Who doesn't want t a new car? “German engineering built in Detroit.” There were giant billboards all along the highways and in small towns too. Three strapping, tall, blond, muscular men- an engineer wearing a lab coat and holding a clipboard, a German soldier and a worker in overalls standing proudly around their creation. John hated the implication that they could build a better car.

  If he were in charge that would be the first thing they would do, take back the factories and start building American muscle. He liked to imagine liberation day, walking to town square with a sledgehammer slung over his shoulder, joining other people along the way with their crowbars and baseball bats, coming together in a orgy of destruction, tearing those goddam volkswagen to pieces. He would buy the first new car that came off the line. He saw himself cruising around town, with his girl under his arm, not a care in the world. He had decided that if he ever made it to the end alive he would stop giving a shit about a single thing.

  As they stopped in towns along the way to eat or get gas the open, commercial friendliness he had grown up with, the “Welcome! Come on in! What can I get you?” was gone. He disliked the hardness that was taking over people's faces; apathy, distrust, spite. He suspected self hatred played a big part, everyone felt compromised. Businesses were forced to fly the red white and blue swastika next to the Stars and Stripes. People made compromises in order to survive or get ahead so they were on guard all of the time, fearful of the secret police and of the resistance too.

  He hated that in many ways, that they were contributing to the general atmosphere of suspicion, but for now there was no choice. They couldn't allow people to settle into complacency, they needed to know that there were consequences, that collaborating had its price.“If we don't make some real progress fast there is going to be a bedrock of hatred out here. It will become like those mountain areas in the middle east where feuds go on for centuries and towns are at war with the ones next to them.”

  Nebraska, of course, was the exception. All through the State everyone they met was polite and helpful. “No one could convince those people not to be friendly.”As they walked back to the car after eating burgers at a diner Zach asked “What makes those motherfuckers so chipper? Didn't they get the memo? We've been invaded.”

  Jimmy would have non of it.“Those are nice people. Remember, nice people? Leave em be. That's just how they're raised. A bear could be chewing off their leg and and would still be nice and polite. I'll bet you the my Colt 45 Nebraska is big in the resistance.”

  “These fucking goys, I will never for the life of me understand them.” He slammed the door behind him as he took his seat in the car.

  Chapter 22

 

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