Back during the formation of the European Union in the 1990s, there was a joke going around among those who prefer to remember history — mainly hoping to avoid repeating it. The last time folks worked this hard to unify Europe, the joke went, things didn’t turn out so well.
Indeed, the graveyards above the beaches of Normandy, the snuffed-out gas chambers and shuttered concentration camps in the East, and all the ugly, modern “post-war” construction all over Berlin and parts east stand as pretty dreadful reminders of that last failed effort to bring Europe together as one.
Still, the new masters of Germany and the rest of Olde Europe made another go of it in 1993.
Twenty-five years on, the joke isn’t quite so funny anymore.
Certainly, there is no evidence that the Lords of Brussels want to exterminate an entire religion this time around. And instead of appeasement pacts, they are living and dying by the ballot box.
Mostly dying of late.
In 2016, the Year of our Trump, Britain voted to bail on the European Union. Turns out, national sovereignty, self-governance and fiscal sanity still matter to people in this wacky world.
And then, more than a year after President Trump declared war on Mother Earth by withdrawing from the so-called Paris Agreement, Paris is now burning to withdraw from its own agreement.
This latest effort is not a ballot box initiative. Nor is it an appeasement pact, either. It is more like a Molotov cocktail approach.
Burn the place up and scrawl graffiti all over whatever buildings remain in Paris after the last effort to unify Europe. These rioting Parisians claim to love Mother Earth, but they are also keen to feed their families and drive to work — all of which is significantly hampered by this Paris Agreement.
To quell the uprising of French workers, “authorities” have used tear gas, smoke grenades, and water cannons.
And, now, they have deployed armored vehicles. Under the flag of the European Union. That field of blue with the nest of 12 yellow stars — not to be confused with the yellow stars some were forced to wear during the last effort to unify Europe.
As I said, the joke is not so funny anymore.
Sensing he might have misread the wishes of his people, French President Emmanuel Macron has scrapped his plan to increase the tax on diesel that so disproportionately hurts French workers.
That leaves one wondering. If the future of the planet — the very life of Mother Earth, herself — hangs in the balance as these people believe, then how does Mr. Macron capitulate so easily? By his very own definition of global warming and the threat of fossil fuels such as diesel, he has agreed to murder Mother Earth with his own bare hands.
Oh, well. I guess that will be only the second greatest tragedy over the past 100 years when people decided to unify Europe.
• Contact Charles Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @charleshurt.