Whenever I visit Washington, D.C. on my book tours, I always take a few hours to testify before Congress. I do this for many reasons: because of the solid, even excessive, publicity that I receive, and for the food in the Congressional cafeteria, which is excellent. But I also realize that appearing before Congress is my solemn citizen’s duty, because so many people follow my lead. If I believe in a cause, that cause quickly becomes celebre.
Here, then, is the testimony I gave last week before the House Foreign Relations Committee. Everyone enjoyed the speech, and afterward, the committee took me out to lunch, where we ogled the waitress. Those guys are scamps. Now, for the first time, I present this testimony to you. Read it, and change the world.
Greetings, esteemed Congresspeople, members of the media, and assorted groupies and hangers-on! I stand before you today with a proposition. And an opportunity. I am fortunate to be speaking to you on my book tour, an epic, 25-city voyage into the heart of some of America’s most fashionable neighborhoods. I have gained so much wisdom about our country’s soul.
We are Americans, through and through. We stand at the crossroads of history, and man the traffic light of destiny at those crossroads. We are shining beacon lights of freedom, representatives of the most prosperous, most free country in the most glorious time in history. We are a people apart.
Today, I am here, at the very center of world power. You are journalists and speechwriters, policymakers and powerbrokers. You have the position and influence to influence positions, unless you are graduate students, in which case I encourage you to hurry up and finish your thesis, so you can get a job.
But, for the most part, you people can get things done, which is good. Because I have something important for you to do.
Not all the world can share in our immense prosperity. Through no fault of our own, the world’s vast wealth is distributed unequally, and perhaps unfairly. Nevertheless, this is a reality that we must all face. In particular, one continent goes neglected, one continent that is the seedbed of humanity itself, and the mother of us all.
The people of this continent are sore, limping from centuries of plunder, exploitation, and unscrupulous government. They have received the worst of what our modern world has to offer: slave labor, unwanted disease, incompetent, corrupt bureaucracy. Even as the peoples of this continent shake off the burden of their past, they face an uncertain future. While we worry about whether or not we can get a shot of soy milk in our Sumatran roast, they are worrying about the rampant spread of AIDS, about unchecked guerilla warfare, about famine, and about infinite loss. My fellow Americans, we have a duty. We cannot ignore this continent any longer.
I am talking, of course, about Europe.
How much longer can we sit by idly and watch televised pictures of the miserable, fly-specked children of Provence? Why do we do nothing to rescue Umbria from its crushing debt? And why do tourists ignore Venice, one of the world’s forgotten treasures? What of the gasoline? What are we to do about the gasoline? This neglect must not continue!
From Vienna to Berlin, from Basel to Krakow, the people of Europe cry out. Help us! Help us! We are hungry, and nobody cares! Recently, I had the privilege of visiting Barcelona, Spain, one of the world’s most troubled and forgotten cities. All the discos were shuttered. Bandits had sacked its once-grand boulevards. Tapas were very, very scarce. I didn’t once leave the back seat of my hired car, for fear of being murdered. But I could still only reach one conclusion. I have to devote the rest of my life to helping these people.
As must you, my friends. After you have purchased my book, The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, today, you must adopt Europe’s salvation as your holy mission. Journalists, you must write editorials and feature stories. Students, you must stage protests and send out emails. Representatives, you had better pass some damn laws. The rest of you must lie close to your various lovers at night and whisper sweet truths in their ears while they sleep.
We cannot bend. We cannot falter. We cannot let this cause fall through the ample cracks of time.
People of Washington! And the world! Let us not forget Europe: The Forgotten Continent!