What you are looking is a map of America. The United States has troops in more than 150 countries around the world. An orange country is one that lets Uncle Sam crash on its couch. Light blue countries have 100 or more troops in them, dark blue have over 1,000. (Countries with fewer than 75 were omitted from the map. This is the modern way an empire controls the world, and I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that. In the past, when powerful countries needed territory, they either annexed them (like Rome), or enslaved them (like Britain). Nowadays, the US just kind of hangs out everywhere- it’s not great (see Iraq) but it’s certainly an improvement. Influence in three-fourths of the countries in the world means is that the United States is the foremost military and diplomatic power on the planet. And although this ought to be obvious, it runs contrary to everything people seem to think.
I really doubt this is going to foster solidarity with the kind of people who oppose gun control, Mr. President.
If you only see in black and white, you may as well be blind. When I was in the fifth grade, a kid in our school had a sore throat and his parents wouldn’t let him stay home. They were dumb enough to send him on his way with a handful of cough drops, and thanks to our elementary’s “Zero Tolerance” policy toward drugs, that half of a half of a half of a gram of menthol may as well have been a pound of uncut Colombian blow. That kid was suspended for three days for bringing “stimulants” to class, when what he had in his lunchbox was probably less mind-altering than the espresso shots in the teacher’s macchiato. (I thank God for this- he probably had enough to share with the class, and we all know Ricola is a gateway drug. If it hadn’t have been for the principal’s swift action, I might be sucking a cock for crack right now.) These stories aren’t even uncommon- you hear all the time about students getting detention for drawing a gun or bringing a butter knife to lunch because of a “Zero Tolerance” policy toward weapons, too. A policy that’s all or nothing is going to have a lot of casualties- and these casualties will be literal if that policy is a zealous pro-gun stance. The NRA and Americans in favor of the second Amendment hold way too hard a line, especially in the face of the recent Sandy Hook Tragedy. There are some arguments I respect and some I don’t, and the opinion that all Americans should have easy access to unnecessarily powerful murder weapons after twenty children were killed by them definitely fits into the latter category. There’s room for some debate on the second amendment and guns, but sorry, rights to home assault rifles aren’t on the table. Unfortunately, there are some who take a “Zero Tolerance” stance on being rational, like Ben Howe, the subject of this week’s Sam West Writes This Presents: Annotative Mockery. I will mark up Ben’s unbelievable article, “Gun Control: WWJD?” to attempt to gain insight into the mind of the uncompromising gun nut.
These seven states have enough signatures on their petition to warrant a response from the Obama administration.
Growing up in Alabama means dealing with the fact that your ancestors were all racists who fought a bloody war in defense of their terrible beliefs- German teenagers probably know the feeling, too. I’m not one of the history-deniers. The Confederacy was founded to keep slavery alive. Part of that had to do with “state’s rights,” sure- state’s rights to own people as property. And yes, there was a difference between the industrial and agrarian cultures of the North and South- the latter needed a lot of manpower to be effective, manpower that was best provided by workers that didn’t get paid. If you believe that the Confederate States of America was anything other than one of History’s drunken mistakes, sorry. Your predecessors, like mine, died for what they believed in, and that was a literally evil institutionalized nightmare. And whenever I feel like maybe the world is getting to be a better place- what with its gay senators and legalized marijuana- my people manage to step up to the plate to remind me we have a long way to go. A long, long goddamn way.
Can we not do this? I’m all for you, Mrs. Obama, but let’s not high five children and pretend it’s cool.
At seventeen, I’m still a child, and so most of the big political issues I’ve written about on Sam West Writes This have little to no bearing on me. The taxes I pay are as meager and inconsequential as the minimum-wage work I do, I’m not old enough to get married or smoke or drink, and I can’t vote and won’t be able to until the next go-round. I only feel the effects of basically any law or policy through secondhand exposure and opinion osmosis, and so it’s perfectly reasonable for folks to take any of my political writing with a grain of salt. Lately though, there has been some uproar about an issue affecting the nation’s public school students, which is a category I still belong to. So for those of you who think my opinions mean nothing because I have no experience with the issues, you’re absolutely right any week but this. As a high school student, I can say the following with full journalistic integrity and editorial insight: if you think that government regulation of what goes into a child’s school lunch is a genuine affront to freedom, you are a fucking retard.