The phrase Presidential Debate has become synonymous with “petty shouting match.” Ballot deadlines were extended and then revoked. Some Americans still haven’t received their absentee ballots, while others report “faulty” ballots that don’t list any presidential candidates at all. Everywhere we turn, it seems that there is new election news to lament and almost no way of letting out this stress while locked at home. The week before one of the most important elections of our lifetimes, Americans have never needed comfort food more.
Logically, we all know that a bowl of chicken soup or mac and cheese can’t actually solve any of the turmoil our country is currently going through. A bag of crunchy, salty chips won’t do the trick either, yet we still turn to these familiar foods to support us emotionally when everything seems like it’s a bit too much to handle.
Before the whir of life-changing events and the unprecedented-ness that has characterized the past six months, I was bent over my notebook for Black Radical Tradition in the U.S., taught by Professor Russell Rickford, Africana and American Studies, rushing to sloppily jot down his last sentence: “Americanism is ahistorical.”
More recently, sitting on my couch instead of a desk and staring not at slides but the rolling credits for Spike Lee’s most recent war drama, Da 5 Bloods, I heard an echo of Prof. Rickford in the back of my head. And since then, I’ve been reminded of those three words so often that I now hear them in my own voice, as I read people’s denialism about the United States’ militant capacity to conquer civilians. Specifically its own citizens. Over videos of federal agents deployed on the streets of New York, Portland and Chicago, Homeland Security Investigations officers brutalizing protestors and plainclothes cops snatching people into unmarked vans, outrage and shock have been weirdly focused on where this is happening, and whose citizens it’s happening to, rather than the simple fact that it’s happening. These reactions reveal a need to create distance between America and the evidence before us, and to pretend that distance is as geographical as it is ethical: “A little graffiti and some toppled statues and we turn into freaking [Al]Fallujah.
Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a new dueling columns feature. In this feature, Michael Johns ’20 and Giancarlo Valdetaro ’21 debate, “Forty years after the Iranian Revolution, what posture should the U.S. take on the Islamic Republic?” Read the counterpart column here. An unidentified man was publicly hanged in the Iranian city of Kazeroon last month, one of thousands of Iranians executed on charges of homosexuality in the country since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran’s despotic legal system and practice of secret executions make it easy to underestimate the magnitude of Iran’s human rights abuses, which also have targeted political opponents and religious minorities. Yet, while numbers are hard to come by, human rights experts are nearly unanimous in placing Iran among the world’s worst human rights violators.
I could spend my final column in The Sun wistfully lamenting the passing of these years spent perched far above Cayuga’s waters, but I’m sure there are others waiting to step into that breach. My tales are much too inane for general consumption, so a meditation, if it deserves such a term, on my time in this country seems a better choice than bland personal anecdotes. Though I suppose it is precisely the inanity of the anecdotes that makes the profundity of the meditation. There are things one notices only after having lived in a country for some time. Small things that tourists would not recognise.
Like many students on this campus, I was devastated at the victory of Donald J. Trump in his rise to the office of President of the United States. I sat there with my friends who had just been canvassing in New Hampshire as we all asked ourselves how in the world this happened. I was shocked like everyone else, but I shouldn’t have been. I should’ve seen this coming. I’m not qualified to speak on the politics of this election.
I recently read a piece of advice that asked writers to pinpoint the topic, issue or event they would least like to write about, and then go write about it. Mine wasn’t a difficult answer: the all-consuming political hellhole that is the current election. So, here goes. Wait! Do not stop reading.
The Armed Forces of the United States is, without question, the most powerful military force in human history. The ability of the U.S. military to project power across the globe would leave the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire and the British Empire in awe. Without a doubt, there is no nation in existence that has the capacity to challenge American military supremacy. Yet despite the incredible strength of American military hegemonic power, our armed forces are in desperate need of change. First, it is key to understand that a strong, powerful American military is central to global peace and prosperity.
Today marks the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is a time of celebration for my people; we eat sweet foods, drink sweet wine and try with all our might to get some sort of sound out of the shofar but never manage to do so (okay, maybe the last one is just me). Rosh Hashanah is a joyous holiday, a time for us to enjoy family, friends and life. Seven days from now, however, there will be no celebration. In seven days, there is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.
Full disclosure: I was going to use my column this week to announce my forthcoming presidential candidacy, but then I remembered that I once had pneumonia in second grade, so I guess I’m disqualified from ever doing that. All jokes aside, is America really going to hand over the nuclear codes to an unstable, self-serving sentient Cheeto because Hillary Clinton was dehydrated? Come on, people, a little perspective never hurt anybody. In other news, my beloved Giants took on and defeated Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in New York’s home opener. The Big Blue Wrecking Crew is 2-0 for the first time since 2009, Victor Cruz is catching game-winning touchdowns, Eli Manning is having his best statistical season ever and Odell Beckham Jr. is being Odell Beckham Jr. — life is pretty good for this perpetually disappointed fan.