People Who Aren’t Americans

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This is a clip from a remarkable story you can read here; to summarize, a man boarding a train slipped and his leg was trapped between the train and the platform. The commuters briefly waited for train officials to help him free. When that didn’t happen, they worked together to push the train and free the man themselves.

I saw a story like this a few weeks ago, I think from Japan. And as soon as I saw just the headline–“Hero Commuters Lift Train Off Trapped Man In Stunning Footage”–and the gif, knowing no details, my first thought was: Those aren’t Americans. Turns out I was right. They’re not.

How did I know that? Why is this so obviously not something Americans would do?

Some of my best (white) friends use racist language!!!

I don’t know if the link above posted correctly…it’s supposed to be a clip of Louis CK talking about why it’s great to be white.
He clarifies that he doesn’t think white people are better than other people; just that, if he had to sign up every year to “be” something, he’d sign up to be a white man every time.

This video came to mind today thanks to some discussions I’ve been having with friends about the Riley Cooper story. Riley Cooper plays football for the Philadelphia Eagles. Back in June, at a Kenny Chesney concert, a drunk Cooper, confronted (apparently peaceably) by a security guard, pointed off-camera and said “I will fight every nigger here.” Continue reading

I Hope Your Children And Mine Do Forget 9/11 (2009)

I first hated September 11th on September 11th, 2002. As the first anniversary of 9-11 neared I grew irritable, reclusive, and hopeless.  In the years since, those feelings have intensified.

When I was 11, thanks to the mini-series “War and Remembrance,” I devoured any and all material I could find on World War II.  I took out every book on the war in my school library, then every book from the public library.  I read Herman Wouk’s novel, on which the mini-series is based, which was and probably still is the longest book I’ve ever read.  Much to my parents’ chagrin, I ordered William Greider’s “History of the Third Reich” and the Time-Life video series “The Nazis: A Warning From History”; when company came I had to hide these items, lest anyone be led to think I was a burgeoning neo-Nazi.  I read the Holocaust survivor stories “Escape from Sobibor” and “Fragments of Isabella.”

Of all the horrors from the war, one that always stuck with me as particularly nightmarish was the scale of relativity the Nazis used when dealing with European resistance fighters. Continue reading

Diffidence by Matthew Miranda

images-8I hate the dictionary.

I’m comfortable using the h-word because I feel you can only hate what you love(d), and I do love dictionaries. Did. They were once one of civilization’s great achievements, along with pant pockets, coitus, and back scratches. I suspect the colloquialism “the best thing since the dictionary” never caught on because it’s syllabically cumbersome. “The best thing since sliced bread” is three beats shorter, and alliterative to boot.

But “best thing since sliced bread” doesn’t cut it anymore. Humanity, like language and sandwich boundaries, evolves. We have wraps now. Paninis. Minor league ballparks serve burgers between donuts, and KFC, having decided that having thousands of mechanical arms ripping apart millions of chickens wasn’t enough of an affront to life, created a sandwich that uses two pieces of chicken instead of bread. Lots of people can’t digest gluten, anyway. Continue reading