The Dead, the Bad, and the Ugly

There are more than 10,000 gun-related homicides in the United States each year. This year, one of those was a seventeen year old boy in Florida, shot by a grown man who followed him around the neighborhood despite a police dispatcher’s specific instructions.

Just because George Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder for the killing of Trayvon Martin does not mean that he’ll be convicted. Normally, the case would be pretty straightforward: no one disputes that Zimmerman pulled the trigger on the pistol that he proudly carried like an over-imaginative twelve year old might carry a cap gun. No one disputes that the bullet he fired took the life of a teenage boy. In almost every other Western country in the entire world, he would be convicted of the murder that he clearly committed. In Florida, the outcome is less clear.

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We’ve Always Been at War with East Asia

After World War II, do you think that Americans could point to the day when the Soviet Union switched from ally of convenience to sworn adversary?  A decade from now, will we be able to point to the day when our Cold War with China began? Americans need a scapegoat for everything, and China is the perfect enemy for the anemic economic recovery of today. As America stagnates at the top of the world stage, China rises. As American incomes stay flat, those in China skyrocket. Their students are excelling—although they only report scores from Hong Kong and Shanghai—as ours fail to meet basic national standards. And, of course, they’re stealing our jobs!

Listening to our nation’s leaders makes it seem as though we’ve already begun a Cold War with China. The New York Times front page last Sunday morning portrayed Chinese investment in struggling economies throughout Latin America and the Caribbean as something vaguely sinister. The Economist ran an issue last week with a cover decorated by an ominous-looking Chinese submarine and a headline about “China’s Military Rise.” Never mind that they spend a quarter of what we do on their military. Never mind that their submarines are apparently so far behind ours that we can track them from outer space. Never mind our numerous and ongoing military interventions in the Middle East; in a speech last week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta focused primarily on China. America must always be a Pacific power, he said, and clearly he wasn’t talking about New Zealand.

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