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Things I'm Thinking 06/19/13

Calum Hayes |
June 19, 2013 | 12:59 p.m. PDT


Elizabeth Warren's words on student loans have never been truer. (Tim Pierce, Wikimedia Commons)
Elizabeth Warren's words on student loans have never been truer. (Tim Pierce, Wikimedia Commons)
Editor's Note: "Things I'm Thinking 06/19/13" is part of Calum Hayes' summer opinion series, Things I'm Thinking.

1. I’m thinking I can’t figure out how gay marriage became the hottest social issue in this country. The most recent polls from Gallup show that just 3.4 percent of Americans are gay, out of 313.9 million people; that means just over 10.6 million people are gay. By comparison, one in six Americans suffers from hunger, which equates to over fifty two million people. We can keep going with this: over 12 million Americans have cancer, 25.8 million people have diabetes, and, oh yeah, women still only earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, and last time I checked there were more than 10.6 million women. 

So keep getting up in arms about gay marriage and how love is love and how its your obligation to change your Facebook profile picture on the off chance the Supreme Court sees it (although, given our recent NSA scandal, it turns out this actually isn’t a bad strategy). Just know that you’re ignoring issues that impact far more people. I understand your objection that all those things cost more than making gay marriage legal, but I’m thinking I can’t for the life of me wrap my head around the idea that an issue for 3.4 percent of Americans - Americans that will still be alive tomorrow, unlike many others - has been prioritized like this. 

2. I’m thinking I disagree with the 70 percent of Americans who are against arming the Syrian rebels, according to a recent Washington Post poll. The shocking thing to me is that this poll was taken and released just days after we received confirmation that the Syrian government is using chemical weapons against its own people. 

Mistakes in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars aside, the world still looks to the United States when things start to go downhill. It is easy to stay on the sidelines and say we should sit on our hands and do nothing, but that is not the expectation the world has of us. Better yet, the last time we sat on our hands while a region of the world started to explode? WWII. Last time I checked, that didn’t go so well until we finally got in the arena.

One of my best friends, Nour Alharithi, who attends Northwestern University, has family in Syria. His parents were born in Syria; his grandparents still live there. I asked him for his thoughts on this, as he has a better idea of what is actually happening than most of us. This is what he said: “Categorizing the anti-Assad party as 'the rebels' is wrong the first place. They should not, and cannot be associated into one group. They are split on their ideologies - one party wants a democracy after Assad falls, and the other wants a theocracy. What we will see if Assad loses is an instant power struggle to try and rebuild. After the current civil war, chances are that we will see another civil war in its aftermath, because no one has a clear path of what to do after the current war ends.”

He went on to make the point that revolution is not always bad, and there have been countless examples throughout history where that has been proven. The problem he sees with this revolution in Syria, an opinion backed up by the life his grandparents are currently having to live, is that it is “a revolution without a plan.” He went on to tell me that polls like the Washington Post poll are largely pointless, as the American people don’t actually know what is going on. This is not the fault of the American people; it is the fault of the Western media, which is not always accurate. When the news reported that the rebels had blown up a courtroom, “my dad called his relatives, asking if everyone was okay. They had no idea what he was talking about. It wasn't until an hour after that phone call that the courtroom blew up.” Our media sources are getting their information from Syrian media sources. Either the rebels or Assad have corrupted the Syrian media sources.

As Americans, it is easy to sit back and look at the lives of the Syrian people as the results of a poll. A poll we are freely allowed to answer by our government - a type of privilege Syrians do not have. We need to change that way of thinking and remember that these are real lives, real families, and real people who have been reduced to hoping “my cousins are going to graduate college” and “my grandparents can enjoy the remaining years of our lives.” I’m thinking that if we remembered these people are not just the subjects of a poll we haphazardly answered for the Washington Post, if we remembered that people have been forced to ask themselves the question, “Which one do you care about more, a free country, or your friends and family's lives?” we would stop preaching isolationism and make the possibility of those things existing simultaneously our ultimate goal. 

3. I’m thinking I agree with Senator Elizabeth Warren when she says that students should get their loans from the government at the same rate big banks get theirs. There is a looming July 1 deadline for our government to prevent the interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

As someone who (disclaimer) would be impacted by this jump, I can’t for the life of me understand it. I am tired of my financial future being held captive because our congress, senate, and president can't take their egos out of the equation and move forward. I am tired of my financial future being help captive because it has been tied in to other bills that no one in Washington can agree on. It's enough to make me realize that I’m thinking I just wish I could be treated like the men responsible for leading this country into the great recession - at least they get a good loan rate.

4. I’m thinking I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the Arizona Voter Identification laws, but not for the reason you’d think. Here is just a partial list of accepted forms of identification when you go to vote in Arizona: driver's license, passport, utilities bill, any mail marked “official election material,” a bank statement, Disneyland yearly pass, vehicle insurance card and K1 GoKart drivers license (ok I made two of those up).

Maybe I’m delusional, but how is this an unreasonable demand? If you’re a citizen of this country, why is it so difficult to prove you’re a citizen of this country? As long as you have received election mail and pay for electricity, you’re allowed to vote. This is not some big racist attempt to keep minorities from voting across the country, it is a way to make sure people who legally shouldn’t be voting, aren’t voting. Yet, I’m thinking I still agree with the Supreme Court. Although, that may be because as long as I don’t have to show you my ID to buy the unnecessary Bushmaster rifle, you’re not getting my ID to vote for the equally unnecessary Michelle Bachmann.

5. I'm thinking there was going to be insight about the NBA finals here. There was going to be a breakdown and prediction for game seven on Thursday night. But...wow. What a game. My brain isn't coming up with real sentences right now, but maybe that has something to do with having given myself all of 20 minutes before sitting down to write this. All I can think about is Lebron putting up 32-10-11 and staving off the ridiculous "he's not clutch" talking heads for at least two more days; no headband? no problem; all the nutjobs claiming the referees rigged this game; how this was the best basketball game I've ever seen; how this was the Spurs' chance to get it done; how Popovich and Spoelstra both did their best to lose this game with terrible late coaching decisions; how I didn't sit down from the start of the fourth quarter on; how I'm never letting my kids become sports fans because that was too much to handle; how I'm pretty sure I just had a fight or flight response while watching a basketball game on TV on and on and on and on. That was insane. If I'm emotionally drained and I only watched the game, how are these guys supposed to get back up to play in 48 hours? LeBron James has the quote, "what we do in life echoes in eternity" tattooed on the under side of his arms. I'm thinking he should add "are you not entertained!?" I'm thinking the Heat win their second straight title Thursday.


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