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Boy Scouts and Burning American Flags

in Campus Journal by

 

When I was a Boy Scout, I burned hundreds of American flags. Once or twice a year, at summer camp or at a Court of Honor (basically a barbeque where merit badges and rank advancements were awarded), my scoutmaster would bring boxes and boxes of tattered and worn American flags to be “retired,” as he called it. This was done in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code provision that directs: “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

The flags themselves varied in size; some were the size of envelopes, while some were so big it took six people at each bisector of the rectangle to hold the flag so that no part of it touched the ground. My scoutmaster was a notable man in the small town where he had lived in all his life. He had been fire chief and he was head of the security at a large hospital nearby, he smoked cigarettes and was the scoutmaster of the Boy Scout troop. By virtue of all these different hats he wore, he came into contact with many people who regularly felt compelled to give him their torn and tattered flags to be respectfully disintegrated. Additionally, my scoutmaster regularly put American flags on the graves of war veterans, many of which were the recently uncovered graves of Civil War veterans buried nearby in an overgrown church yard that had been cleared by an enterprising Eagle Scout at the request of my scoutmaster. Putting flags on the graves meant checking to make sure they were still in good condition, and those that did not meet the standard were also added to the collection of doomed flags my scoutmaster would accumulate.

The flags also varied in material, meaning they all burned differently. Some were made out of some kind of thin cloth, and these would burn fast and turn immediately to dust. Some were plastic and only melted when the fire became extremely hot, leaving a hardened mass of black goo behind the next day. Some of the flags were truly massive and would throw off tremendous heat and light and burn in a spectacular variety of ways depending on the angle at which the cloth was lying and such variables. Pretty much everything burned, since fire does a very good job of burning things. For some reason though, the little sticks with the small American flags that are put on soldier’s graves or used as decoration for somebody’s walk for the fourth of July, mostly didn’t burn up but just blackened a little.

I do not remember exactly what was said at these ceremonies, but it was very much like the, to turn a phrase, “typical flag patriotic stuff” they play in big stadiums from loud speakers you cannot see, from an announcer who does not sound human. I do remember that several times a particular speech was read that described the symbolism of each part of the American flag, including the white stars, the blue field on which they lie, and each of the thirteen stripes, which were said to stand not for the colonies but for the cardinal American principles and supreme sacrifices that were made and would continue to be made by those fighting in our wars on behalf of our government. After each statement was read to some effect, a stripe would be torn by a Scout and thrown into the fire.

The fire gave off an unbelievable amount of light and heat.  Everyone had to move back behind the benches that enriched the fire circle, and it was as light as day when the fire reached its zenith, illuminating us as we stood around in silence watching all the flags burn.

I have more patriotic leanings than the average swattie, partially for ideological reasons, but in no small part because of the terrific impression left on me by watching these ceremonies two or three times a year during my adolescence.

That being said, I think the idea of outlawing the burning of American flags is dangerous and hypocritical. Additionally, the idea of people facing social or economic consequences for protests related to the flag seems unbelievably authoritarian and stupid. To treat such protests like a problem that needs to be stamped out is woefully unpatriotic, since it takes a clear attempt at engagement and treats it like some sort of curse-imposing magic trick. These people treat refusing to stand for the national anthem as if it were the greatest political problem we have in America, as if Colin Kaepernick is causing more social ill in this country than then the ill-gotten gains of some of the billionaire owners of NFL teams. Additionally, the idea that burning an American flag is somehow ipso facto “desecrating it” is ill-informed considering 1) that it is the prescribed manner of disposal, and 2) because the American flag code, which is the source of the directive to stand for the national anthem, also specifically bans using the American flag to emblazon clothing or as festoonment. Where’s the outrage over American flag ties and suits and t-shirts and underwear?

When I heard about the group of Native students burning an American flag on Columbus Day, I was incredibly moved by the events described. I cannot begin to understand what something like Columbus Day means for Native students going to this school anymore than I can understand what life in America is for many other minorities living in this country; I cannot ever even know what an American flag looks like to them.

But I was also struck by the similarities I saw between what the students did on Columbus Day and what I used to do in Boy Scouts. The destruction of the American flag in the exact same way, done solemnly and silently and accompanied by words of considered reflection. I do not want to equivocate the two very different events. I, feel, though that there must be some common ground that sees much meaning in the burning of the same symbol, whatever that meaning may be. The flag code says, somewhat mystically, that “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” But debates over the flag are certainly lively, and it seems the meaning of America is being continuously examined and reconsidered in the minds of all those people fighting the good fight. And if America’s meaning is up in the air, so too is its future up for grabs.

 

Is America Really a Democracy?

in Columns/Opinions/The Fan Letter by

Despite one’s political leanings, President Trump’s election is a phenomenon in need of an explanation. How did Donald Trump, a businessman of no experience with public policy, become the leader of the free world? More specifically, how did he lie his way to the presidency?

Some, as exemplified by Kellyanne Conway’s justification of “alternative facts,” attempt to rationalize Trump’s apparent lies by attacking the “elitist liberal establishment” that holds conservatives to an impossible standard. Others contend that Trump’s claims are not meant to be taken literally. Cornell University Professor Anna Katharine Mansfield, for example, recently argued in the Washington Post that Trump is delivering a different kind of truth: “emotional truth” that captures the frustration many Trump supporters feel. She claimed this kind of truth cannot be discredited by facts and evidence.

Instead of treating Trump’s lies as just another form of democratic discourse, why can’t we admit that American democracy is broken? What is a democracy when its participants cannot observe the basic laws of logic and reason, when slogan shouting has replaced thoughtful deliberation?

As a citizen of China, manipulation of facts and logic is not foreign to me. Our history is replete with examples where defiance of reason has led to spectacular policy failures. The Great Leap Forward, a Mao-initiated campaign that aimed to “reach Britain and surpass America” (Ganying Chaomei) in domestic production within 20 years, led to the most devastating famine in human history. According to the University of Hong Kong historian Frank Dikötter, the death toll of 45 million people was almost comparable to that of the Second World War.

My grandmother was a survivor. She used to tell me that in order to reach Mao’s goal of doubling steel production, her fellow villagers would set up “backyard furnaces” and melt cooking pots, thinking that somehow low-quality iron could thus be transformed into high-quality steel. Villages competed to grow and harvest unrealistic quantities of crops, sometimes by fraudulently combining crops from several different fields. When the famine hit, food was much more difficult to come by for a big family like hers. Malnutrition was pervasive; some were so starved that their bodies started to bloat, like balloon animals filled with body fluid. I was 10 when she told me that story. It is a gruesome reminder that grand designs must always be grounded in reality. Otherwise, people die.

Is America really a democracy? Philosopher Elizabeth Anderson argues that democracy is not equivalent to “majority rule,” where even the basest of desires and prejudices deserve satisfaction when enough people have them. Instead, democracy has to be deliberative, which can only happen when citizens and their representatives come together and converse on the basis of reason and facts.

Trump’s popularity stems partly from his many outlandish promises that, not unlike Mao’s, he has no chance of fulfilling. His racist and xenophobic messages represent not the exception but the rule of American politics, which rewards manipulation of emotion more than honest discussion of what’s best for the people. Instead of offering realistic solutions to the problems his supporters face, Trump the politician does what most before him did: concoct the perfect lie and hope everyone believes it is the truth.

Postcard from Abroad: Tamara Matheson

in Campus Journal/Postcards from Abroad by
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Dear Campus Journal,

After the inauguration, I spent all of my free time at home vigilantly watching the news, calling my representatives, reading about nonviolent resistance, and generally trying my best to break through what seemed to be one bad fever dream of a week. As executive orders rolled in, my list of concerns grew. On Jan. 28, as I was boarding the plane I felt almost frantic about how to continue to fight for the things and the people I love, from all the way across the ocean. On a day that includes travelling to Ohio, Michigan, Paris, and finally Morocco, I was insulated from the updates and the protests, getting only the most basic facts from glimpses of CNN playing without subtitles at the airport. I worry about how to keep the people that matter to me close, torn between wanting to immerse myself in this experience and the urge to militantly hold on to the things (and people) that matter most to me.

It feels impossible for me to tune out the decision making that hurts some of my best friends, their families, and mine. Yet, as I spend my days six hours ahead of the news cycle, with internet service only some of the time, it feels impossible for me to catch it all. I’m doing my best to fall in love with Rabat because I feel incredibly grateful to be here. So far, I’ve seen a sunset that took my breath away, attempted some very laughable Arabic, and can smell the sea if I pay close enough attention. I would split myself in two trying to hold everything together, but that’s not going to stop me from trying – at least to the best of my ability. As one of my instructors pointed out, we’re never going to be detached from our positionality.

Most of us are American, a fact that is very obvious to everyone as we walk through the medina. The guy who set up my SIM card at the phone store googled “bigly” to test if the internet was working. The knowledge about what’s going on is definitely here and I find it comforting. In the last few days I’ve had so many conversations about this feeling, this urge to hold on, that leads me to believe that I’m not the only one thinking it.  I can’t be detached from what is happening because here, I am American, no matter my conflicting emotions. It informs so much about the way that I am seen, and how others interact with me.

I was worried that going abroad and “immersing myself” in this experience meant leaving behind the uncertainties at home. A few days in, and I’m realizing that those things do not have to be mutually exclusive. I may not be able to protest or call my senators every day, but I can still stay informed, I can send emails, and I can find other ways to engage. To be present here sometimes means that I feel frustrated, unable to stretch myself enough to make the changes I feel like I need to. But from six hours ahead and 3710 miles away, Black lives still matter, water is still life, women’s rights are still human rights, and banning refugees and turning our backs on immigrants is still not America.

I love you guys. No matter what this administration says, no matter how much they try to erase you, you matter. I love you and I will fight for you in any way I can. If you need me, please know that I’m here. Swat I love you.

 

Beslama, Tamara

 

Musings of Mariani

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

Fire alarms go off at odd times in the Willets dormitory, where I sleep and clean myself and occasionally work and socialize. Late one night near the end of the last semester, the alarm sounded, and we all filed out. It was a forlorn period, when the sinking, impending reality of Trump’s election and the travails of finals seemed to be conspiring together to produce the maximum feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. The residents of Willets filed out in their pajamas and stood together outside the doors. But instead of annoyance, a feeling of cheerful bemusement and calm resignation seemed to pervade. One girl walked out of the door with a lit cigarette and a mischievous smile as if she had set the alarm off herself, and was proud of it. We all knew that that the alarm would be deactivated soon, that in the meantime we could commiserate with our friends, and that this nocturnal excursion would make our beds all the warmer and cozier when we returned.

America is like Willets: beloved by a bacchanalian few who make it nearly unlivable for the rest, the site of many recurring crimes and infamies and injustices which go unaddressed and unresolved.

Like I live in Willets, I live in America and despite its flaws I love it deeply and I feel very dedicated to it. This is obviously a very bad time for our country, or at least worse than usual, but I’m not sure if it’s unprecedented. The government has often been corrupt. We’ve had incompetent, disturbed leaders before (Nixon, Reagan, W. Bush, Andrew Jackson, to name a few), and the immediate problems facing us have seemed intractable and hopeless. Our nation has been more divided before (we had a civil war!), we’ve had a worse economic crisis (the Great Depression!), we’ve faced extremely grave internal injustices whose solutions seemed totally out of reach.

I think what is different about the crisis we face today is the widespread total hopelessness felt about the impossibility to solve any of the problems facing us. I do not think this lies solely in our traditional national values, institutions, and ideals failing to solve the problems we face and the systemic flaws they have. The radical alternatives offered seem to me to be equally unlikely, insufficient, and futile.

This point is trite and obvious, but I still want to make it because I feel that it continues to be overlooked by many. I think that at least part of reason the political problems in the United States seem so intractable is because no one examines the basis of their fundamental values. People constantly talk about the responsibilities we have to other people in our country and then simultaneously question the legitimacy of our country itself. Or, like Trump, they talk about protecting our country without examining how the fundamental nature of the country they are protecting precludes doing the types of things they want to do to defend it.

Even in the era of globalization, the political institution which connects us the most is the nation-state. If you state that the United States of America is a hopelessly flawed country in which revolutionary changes need to take place, then you can no longer appeal to American values or the responsibilities Americans have to each other because of our national history, because then you are only contributing to the continuation of something which you say should not exist. If you say America needs to protect itself and in its interests in the world, but that to do so entails violating one of the country’s core principles of religious freedom, then you go further and actually destroy the thing you are trying to defend. You make the defense of America the thing that destroys America, you eliminate any value there is in defending America.

I do not want to make this sound like a Fourth of July speech. I do not forget that the crimes of slavery and the genocide of the natives peoples of this continent are as foundational to this country, and in many ways more-so, then the Bill of Rights. I know that is impossible for me to understand how difficult it is for many people to simply exist day to day in this country. But as long as a great deal of the American radical left totally eschews patriotism or even vaguely patriotic rhetoric, then I do not see how it is going to get anywhere in national politics. How are we going to criticize Trump for silencing the media or the continuing Republican efforts to take away the right of low-income people and people of color’s right to vote unless we appeal to the Constitution? How can we appeal to the Constitution unless we espouse some sort of dedication to the American national project?

The Democratic party is deeply flawed and has an awful policy record in many areas, but at a certain point the disengagement from the party stemming from the belief that it is hopeless to attempt to improve it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, almost got the nomination. I feel that if the left had made greater attempts at consensus and coalition building, he could have won. This would not have solved all of our national problems, but it certainly would have put us on a fundamentally better path.

What is indisputable is that everyone, especially people like myself who have tremendous privilege in our society, needs to do more to engage politically. Trump is the personification of the worst aspects of this country, but I believe, perhaps foolishly and romantically, but sincerely, that the good aspects of this country can defeat him and what he represents.

Browning America: The New Dialectic of US Citizenship

in Campus Journal by

My parents used to call me a “Chipper,” much like the homespun terms “Blackanese” or “Korgentinian,” except for a half-Chilean, half-Persian. It was not only a testament to my complex cultural and racial origins, but my brownness: caramel skin burnt by the LA sun, bouncy curls dipped into cafecito, and sepia eyes sprinkled with sabzi.

My first confrontation with colorism and discomfort with my brownness was the first time that my brown body became a vessel. It is truly an intimate form of violence unlike any psychosocial stressor when you feel so viscerally detached from the body that carries you. These feelings of visceral detachment only heightened in the wake of the Trump election.

Now more than ever, the growing ethnic, racial, religious, and linguistic diversity generated by transnationalism, migration and interracial mixing has incited fierce discourse over national identity and social cohesion. Trumpism, a movement built upon deep-seated anxieties toward a browning America, was a cry for the reversion to a 20th century industrialized capitalist society that attempted to combat these sorts of demographic changes.

In the classical sense, Trump rejected the paragon of conservatism. What made him attractive to the American electorate was his authoritarian inclinations that privileged normative practices by rewarding conformity and punishing deviation. His “us vs. them” rhetoric and strong, uncompromising demeanor appealed to many in the white, rural working class; people who had a psychological need for epistemic certainty amidst an increasingly globalized landscape. This insistence on sameness in rural white America only reinforces the institutionalized rejection of difference.

As a multiracial amalgam and the product of immigration myself, I have had truly visceral experiences with colorism — experiences that cannot be captured in one sweeping narrative. Instead, it is constituted by an array of narratives, both compatible and incompatible. I was inspired to spearhead my own exploration of diverse experiences with color by engaging with people of color in the Swarthmore community in hopes of addressing the perennial question: What is “Americanness” and what does American citizenship mean to immigrants and people of color?

This intersectional approach will engender new avenues of discussion surrounding diverse experiences with color, bringing about an acknowledgement of varying colored experiences. This will also ensure that there is cognizance of individual complicitness in the victimization of others within the white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. In this way, we avoid the presumption that white supremacy affects everybody in the same way and that strategies for liberation are similar.

To kickoff this profile series, I spoke with sophomore Saadiq Garba ’19. Born in the northern part of rural Nigeria, a historically nomadic society, Garba was adopted by relatives living in the U.S. when he was nine years old and moved to Washington D.C.

“I didn’t know much English then so I had to work hard for the first couple of years to learn English and try to fit in. I was accepted to a very prestigious high school and that paved my way to Swarthmore” Garba said.

Garba’s blackness was initially drawn into the forefront of his consciousness when he started to become familiar with the geopolitical landscape of D.C.

“D.C. is very segregated. There’s northwest Washington which is predominantly white and the northeast is majority black. I grew up in the part of town that was primarily white people. Traveling through D.C. going from northwest to northeast, you could see drastic changes in the quality of public areas.”

When Garba began playing recreational soccer on a primarily white team, he became even more aware of the structural inscription of black subordination.   

“We were playing this team, an only black team, and we won. At the end when we went to shake hands, one of the [opposing players] shoved me in the stomach and said, ‘Traitor.” It took me a while to figure out what they meant by that. I didn’t realize there was such a separation in regard to color here,” he explained.

So what does American citizenship mean to him? For Garba, being a naturalized citizen allows him to have an education.

“American citizenship is key to do just about anything in the States in terms of education. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be able to go to school or find jobs” he said.  

And while he acknowledges he has been privileged in his educational experiences going into his second year of higher education, he has become increasingly more on-edge with respect to his naturalization after the Trump election.

“My citizenship protects me but it’s not always a guarantee —  I can still get deported. I have to be careful with certain activities I engage in just to make sure I don’t raise any red flags and get into trouble,” he said.

Garba’s sentiments are echoed by many black and brown migrant Americans — a heightened sense of awareness and cognizance of how their bodies move through public spaces. Is this the new conception of American citizenship? A citizenship that is conditional and in a constant state of negotiation with the sovereign?

Are bodies under this doctrine “the citizens,” or merely “the governed”?

Systemic issues regarding colorism persist and fantasies of post-racial America are just that, distant fantasies. In sifting through profiles like Garba’s, we create a structural analog on how the new American citizenship is defined: through residence, allegiance, political voice, or perhaps just mere visibility to a sovereign. These narratives are testaments to the individual and collective effects of colorism in a dubbed “post-racial” society.

Browning America: The New Dialectic of US Citizenship

in Campus Journal by

My parents used to call me a “Chipper,” much like the homespun terms “Blackanese” or “Korgentinian,” except for a half-Chilean, half-Persian. It was not only a testament to my complex cultural and racial origins, but my brownness: caramel skin burnt by the LA sun, bouncy curls dipped into cafecito, and sepia eyes sprinkled with sabzi.

My first confrontation with colorism and discomfort with my brownness was the first time that my brown body became a vessel. It is truly an intimate form of violence unlike any psychosocial stressor when you feel so viscerally detached from the body that carries you. These feelings of visceral detachment only heightened in the wake of the Trump election.

Now more than ever, the growing ethnic, racial, religious, and linguistic diversity generated by transnationalism, migration and interracial mixing has incited fierce discourse over national identity and social cohesion. Trumpism, a movement built upon deep-seated anxieties toward a browning America, was a cry for the reversion to a 20th century industrialized capitalist society that attempted to combat these sorts of demographic changes.

In the classical sense, Trump rejected the paragon of conservatism. What made him attractive to the American electorate was his authoritarian inclinations that privileged normative practices by rewarding conformity and punishing deviation. His “us vs. them” rhetoric and strong, uncompromising demeanor appealed to many in the white, rural working class; people who had a psychological need for epistemic certainty amidst an increasingly globalized landscape. This insistence on sameness in rural white America only reinforces the institutionalized rejection of difference.

As a multiracial amalgam and the product of immigration myself, I have had truly visceral experiences with colorism — experiences that cannot be captured in one sweeping narrative. Instead, it is constituted by an array of narratives, both compatible and incompatible. I was inspired to spearhead my own exploration of diverse experiences with color by engaging with people of color in the Swarthmore community in hopes of addressing the perennial question: What is “Americanness” and what does American citizenship mean to immigrants and people of color?

This intersectional approach will engender new avenues of discussion surrounding diverse experiences with color, bringing about an acknowledgement of varying colored experiences. This will also ensure that there is cognizance of individual complicitness in the victimization of others within the white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. In this way, we avoid the presumption that white supremacy affects everybody in the same way and that strategies for liberation are similar.

To kickoff this profile series, I spoke with sophomore Saadiq Garba ’19. Born in the northern part of rural Nigeria, a historically nomadic society, Garba was adopted by relatives living in the U.S. when he was nine years old and moved to Washington D.C.

“I didn’t know much English then so I had to work hard for the first couple of years to learn English and try to fit in. I was accepted to a very prestigious high school and that paved my way to Swarthmore” Garba said.

Garba’s blackness was initially drawn into the forefront of his consciousness when he started to become familiar with the geopolitical landscape of D.C.

“D.C. is very segregated. There’s northwest Washington which is predominantly white and the northeast is majority black. I grew up in the part of town that was primarily white people. Traveling through D.C. going from northwest to northeast, you could see drastic changes in the quality of public areas.”

When Garba began playing recreational soccer on a primarily white team, he became even more aware of the structural inscription of black subordination.   

“We were playing this team, an only black team, and we won. At the end when we went to shake hands, one of the [opposing players] shoved me in the stomach and said, ‘Traitor.” It took me a while to figure out what they meant by that. I didn’t realize there was such a separation in regard to color here,” he explained.

So what does American citizenship mean to him? For Garba, being a naturalized citizen allows him to have an education.

“American citizenship is key to do just about anything in the States in terms of education. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be able to go to school or find jobs” he said.  

And while he acknowledges he has been privileged in his educational experiences going into his second year of higher education, he has become increasingly more on-edge with respect to his naturalization after the Trump election.

“My citizenship protects me but it’s not always a guarantee —  I can still get deported. I have to be careful with certain activities I engage in just to make sure I don’t raise any red flags and get into trouble,” he said.

Garba’s sentiments are echoed by many black and brown migrant Americans — a heightened sense of awareness and cognizance of how their bodies move through public spaces. Is this the new conception of American citizenship? A citizenship that is conditional and in a constant state of negotiation with the sovereign?

Are bodies under this doctrine “the citizens,” or merely “the governed”?

Systemic issues regarding colorism persist and fantasies of post-racial America are just that, distant fantasies. In sifting through profiles like Garba’s, we create a structural analog on how the new American citizenship is defined: through residence, allegiance, political voice, or perhaps just mere visibility to a sovereign. These narratives are testaments to the individual and collective effects of colorism in a dubbed “post-racial” society.

On Peyton Manning

in Sports by

When Denver fans called for Tebow to play and lead the team to the playoffs, they thought they were receiving a divine power that would lead them to victory. They were simply following a false prophet and when John Elway sent him away he brought the true light to Denver: Peyton Manning.

Tim Tebow did have a winning record and did manage to win a playoff game. He had a series of fourth quarter and overtime comebacks that made the Broncos look better than they were. But he was just a terrible quarterback because of his most obvious flaw: he couldn’t and can’t throw.

However, if you like 6’ 5”, 230lb quarterbacks with laser rocket arms then you’d be much happier with getting rid of Tebow and bringing in Manning. Manning has revolutionised the way the Broncos play and has reversed expectations for the franchise. Instead of booing Kyle Orton off the field, the fans now have something to cheer about as their quarterback flings the ball out to a bevy of talented wide receivers all enjoying themselves. Though the running game might not be perfect, it doesn’t matter because Peyton is too good for any running game to compensate. Manning has brought belief to the team with his skills that everybody thought he had lost after his series of neck injuries.

If you’re wondering why this article is on Peyton Manning, just look at his stats for the first two games against the previous two Superbowl Champions: he has thrown for 769 yards with 9 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He is currently on target for a 72-touchdown season with over 6000 yards thrown. Those stats may seem unreasonable but if he really does have a laser rocket arm then it might in fact be possible. This is a guy who dominates teams throughout the game and throughout the season. There will be no more fourth quarter comebacks with Manning on the field because as he says, “You hear about how many fourth quarter comebacks that a guy has and I think it means a guy screwed up in the first three quarters.”

So it does look like the Broncos are the team to beat and it is mostly due to Manning. The supporting cast of Welker, Thomas and Decker is pretty standard and fans don’t expect huge things from mediocre receivers like them. They’re pretty much standard fare and you’d expect Manning to at least throw for 5000 yards if he were playing with the local Denver Community College flag football receivers. Moreno seems to be able to run in a few touchdowns but really he’s just taking those yards and fantasy points away from Manning, which is a little bit selfish What I think I’m saying is that the Broncos could really just use a whole team of Peyton Mannings and then the Superbowl would be theirs, because what team could compete with a man who calls his plays in Gaelic.

I was talking to a Broncos fan the other day who said he was considering sending a petition to the government to rename Monday “Manningday” (or “Manday” for short) after his great hero. Zach was very confused about why this hadn’t already been debated in both houses and why the President hadn’t tried to push it through with some much less important legislation on health care and unemployment benefits. “How we don’t already have a church of Manning is beyond me,” said Zach as he showed me his actual 6’5” Peyton Manning cut out on his dorm wall. “He’s already a central figure in Western civilization and his miraculous exploits should be shared with the world.”

While listening to this prophet of Manning I realised how easy it is to become infatuated with such a sports figure and how important sporting figures are to the fans of their teams who will pretty much do anything for them. And when they are great men like Manning it is easier to understand the appeal. I still love my childhood hero Moritz Volz, right back extraordinaire, and try to sign him on the game Football Manager each year. But Manning is a god and Broncos fans plan to worship at his altar for a while.

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