The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Column: America the sandwich

America is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich of the world. No really, it is. Think about it for a minute: America, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, is a staple in pretty much everyone’s lives. Let’s break this down.

At some point in your life, you’ve probably had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You get hungry, you eat a sandwich, and this is not odd. Say you live in Afghanistan. You’re also hungry, but you’re probably hungry for some good ol’ fashioned human rights or freedom from religious persecution. What do you get? America. Economy going nowhere? Why yes, America, we will have some of that nice money of yours—side of democracy while you’re up. Okay, you say, slightly unfair, we’re currently at war with some nasty people who live in Afghanistan, obviously we’ll be around, and we’re certainly fairly rich. Well, my stomach is at war against hunger, and sometimes, I just need a damn peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

There are times I’ve been hungry but not wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Tough cookies, my Dad would say, your Mom’s at work and my culinary skills are limited to the peanut butter and jelly domain only. Eat your sandwich. I don’t like it, but I eat it. Real world parallel: you don’t like America, but by God, you’re going to get it and you’re going to like it. You’ve got to eat, after all.

Sometimes, though, something odd happens. You’re hungry and the dining hall miraculously has something yellow, oblong and surprisingly un-mushy. You take this yellow object back to your seat amongst the masses, peel it, slice it ever-so-carefully and you put it on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The world that is your pallet has just been rocked. Your tongue just saw Queen perform “Bohemian Rhapsody” live and will never forget it as long as it tastes another peanut butter and jelly sandwich again.

I’m going to make another crazy statement now: Barack Obama is the banana that will change America’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Since you’ve read this far you’re probably not expecting much in the way of intellectual brilliance out of this column, but I’m about to hit you with some hard and fast, so get ready. America up till now has been a peanut butter and jelly sandwich of unfounded rotten qualities, and the world has eaten it, but it most definitely hasn’t liked it. Soon, however, we won’t be able to sell enough sandwiches.

The kind of sandwich we once represented was one that had been made by someone who did nasty things with their fingers in not-so-lovely places and then spread the peanut butter and jelly all over some stale bread with those very same un-washed fingers because, of course, they’re too cool for knives (or dining hall trays! yes, I am looking at you). They then let the dog lick it a few times, farted in its general direction, and dispensed it to the world to eat.

Real world parallel: we tortured prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and other secret CIA prisons around the globe. We used questionable legal tactics to do so and even believed the Geneva Convention didn’t apply to the individuals we captured simply because President Bush’s lawyers spilled some ink on a page and called it law.

Lo and behold, world, America has changed. Remember that nasty old guy who used his fingers to make your peanut-butter and jelly sandwich? Well, he’s just been replaced by a distant, hot cousin from Brazil and man can she use a knife—to spread of course!

Real world parallel: Barack Obama signed an executive order forbidding the use of coercive interrogation techniques—otherwise known as torture, ladies and gentlemen—and ordered Gitmo closed inside of a year. That hot cousin just found a banana, and I’ll be damned if she didn’t just put it all over America’s peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.

World, I know you’re hungry … and guess who’s serving some decent sandwiches again.

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