I know, I should probably be concentrating on trying to understand Britain first - we have plenty of problems of our own with Brexit and Boris and backstabbing. But sometimes, it's easier to deal with someone else's problems that face up to your own, isn't it? Which is why I'm trying to understand America but it's hard.
Let's start with the premise that life is precious in America. It must be. They elected a President on the basis that he was "pro-life". I can't think of any other reason they'd vote for him. And the figures agree - around half of all Americans call themselves "pro-life" and 69% think that abortion should be either illegal or only legal under certain circumstances. So we get it, life is precious.
Unless you're black of course. It's well documented that POC are killed in their hundreds each year by American police - 309 in 2016. It's the epitome of white privilege that a white man can get 23 guns sent up to his hotel room but a black teenager can get shot for carrying a packet of skittles.
And Puerton Rican life? Hardly. Trump said that the island should be "very proud" of their 16 deaths. It wasn't as impressive as Katrina but still, they should be proud. There's nothing like minimizing tragedy to emphasize how unimportant those lives are to you.
White life is precious then.
Unless you're a country music fan and you get in the way of that man with the 23 guns. Life might be precious but the 2nd Amendment is more precious. Even white lives can be sacrificed in the face of pressure and campaign donations from the NRA. There's no controlling who gets killed by unlicensed guns so it's not that those lives aren't important, it's just that they come second to pleasing the gun lobby.
A child's life must be the most precious thing - children are the future of America after all. Melania Trump has said so. That's probably why Trump is rolling back women's access to free birth control - so there can be more and more American babies. Because they're doing all this for the precious, precious children. But yknow, 1,300 of them were killed in two years as a result of freely available firearms. Maybe they're not that precious after all.
Who then can be assured that their life matters? That their life truly is held as sacred and that the establishment would do anything to keep them alive? Because they embody the most American of values - sporty, handsome, white, rich, intelligent, well-connected? I'm thinking about the elite of America's youth who are hand picked by powerful university fraternities to join them because they have exactly these qualities. Surely they know their life is worthwhile.
But no. The death of one such "pledge", Timothy Piazza, shows that even those kind of lives are considered to be cheap. The fraternity system implicitly endorses bizarre and barbaric hazing rituals which result in death and injury with surprising regularity. Timothy was unconscious in front of his frat brothers for 12 hours before anyone called an ambulance. Because even in the most dire of circumstances, the first responsibility is to the institution and the death of a pledge is less trouble than explaining it all at a hospital.
Or in fact paying for it. Because life may be cheap but healthcare is not. And the option to continue living is often only available to the ones with the right insurance. Looks like we can class the ill and injured as another group who aren't experiencing the loving support of the 47% of Americans who vote in a "pro-life" manner.
Having said all that, it seems I don't understand America at all. I don't understand why the life of the foetus is venerated but the life of the black teenager, Puerton Rican, country music fan, schoolchild, frat pledge or chronically ill patient is not. Wonder if anyone can explain it to me?Suggest a correction