BLUE SUNDAY: The Rest of the Planet Deserves to Enjoy the World Cup Without Having to Deal with the Baggage that Team USA Would Have Brought.
While soccer will never capture my attention the way the major American sports do, I’ve been an avid World Cup follower since the quadrennial event was held in the United States in the summer of 1994. One of the many venues hosting the game – the since-torn-down Giants Stadium – was less than 5 miles from my house. For a three-week period, the immediate area was a potpourri of culture and ethnicity, a carnival of sorts with Americans celebrating both their current country and the nations of their heritage (In Sopranoland we were actually able to field enough players for a pickup soccer game of 17-year-olds of Irish heritage against our friends of Italian lineage). And the influx of tourists from across the globe made even a trip to McDonald’s a worldly experience.
So naturally, I was quite disappointed last October when the United States failed to qualify for the latest edition of the tournament – which began Thursday in Russia – because the energy and enthusiasm for USA Soccer have increased exponentially with each World Cup appearance by The Stars and Stripes. Long lunch breaks at sports bars. Massive viewing parties in major cities across the land. Legitimate excuses to drink beer before breakfast. Every four years this would forge a prideful sense of comradery within the general public, unlike anything else I’ve had the chance to experience. And now, in 2018, that wouldn’t be happening.
It broke my heart.
Until I realized that was a good thing.
I never thought I’d even entertain the notion, but I’m glad that the United States is not participating in the World Cup. Quite frankly, the rest of the world deserves a break from our antics and shenanigans. We would have only served as a distraction and deprived the other 7.275 Billion people on earth the chance to enjoy the last major global sporting competition of this decade.
The US men’s soccer team wasn’t good enough to join the party. And the United States as a geopolitical entity isn’t good enough to comingle in the international community right now.
Ever since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the forty-fifth president of the United States, the nation has been competing against itself to completely soil a once-enviable international reputation. Trump has continually heaped praise on authoritarians and dictators while shunning the guardians of democracy and human rights that have made up the global liberal order since the end of the Second World War.
Russia Has Already Gotten The Best of America.
Take the host nation, for example.
Twenty-Four hours after the tournament kicked off, with Russia soundly defeating Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort was ordered to jail for allegedly tampering with witnesses in his upcoming trial related to Russian interference with the 2016 Election. Given what we now indisputably know – that Russia actively worked to help elect the former Apprentice host as president – an American presence at the Cup would be unusually awkward and only serve to remind the rest of the world that the most powerful nation on earth can’t handle its own domestic security or the integrity of its elections.
Vladimir Putin isn’t exactly a fan favorite in most parts of the world. The ability to show off his latest conquest would have been a humiliating experience.
But at least Russia is a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement. So are the other thirty-one nations participating in the World Cup. As a matter of fact, every country on earth has agreed to meet the environmental protection levels of the accord except for one: they hysterically self-proclaimed “Home of the Brave”. Oh, the USA was part of the agreement at its inception. But Mr. “I make the best deals believe me” unilaterally decided to extend his tiny middle finger to every man, woman, and child inhabiting the planet and backed out of it. He did the exact same thing with the Iran nuclear deal, another pact that our fellow leading nations devoted countless hours towards negotiating in the name of preserving humanity.
It would be the height of arrogance and it would redefine the word “disingenuous” if America showed up at a truly global event after telling the world that we could care less about the ongoing destruction of our shared environment, or that we’re willing to let hostile regimes develop nuclear weapons solely because our country’s first black president cut a deal to prevent them from doing so.
If you need any evidence of just how belligerent the USA projects itself on the world stage, you don’t have to go back too far to remember Trump’s childish temper tantrums at the most recent G7 meetings:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 10, 2018
Not only did Trump humiliate the United States by insulting and attacking our long-standing allies, he left the conference more determined than ever to start a global trade war. He even went so far as to declare increased tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum as a matter of “national security“. Yes. Canada. A nation with no enemies, our neighbors to the north who have stuck by us during every crisis, given aid to every American emergency. Yet somehow Donald J. Trump in his infinite wisdom has decided that they pose a threat to our security.
Making matters infinitely worse, Canada and their affable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appear to have been swapped out at the lunch table in favor of North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. The murdering and torturing dictator seems to have captured the fancy of The Donald after the president legitimized him on the global stage with the Singapore stunt. Trump even told his besties on “Fox and Friends” that:
“He’s the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
Child Internment Camps Are ‘Needless and Cruel’
All of these transgressions and infractions, however, pale in comparison to the growing humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border. And’s its a crisis solely and explicitly created by Trump and, to a lesser degree, his Attorney General henchman Jeff Sessions.
The United States of America — the country who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — has itself come under scrutiny for violating human rights. Of children no less.
In a span of just six weeks, the US has separated more than 2,000 children from their parents at the border crossing and sent them to detention centers. This is almost too surreal to comprehend. I, for one, am having an awful time dealing with it and I know many others are as well. The UN Human Rights Council — which exists specifically because of America’s dedication to human rights — even reached the point where they issued a memo calling for us to immediately halt this inhumane policy:
Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.
Medical professionals and scholars have been warning that this practice will cause lifelong psychological trauma for the children we detain, but Washington refuses to act. According to the American Psychological Association:
“The administration’s policy of separating children from their families as they attempt to cross into the United States without documentation is not only needless and cruel, it threatens the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers.”
The country collectively lost its shit when Leimome Cheeks was caught putting her grandchildren in dog kennels to travel in her vehicle — and rightly so. But while outrage about the internment and separation of kids at the border is growing, there is still nothing being done to stop the abusive practice.
This week it became clear that Trump is using this “zero tolerance” policy of separation as a negotiating tactic to get his stupid and wasteful border wall. He’s continually tried to claim that it’s congressional Democrats who are responsible, though nobody appears to be buying that (thankfully). He’s made it clear that he’s willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of young people to fulfill a silly campaign promise that nobody in their right mind ever thought would seriously come to fruition.
This is a shame unlike any other in American history. What nation would want to share the grand stage that the World Cup provides with such an abusive regime so dismissive of the basic human rights of children?
I’m glad that the rest of the planet gets to enjoy this celebration without the dark cloud of Trump’s America hanging over it. Especially since Russia is hosting. And if we don’t act soon to swiftly and unequivocally reverse the horrendous damage we’ve done to our standing in the world, I hope we get disinvited from the 2020 Olympics as well.
NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT
•Want to get serious about immigration in the United States? Here’s an idea – why don’t we focus on fixing the problems in Central and South America so our southern neighbors don’t feel like they have to risk their lives and everything they have to leave their native lands?
Historically, we have profited, exploited and destabilized these countries.
We have spent countless billions over the decades rebuilding places like Japan, Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan. If our economy is as good as the president claims, why not develop a 21st Century Marshall Plan to bolster the standard of living in this hemisphere?
The end result would be extremely beneficial to literally everyone who doesn’t make a living off Cartel money.
•You do know that Paul Manafort has a pardon coming, right? I mean, Trump’s loony attorney Rudy Giuliani basically admitted as much this week. But at least he gets to spend Father’s Day in the clink. So there’s that.
•Speaking of which, Happy Father’s Day. I am not a father, but I am more than fortunate to have had so many incredible ones in my life. My father Ed was my first coach both on and off the baseball diamond. To this day he continues to teach me resiliency, redemption, and an unwavering love of family. My father in law Jim has been an inspiration in work ethic and a never-ending quest for knowledge and curiosity. Nine of my ten nieces and nephews are all blessed to have amazing dads raising them during the most crucial years of their lives. And we’re seeing to it that the tenth is just fine.
The lessons we learn from our fathers – and father figures – are almost always by example. It’s a tough and uncertain world out there and children need guidance now more than they ever have. So raise a glass to the many fathers that you know today, the fathers who are raising brilliant and compassionate daughters and sons in the face of an ever-changing environment. It’s honestly a job that I don’t know I would be able to handle. Cheers, Slainte and Salud.
WHAT WON TWITTER THIS WEEK?
The United States does not negotiate with terrorists…
have you had enough, yet?
— James Reader (@JamesReader_RP) June 16, 2018
Arguably my favorite parody account out there…
Don't ever take sides against the family… https://t.co/99XqH0pnMc
— Fredo Corleone (@real_fredo) June 13, 2018
Strange Days have found us…
The year is 2018, IHOP is now IHOB, President Trump and Dennis Rodman are meeting with Kim Jong Un to discuss nuclear disarmament, Hawaii is being destroyed by a volcano and Sonic released the Pickle Juice Slush. This is the Twilight Zone. #NorthKoreaSummit pic.twitter.com/nX7Jj3OWl6
— Chris Dmytriw (@chrisdmytriw1) June 11, 2018
If you've ever wondered what you would've done during the Holocaust, ask yourself what you're doing now about defenseless kids at the border taken from their parents and thrown into cages. pic.twitter.com/zaCG8uWu1o
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) June 10, 2018
Songs Of Freedom
Building the ultimate #Resistance playlist, one week at a time. I’m always up for discovering new protest songs, if you have a recommendation, I’d love to hear it!
Yes, we’re going to the wayback machine to dig up one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded. Because everyone needs to look whats going down…
Our playlist so far…
Till next Sunday, my friends!