Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why Americans Hate Fractions, or, Is It Halftime in America?

Bob Gorrell/Detroit News

President Barack Obama’s reluctance to identify Islamic terrorism as our enemy is emblematic of the widespread unwillingness of Americans to just do the math that X = Islam.

I blame it on the higher math functions (starting with 2+2 = ?) never being favorites with we Americans, anyway --maybe because they’re a foreign import: one of the multitude ”
historic contributions”of the Muslim nations.

Or at least that’s what what they’re teaching my nephew at space camp this summer, along with campfire discussions on the relative effectiveness of wearing the suicide belt inside or outside your space suit.

Real Americans hate fractions; and as for algebra, equations don’t win football games, you pansies! (although those X’s and O’s are useful for illustrating who’s Us and who’s Them when coach does our play diagrams). Or is that the alphabet?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from a lifetime of reading op-ed pages and watching political leaders on the Sunday shows, it’s that there’s no challenge America has ever faced that can’t be restated as a sports metaphor -- the vast bulk of which are football-inspired. I attribute the failure of this very humble blog to gain a wider audience to my sordid failure, in four years, to even once illustrate a single point by mentioning moving the ball down the field, recovering from fumble, needing to get in the game, to huddle up, take one for the team, to throw a Hail Mary pass, or pointing out that we’re down to the fourth quarter and need to throw one into the end zone.

I say the footballl metaphor has always worked -- until now. Here’s the thing. I don’t think the situation we face now can even be reduced to the simplest X and O diagram, because even that requires knowing what team we’re playing.

Come to think of it, some of us don’t even know what team we’re on. I’m no expert, but when our quarterback has the ball, is he supposed to keep throwing it to the other team’s players?

It’s halftime in America, people.
So we have to give 110 percent.
We have to stay focused.
We have to go out and execute.
We have to step up to the next level.
We have to play with intensity.

And always remember that old story that, I think, Knute Rockne, used to tell about when his players tried to take the field, and:

The marching band refused to yield.
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?

1 comment:

Wendy Woodley said...

Good one, TR!