ON THE SIDE: I visited a friend's dorm room today seeking some lecture notes that I had lent to him a few days earlier. It turns out that my classmate wasn't there, but his roommate was, sitting at his desk with a Styrofoam take-out container half full of chili-cheese fries.

"Hey, want a freedom fry?" He smirked at my puzzlement, and lifted the container toward me a little as though offering me a better view. I looked closer. What on earth was a freedom fry? They seemed like normal fries to me, if maybe a little soggy.

I said as much, and he laughed. Then he explained the sad and ridiculous truth.

I did not believe him at first, of course. It sounded like the kind of word-game school children play to tease and exclude the dorky kids. "You can't join the club, because it costs a nickel to join and you're Nickel-less Williams! Ha!" I remember that one very well. Even as a second grader, it seemed dim-witted, annoying, and petty. A silly symbolic gesture, easily shrugged off, serving only to diminish those who wielded it so proudly.

Like I said, I did not believe my friend's roommate at first, but I believe BBC News, when it comes to easily falsifiable stories such as this. Our statesmen are behaving like second graders, only this isn't an elementary school playground we're talking about. Silly word-games reminiscent of propaganda from the Second World War, the war after The War To End All Wars, and the main reason that we helped create the United Nations in the first place.

I read the BBC article, and after my amused huffs, puffs, snickers, and chortles were over, I was left with sense of dread. Who are we? What are we trying to get ourselves into?



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