Though the world is laughing, our downfall isn’t funny

09/27/2018

By Duke Staff

Being the butt of a joke is a position nobody wants to find themselves in, let alone an entire country. This week, the U.S. got to be the world’s joke, as most of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) burst into laughter in the middle of our president’s speech.

On Sept. 25, while addressing the diplomats and leaders of nearly every nation, President Trump earnestly stated that “in less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” Cue an actual laugh track louder than The Big Bang Theory’s.

The president uncomfortably smiled and attempted to move on, but the awkward moment has been memorialized in cable news chyrons and Twitter timelines alike, turned into memes and sarcastic headlines. Even Fox News knew it was an embarrassing moment for our nation (even though they decided to handle it by editing the laughter out all together … but that’s an entirely different problem).

But honestly, for us American citizens, this should really be no laughing matter.

As a nation, we were founded as an ideal. John Winthrop, an early American founder and governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, envisioned us to one day become “a city upon the hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.”

In many ways, America has not lived up to the standard that it hoped to set, yet it has often commanded the world’s respect and served as a symbol of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for refugees, freedom fighters and oppressed peoples.

Now, there is just another example of how that standing has been lost.

While the laughter incident was only a moment in the midst of the president’s 35-minute speech, it encapsulates how far we have fallen off the international stage since Trump took office. Our allies no longer take us seriously, and for good reason. Not only that, but clearly they are not afraid to be open about it. Though it may be hard to resist, we can’t joke about what happened at UNGA — we should be ashamed. We will all live with the consequences of a world where America is a laughing stock.

Repairing these broken alliances and reestablishing the vital trust between world powers that took hundreds of years to build will be one of our generation’s largest burdens to bear. However, by getting involved, which can be easy as following the news and, most importantly, voting, we can take small steps to becoming a nation we can be proud of again. So stop making memes, and start making change.

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