My friend Zoon, who is from the planet Goonleopopfar and is visiting Earth, asked me the other day if Americans are a tolerant people.
“Oh yes, indeed,” I said.
He wanted to know how so.
“Well,” I said. “We tolerate sitting two, three hours in our cars to go to and from work because most of us don’t have a modern mass transportation system. We tolerate sending our kids off to expensive colleges so that they’ll have to work half their life to pay off student debt.
“We tolerate being gouged by drug companies because we won’t let the government negotiate prices. We tolerate mass shootings that are a regular feature of American life now. We tolerate sending people to prison for smoking a weed.
“We tolerate a government that spies on everyone, software companies that spy on their own users, a military industrial complex that kills innocent men, women and children with drones in foreign countries.
“We tolerate the fact that there are a million school children who are homeless. We tolerate corporations that send jobs overseas so that they can pay pennies instead of dollars for an hour’s work.
“We tolerate a political party that is more interested in inventing scandal than protecting a citizen’s right to vote. We tolerate an economic system that is sending us off in our SUVs to the biggest ecological catastrophe in human history; that forces people to work two or three jobs because the minimum wage can’t support them.
“And we tolerate politicians who blame all of this on poor brown people who come here so that they can pick lettuce.”
“You’re a bit more tolerant than we are,” Zoon said.
“Tell me,” I said.