During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, March 29, 2009, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA4) met with Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command to discuss shifting 5,000 troops from Okinawa to Guam.
Mr. Johnson had concerns that the small island of Guam, being only 212 square miles, wouldn’t be able to accommodate the additional troops and their families. It’s true that an island that small might have a problem with the additional people considering it’s already strained on resources, like water and drainage systems. But Representative Johnson wasn’t worried about those; he was more concerned with the island tipping and capsizing.
Yes, you read that correctly. He feared that the island would TIP and CAPSIZE.
Congressman Johnson told Admiral Willard, “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”
Admiral Willard replied, “We don’t anticipate that. The Guam population, I think, currently about 175,000, and again, with 8,000 marines and their families, it’s an addition of about 25,000 more into the population.”
A spokesperson for Mr. Johnson issued this statement:
"I wasn’t suggesting that the island of Guam would literally tip over," said Johnson. "I was using a metaphor to say that with the addition of 8,000 Marines and their dependents – an additional 80,000 people during peak construction to the port on the tiny island with a population of 180,000 – could be a tipping point which would adversely affect the island’s fragile ecosystem and over burden its already overstressed infrastructure.
"Having traveled to Guam last year, I saw firsthand how this beautiful – but vulnerable island – is already overburdened, and I was simply voicing my concerns that the addition of that many people could tip the delicate balance and do harm to Guam."
Sounds reasonable, or does it? A metaphor is an analogy between two objects or ideas. I think Mr. Johnson meant he was using a “hyperbole”, which is rhetorical verbiage used for exaggeration to create a strong impression, but not meant to be taken literally. At $174,000 a year salary, on the tax payers’ dime, shouldn’t we EXPECT him to be able to at least look up the square miles of Guam, instead of asking the Admiral, on his tax payer provided computer with tax payer provided internet service? And what about general knowledge of geography and the English language? Shouldn’t our Officials be competent enough in those areas? My 12 year old knows islands don’t TIP AND CAPSIZE. He also knows the difference between a metaphor and a hyperbole—the latter would be the title of my post.
If Mr. Johnson is apprehensive of an island tipping and capsizing, why isn’t he worried about Manhattan, Staten and Ellis Islands? After all, Manhattan is only 23 sq miles and has a population of 1.6 million people. If all those people aren’t strategically placed, it could TIP, or worse even CAPSIZE! For Pete’s sake someone write an ordinance to keep those people strategically coordinated! Someone tell me how the heck did they prevent Ellis Island, which is only 58.38 acres, from tipping and capsizing between 1892 and 1954 when 12 million immigrants passed through?
It’s very difficult for me to imagine that Mr. Johnson wasn’t serious by watching the video and it’s frustrating as heck to know that we are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to maintain these “brain trusts”. I know, I know, they are ELECTED. I get it. But it doesn’t make me feel any less frustrated because Hank Johnson isn’t the only one who has said something really…um…unintelligent.
This is a PERFECT example of WHY the American people NEED to educate themselves BEFORE they elect someone to public office. This is also another EXCELLENT example of how our public school system has FAILED.
I’ve said it before, but it deserves repeating, we need to educate ourselves and our children. America IS exceptional and we must KEEP her that way. Please educate yourself and ensure that your family is informed too. There is nothing more criminal than generational-educational-theft.