George Graham

What Do They Know?



Growing up on an island, a colony at that, I learned a lot about the rest of the world, especially the Mother Country, but not enough about our own Jamaican history and concerns.

Now that I live in America, I wonder how much American students learn about other countries.

Indeed, sometimes I wonder how much they learn about America.

Listening to the presidential debates, especially the one on Tuesday night, I was astonished at the candidates’ lack of basic information – and how confidently they stated “facts” that are just not true.

Especially Carly Fiorina.  She boldly lists “facts” and statistics that exist only in her own mind. So much so that she has become infamous for “lying.” But listening to her, she sounds as if she genuinely believes the misinformation she spouts.

And it isn’t just Fiorina. All of the candidates on that stage seemed confused – especially about the world we live in.

I was surprised to watch Donald Trump floundering over the “nuclear triad.”  You would think that someone aspiring to get his finger on the doomsday button would find out exactly what it represents.

You would also think that an aspiring US president would be aware that Jordan’s King Hussein died in 1999 and was succeeded by King Abdullah II. But not Chris Christie. He still plans to give “King Hussein” a good talking-to

Christie had lots of company when it comes to misinformation about the rest of the world. I was puzzled when one of the candidates – I think it was Jeb Bush – referred to India as a Muslim country.  The vast majority of Indians are Hindus, not Muslims. Of the billion or so people who live in India, only 150 million are Muslims.  

And lumping the Kurds in with the Muslims of Iraq and Syria – as some of the candidates did – is careless at best. Islamic Kurds practice a religion that only vaguely resembles the  doctrine of either the Sunnis or the Shia. Furthermore, quite a few Kurds are Yazidi.

You would think anyone who wants to be president of the US should find out how the rest of the world works. But what worries me even more is that I don’t think those folks on stage Tuesday night know how their own country works.

Click for debate fact check.

Click for more on Fiorina.

Click for more on the Yazidi.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for