The Unbearable Light-weighted Obama
Blogfather Hugh pointed me to a piece by the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza which details Barack Obama's reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He quotes from an Op-Ed written by Obama in Chicago's Hyde Park Herald on September 19 of that same year. This was long before Obama hit the big-time, so I'm pretty safe in assuming it was written by his own hand and not that of a speech writer.
Before I quote the most revealing paragraphs, I want you to stop and remember for just a minute. Remember where you were on that Tuesday morning in September. Remember what you saw, remember how you felt. Most importantly, remember the emotions evoked by the images of that morning. Now read Obama:
Even as I hope for some measure of peace and comfort to the bereaved families, I must also hope that we as a nation draw some measure of wisdom from this tragedy. Certain immediate lessons are clear, and we must act upon those lessons decisively. We need to step up security at our airports. We must reexamine the effectiveness of our intelligence networks. And we must be resolute in identifying the perpetrators of these heinous acts and dismantling their organizations of destruction.
That's about as decisive as he gets. "Identify" the perpetrators and "dismantle" their organizations. So much for soaring rhetoric. But it gets better:
We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.
So, I guess what Usama "Binny" Laden needs is a sit down real time interview with Dr. Phil. But I digress. Back to Obama:
We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe—children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores.
Perhaps I'm heartless. Maybe I'm cynical. Either way, the last thing I wanted to understand in the aftermath of September 11 was the "source of such madness". I wasn't interested in what happened during the childhood years of Mohammed Atta that caused him to fly a plane full of people and jet-fuel into that World Trade Center tower. I didn't give a rat's hindquarters for any of the other 19 Islamofacist Murdering Thugs either.
You might say, "Cordeiro, you're still harboring a lot of anger and resentment about a single attack so many years ago." And you're probably right. I am still angry. Why? Well, I traveled a lot for business in 2001. In the months leading up to that fateful Tuesday, I flew on nearly every route the terrorists used. I liked to fly on Tuesday or Wednesday because it reduced the chances of me being stuck in a middle seat on a cross-country flight.
In other words, dear reader, it just as easily could've been me on one of those planes. Forgive me if I take it a bit personally.
America has spent the past seven years waiting for the next shoe to drop. We've been fairly successful at preventing another attack on the air transportation system and that is not an accident. The fact of the matter is America will be attacked again – it's just a matter of where and when.
So, you have to answer a question. What kind of reaction do you want from the President of the United States in the event of a terrorist attack on American soil? Do you want someone who is willing to sit down, without preconditions, with the terrorist and attempt to "understand the source of his madness"? Do you want a man who is more concerned with why the terrorist inflicted his mayhem on innocent Americans than he is about eliminating said terrorist?
You speak about things that you cannot understand. September 11th was a tragedy the world should never have experienced. There is no way anyone could possibly justify such an attach. But therw is an intelligence in Mr Obama's words that you could clearly never understand.
Desperation can cause a man to do things he would normally not do. How would you know this? You have never lived in extreme poverty? You have never feared for the lives of your family? You have never been stripped of an education or a childhood perhaps?
You are right about one thing though you are both heartless and cynical!
Try rerouting one of your 'business trips'. Go somewhere in the world and experience a lifestyle that is shared by the worlds 3 billion poor. Then write about that.
Do you honestly think that bombing the hell out of the Taliban and Al Qaeda will do anything? Sure, it might put the breaks on it for a little while. But it will resurface in a different area with different people and a different name.
Give them an education on the other hand and help them with some sustainable development (which by the way, would have cost less than half of what was spent on the war) and you won't have to ever worry about this again. Maybe, Mr Obama, with his 'lack of foreign policy experience' knew this at the time, while you were studying solutions tainted with blind hatred.