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September 25, 2012 2:27 pm

President Obama, It’s Not About the Film

avatar by Heather Robinson

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President Obama at the UN today. Photo: Screenshot.

Just watched President Obama deliver his speech at the U.N. A few thoughts.

First, the President did a decent job condemning extremism and pointing out that most people around the world are peaceful and moderate. He also stood up for the principle of free speech (better late than never, I guess). This explanation was somewhat undermined, however, by his over-emphasis on condemning the film in question. By now everyone in this country knows that the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya and murder of Chris Stevens and three other Americans was a calculated terrorist attack, planned for September 11, and that the film was just a smokescreen. But Obama’s rehashing of how offensive and disgusting this film is, was bothersome for two reasons.

For one, it undermines his very important point that as Americans, we uphold the right to free speech, period. Perhaps one mention that he personally found the film disgusting and it does not reflect most Americans’ views would have been fine; to belabor the point smacks of pandering to the very extremists whose agenda he purports to reject. Besides, given that the Benghazi attack was clearly a calculated act of terror, some absurd film is hardly the point, even to the extremists, whose goals in trying to crush all of our freedoms go way beyond censoring one film.

The President delivered a beautiful speech today about the need to side with moderates and encourage peace. And of course, seeking peaceful solutions is what diplomats like Christopher Stevens, to whom Obama paid tribute, dedicate their lives to. He is right to praise these efforts. But if the life, work, and eventual savage murder of Stevens should remind us of the ambassador’s legacy of idealism and tolerance, and the importance of upholding these virtues, it also tells us something else about the world as it is, that the President did not address or even acknowledge. That truth is: genuinely extremist forces only understand one thing. If no one stops them, they will destroy everything in their path. Someone has to stand up to protect the innocent, and the high ideals President Obama championed today.

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Obama, as President, failed to sufficiently protect U.S. embassies and personnel on September 11, a day when of all days our embassies should have been fortified. Obama’s glib remark that, “If we are serious about upholding these ideals, it will not be enough to put more guards in front of an Embassy” was revealing. Frankly, there should have been more fortification around that embassy and every U.S. embassy, especially on such a date, with credible threats having been made in the days prior. Obama’s lack of proper acknowledgment of the seriousness of this attack–an act of war–and of his own failure to protect the embassy and U.S. personnel was underscored here; not only has he not acknowledged these truths, he keeps hiding behind discussion of this absurd “film,” which, again, undermines his belated free speech argument and also distracts from the real issue of U.S. security.

Speaking of which, he said nothing specific about what he will do to prevent Iran’s radical Islamist regime from going nuclear.

Actions speak louder than words. While Obama praises democracy, he cuts funding for pro-democracy groups. While he praises freedom, he declines to meet with Netanyahu, leader of the only country in the Mideast in which people are free. He says Iran will not get a nuclear weapon, but declines to lay out red lines beyond which the U.S. will act to prevent them from doing so (thereby shielding himself from accountability should they cross the threshold).

His words and actions do not match. Yet half the country refuses to hold him accountable for anything, including the Jimmy Carter-style economy. And it is this very lack of accountability which is the problem.

All human beings make mistakes; previous Presidents have, certainly. But they were held more accountable than this one is. Where is the outrage, or even acknowledgment, that U.S. embassies were inadequately protected on September 11, for instance? Lost in the coverage of Obama chatting it up on “The View.” Is it possible that had Obama attended more intelligence briefings and fewer celebrity-studded fundraisers, Christopher Stevens might be alive today?

The Presidency is a serious job for a serious leader, one whom the public should rightly not just respect but also hold accountable.

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  • kafantaris

    The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself are both utopian, and both over 200 years old. But unlike other utopias, the one our forefathers embraced works.
    It has an ingenious mechanism to revitalize its institutions: Freedom of speech.
    As John Stuart Mill explained, when a society allows its citizens to question its government, its values and its most sacred beliefs, the examination finds errors and things for improvement.
    But even when no correction at all is needed, the challenge in itself works miracles — it forces us to defend them.
    If things prove fine after such “stress test,” we learn that we are on the right track. Merely knowing this wipes away uncertainty and replaces it with life and vigor.
    Such is the hidden benefit of open debate — and the reason why institutions elsewhere stagnate and die.
    And no one rushes to save them because people have forgotten long before why they are there in the first place. This is the grave danger John Mill warned us about.
    The fathers of this country gave heed to his words.
    Perhaps the fathers of new democracies should do the same.

  • Today every person has a choice: either you believe in freedom or you believe in sharia…There is no grey area…There is no compromise between the two…If you believe there can be some kind of comparability between the two of them, then like Obama you believe in Sharia…Sharia supports the decapitation of unarmed Jews as per Mohammad at Quaraza, sex with 9 year olds as per Mohammad with his last wife, wife beating as per SURA 4.34, etc etc…
    The choice is yours..

  • Vern Trotter

    Dick Morris is the only pollster who says Romney would win if the election were held today. If he does not, I fear we are doomed unless we have control of Congress.

    Obama was around the corner from me today at The View. It is sad to see these woman fawn over him. He is a cult leader!

  • Marylin Pitz

    This hard-hitting, honest account is so sorely needed. Would that every American could read this before the November election. The fearful truth of the matter is that in this celebrity-obssessed culture we may just re-elect the cool-man, Mr. Celebrity president. And then what will save us or anyone else?

    • Jennifer Lambert

      >>And then what will save us or anyone else?

      The Eternal One comes to mind…

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