The Muslim world has had a rough year. State-building in Egypt, Libya and Yemen seems to have faltered. The war in Afghanistan has grown ever deadlier, with violence consuming much of Pakistan. The entire Middle East has been gripped by rising tensions, with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf nations on one side, and Iran on the other. Most notably, the Syrian conflict has expanded dramatically, with the death toll of Bashar Al-Assad’s brutal massacres reaching 20,000, according to some estimates.
When I heard that Muslims in Cairo and Benghazi had taken to the streets in protest, I imagined it might be related to one of these major issues, or at least to deplorable economic and social conditions. I was wrong. They were protesting a YouTube video deemed offensive to Islam.
O a recent morning, I was awakened by a CNN alert informing me that the U.S. ambassador to Libya and other Americans had been killed. Immediately associating the killings with the protests, I was livid. But it later became known that the attack, a separately planned venture, had taken advantage of the chaos. The following day, protests spread to over a dozen Muslim countries.
President Obama’s reaction to the murder of our ambassador put it best. “There can be no justification for this kind of senseless violence,” he said. To any objective observer, it is clear that there is no justification, and yet time and time again, protesters in Muslim countries have expressed deadly anger at perceived insults that have no detrimental effects.
It’s a truly maddening problem, and it’s easy to attribute it to “Muslim rage,” an all-encompassing term that implies an innate bloodlust in the core of Islam. It’s much more responsible to note that this is an incredibly complex issue, tied to economic and social maladies, as well as opportunistic clerics bent on manipulating malleable youth for personal gain.
But neither of those explanations really do anything to fix the problem. The problem of deadly Muslim overreaction to childish insults hasn’t changed much over the years.
It’s an incredibly disheartening problem. The masses in the Muslim world seem to be fundamentally opposed to modern conceptions of freedom of speech. As an American and a Muslim, I’d give anything for these people to ignore such clear provocations and focus on creating just and free societies in their own countries.
For now, we should cherish the memory of our late ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and strive to uphold the values that propelled him — a love of freedom and mutual understanding.
Obama’s missed presidential moments
A Sept.19 letter, “Romney misses the moment,” suggested Mitt Romney acted less than “truly presidential” with his ill-timed criticism of President Obama following the savagery in Benghazi and Cairo.
I would offer readers, by comparison, this retort:
Was it “truly presidential” for a sitting president of the United States to literally bow publicly to a Saudi king, as did Obama in showing deferential reverence to King Abdullah?
Was it “truly presidential” for the initial official response to such heinous and murderous outrage to condemn efforts “to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,” over some obscure video trailer, rather than immediately condemning in the strongest of terms such a despicable violation of U.S. sovereignty and the wanton murder of an ambassador and three other courageous U.S. citizens?
Was it “truly presidential” for a president to dispatch his surrogate, Susan Rice, to appear on Sunday morning network news shows to further insult the American people’s intelligence by claiming the attack in Libya was a “spontaneous reaction”?
Was it “truly presidential” for Obama to have not so much as skipped a campaign beat by flying out to Las Vegas for a Harry Reid-backed fundraising dinner?
I wonder how the writer would feel had any of those four heroic Americans been her loved one.
U.S. should keep investment in GM
I am writing in response to the Sept. 21 article, “Former GM chief says U.S. should sell shares.” Former GM chief executive Ed Whitacre seems to think that the government investment in GM is keeping the company from focusing “on what it does best, designing, building and selling the world’s best vehicles.”
Further, he said that “adding TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program) in the mix for another few years, or even another few quarters, is not fair to GM.”
So, the company was willing to take $50 billion, but doesn’t want to answer to anyone in return? Good work if you can get it.
It would seem to me that the time GM spends “ checking in with people who administer TARP” sounds like how a properly run company should spend its time, answering to active and interested investors.
Is government really in the way at GM, or is this just another excuse for poor stock performance, which, incidentally, is set by individual and institutional investors who do their own homework and perhaps feel that there is still too much of the “old GM”-think going on?
Whitacre has my permission to sell any of his personal investments for losses, should he wish to do so. For my part, I am sending a note to my representatives telling them that under no circumstances should the government sell its investment in GM until GM builds the business, the company and the stock price.
Government helps all to succeed
In a recent Time magazine cover story called “One Nation Subsidized,” it was pointed out that our lives are subsidized by the government in ways most people don’t realize.
The water we drink, the grains we eat, the energy we use, child care, cotton, health care, transportation, home mortgage interest — the list goes on and on — all are subsidized.
If the government were to take away all these, prices would climb drastically; there would be revolt.
This article should be required reading for everyone, especially the anti-government types.