Weekly Challenge: America’s Values

English: Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU sum...

English: Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, February 2, 2009, in Addis Abeba. Français : Mouammar Kadhafi au 12e sommet de l’UA, le 2 février 2009 à Addis-Abeba Русский: Муамар Каддафи на 12-м саммите Африканского Союза в Аддис-Абебе. 2 февраля 2009 года. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a little behind the times since I wasn’t able to update last week, but I still thought this was good. Today’s weekly challenge comes from a post made by someone I know; his name is credited at the end. Enjoy- and think! Then post in the comments and tell me how this made a difference to YOU. Do you agree/disagree? What are your thoughts?

I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: America’s Values

“”I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. That instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage,” he said. “An apology for America’s values is never the right course.”
-Mitt Romney

This buffer statement was released by the Romney camp as part of a follow-up to Romney’s earlier condemnation of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. Specifically, it is a condemnation of the US Embassy in Cairo’s statements against an inflammatory movie, made by an independent California filmmaker, entitled “Innocence of Muslims,” which depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer and child molester, among other things.

This video, and it’s subsequent priming of the protests sweeping US embassies in the Middle East and North Africa, was also largely responsible for the riot conditions that allowed militants to successful launch an attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including respected US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

I have chosen to speak out about this particular statement because it represents for me a serious escalation in the partisan rhetoric that has engulfed our nation these many months.

The above statement from the Romney camp begs a very serious question:

“What are America’s values?”

This question should cause all of us to shudder, considering the sudden upswing in hatred and bigotry in recent months. Firstly, the supposed apology that Romney has latched onto was, in fact, a condemnation of the film that sparked the protests. In doing so, it made the attempt at defending our purported American values, which is thus: The freedom of speech must be tempered with a respect for the listener.

To rebut Romney’s statement that our first response should be outrage, I say this:

Our first response should be solidarity.

Claiming outrage toward an outrageous act of violence in no way demonstrates your values. Far from it, it merely demonstrates you are human and are prone to the same passions that guide, drive, and sometimes mislead us all.

That solidarity I speak of was shown quite vividly by the Libyan people, who by most accounts, have largely renounced the actions of the militants. The Libyan ambassador to the US has unequivocally condemned the attacks, and has gone to great lengths to distance his people from such hate-mongering.

Would Americans show such solidarity under the same circumstances? Given Romney’s statement, I am not so sure anymore.

Secondly, we as a people can, and should, apologize for the inflammatory film. We can do so and still not need to take credit over its authorship. That burden falls squarely on the filmmaker, who produced the film under the pseudonym Sam Bacile, and has since gone into hiding.

Part of being an American People is that we, as a people, must also accept responsibility for the actions of our fringe. They, too, represent us to the world, much to our collective chagrin. While it is unfair to force upon ourselves such a heavy burden, it is the burden any people, claiming to lead the so-called Free World, must accept, or be forced to relinquish any such claims.

Consider this: What if a Muslim businessman funded and released an independent film portraying Jesus Christ as a pedophile and charlatan? (Highly unlikely as Jesus Christ is also a crucial figure in the Islamic faith)

Has the Christian world demonstrated any more restraint in the past? The events of 9/11 was met with swift and brutal retribution against not one, but two nations, for the actions of their perceived fringe. Domestically, the opening salvos of America’s fury resulted in the deaths of American Sikhs, Muslims, and most telling, Coptic Christians.

I return once again to the Republican nominee’s statement. What are our values as a people? Romney’s attacks against the Obama administration occurred less than 24 hours after the attack in Libya. The families had not been notified, the memorials had not been set, and the accounting of the day’s events had barely begun to form into a cohesive image. Is this course of action what we, as a people, value? The politicization of a national tragedy, and to what end? Votes?

The above statement was released as part of a second round of attacks. From all indicators, it appears that his campaign is planning to continue pressing the issue. Whether it is for fear of being perceived as weak, or for fear of appearing (for shame) apologetic, we will not likely know.

What we do know, however, is this: The worst atrocities of human history were only made possible through the perpetration of the Hostile Other. The idea that “they” want to harm “us” and that “we” must kill “them” before “they” can do so to “us”. But who are “they”? And more importantly, who are “we”?

Make no mistake, we most certainly have our enemies, foreign and domestic. They are the fringe elements of all societies, the unthinking mass, the self-appointed saviors of our collective futures, bloodshed and suffering be damned. They are the harbingers of a Golden future, a path paved in the corpses of the Hostile Other.

It is the rhetoric of Wade Michael Page, who attacked the Sikh Temple in Milwaukee last month. It is the rhetoric of Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City. It is the rhetoric of Osama bin Laden, whose infamy and impact need no preamble for anyone in the world. It is the rhetoric of Mao, of Stalin, of Polpot. And, it is the rhetoric of perhaps that greatest symbol of man’s shame and capacity for atrocity: Adolf Hitler.

With Romney’s vociferous attacks on our President, so soon after a tragic event, it becomes clear to me who the Hostile Other is in Romney’s eyes. He has the right to question President Obama’s methods.

He does not have the right to attack our President’s loyalties.

That is a course of action designed to create a Hostile Other where none exists.

I love my country. And, being a Taiwanese citizen, I make no attempts to hide that my country is America. And as an American, I am once again forced to ask, “Who are we?”

“What are our values?”

Do we stand with the world, apart from the world, or against the world?

I no longer know, and I believe only in the deepest trenches of our collective soul-searching will that answer ever be made clear to me again.

With Concern and Humility,
Hau-Wei Chang, 11:58 AM, 9/13/12


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