They are part of the national fabric that holds our country together. They contribute to America in many ways, and deserve the same respect as any of us. I pledge to spread this message, and affirm our country’s principles of liberty and justice for all.
Posted by Anni on Friday, March 16th, 2012
As you have likely heard, mayhem has broken out in Afganistan over the mistaken burning of Qurans at an American military base. Understandably, Afgan civilians and soldiers are outraged, a dangerous thing for people to be in a region of the world plagued by unrest and violence. As of the beginning of this month, the event has been linked to dozens of deaths in the region. In an attempt to quell the anger, President Obama made a public apology for the event. I was pleasantly surprised by his apology. Apologizing for such a blatant piece of disrespect in a war-torn and heavily religious country where we are guests, is the right thing to do. Unfortunately others in the political spotlight disagreed.
Newt Gingrich called Obama’s apology “embarrassing.” Gingrich: “I don’t believe the president saved lives by what he did. I believe the president set a terrible precedent of a commander in chief not standing up for American troops.” Apparently Gingrich would prefer it if the President of the United States supported our troops in every way. Where should he draw the line? If burning a Quran is okay, what about openly berating young women or kicking children in the street? People do not suddenly become immune to mistake making when they join the military. And there is no shame in apologizing when a mistake is made. If we can’t apologize for mistakes, every mistake will be seen as a decisive action. I shudder to think of a world like that. World war seems the most likely consequence.
Rick Santorum didn’t like Obama’s apology either. Santorum: “I think the response needs to be apologized for by Mr. Karzai and the Afgan people, for attacking and killing our men and women in uniform, and overreacting to this inadvertent mistake.” First, the details of the burning itself are fuzzy. While it may very well have been inadvertent, and many mistakes are, that doesn’t make it less important or hurtful. Mitt Romney, consistent in his halfhearted fence sitting said: “With regards to the apology, I think for a lot of people, it sticks in their throat.”
Why? Why does it bother anyone that our president isn’t comfortable with our soldiers burning holy books in Afganistan? Had these been regular people going about their day burning books on U.S. soil, we could make a case for flag-burning-style freedoms. But these were soldiers, representing the political will of the United States. These are people we trust as emissaries, carrying our respect and our dignity with them overseas. If they don’t behave honorably they damage our alliances and people die, even if their poor behavior is a mistake. What his apology says to me is that our president is aware of the implications of burning a Quran. He didn’t openly reprimand anyone. He didn’t order a court marshal or move to convict anyone of war crimes. He simply offered a sincere apology for offending the people we’re trying to help. To me, that seems like the right thing to do.