President Obama addresses turmoil in Arab world, the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran
repression, it is more speech -- the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.
I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech. We recognize that. But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete.
The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence.
There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.
In this modern world, with modern technologies, for us to respond in that way to hateful speech empowers any individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world. We empower the worst of us if that's how we respond.
More broadly, the events of the last two weeks also speak to the need for all of us to honestly address the tensions between the West and the Arab world that is moving towards democracy.
Now let me be clear, just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not, and will not, seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad. We do not expect other nations to agree with us on every issue. Nor do we assume that the violence of the past weeks or the hateful speech by some individuals represent the views of the overwhelming majority of Muslims any more than the views of the people who produced this video represents those of Americans.
However, I do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders in all countries to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism.
It is time to marginalize those who, even when not directly resorting to violence, use hatred of America or the West or Israel as the central organizing principle of politics, for that only gives cover and sometimes makes an excuse for those who do resort to violence. That brand of politics, one that pits East against West and South against North, Muslims against Christians and Hindu and Jews, can't deliver on the promise of freedom.
To the youth, it offers only false hope. Burning an American flag does nothing to provide a child an education. Smashing apart a restaurant does not fill an empty stomach. Attacking an embassy won't create a single job. That brand of politics only makes it harder to achieve what we must do together, educating our children and creating the opportunities that they deserve, protecting human rights and extending democracy's promise.
Understand, America will never retreat from the world. We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens and our friends, and we will stand with our allies. We are willing to partner with countries around the world to deepen ties of trade and investment, and science and technology, energy and development, all efforts that can spark economic growth for all our people and stabilize democratic change.
But such efforts depend on a spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect. No government or company, no school or NGO will be confident working in a country where its people are endangered. For partnerships to be effective, our citizens must be secure and our efforts must be welcomed.
A politics based only on anger, one based on dividing the world between us and them not only sets back international cooperation, it ultimately undermines those who tolerate it. All of us have an interest in standing up to these forces.
Let us remember that Muslims have suffered the most at the hands of extremism. On the same day our civilians were killed in Benghazi, a Turkish police officer was murdered in Istanbul only days before his wedding, more than 10 Yemenis were killed in a car bomb in Sana'a, several Afghan children were mourned by their parents just days after they were killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul.
The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the West, but over time it cannot be contained. The same impulses towards extremism are used to justify war between Sunni and Shia, between tribes and clans. That leads not to strength and prosperity, but to chaos.
In less than two years, we have seen largely peaceful protests bring more change to Muslim-majority countries than a decade of violence. And extremists understand this, because they have nothing to offer to improve the lives of people, violence is their only way to stay relevant. They don't build. They only destroy.
It is time to leave the call of violence and the politics of division behind. On so many issues, we face a choice between the promise of the future or the ...
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: President Barack Obama, United Nations, international relations, democracy, Iran
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Politics & Policy News
- E.W. Jackson Wins Nomination as Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
- News to ruin your morning: IRS official who targeted conservatives for audit now oversees your Obamacare compliance
- Culture of Corruption, Obama pays Sarah Ingram extra for her harassment of conservatives
- Culture of Corruption: Why Obama's misuse of Marines is wrong
- Rubio: Obama's intimidation of tea party groups 'not in isolation'
- Editorial: Is the Scandal Ridden Obama Administration Becoming a House of Cards?
- Obama asks for more money, Marines to protect embassies
- President stands ground against Republican critics
- Eric Holder says he will investigate the IRS for Obama
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?