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A President’s Words


“They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence,” Barack Obama said in his statement on the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Leadership in many countries and citizens in those countries could say the same about the USA. Black Americans could say the same about law enforcement or wannabe police officers like George Zimmerman) in their communities.

“People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy,” Barack Obama said in that same statement on the beheading of Foley. No entity destroys more effectively than the US military security complex.

“The people of Syria, whose story Jim Foley told, do not deserve to live under the shadow of a tyrant or terrorists,” said Obama, continuing his statement on the beheading of Foley. The people of Iraq, Afghanistan, any country invaded either by US ground forces or devastated by US air power could say the same. The people of Gaza, whose lives have been ravaged, who have lost loved ones, their homes, their territory, their dignity do not deserve to live under the shadow of Israeli terrorists whose weapons and livelihoods are financed by US taxpayers.

“From governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread,” said Obama in his statement on the beheading of Foley. This could be said about the malignancy of US conquest-oriented foreign policy.

“There has to be a clear rejection of this kind of nihilistic ideologies. One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century,” Obama said in his statement on the beheading of Foley. This could be said about the US with its ideology of American exceptionalism, entering countries under the pretense of humanitarianism while leveling civilizations and claiming the resources beneath the land. Obama is not airstrik-ing Erbil because Christians and non-Muslims are dying. He’s protecting corporate giants, Exxon and Chevron.

“. . . we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility,” Obama said in his statement on the beheading of Foley. People throughout the world who’ve witnessed US weapons of mass proportion could say this.

“And we will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for,” said Obama in his statement on the beheading of Foley. Yes, “timeless values” of perpetual war, class as well as race.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has committed an egregious act to protect its people and values. Yet the values of the US government are no better. A beheading is shocking and barbaric, but so is a drone attack. Or do we perceive killing from afar to be less horrifying than killing from a distance?

My heart breaks for the family of James Foley. My heart breaks for the families whose loved ones have been incinerated by US drones. My heart breaks for Palestinians in Gaza. My heart breaks for the family of Michael Brown.

My heart breaks.

I repeat Obama’s utterly hypocritical words “ . . . the future is won by those who build and not destroy” and think how lost we are.  We. Are. Lost.

Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com



Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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