Politics and the Death of Americans Overseas

I really did not want to discuss politics into this blog largely because it seems that most people on all sides are not really interested in facts or honest, fair debate.

This morning’s events, though, have angered me so much that I feel obligated as a human being to share my thoughts.

Chris Stevens, United States Ambassador to Libya

After watching CNN’s coverage of the storming of US embassies in Egypt and Libya and the assassination of the American Ambassador to Libya and three other early this morning, I switched over to see how Fox News was covering these events. My jaw dropped as I watched the Fox and Friends show spend almost the entire last 30 minutes of their show using the deaths of these Americans to promote a political agenda.

Much of their coverage was centered on the U.S. Egyptian embassy’s statement that they, as did Mitt Romney last night and again this morning, were apologizing for freedom of speech in the U.S.

Perhaps they did read the full statement on the air issued by the embassy (CNN has done so several times this morning), but I didn’t hear it in the last 30 minutes of the Fox show — only repeated criticisms of it in terms of apologizing for free speech.

Here is the full text of the statement:

“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

While I tend to agree with many critics that a condemnation of the embassy attacks should have been made first, I do believe not one of those critics have spoken to anyone in the embassy, much less the person who released it. The statement was made while the attacks were occurring or immediately after. If your life and the lives of your co-workers are being threatened by a mob attacking you, wouldn’t a statement saying you agree with their condemnation of the filmmaker whose video started it all make sense to possible save lives? The people in the embassy did not know what else was in store and a statement like this might pacify many in the crowd. Remember how quickly social media works in Egypt.

I think all of the people whose knee jerk reactions to the events in north Africa are speaking from a position of great ignorance of what really happened in their attempts to promote their politics.

After reading the embassy statement, I see absolutely nothing apologetic in it. Nothing. I see a condemnation of those who abuse freedom of speech, not freedom of speech itself. Do critics, including Mitt Romney, disagree with the statement that “respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy”? Do they support the “the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others”?

This morning, Gov. Romney stood by his statement last night that when he said “”It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

In reading the embassy’s statement, do you see it as sympathizing with freedom of religion or sympathizing with the attackers? I imagine many folks will interpret the statement in the way that fits what they want to believe and use it for political gain as Gov. Romney clearly did last night and again this morning.

Politics have been brutal coming from all sides this year. Like many, I have become a bit numb to all the useless, wasted, and often dishonest words that come from just about everyone on every side.

But what really upset me this morning was the blatant, deliberate attempt by Fox News and then by Gov. Romney to use the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others for politics.

Come one, people. Good people died yesterday doing real work in a dangerous place that needs our help. Good people work in a dangerous and challenging place in Egypt as well. Can the partisan politics not wait a few days, especially when none of us even know who actually killed Ambassador Stevens and the others? (One Fox host this morning already believes he knows, but, oddly enough, he didn’t give specifics.)

Attacks on the American embassies and the killing of Americans overseas go way beyond petty politics and using those deaths to gain votes is, to me, truly…well, I can’t think of a word strong enough to express my feelings.

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