November 19, 2007
In today's Chronicle, Saunders asserts that Clinton is alone among Democratic candidates in understanding that "outside American borders lurks a hostile world." But my takeaway is different...
To me it is Clinton's approach that seems irresponsible, pandering and short-sighted. Sure, she may work to stop the bombs today, but her approach - to continue our basic foreign policy, with slightly different priorities - will train a new generation of xeonophobes at home and around the world. Obama is the candidate who seems to have a deeper understanding of the problem, and who has longer time horizons in mind. Perhaps his horizons are different because he is the younger candidate.
A Fear Of The Different
The whole premise that hidden dangers "lurk" beyond our borders - that just because bad people are not American they are any more dangerous to us than bad people who happen to be American - this attitude is very clearly an artifact of 18th century nationalistic politics. This fear of the different is something we are outgrowing as a people - and indeed it is something we are being forced to outgrow today in our free-trade, internet-connected world.
It is human nature to cling to xenophobia and fear. And we can only hope that the fear we see in both Clinton and in the Republican field is heartfelt, and not a cynical exploitation of the basest emotions of the American people. Because this fear of the different is the same disease that sustains persistent sexism and racism in this country, and it is the same disease that afflicts funamentalist Islamists halfway around the world. We can only hope that our leaders do not continue to preach a message that drives our own troops to want to torture Arabs like animals; and that in turn teaches young Arabs that they should strap on explosives to kill people they have never met.
The answer to our problems does not lie in feeding a distrust of people whose skin is a different color. They seem so strange - they celebrate different holidays, they worship a different way, they don't even write in the same direction. But how must we seem to them, with our reality TV, our excessive consumption, our military adventures?
Healing The Rift
Obama is alone among the candidates in understanding this basic rift in a deep, fundamental, and sophisticated way. He is alone in his true belief and understanding that in the long run, the only way to defend the American people is to heal the rift.Posted by David at November 19, 2007 08:35 AM
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