“To all of you who have shattered one window or thrown one rock or defied one police officer: you dishonor Michael Brown’s memory with this kind of criminality. We have no idea what happened in this tragic story, but we must have faith in the system that will investigate it.
“In the meantime, we are to be peaceful. We cannot demand respect while behaving disrespectfully. We will allow no room for violent reactions. We do not yet know what happened in Michael’s shooting, but we do know what will happen to those who protest violently. They will be stopped by all means available to law enforcement so that the streets of Ferguson can be safe once again.”
That’s called accountability. But remember, it is dead.
James Foley is also dead, and accountability is required there as well. It is impossible to avoid righteous fury at the sight and sound of the British-brogued monster next to a kneeling Foley on video moments before slaughtering him.
No, wait, maybe it is possible. Adjusting his tee time by a few minutes Wednesday, President Obama seemed almost as peeved as if he had three-putted on the eighteenth green.reolurr
ISIS’ “ideology is bankrupt,” he proclaimed, following up that sledgehammer with the warning that “People like this ultimately fail.”
Ooooh, failure awaits them? And ideological bankruptcy? I can see caves full of terrorists trembling at the thought. Adding outright comedy to this sorry scene, the CBS news story referred to these mild words as coming from “a visibly angry” Obama.
I actually don’t need my President to be angry. I need him to be strong. I don’t need him to respond with furious words, I need him to respond with resolute actions that speak far louder.
But if I may craft a little more theater of the mind, these words might be a worthy accompaniment:
“I join every American in condemning this vile act of terror against one of our citizens. ISIS should know that this act of war against the United States will be met with our strongest possible response. Terrorists everywhere should know that we will do whatever is necessary to destroy their ability to attack us in our homeland or in theirs.”
But this, of course, would involve the President speaking the word “terrorist." It would involve speaking truth to evil. It would involve the language of accountability.
But accountability is dead.
If it can be revived by Obama’s successor, it will involve the courage to look into the gaping cauldron of radical Islam and speak its name.
It is easy to make clear that even though Islamofascists are in a religious war against us, we are not in a religious war against them. We have no quarrel with the peaceful Muslims in America or anywhere in the world. But from a terror cell in a suburban garage to a swelling ISIS movement across the Middle East, an American President should make clear that we will not tolerate aggression against our people.
That will involve a complete reversal of the Obama doctrine of cut and run. That ill-fashioned plan has sprouted the nightmares we face today, across a landscape where terrorists are aware of the death of accountability, and are planning God-knows-what to fill the vacuum left in the wake of our departure.
Can accountability be brought back from the dead? The good news is that it can. The tough news is that it will require more than the election of the occasional strong leader. It will require an epiphany across the entire American populace.
Some Americans are willing to hold rioters accountable and shame race-baiting opportunists. It needs to be a vast majority.
Some Americans are willing to speak truth to the evil of radical Islam. It needs to be a vast majority, including the occupant of the Oval Office.
When we develop the spine to do these things, we will have less rioting, less race-baiting and less terrorism. Our current path of coddling and protecting these bad behaviors will only lead to their further spread.
But if we can discover the determination to revive accountability, our cities will be safer from hooligans and opportunists and our nation will be safer from terrorists.
It won’t happen with the flip of some magic switch. It will require years of attitudinal change. Broad revulsion following the spectacles of Ferguson rioting and an American murdered by a terrorist on camera are a good start.