For Barack Obama, 9/11 Was a "Failure of Empathy"

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Sep 13, 2008 10:16 PM
9/11 itself is no day for politics.  But as we decide which candidate represents the better choice when it comes to understanding and defending us against terrorism, it's instructive to look at the article that Barack wrote for the Hyde Park Herald immediately after the attack.  Below is the most relevant part of the chunk quoted in Ryan Lizza's New Yorker piece from last summer:

The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.

We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent.  Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe—children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores.

Is it possible to be more out of touch with the nature of the threat we face?  From start to finish, this excerpt shows everything that's wrong with Barack Obama's thinking.  At the outset, note that 9/11 wasn't a "tragedy" as he desribes it -- it was an attack.  His concern about the "lives of innocent civilians abroad" is touching . . . but where is the commensurate concern for the "innocent civilians" in his own country who have just been brutally murdered? 

And note his worry that, of course, Americans' reaction will be an outpouring -- not of concern and caring for each other -- but of "bigotry" and "discrimination."

Finally, check out his prescription for action.  It doesn't include hunting down and killing the people who masterminded 9/11's atrocities.  Instead, he advocates a little international social work.