Sunday evening marked the last day flags flew at half-staff to honor the lives lost during the attack on the American embassy in Libya last week. The gesture was meant to illustrate how in the darkest hours, our nation comes together in unity.
However, presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his campaign saw the attack as an opportunity to turn a national tragedy into a partisan issue.
In a remark hours after news of the attack broke, Romneycriticized President Barack Obama’s administration for a series of tweets sent out by the U.S Embassy in Cairo while trying to ward off protests near their own embassy. In part, the tweets read as follows:
“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.”
Romney interpreted the comments as contradictory of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech clause, stating it is “a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values.”
Although the White House distanced itself from the statement, Romney still held Obama responsible, claiming his administration was sending “mixed messages to the world,” and “the first response of the United States should be outrage.”My question for Romney is this: What messages are your statements sending to the world?
With limited information avail- able about who facilitated the attack or if anyone was injured, outrage is hardly the first response a prudent leader should administer. The 13-year-old children attend- ing at the summer camp I worked showed more restraint when things didn’t go their way.
Statements like these send a message to the world that an ad- ministration led by Romney would let anger dictate its decisions in foreign relations policy.
Do we really need another trigger-happy president who is ready to utilize bush-league tactics (pun intended) and blow another foreign country “back to the Stone Age” without fully understanding the situation at hand?
I believe the statements made by the U.S Embassy in Cairo weren’t an apology for our values, but a condemnation of ignorance. While the views and opinions conveyed in the controversial film “Innocence of Muslims” — which sparked the violent acts of last week — are protected under the First Amendment, it doesn’t mean the U.S can’t take a stand against unethical expressions of hate.
As flags across the nation return to full-staff today, it is unfortunate Romney and his campaign chose to send a message of division to the rest of the world during a time when we should set aside political quibbling while embracing a col- lective moment of solemnity.