Picking His Battles
If you are able to read this blog, there is no doubt that you have somehow heard about the tragic suicide of comedian and actor Robin Williams. Countless tribute videos and articles have made their way around the internet, acknowledging Mr. Williams’ legendary career both on screen and on stage. Robin was a good man, and tales of him being even better behind the scenes have varied from his times spent entertaining and visiting with the troops, to his charity work and generosity with his money. President Obama released a statement on Williams’ legacy the day of his passing:
“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.”
It was a nice statement and gesture from the White House indeed.
Now I am not one to fully jump on board of the bandwagon that feels infuriated by the fact that every other Facebook post this week and probably next week has and is going to be related to Robin Williams, as opposed to more significant problems in the world. While his role in society may have been different and less important than perhaps a member of the military stationed overseas, he did bring laughter and joy to many individuals and families for many years. However, it is very strange, if not pathetic, that our Commander in Chief deemed the death of a beloved actor worthy of a personal press statement the day it happened, yet has said very little about many critical situations in our world today. American pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned in Iran nearly two years, and aside from a few comments to groups of Christians, Obama has not said much on his situation. An American citizen is being held in prison in a foreign country for preaching Christianity and it is apparently not an important issue for our president.
Sadly, the virtual ignoring of Saeed is far from the only issue that the president has chosen not to discuss. There is also the story of Meriam Ibrahim, a pregnant Sudanese woman who was married to an American, who was locked in prison in Sudan along with her toddler son (an American citizen) and scheduled to be executed because she was a Christian. Fortunately, Meriam and her two children (she had given birth to her daughter, also an American citizen, in prison) were eventually released and finally made their way to the United States. We should be thankful that they arrived to America safely, however, it took entirely too long. While many members of Congress and other areas of government and public service did a good job bringing attention to this crisis, Obama remained silent, and as far as we know, he never even mentioned her name. Two American children were locked up in a dangerous prison with their mother who was scheduled to be killed, and the man who is supposed to be our leader, never even bothered to publicly address it.
While Obama was eulogizing a deceased celebrity, he was continuing to neglect the terrorist group ISIS, and their brutal mass killings of Iraqi Christians, including many children. That is not to say that he has said nothing of the situation, just very little, as if it pains him to talk about it, and not an emotional pain. It is safe to assume to that Obama is probably bothered by the murders and executions in Iraq, but that is not the reason he would rather spend his time making sure a comedian is executively recognized. I will explain the real reason later on.
Another current and relevant situation that Obama has not released a statement on is that of Andrew Tahmooressi, the United States Marine who has been held in a prison in Tijuana, Mexico since the end of March for accidentally bringing weapons into the country. Many politicians and news reporters have done their best to bring Tahmooressi’s situation to light, but despite the national attention his story is getting, Obama has not done a thing about it. It is quite sad that over the course of several months, President Obama, the head of the military, has not done anything significant to even influence his release, but was able to make a press statement on the death of a civilian within hours, a situation he could no longer change.
While his silence on the imprisoned Marine completely baffles me, his hesitation to discuss the other important situations I mentioned is not surprising. Like most politicians, Obama is an expert at choosing his battles wisely. However, Obama is especially keen on limiting his talking points to what will benefit himself and his goals, and not the people.
In the situations of the American pastor in Iran, the Sudanese woman and her children, and the Christians in Iraq, Obama has refrained from discussing them as much as he can because of two reasons. The first is that due to what I believe is his own political correctness; he likes to downplay the danger of radical Islam. The second reason is that he likes to think he has shrunk what he thought was the small threat of radical Islam and terrorism, to a relative nonissue. It is for that same reason that he and Hillary Clinton were so eager to blame the Benghazi attacks on a “viral” video instead of a planned terrorist attack. Only this time, in the case of the Iraqi Christians, thousands of innocent civilians are dying, and they are dying daily. It has gotten so bad that Hillary Clinton, whose views on foreign policy as of late may be best known amongst conservatives by her quote “What difference at this point does it make?” , has distanced herself from Obama’s actions (or lack thereof) on this issue.
It is much easier for the president to attempt to distract the public by discussing the legacy of Robin Williams than it is for him to talk about the dire situations of the world, which were caused by something he swore was over. Granted, it is not like Obama has gone on and made multiple statements about Williams, but it is the fact that he bothered to make one about him, and ignored the other issues that could have perhaps hurt his reputation if more attention was brought to them.
Again, I have no problem with popular celebrities who have passed away getting large amounts of publicity and recognition on the news and forms of social media. Robin Williams was a familiar face who was known by nearly everyone, and the way he died makes the story all the more sad and shocking. The President of The United States however, has a much bigger responsibility than the average “Facebooker,” and should deal with all issues properly, and not just the easy ones.