From the beginning, it has been made clear that certain segments of our nation detest the 44th President of the United States, Barrack Obama, I have heard the wild rumors about this President in our dining rooms, our coffee shops, on the radio, and TV. This President is not acceptable because of the color of his skin and his life among the Moslem community. Some people are and will remain prejudice when they don’t understand and are ignorant of those who have not touched their lives. There is little anyone can do to change their attitudes, except hopefully they will in time overcome their fears.
This is after all a democracy. A republic. A country whose Constitution guarantees free speech…if you do not violate the rights of others you may continue to live the way you wish. We also have in this country due process. Thank God we are free to “think” what we will and write what we want without repercussions.
But there are certain codes of ethics. Certain rules of conduct. Certain manners we are taught from Day 1 – we don’t go around calling people liars in print or in speech, unless we can prove it. Slander and libel laws prevent us from tainting the reputations of even those who are in public office.
When Congressman Joseph Wilson, a South Carolina legislator, disrupted our President’s address to the nation the other night, and called the president a “liar” he violated every code of civility, decency, and political protocol there is. His shameful conduct was followed up later with an apology to the President.
I, and I believe millions of others, were stunned by Wilson’s outburst. And shocked. Shocked because the legislator did not show respect to the person speaking, to a nation, or to the office he had. In this case the man happened to be the President of the United States.
Wilson’s defamatory remark ranks with the Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zurdi’s shoe-throwing disrespect for former President Bush. Wilson has fallen into the nadir of his legislative career, and he is a disgrace, an embarrassment to the State he represents. If not recalled, he should be censured by his Congressional colleagues.
The seemingly unperturbed and unnerved President Obama, showing greatest aplomb, calmly continued to present his argument for a national health insurance program to the nation.
Historically, in our country, legislators publicly and nationally do not offend their Presidents. The action by Wilson is unprecedented. They may criticize, even ridicule those who differ from their political views, but they usually have the decency to allow the speaker to express their view before they offer their opposing viewpoints.
I am reminded of another great American patriot, Patrick Henry, who patiently waited for one speaker to finish his pitch for loyalty to the Crown before he retorted “…I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend with my life the right for you to say it.” This philosophy is a sacred cornerstone of this great nation’s foundation. Though many may not think so, we are the envy of the world. I know for I have seen the eyes of those who covet the right to join us here in this land.
Personally, I fought the leaders and the ideology of the oppressive Soviet Union for 13 years before they granted me permission, the privilege, to return to my native land. I believed then as I do today that a man or woman has the right to express his or her opinion, without repercussion or humiliation. He or she does not have the right to disrupt others while they speak, let alone those we have elected to office.
We look to our elected officials and statesmen for guidance. That is why they are in office. They have, I believe, the qualifications, the wisdom, and the intelligence to lead our country. If they show otherwise, we, the people, have the right to put them into the unemployment lines.
If he truly believes that the President was lying, Wilson has an obligation to present his case to the people of the United States. I am sure the Media and the Press will be eager, as they have shown in the past, to interview him.
As Emil Ludwig points out in his brilliant biography of Napoleon, “In his highest embodiment, the statesman shapes all our destinies.”
These past eight years it seems that Congress has shown us there are not many statesmen in their midst.
The President has accepted Mr. Wilson’s apology, but the people, especially the voters of South Carolina, should not. Do we need yet another legislator of spurious character in Washington?
Wilson should feel fortunate that he lives in the US. If I had the power to take him with me back into time…to Moscow…to the Stalin Era…and those frightening evenings when we all feared those knocks on our apartment doors at midnight. If Wilson had publicly called Stalin a liar during an open forum, surely he would have been visited by the KGB and, before dawn, Wilson would have stood before an execution squad.
Free speech is a sacred altar where all freedom-loving people bend their knees in prayer.
I watched and listened for nearly one hour to the 44th President of the United States’ speech and, yes, I, too, questioned some of his arguments specifically where this nation would get the money to pay for the massive overall of a much-needed national health and medical program. And we await our legislators presenting this program to us. Let us hope the plan is a viable one.
But I also sat and listened in awe at Obama who continued his delivery unnerved and undaunted by the rude and inappropriate outburst by one who embarrassed me and his constituents in South Carolina by his inappropriate behavior.
I know not how other Americans feel, but for myself I am proud to say that I am confident in this President and that I know in this moment in time I have a President in office whom I can truly trust, can be proud of, and who I can believe in and respect.
To paraphrase another great president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was in office at the worst of times, who, after four years of trying to lift his fellow country men out of the Great Depression, said during his second inauguration speech, “…this generation of Americans has a date with destiny.”
This President and this Congress also have a “Date with Destiny”.
And I personally believe when historians look back on our times and study the incredible challenges we faced and conquered – the financial collapse of our financial institutions, the world-wide unemployment, the famine, and the end of wars and genocides…that they, too, will stand in awe of this generation and place us among the greatest generations in American History.
Tom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess. Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!