Thursday, June 4, 2009

Governing without Fear

I have not yet had a chance to see all of President Obama's remarkable speech in Cairo, but what I have seen (read the text here in the NYTimes) it continues his theme that progress in all spheres begins with diminishing the fear of the other.

Speaking to a Muslim audience in Cairo, Obama noted that Israeli's and Jews everywhere, continue to be shaped by the terrible trauma of the Holocaust. When Muslims deny the Holocaust, or trade in anti-Jewish stereotypes to voice their grievance against Israel, they push these fear buttons.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.


When Obama asks his audiences to look past their own trauma to consider the position of the other, he is repudiating the politics of governing through crime in the strongest possible way. When we govern through crime we place our own fear and trauma at the center of reality, and cast the other, whom we fear, out into the darkness where they become every more frightening. The previous administration built this logic into a global war on terror that produced ever more fear and ever more terror. In Cairo, President Obama is laying down a vision of governing without fear that can unlock the peace process between Israel and Palestine, and that can unlock American's from their prisons of fear.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Obama's Address in Cairo. Addressing the muslim world. It is indeed very interesting to hear what the President of United States have to say about muslims. This is truly a new page upon which history is being written. It is also of no doubt that Obama have successfully used the emotions.

Amanda
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