Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Critical Questions

"As President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so." --President Barack Obama at the United Nations

I like that quote from the video above.  It chokes me up with patriotic feelings of idealism.  But I like it in the way I like any great work of fiction.  I know it sounds better than reality is.  President Obama is eloquently exaggerating his magnanimity.   

Just look at this article from HuffPo a month ago.  If Obama "always" defends the right to call him awful things, why isn't he defending the rights of Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange?  When WikiLeaks slung awful allegations at our military when it exposed video "showing a U.S. helicopter massacring people on a Baghdad street, among them civilians, Reuters journalists, and a child" I don't recall the President defending Manning's and Assange's  rights to do so.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  I'm all about information sharing.  Perhaps I don't have all the information to form a valid opinion.

Also, please know that my criticism of President Obama's pronouncement above doesn't mean I no longer support his second term.  I'll still vote for him in November.  Idealism gets me in the gut, but at heart I'm a pragmatist.  I know an Obama administration will be a stronger defender of intellectual freedom than a Romney administration would, even if neither administration would be ideal.     

It's important to fight for freedom.  Asking critical questions doesn't make a person a traitor.  I wish the mainstream media would have the guts to ask more questions, as Wasserman, the author of the HuffPo piece does so well:

"Finally, and most important, isn't it time for a dispassionate assessment of WikiLeaks' impact? It has been two years since the massive leaks of military and diplomatic data. The moment is ripe for an accounting. Did the leaks do harm or do good? Did WikiLeaks demoralize dedicated officials and expose trusting intelligence assets to risk and reprisal? Or did it blow whistles that needed to be heard, embolden dissidents worldwide, fuel the Arab Spring, encourage lackluster news media to defy official controls, help chase despots from power?"

Wouldn't the world be a better place if we promoted more sharing and tolerated less secrecy?  I say yes, probably, but give me more information.