The rage inside me would express itself in a blast of hostility this morning. I am seething over so many things. The shooting of American troops by the Afghan police they’re trying to train, for example… The storming of American embassies… The murder of one of America’s most caring diplomats… Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
It’s a good thing I am not the American president. My impulse would be to order all American troops home immediately, close U.S. embassies that are under attack and bring the ambassadors home… Cut off all aid to countries in which U.S. embassies have been assaulted… Cease all trade with hostile nations and block all financial transactions with them…
And I would be tempted to turn my back on Israel, too, washing my hands of the entire Mideast mess. If Benjamin Netanyahu wants to bomb Iran and engulf the region in flames, why, so be it. Call me when it’s over.
But that impulse – as understandable as it is – would be wrong.
Of course, the Arab world is making a fool of America! That’s what the Arab world does best. Remember how sly Iraqi opportunists helped lie America into a crazy war? And what about Hamid Karzai? Was there ever anyone more duplicitous?
How can America trust those who profess to be allies? How can the Obama Administration respond to critics who say it’s the money talking – the billions of dollars that the cash-strapped U.S. doles out to the nations of the Mideast every year?
How can anyone defend such largesse when American children are going hungry?
Yet a still, small voice reminds me:
But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.
And I believe these words were meant not only as a guide to the afterlife but also as a philosophy for living here on earth.
If I profess to follow those teachings, I must not vent my rage at double-dealing ingrates. I must bite my tongue.
Who knows? It might be true that many in the Arab world are pro-Western. It might be true that the thugs who murdered Chris Stevens represent a small minority, not the people of Libya. It might be true that the anti-American protests are a political ploy by factions within the Arab world seeking to overthrow the existing regimes. It might be true that some Arabs admire and respect America.
It might even be possible to leave a stable democracy in Afghanistan in 2014.
And if all that is true, then it might be worth enduring the affronts and betrayals America is experiencing. It might be fruitful to still reach out to the people of the Middle East, Arabs and Jews and all of those other quarrelsome people, hoping they will some day see that – for all its faults – America is a force for good in the world. They might come to realize that democracy may not be perfect but it’s the most effective system of government devised so far. They might even learn to love one another.
But I don’t see much hope of that happening. Not today.
Today, I need to bite my tongue.