“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.”
“There’s no use talking about the problem unless you talk about the solution.”
“Lead, follow, or get out of the way”
President Obama has been on a roll this year with anti-terrorism, and the latest recipient of American justice was Anwar al-Awlaki, who was involved in or connected to at least six acts of terrorism against America. The problem is, al-Awlaki was an American citizen. This gave President Obama’s opponents an opportunity to voice a complaint that actually had a veneer of credibility: that America had sentenced an American citizen to die without due process, and has since carried out the execution.
Now Bill Maher on his show Real Time recently pointed out that such was Rick Perry’s job, and most of us see the irony of Maher’s joke. On the one hand, Maher supports President Obama’s decision, but on the other hand, his quip clearly shows where such a precedent could lead if our president were lacking in sound judgment.
And there’s the rub! Alwaki could not be captured. Unlike bin Laden, who stayed in the same compound for years and thus made himself a stationary target, al-Alwaki was a moving target, and despite all our military capability, it was logistically impossible and diplomatically perilous to send ground troops in to capture him. If the president had stood on principle and idealism and had not acted, he would have placed American lives and the American economy at significant risk, since al-Awlaki had shown himself to be a capable and determined threat. If the president did make the decision to kill al-Alwaki, the precedent is set. But no president is given the luxury of indecision, and the decision he had to make rested entirely on his shoulders.
So ever since the execution-by-drone sentence was carried out, conservatives and libertarians, and not a few liberals, have decried President Obama’s decision to convict and execute without a fair trial. But I have yet to see a single complainant present a better solution that addressed the choice that the president faced!
This is what I call mental cowardice. If an intelligent and educated adult is willing to complain about a problem but is unwilling to even try to present a workable solution to that problem, then that intelligent and educated adult is evincing mental cowardice on the issue. Yes, it’s one’s First Amendment right to say what he wants or to not say what he doesn’t want to say, but the complainant still has the moral responsibility to at least try to suggest a workable solution. That’s why the military has modified Thomas Paine’s quote thus: Either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.
So if you see a problem, point out the problem, yes! But point out the solution, too. And if you don’t know a solution, then educate yourself on the matter! Anyone who has read this far is literate enough and internet-savvy enough to do his or her own research, and certainly capable of not only giving opinions of but also at least attempting to give solutions to major political conundrums. And if you disagree with President Obama’s decision to execute Anwar al-Awlaki without a fair trial, then have the mental courage at least to try to present a workable solution to the choice he faced.
“Say and do something positive that will help the situation; it doesn’t take any brains to complain.”
Robert A. Cook