Lesson from a backyard brawlAnyone under age 30 will find it hard to believe, but, once upon a time, our elected officials actually got together from time to time behind closed doors, hammered out a deal, then had a drink and went home or to the nearest strip club.
They did this despite huge political differences and without holding a press conference to mark the moment. Perhaps because even the sleaziest among them realized that to assure the country’s welfare, grudging compromise was more important than getting reelected to another term overflowing with free food, free whiskey and more lobbyist-purchased perks than a Saudi prince enjoys on spring break.
But now that the Internet and 24-hour TV news have transformed politics into a round-the-clock reality show, our “leaders” have learned that it pays off better at the ballot box to denounce an opponent’s position than to get things done.
That’s bad enough when the subject is domestic politics. But this political inability to produce anything but sound bites has now poisoned our foreign policy. We saw the blood-stained proof recently when four Americans—including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens—were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Pardon my insensitivity, but I don’t want those Muslim murderers “brought to justice.” I want them brought to the nearest graveyard. Preferably in pieces.
We teach school kids how wise and wonderful animals are. Why not follow their example?
A few springs ago I noticed three mockingbirds sitting on the back deck rail behaving like feathered bikers without the tattoos. I went outside to face them and they didn’t even flinch. A little handwaving convinced them to fly away — but they always flew right back.
Not because the deck was so nice. Because those three were guarding the mama mockingbird nesting in the tree above them.
The problem was a neighborhood hawk. He knew eggs were in the nest and he was determined to dine on them. It wasn’t personal. The hawk was just doing his job.
So were the mockingbirds.
Each time the hawk showed up, those three mockingbirds went after it like a squadron of fighter jets. No matter how high or far the hawk flew, the pursuers stayed right with it, pecking, poking and doing everything they could to run that hawk away from the nest.
The hawk fought back and feathers flew, but it was clear those mockingbirds were ready to kill anyone who threatened their own or die trying.
Maybe if America’s enemies knew we were ready to do the same we wouldn’t be treated to pictures of Americans who died while trying to help people whose loyalty to the U.S. lasts only as long as Uncle Sam’s checks keep coming.
If national interests require our presence in Libya, Syria, Egypt or elsewhere, so be it. But the world—and especially the U.S.—would be better served if American leaders made it clear that our reaction to attacks on Americans abroad would not be a stern letter or an emergency United Nations meeting but a bomb though a terrorist’s roof or bullet in the back of his head.
When it comes to protecting your own, even mockingbirds know that lives are saved by taking action, not talking peace.
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