On this Thanksgiving, it’s worth reflecting on the freedoms and material abundance with which God has blessed Americans.
With all these blessings bestowed upon us, it’s also worth asking, what is our obligation to the rest of the world?
With “Red America” and “Blue America” entrenched in its positions, it’s easy to get caught up in sound bites without truly thinking through this question. It’s also easy to let the pendulum swing from one extreme to the other as presidential administrations change.
After the attacks on 9/11, the George W. Bush Administration went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq with the goal of turning both countries into liberal democracies. While our limited successes continue to swing back and forth in Afghanistan, Iraq morphed from a nation being ruled by a cruel secular dictator into a land divided by sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
In 2008, as the casualties of war piled up and TV broadcasts showcased all the mayhem, Americans then went to the other extreme and elected a president who questioned the moral righteousness of these foreign adventures. There are legitimate criticisms of having ever initiated the Iraq War, but a lot more innocent Iraqis died after our departure than if we had stayed and kept the country secure. So, our passivism in this case was also morally dubious.
Likewise, President Barack Obama’s Administration has chosen the wrong side in world conflicts time and time again. This includes Obama’s failure to embrace the Green Movement after the Iranian presidential election in 2009 and our ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi following that country’s pre-emptive surrender of its weapons of mass destruction. Dictators the world over will now take note that giving up their weapons programs will lead to their death—surely not the message we should have communicated. Also during Obama’s administration, we sided with the Muslim Brotherhood over Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi by cutting off military aid to the Egyptian government.
Al-Sisi has now embraced President-elect Donald Trump, praising his stance against radical Islamic terrorism and his purported desire to label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. But with Trump, the pendulum seems to be swinging in another direction altogether. While it’s certainly too early to tell, as Americans, we must ask ourselves whether this direction is morally correct.
Will Trump be so flattered by Al-Sisi that he ignores human rights violations in Egypt? Will we create an unholy alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who seeks his country’s return to glory following the fall of the Soviet Union? Or, will we protect democratic countries like Ukraine that have been victimized by Russia?
On the domestic front, will we get past the extremes of both political parties? One side ignores the genuine security concern of most Americans and the other side ignores our moral obligation to provide a safe-haven for refugees seeking asylum. Republicans and Democrats need to come together and formulate a sensible middle ground that puts Americans first when it comes to national security while simultaneously working as quickly as possible to take in the world’s most vulnerable people.
Among the first immigrants arriving in America were the Pilgrims, who chose to separate from the Church of England by leaving the European continent to pursue religious freedom at a settlement they established in what is now known as Plymouth, Mass. So, as we reflect on our country’s history this Thanksgiving, we should be especially mindful of the plight of Christians and moderate Muslims being persecuted in the Islamic State.
Unfortunately, we’re so busy fighting about the definition of marriage that we’ve ignored the fact that both Christians and members of the LGBTQ community have been systematically slaughtered by ISIS. This is an issue that should be uniting our country as we stand up for what is right.
This should also cause members of both American communities to reflect on the real enemy. It’s truly first-world problems when we are fighting about Christian florists and bakers being sued for refusing to serve a gay wedding. Christians complain that this is religious discrimination, but it’s a far cry from the martyrdom of Christians getting their heads chopped off in Syria. Similarly, members of the LGBTQ community complain about their human rights being violated, but perhaps the fact that gays were murdered by an ISIS sympathizer in Orlando and are being thrown from the roof of buildings in the Islamic State should be the cause for greater alarm?
What a great country we live in when the biggest news from last weekend was how the cast from the Broadway show, “Hamilton,” lectured Vice-President-elect Mike Pence about their concerns with the upcoming administration. There were no guns drawn. No bombs exploded. The only war that ensued was the Twitter war.
We are truly blessed. Happy Thanksgiving.