Burns: Is it the White House or the Yellow House?

When the world needs a John Wayne … have we gone into hiding?  

   Is it the White House or the Yellow House? The Unity Rally in Paris Sunday was conspicuous by the absence of a top American leader — leaders from France, Britain, Germany, Israel, Russia and other countries were there. Eric Holder was in Paris but “wasn’t spotted” at the rally.   Speaking of spots, if a leopard can’t change its spots, can our administration change its?

Purple — as in Purple Heart — is another color that seems to be too hot to handle in Washington these days. Staff Sergeant Shawn Manning was shot six times by Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood five years ago. But, uh, he doesn’t deserve a purple heart. Seems that the slaughter of 13 U.S. soldiers and the wounding of Sgt. Manning and 31 others wasn’t an act of terrorism. It was officially an “an act of workplace violence” as you may recall.

Today and yesterday by James F. Burns

Today and yesterday
by James F. Burns

That shameful piece of political correctness and word-twisting from our national leadership deserves to be placed alongside a statement by former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N., Dan Gillerman, in Paris on Sunday. “I’d rather be politically incorrect than physically dead.”

Is free speech “free” if it costs you your life? Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier knew the risk he was taking in satirizing Islamic leaders. But he said, “I’d rather die than live on my knees.” Is it Uncle Sam who now needs to stand up — and stand tall? When the world needs a John Wayne to fight the global scourge of a radical Islamic terrorist network that delights in beheadings — there’s one way to stop someone from speaking — and mass murder, have we gone into hiding?

The titles put on one of my recent articles are instructive. “Only the global policeman can stop a killer’s caliphate”—Jonesboro Sun of Arkansas. “When the world police are war weary”— Gainesville Sun of Florida. Any wisdom in my article came from Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens who warned: “Americans seeking a return to the isolationist garden of Eden — alone and undisturbed in the world, knowing neither good nor evil — will soon find themselves living within shooting range of global pandemonium.”

Those shots rang out in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015, and were literally an echo of the “shots heard round the world” at Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775. Just as then, the shots mean — or should mean — that there’s no turning back on our resolve to fight for our freedom. A fight, a war, an army, a movement needs a leader. We had one back then —his name was Washington, and they named a city, a national capital, in his honor. Can we reclaim that honor? Can we restore some semblance of world leadership?

It seems that the White House can act decisively at certain times. When we had the so-called “government shutdown” in October 2013, one of the first directives sent out was to close the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, one of those Honor Flights of WW II veterans was winging its way to Washington from Mississippi. The 91 aged veterans, some in wheelchairs, were disappointed in having “their” memorial barricaded and closed off. A few Congressmen and bystanders wouldn’t stand for it. The barriers came down.

This decisive action contrasts with the slow response to the petition recently filed by Sgt. Manning, other survivors, and the families of those murdered at Fort Hood to finally receive their Purple Hearts. It seems that it’ll take “at least several months” to review that petition. The official motto of New Hampshire is “Live free or die.” The French have chosen freedom. What will we do?

James F. Burns is a professor emeritus at the University of Florida.

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