On Saturday, as President Barack Obama announced he had set free five of the world’s most radical Islamic terrorists in exchange for US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, it occurred to me why America has lost so much respect from its allies and enemies.
I was reminded of the opening sequence of the TV series, The Newsroom, where Will McAvoy, a news anchor played by Jeff Daniels, delivers a three-and-a-half minute rant that best summarizes the condition of the USA under Obama.
When a dim-witted questioner asks a media panel, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?” McAvoy snaps at her:
“Hey, you sorority girl … there is no evidence that America is the greatest country in the world.”
The frustrated fictional TV anchor goes on to deliver a stunning indictment of America. “We’re seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy …”
Daniels’ character says there was a time when America was a beacon of hope, liberty and accomplishment, but, “We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered”, referring in part to legendary journalists such as television’s Walter Cronkite and print’s H.L. Mencken.
Since Obama’s Rose Garden ceremony, it’s this last line from The Newsroom that has haunted me, as I see journalism moving from the demand for truthful answers to the desire to conform.
While there’s been lots of discussion on the merits of the prisoner exchange, something else happened Saturday that no journalist apparently wishes to touch.
As far as I can tell, not a single newspaper in America, Canada or anywhere else reported that Bowe Bergdahl’s father, Robert, began his speech with the opening words of the Qur’an.
“I begin in the name of Allah, the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful,” he said.
As a Muslim, I was pleased. After all, there is always room for one more pony-tailed, ZZ Top lookalike in the “Ummah”.
Bowe’s father has not responded to my email queries on whether he has converted to Islam.
Curious about my possible co-religionist, I looked up Robert Bergdahl’s Twitter feed and discovered he appears to have been propagating views similar to the Taliban and al-Qaida for some time, even after the release of his son.
In one tweet, he tells Abdulqahar Balkhi of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” (the Taliban government in exile): “I am still working to free all of Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay the death of every Afghan child, amen!”
That tweet disappeared after I had asked Bergdahl senior for an explanation.
In another message he tweets, “Democracy” is a cult in the West. I think most Afghans see law in terms of sharia, not secular democracy, man-centric laws.”
These apparently weren’t messages meant to mollify the Taliban into releasing his son.
Soon after his White House appearance, Bergdahl senior was back lobbying for the release of some of the terrorists held in Gitmo.
He tweeted: “Ten years in Guantanamo: Tunisian families hope for loved ones.”
As for his son, not only are there reports from some of his fellow soldiers that he walked over to the Taliban side years ago, but also that he has converted to Islam and was teaching the Taliban bomb-making skills he had learned in the army.
God Bless America!