A lot of very bright people for whom I have great respect are, perhaps understandably, very upset at the recent developments in Afghanistan regarding Abdul Rahman, the Muslim turned Christian on trial for his life. But I must admit I more than a little surprised at what is being asked. "Where is Bush? How come George isn't stepping in to save this man's life? After all we've done for them!"
Huh? George Bush is supposed to come charging out of the Oval Office and deliver a major public smackdown on the Afghanis? The leader of the Free World is supposed to publically interject the United States into this matter? Would this be a wise use of the powers of the Executive Office? Is this what we expect of our leaders, to become personally involved in every injustice? I don't get it.
Sure, the guy's a Christian, and the Afghani law that would take his life is incredibly stupid to we westerners, having ourselves long ago ceased the burning witches and heretics in the name of Jesus. But ask yourself: Of all the injustices in all the world, why this one? Why should we expect that our Government needs to rouse itself and step into the breach?
I suppose the larger question is why does this nation feel the need to react with near hysteria in certain instances and go sleepy time at others? Terry Schaivo? Hysteria. Dharfur? Zzzzzzzz. Dubai Ports? Hysteria. The Walmart-China "joint venture?" Zzzzzzz. Larry Summers? Hysteria. Rapidly dropping U.S. student proficiency in math and science? Zzzzzzzzzz. Abdul Rahman? Hysteria. Bishop Jia Zhiguo? Zzzzzzzz.
I suppose it can be put down to the fact that, thanks to the 24 hour news cycle and a billion blogs we can get hellfire stoked up in mere minutes. "Outrage" is the order of the day, and I admit to routinely drinking from the cup of anger, so I cast no stone. But our national attention span seems to have grown so short that we can only focus on issues that (1) we can put a face to, or (2) can be quickly wrapped up in time for the next American Idol. Impatience, a rush to judge, an inability to think long term, these are rapidly becoming the new American traits. And I find it unsettling.
I certainly hope that Mr. Bush stays quiet on this subject. And, having spoken my piece, I'm going to join him.