Thursday, May 5, 2011

Allergic to Violence?

It appears that a now iconic photo of White House officials watching the Osama Bin Laden raid live with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with her hand over her mouth has been explained as an allergy rather than anguish. Which is strange that anyone would consider it necessary to explain such a reaction, in light of the fact that watching a very dangerous military intervention live would cause many of us to do the same, and it would likely be out of anguish. Perhaps it's because it would be unseemly for the greatest military nation on earth to be shocked by violence? After all, Barack Obama looks intense, yet carries enough sang froid for anyone to think that this is just a bad day in the office.

One might say that the look of anguish needed to be explained to the American public so as to put their minds at ease, that this is not a shocking or terrible moment, but rather, just a simple operation for which anguish is not required. Even in today's cynical age, it's a wonder that anyone should be expected to witness a live firefight resulting in multiple deaths without anguish- even if they do happen to be Secretary of State.

Perhaps it's because she's a woman. It's hard to be part of an all boys club when you shirk from the sight of blood or icky things. So just as your guy friend is not crying when you go to the movies, he actually "has something in his eye", Hillary is not anxious during the operation, she's merely "holding back a cough."

I understand that America needs to keep its' tough image, especially as it polices the world and eliminates its enemies, but that doesn't mean that they need to be as stoic about it. They can still be human beings. Violence should shock people; especially when it's real and not the video-game variety (although video games are getting up there on both realism and shock value). And if the Secretary of State looks concerned, well, there's good reason to be concerned. The stakes in this situation are pretty high and there are real lives on the line for the special forces carrying out the mission.

America wants to appear strong in the world, but it doesn't need to appear entirely insensitive. It won't undermine your ability to make hard decisions to appear anxious about them; indeed, the hardest decisions cause us to be anxious, and it's our ability to still make them which makes us strong.

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