Tag Archives: benghazi

Kids and These Presidential Debates


There was a moment in the middle of the Republican debate last night, while Trump was shouting, “Little Marco spews his crap about the size of my hands!” that I muted the television and asked my daughters, “Should we actually be watching this?”

We have watched, as a family, most of the Democratic and Republican debates. My girls and I watched Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearings. As a parent, I feel that these forums are allowing my family to discuss the issues, but also watch the body language, tone of voice, and how people treat each other.

My daughters are in 8th grade and 5th grade. They are intelligent, empathetic, globally aware children. As a family, we have always discussed difficult issues together whether it’s a girls right to go to school, the water situation in Flint, the lack of justice for the shooting of a young black boy or what it means to be a refugee from a war torn country. Our extended family is on a group text where we share articles and thoughts on current events. My 8th grade daughter participates in debate tournaments and is adept at researching both sides of an issue, gathering facts and cultivating sound arguments. My husband and I have never shied away from exposing our girls to hard issues – always mindful that we do it in an age appropriate way. At 14 and 11 years old, we have felt they are old enough now to not only process, but also participate in this year’s election.

Yet, the spectacle and degradation of last night’s debate made me pause. Just a few days before, Van Jones, a former Obama staffer and commentator on CNN, had an unbelievable interaction with Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan staffer, about the KKK. In his emotion, he mentioned that he felt it was no longer appropriate for his son to watch the media which glorifies the sensational statements of Donald Trump. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton: Life Lessons from the Benghazi Testimony


Yesterday, when my daughters and I came home after school, I put on the live stream of Hillary Clinton testifying before the Benghazi hearings.

I’m not sure if they were 6, 7 or 8 hours into grilling Hillary Clinton yet, but at that particular moment, a Republican congressman was shouting at her. My girls watched, first with horror and then laughing – who is that man? (Actually, my 11 year old daughter asked “Who is that crazy man?”) As he continued to give his own theory on Hillary Clinton’s actions around Benghazi, my 8th grader, who has done mock trials in Elementary and Middle School, asked if that is how a hearing is supposed to go – are you supposed to make up someone else’s story? Or, are you supposed to ask questions, listen, and gather information, facts?

But it was Hillary’s demeanor – calm, collected, in control – that made the most dramatic impression on my daughters and me.

She listened. She reviewed her notes. She didn’t attack.

She smiled as a panel in front of her berated her with nonsensical questions. She acted like a seasoned world leader.

Here are a few life lessons that my girls and I talked about after the debate: Continue reading

Deepak Chopra: The Upside of the Muslim Conflict – It Exists

I’d like to plea for a new mindset toward the Middle East — not a new policy, which only a handful of government officials can set, but a better attitude from ordinary people when we turn on the evening news. I realize that few people see any reason to want a better outlook. Our attitude is at a low ebb because of all the bad things we see, from Afghan forces killing the soldiers who are trying to help them to Al Qaeda’s latest act of hatred in Benghazi.

The entire Middle East is in danger of arousing only suspicion, mistrust, and anger. The same could have been said in 1948, 1988, or any year since, except that “only” wouldn’t apply. For decades the suspicion, mistrust, and anger were tempered by other feelings. Israel inspired idealism. The Arab Spring inspired hope. The nearly obscene wealth that oil brought to the region had the upside of lifting whole nations out of poverty. But these positive feelings, already weakened before 9/11, have been erased by radical Islam.

We need new reasons to find an upside. I think they exist, but they require stepping back from the daily barrage of isolated outrages and simmering hostility.

1. A world that includes Muslims is the only world that has a future.

2. There is no real danger to the security of the West in stateless terrorism.

3. The West is stable enough to watch over the birth of democracy in the Arab world.

4. The forces of modernism have taken hold in backward societies.

5. The younger generation throughout the Middle East yearns for freedom and prosperity.

6. Our mission, to support the aspirations of everyone, is the right cause.

7. Someone must stand for peace or it won’t be achieved.

When we stop being inflamed by every bad story that comes out of the Arab world, these seven points are ones that most people will agree to. But it takes a willingness to stop being as hostile toward Islam as Muslims believe we are.  When used as a political football or a pawn for right-wing ideology, Muslims give no reason to be understood. But that is tantamount to racial prejudice. Before the Supreme Court under Earl Warren found the courage to speak up for civil rights, before Nelson Mandela became a symbol for freedom in South Africa, the rationale for treating blacks as inferior, untrustworthy, dangerous, and so on, filled everyone’s mind. Attitudes don’t reflect reality. They are mindsets you choose to have.

The opposite of choice is reaction. Instead of choosing how they feel toward the Arab world, most people react to what they see from the other side. They let Al Qaeda’s intolerance define their own; they witness the anti-American demonstrations in the Arab street and automatically want to push back.

If you sincerely want to choose an attitude that reflects reality, consider this: the dispossessed of the world are rising. They want to be fully human and fully included. This involves struggle, not just economically but inside the mind.  The gap between modernism and the medieval state of many Muslim communities is enormous. It’s unfair to expect a population that has lived impoverished, ignorant lives for centuries, dominated by the mosque on one hand and political dictatorships on the other, to change overnight – or to be nice about it.

There is as much murderous rage within the Arab world, a rage directed against one another, as there was when India was partitioned in 1945.  In that turmoil, the same scenes we witness today took place, with bloody riots, religious conflict, mass killings, and fanatical outrages (one of which was the assassination of Gandhi). But look at the outcome. Hatred lost out to aspiration. India may contain simmering violence beneath the surface, yet more than a billion people live in a democracy where prejudice has been outlawed and opportunity exists. The same outcome is possible in the Arab world. Unless we believe that and work toward it, a bright outcome has no hope of being born.



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