de Leon: Lazy, weak and cowardly?

When I first read Elizabeth Moore’s column, “You made a big mistake, America” (11/07), I was so overcome with shock that I thought it must be a parody of exactly the type of loathing and ignorance the column contained. An expression of disappointment in John McCain’s loss, and a thoughtful, rational analysis of Barack Obama’s victory it was not. Instead, it was only a hysterical rant riddled with false accusations and incendiary rhetoric.

Making claims such as “the lazy, the weak and the cowardly are idolized and rewarded” (by the Democratic leadership and the millions of Americans who voted for Obama, one can infer), Moore spouts a barrage of hate directed at President-elect Barack Obama, a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, a former president of the Harvard Law Review, as well as the apparent result of America’s “big mistake” to which Moore points.

Really? This, according to Moore, is the man accused of sitting at the helm of — what? The Democratic Party? American society? Moore never specifies what, exactly, Obama leads that so idolizes and rewards the lazy.

But will Obama’s policies really reward lazy, selfish and cowardly Americans? Perhaps his notion that all Americans should have health care supports this claims. Perhaps Americans who want their sick relatives or friends to receive health care without stumbling into staggering debt are the cowards Moore is referring to. Or perhaps the cowards are the Americans who wish for a more rational and effective foreign policy that will result in a world in which America is a more respected leader and a safer place.

Many foreign leaders and citizens have shared congratulations and positive feelings about Obama’s win. Moore points to the praise Obama has received from leaders of nations whose values and policies oppose ours as evidence that Obama is not only the wrong choice for America, but also so misguided that he is more closely tied to “the governments of our country’s worse enemies” than to our own principles and values. But such interpretations distract attention from the fact that Obama’s election has inspired expressions of good wishes and hope from leaders as diverse as Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations; Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany; Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France; Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India; Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister of Pakistan; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran; and Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner for his anti-apartheid activism.

The ability of a leader to interact effectively with a country’s enemies, as well as with its allies, is the very nature of diplomacy. Obama, it appears, is prepared to wield this tool effectively. The notion that Obama will use diplomacy to compromise the security of our country and to advance anti-American ideals is unfounded, preposterous and offensive.

“Gone are the golden Horatio Alger stories”? One of the reasons Obama’s election has inspired such passion among American voters is precisely because it is one of the ultimate Horatio Alger stories! A man with a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya soars to the heights of American higher education, breaking barriers and achieving dreams. He is the epitome of the American dream.

Perseverance? Obama has become the symbol — rightfully so — of American perseverance: of hundreds of years of overcoming prejudicial barriers that civil rights activists and ordinary citizens fought and died to overturn. Obama did not single-handedly persevere through hundreds of years of history to uphold the principles of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. But his extraordinary career achievements (which include teaching the very constitutional law whose principles Moore claims he rejects), individual perseverance and hard work are the crowning consequences of the success and sacrifices of other remarkable Americans who, in the spirit of the progressive liberal tradition, fought for change and a better America for all of its citizens.

Yes, we did. You’re welcome.

Maria de Leon is a junior in Silliman College.

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