Obama: 9/11 Was ‘A Failure of Empathy’

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Eight days after the atrocities of September 11, 2001, Barack Obama wrote a piece for the Hyde Park Herald—and blamed the attacks on “a failure of empathy.”

Even as I hope for some measure of peace and comfort to the bereaved families, I must also hope that we as a nation draw some measure of wisdom from this tragedy. Certain immediate lessons are clear, and we must act upon those lessons decisively. We need to step up security at our airports. We must reexamine the effectiveness of our intelligence networks. And we must be resolute in identifying the perpetrators of these heinous acts and dismantling their organizations of destruction.

We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.

We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe—children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores.

Obama’s comments display an appalling disconnect from reality.

Osama bin Laden came from one of the richest families in the world. None of the 9/11 attackers were poor; if anything, they could be considered “middle class.” Ringleader Mohammed Atta was educated as an architect in the West.

Almost everything Obama wrote in this article was proven wrong. And he gave absolutely no consideration at all to the ideology of radical Islam, which is much more to blame than any imaginary “poverty” or “lack of empathy.”

And now he’s within reach of the presidency.

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