Where’s the Outrage? asks Karen Hughes… Well, let’s see how we created a mute button

On the State Department website and broadcast within the Administration via an internal White House Communications listserv is Karen Hughes OpEd piece in today’s USA Today. Presumably State is hosting its copy on the USINFO.State.gov site, aimed at non-US audiences, to “protect” against propagandizing Americans, but that strict reading of the law is conveniently side stepped when desired. Regardless…

Ms Hughes decries the lack of ‘moral outrage of everyday citizens of every faith and country’ in response to acts of terror. She correct that the ‘everyday citizens’ must participate in rejecting terrorism as a method of communication or warfare. She tugs at the heart strings with stories of Muslims, Iranians, and other around the world who have suffered at the hands of terrorists. 

This is touching and, I would expect, a sincere plea for support to hear a ‘much louder chorus of voices [joining] in condemning [terrorism]’. Drawing a parallel between the moral outrage of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the mothers and fathers of terrorists and their victims, she clearly didn’t hear on her listening tour. (May I propose an acronym for her group? Mothers Opposed to Terrorists and HatERs, Father-Unassisted KillERS… I’ll let you assemble the acronym.)

Bringing in religion to the terrorist equation negates the reality of terrorism in other regions where what you name your God has no bearing on the goals of the activity. But yet she feels infusing religion into her OpEd is critical to dispelling Huntingon’s false, yet self-fulfilling Clash of Civilizations speech (it still gets me he wasn’t sure Africa was another civilization), and yet by doing so, she keeps the vocabulary in play. (The notion of Born Again versus Born Again is something a religious student should look into…)

We must look to the causes of terrorism. Look at the goals the terrorists seek and why they have the support of the populations within which they roam emotionally, financially, and spiritually. The National Strategy for Countering Terrorism that was released this week gets this. The Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, arguably one of the most important in the process of developing and executing the DIME or DIMEFIL (Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic… + Finance, Intelligence, Law Enforcement… you decide if DIME is enough or if DIMEFIL provides the necessary differentiator for your double-whip mocha frap from the other coffee), simply does not appear to be developing a counter-propaganda program. She says she watches the misinformation and stories of hate, but where is State’s counter?

Slavery is an interesting selection she makes to model a grassroots effort. Slavery, a commercial enterprise, was not a tool of communication or a tool of war. I’ll ignore the odd selection of words she, our chief architect of communication to foreign peoples, chose to describe the basis of the British grassroots effort to outlaw slavery (‘born of the conviction that every person has value’) and instead suggest she go back to the myriad of reports making suggestions on her job. These are, Ms Hughes, the ‘too many reports’ you commented on. But perhaps, just as you pulled the Foreign Media Reponses (FMR) off the public website of State.gov because you didn’t like some GQ reporter suggesting your listening trip wasn’t all that successful, and citing FMR material to support his claim, you don’t like to hear or facilitate hearing.

Where’s the Outrage? The outrage on September 12, 2001, came from all corners of the world in support of the United States and against the horrific terrorism Osama bin Laden and his crew carried out against the world in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania. The United States was the most powerful country in the world, perhaps in history, on September 12, 2001, because of all this support.

Where did the outrage go? It was dispelled by the hypocrisy of our policies. We fight for justice and yet provide none. We fight for democracy, yet treat territories as colonial properties to be (mis)managed by modern private mercantile companies.

The outrage you’re looking for, Ms Hughes, has been undercut by a daily outrage of the peoples you ask for support from. Afghanistan was abandoned before it was made ‘safe’ and completed as a democracy project and has slid backwards. Iraq was never given a chance to succeed as an American project. Gitmo, Abu Gharib, house searches, and hundreds of other actions have displaced the outrage you rightly seek. Yet, without listening, you don’t hear those things.