The president speaks out

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, June 25, 2009

When President Obama finally took off the gloves in response to the Iranian regime’s crackdown on election protesters, he chose the words of Martin Luther King to make his point about universal values. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” the president said.

It was gratifying to hear the president invoke justice and morality in his condemnation of the government goon squads that have brutalized and murdered demonstrators in the streets of Tehran. For the first time since the Iranian election June 12, he appeared to be speaking from the heart about the situation in Iran, as opposed to mouthing diplomatic cliches about maintaining a “dialogue” with the likes of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“We have to believe that, ultimately, justice will prevail,” the president said.

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Most Americans instinctively believe in the ultimate triumph of justice, but we live in a nation founded on the rule of law and small “d” democratic principles. And even here in America, jus tice did not exist for all citizens until Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders became “drum majors for justice,” reminding Americans of the country’s failure to live up to its creed. In a country ruled by iron-fisted theocrats, justice is elusive and freedom a mere glimmer on the horizon. But in recent days we have seen that hundreds of thousands of Iranians are willing to risk their lives in a brave attempt to break the medieval chains that bind them.

During the Cold War, the president of the United States was described as the leader of the free world. The old Soviet Union is gone, but the president still is the world’s leading spokesman for freedom. President Obama should embrace that role, realizing that he cannot afford to remain silent in the face of the evils of repression and authoritarianism. —Press-Register