Wednesday, March 5, 2008

We Must Stand Up for our Values

I attended Tony Blair's lecture at DePauw University Monday night. Among the many things he spoke of, he reiterated several times that "we," meaning the US, Canada, and Europe, must stand up for our values in the face of the spreading middle eastern terrorist threat. He talked about how if our resolve to defend our values appears even for a moment to be weak, that is a huge win for the terrorists.

Now that sounds like military/war like talk, but it wasn't. He spoke mostly about what he called "soft" power, or diplomacy and the job of selling not just our stuff and material life, but our culture and values to the rest of the world.

He, however, was not specific about what he meant. What would be standing up for our values in the face of the terrorist threat?

The audience was not allowed to ask questions, the questions were submitted before his talk.

I would have asked him to give me an example of what he was talking about. Today, Reuters reports:

The FBI acknowledged Wednesday it improperly accessed Americans' telephone records, credit reports and Internet traffic in 2006, the fourth straight year of privacy abuses resulting from investigations aimed at tracking terrorists and spies.

Apparently the banks, telecoms, and other business gave more information than the FBI asked for, but the FBI didn't turn away from examining it.

Is that an example of living up and standing up to our values? Violating our own laws?

How about folks like me who think the real cowards are those who skulk behind claims of national security to violate the Constitution, am I standing up for our values in the face of terrorism?

Mr. Blair didn't anticipate that question and so didn't answer it. He did say that we could not respond from a position of fear, which I agree with. But, what does it mean to stand up for our values in the face of those who hate our values? Punch them in the nose? Or maintain our values even in the face of extreme adversity?

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