I distinctly feel like I've been through this day before. June 20, 2009 has become a day to be likened with June 4, 1989.
I can't tell you where Barack Obama was on June 5, 1989, but I was with a college roommate in Arizona, where "Oh my god" was among the words as a wave of shock and revulsion swept around the world -- the Tiananmen Square massacre had just played out on TV. Other thoughts included, "that's all wrong," and "we've got to do something." I could tell more stories from that day, but it was the inception of the China Support Network.
Perhaps today, some U.S. college students somewhere are starting the Iran Support Network.
So, let's review: Who started the China Support Network? John Kusumi.
Whose whereabouts are unknown for June 5, 1989? Barack Obama.
Who's starting the Iran Support Network? It could be you.
Who's unlikely to join? Barack Obama.
Around 3pm today, I tweeted: "As the Iranian government turns to violence, it loses moral legitimacy and authority. It is time for Obama to condemn the dictator(ship)."
I followed with another tweet: "I believe the U.S. President should be better than a spineless squid." Moments later, TeheranBureau tweeted: "Conf'd Iran Fatemiyeh Hospital Tehran: 30-40 dead as of 11pm; 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured."
I then learned that Barack Obama put out a three-paragraph written statement, an hour before my tweet. Let's look at that:
For Immediate Release June 20, 2009
Statement from the President on Iran
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.
As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.
Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.
Well, two cheers for lip service that sounds high-minded. But, that's not enough for me to take back my "better than a spineless squid" tweet.
It is worth noting that the three-paragraph written statement was just that -- it was a tract of writing released by the White House. The President still hasn't stepped up to a microphone, nor said those things on camera. In other words, this matter was delegated for handling by staff.
Let's face it. Just as George H.W. Bush was an old crony and bridge partner with Deng Xiaoping....well, Barack Obama has been wagging his tail because he is very eager to meet and negotiate and engage in diplomacy with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the incumbent Iranian president. That's a matter that would be conducted at the leader level -- it's a meeting that Barack Obama would not hand off to staff.
The U.S. White House has been the home of evil for 20 years, ever since the occasion of Tiananmen Square. (On that day, it wasn't just China that lost its way -- that is also when America lost its way. Bush would not appear on camera until the next day, when he stepped into the press briefing room and uttered some mealy-mouthed insincerities.)