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Clinton Global Initiative speeches – Is it a sign of weakness when America apologizes?

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by Charles S. Mombo

Clinton Global Initiative speeches - Is it a sign of weakness when America apologizes?
Clinton Global Initiative speeches – Is it a sign of weakness when America apologizes?

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton recently held his annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting, from September 23-25, in New York City. Established in 2005, the mission of (CGI) is to turn ideas into action.

During the closing day of the meeting, President Clinton hosted President Barack Obama, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and Governor Mitt Romney.

I was interested in what the two presidential candidates would be talking about at CGI. I couldn't help but could not help but noticed the contrast between their speeches. President Obama talked about how “slavery evokes one of the most painful chapters in our nation’s history.” Governor Romney among other things, talked about “freedom’ from foreign aid and how [he] "will never apologize for America.”  

Excerpts from President Obama’s speech:

Now, I do not use that word, "slavery" lightly.  It evokes obviously one of the most painful chapters in our nation’s history.  But around the world, there’s no denying the awful reality.  When a man, desperate for work, finds himself in a factory or on a fishing boat or in a field, working, toiling, for little or no pay, and beaten if he tries to escape — that is slavery.  When a woman is locked in a sweatshop, or trapped in a home as a domestic servant, alone and abused and incapable of leaving — that’s slavery.

When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery.  When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family — girls my daughters’ age — runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists — that’s slavery.  It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world. 

Now, as a nation, we’ve long rejected such cruelty.  Just a few days ago, we marked the 150th anniversary of a document that I have hanging in the Oval Office — the Emancipation Proclamation.  With the advance of Union forces, it brought a new day — that "all persons held as slaves" would thenceforth be forever free.  We wrote that promise into our Constitution.  We spent decades struggling to make it real.  We joined with other nations, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so that "slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms."

Excerpts from Governor Romney’s speech:

"I will never apologize for America. I believe that America has been one of the greatest forces for good the world has ever known. We can hold that knowledge in our hearts with humility and unwavering conviction."

Free enterprise has done more to bless humanity than any other economic system not only because it is the only system that creates a prosperous middle class, but also because it is the only system where the individual enjoys the freedom to guide and build his or her own life. Free enterprise cannot only make us better off financially, it can make us better people. 

Ours is a compassionate nation. We look around us and see withering suffering. Our hearts break.  While we make up just 4.5 percent of the world’s population, we donate nearly a quarter of all global foreign aid—more than twice as much as any other country.  And Americans give more than money.  Pastors like Rick Warren lead mission trips that send thousands of Americans around the world, bringing aid and comfort to the poorest places on the planet.  American troops are first on the scene of natural disasters.  An earthquake strikes Haiti and care packages from America are among the first to arrive – and not far behind are former Presidents Clinton and Bush. 

Romney has accused Obama of apologizing for the U.S. and thereby showing weakness. He has even alleged in the past that Obama started his term with an "apology tour," a charge journalistic fact-checker PolitiFact.com called totally false.

Is it a sign of weakness when America apologizes for the sins of her fathers? Let’s discuss it on Facebook and Twitter.

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