• Joe Kelly

Let's Get our Priorities Straightened Out

As our president tweets something stupid, a madman in Syria, backed by another madman in Russia, continues to slaughter innocents. As Colin Kaepernick kneels and we debate his controversial Nike ad, the maniacal Kim Jong Un sentences people to years of hard labor and torturous conditions in concentration camps while building up the a nuclear arsenal. As we debate about what pronouns to call people by, many others mourn the nearly 3,000 lives lost 17 years ago on September 11. Shall I go on?

The point is this: there are some issues that aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things getting all the attention, while other issues of incredible importance get overlooked. It really is comical watching the political commentary of the conservative Fox News and the liberal networks of CNN, MSNBC, and the rest. You have the political blowhards like Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow who will do anything to appeal to their viewers, even if it means incessantly praising a man who seemingly has a chemical imbalance in his brain or desperately trying to catch people in the act of saying something “offensive.” As these networks blabber on about whatever narrative they are paid to push, real evil things are going on that are threatening the well being of the world.

Let us start with Syria. Last April, the US bombed Syrian targets after dictator Bashar al Assad used chemical weapons to kill at least 40 people in a town called Douma. It was more likely around 70. This came just a year after Trump’s first bombing of Syria, which followed a separate chemical attack by Assad and his America-hating ally Vladimir Putin of Russia. Tough guy Vlad was quick to take the credit for bombings that annihilated the terror group ISIS (which was largely the work of the USA), but quickly denied that the chemical weapons attacks on civilians were carried out by his puppet Assad.

Currently, the United States mulls more strikes on the Assad regime with the help of its longtime allies France and the UK. Even Germany thinking about joining the airstrike campaign should there be another chemical attack. Must we wait for another chemical attack to make the decision to fully commit to the destruction of Assad? How many chemical weapons attacks does it take? Is bombing innocent civilians with non-chemical weapons not enough to justify an all-out assault on his barbaric regime? This half-in, half-out approach in taking on Assad and Putin is simply not getting the job done. An all-in approach should’ve been taken years ago, not long after the war began in 2011 when rebels revolted against Assad’s brutality. In the northwest corner of Syria, a rebel-held town called Idlib is facing a vicious assault by government forces. The UN is warning of one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in the 21st century, as hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are fleeing. It is the last stronghold of the rebels. It may be too late for the rebels to win the war, but the US should at least defend the people of the town for the sake of humanity. Instead of America first, how about we focus on humanity first.

Another humanitarian crisis in the world is occurring in North Korea. Yes, we all know about the Rocket Man’s plan to build up his nuclear weapons stockpile. Its seems as if every month there is a new nuclear test by the tiny Asian nation. That alone should be enough to warrant action against the regime. The Trump-Kim summit last June was certainly a step in the right direction, with North Korea sending back the US soldier remains from the Korean War and a reaffirmation of the denuclearizing the country. But no one should believe that someone as deranged as Kim Jong Un would ever consider weakening the military might of his nation. And although many remain unaware, concentration camps serve as Kim’s form of intimidation and punishment. Anyone whom he sees as a threat to his regime will be sent to camps to work in the farms for hours on end. Murder, torture, and atrocities such as forced abortions are common in the camps. And these camps are still very much a part of North Korean life today. The camps got a sniff of attention from the American media when Otto Warmbier, the American student who stole a North Korean poster and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, was released in June of 2017. He died within the week of being returned due to the brutal conditions he faced in the camp. Some 120,000 North Koreans are still in similar conditions.

These horrendous actions, truly worthy of the somber label "crimes against humanity," cast doubt upon a motto adopted in remembrance of the Holocaust: "never again." Why, back then, did the US wait so long to intervene in stopping Hitler’s barbaric mass murder of 6 million Jews? Unfortunately, the same dereliction of obligations may be seen today if we are not vigilant. I challenge you to ask the same question of the Obama and Trump administrations as it relates to North Korea and Syria. Why is America blithely waiting?

In observance of the 17th anniversary of this nation’s darkest day, everyone should take a moment to set your priorities straight. We have seen the worst of humanity come to the heart of New York and Washington. That evil is not going anywhere, and abolishing as much as we can of it from the world should be the number one priority of our great country. For those of you who have seen the famous image of the Syrian boy severely injured by Assad’s bombing, perhaps paying high taxes didn’t seem so important anymore. We should all be proud patriots of America. But let me offer up this unpopular opinion to the Trump administration and anyone else who cares to listen: Let’s be global citizens first.


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