All of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for the United States of America deserve our respect and gratitude, but on this particular Memorial Day we feel obliged to make special mention of J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods. If the names are only vaguely familiar, all the more reason they should be singled out. These are the four Americans who were killed by a ruthless terrorist attack as they served their country at a far-flung diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, and the country these brave and honorable men died for doesn’t seem to care much about them.
There have been hearings and headlines and even the occasional hard-hitting question from someone in the old-fashioned media, but they haven’t generated an appropriate outrage from the public. The Secretary of State who signed the cables denying the necessary security to the men who died in Benghazi remains the most popular figure in American politics according to some polls, and is widely considered a frontrunner in the race to become the next president. The Commander in Chief who went to bed as the men were fighting for the lives, while somewhere down his chain of command two stand-down orders were given to units willing to rescue their comrades, is confident enough in his public standing to unilaterally declare and end to war that resulted in the deaths of four men on his watch. All of the people who went before the public to lie about why the deaths occurred, blaming a little-known low-budget filmmaker who had availed himself of his free speech rights as an American rather than the organized terrorist gang that actually committed the murders, remain on their well-paid jobs.
Various excuses have been offered, and the president even spent a portion of his hour-long address on national securities on Thursday to reprise the thoroughly refuted claim that stingy Republican budget-cutting is to blame, but the administration’s main defense is the public’s disinterest in the whole matter. In one of the rare interviews the president granted during the campaign, to a snide liberal comedian on a cable show, he described the death of the four Americans as “not optimal.” His White House press secretary has recently tried to fend of questions by insisting that it was all “a long time ago.” When the Secretary of State belatedly showed up at a congressional investigation on the matter and was questioned about why she didn’t try to discover the basic facts of the incident before taking to the microphones with a dishonest tale of an incendiary YouTube video she snarled “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
So far the strategy seems to be working, at least well enough to keep the poll numbers from plummeting. The Secretary of State’s callous indifference to the fate of four Americans even won plaudits from the liberal press, who declared the performance proof of her presidential timber. As far as much of the country is concerned, the scandal is that some people keep asking embarrassing questions of an administration they regard as more important than the people it is supposed to protect. An even larger portion of the country just doesn’t want to hear about it, or any of the glum talk about terrorism, and are happy to hear that the president has declared an end to it all.
Stevens, Smith, Doherty, and Woods all deserved better than what they got from the government they served, and they deserve better from the people they sacrificed their lives for. None were active duty military personnel at the time they were killed, and the former Navy SEALs Doherty and Wood employed by a private security firm, but they were assuming the same risks to serve their country as any soldier, sailor, or airman, and they warrant the same respect on this holiday. It does make a difference.
— Bud Norman