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A Surprise in Libya

As violent demonstrations swept the Muslim world in protest over a viral video blaspheming Muhammad, other reactions in the Arab world continued to surprise skeptical outsiders. In Benghazi, Libya, crowds ran a counterprotest against the burning of the U.S. consulate and the killing of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three colleagues. They seized the headquarters of Ansar al-Sharia, the militia suspected of the crimes, and drove it from the city. For those suspicious that the Arab Spring is a cover for a militant Islamist seizure of powe r, the counterdemonstration is strong proof that at the grassroots people reject violence and are still intent on building a democratic society.

For the moderate Libyan government, the crowd’s victory has given a boost to efforts to bring the armed militias under control. Mohamed Magarief, the interim head of state, has demanded that all militias disband or come under government control. In response to the demand and the citizens’ ire, Ansar al-Sharia surrendered its heavy weapons and disbanded. Reportedly other militias have also broken up. To worried Americans, the Libyans’ fearless citizen action should offer reassurance that they appreciate the assistance the West, including the United States, offered them toward winning their freedom and, in particular, a sign of how grateful they are for Ambassador Stevens’s service. Stevens had lived among them during the uprising against the Qaddafi regime as the U.S. representative to the resistance; and in the months that followed, he continued to move as a friend among the people, bridging the formal distance that usually accompanies ambassadorial appointees.


While some re-assessment of embassy security and intelligence is necessary, the late ambassador’s memory will be better served by bravely following his example of people-to-people diplomacy than by lurching back from engagement with the liberated peoples of North Africa. If we Americans put ourselves in a defensive crouch, we will be allowing the extremists to win.

Vets Among the Moochers?

While the public watched the video of Gov. Mitt Romney telling his supporters at a fundraiser that “47 percent of Americans don’t pay income tax,” are “dependent on government,” “consider themselves victims” and refuse to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Senate Republicans blocked a $1 billion jobs program for veterans. Too few voters saw that. But consider how veterans and active members of the armed services fit, and don’t fit, into Mr. Romney’s 47 percent. For one thing, active service members are exempt from federal income tax on combat pay, yet they take responsibility not merely for their own lives but for the security of the nation. In return the federal government typically helps them obtain health care, education and jobs. Hundreds of thousands of veterans depend on government.

With the unemployment rate among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at nearly 11 percent, job assistance for veterans ought to win bipartisan support easily. The jobs bill sponsored by Senator Patty Murray of Washington, a Democrat, included provisions drawn by Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, a Republican. The Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012 would have provided $1 billion over five years to agencies that hire veterans as police, firefighters, first responders and national park workers. But the bill fell two votes short of the 60 votes required to overcome the threat of a filibuster (58 to 40). All 40 votes against the bill were cast by Republicans. Ironically, even Richard Burr joined his party in blocking the bill.

Praying Together

Here is an idea: every month members of the Catholic Church worldwide focus on a select few prayer intentions from a list proposed by the pope and circulated throughout the church. An intention might be, for example, the protection of the church in Africa or the success of new evangelization efforts.

Sound familiar? The Apostleship of Prayer has been a special ministry of the Society of Jesus since 1844. Drawing on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the movement invites Catholics to practice their faith by engaging in morning prayer and an evening review of the day. It also helps promote monthly prayer intentions, which are proposed by the pope. In September Pope Benedict encouraged Catholics to pray for politicians and for poor Christian communities. Here in the United States, the ministry is carried on in part by creative ventures like Hearts on Fire, a traveling group of young Jesuits who seek to minister to young adults.

Viewed by some as old-fashioned, the Apostleship of Prayer has proven surprisingly adaptable to the modern age. You no longer need a Sacred Heart Messenger to issue a call to prayer; 140 characters will do. The Jesuits are seeking to broaden the reach of the ministry through social media and by emphasizing the connection between prayer and the work for justice. The Apostleship of Prayer has the potential to connect Catholics around the world, demonstrating the global nature of the church and the solidarity we are all called to practice as Christians.

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Leonard Villa
6 years 3 months ago
It's amazing with the facts available that you are clinging to the notion that the violent demonstrations in Libya and other Islamic countries was about a video. This was not about a video. That's disingenous cover for the gross incompetence of the Obama Administration in the face of organized terrorism. This was an Al Queda-organized and orchestrated terrorist outbreak. Fear about this was noted before September 11. It was not a conincidence that the violence took place on September 11 and after. US soil was violated and an an ambassador was killed along with other Americans. The Administration has basically mislead the American people and was lax in providing security to our people abroad. It tried to obfuscate this with talk about the video, as bumps on the road, and a projection of American weakness. You refuse to face and acknowledge the terrorist enemy with happy talk about some pro-American demostrations in Libya.
6 years 3 months ago
Mr. Tantillo.  I don't know how you know what is in the hearts and minds of the demonstrators.  Can you explain that to me, because it would sure help me to know how to divine why people are doing things without them telling me.
The fact is, that is is likely that the film provided an impetus for many of the demonstrators.
However, it is also true that there is a larger problem.  There is a large group in the United States who hate Muslims.  I'm just putting it right out there because it is true. The level of hatred spewed by right wing talk shows over the airwaves is quite remarkable.  I have heard sentiments such as, "we should put spies in every Mosque", and Arabs referred to as "ragheads".  Their sacred holy book has been burned and otherwise disprespected by Westerners, publicly, with pride on those taking part.  We have engaged in "nation building" as if we have the right to control these mid eastern countries.  Just think about how the average American would respond to another country coming into ours and doing what we did.
Our relationship with Isreal, our support and the sale of weapons, which have been used to kill groups acting against Isreal in Palestine (keep in mind, Palestine cannot have a conventional army, so these unfortunate groups crop up because they cannot respond in a conventional manner), have also been responsible for the deaths of innocent Palestinian women, children and elderly.  Middle Easterners see Isreali homes built on land where Muslims were forced out and their homes were torn down, because settlers believe that God favors them over the Muslims to settle that land. How would you like that to happen to you or others of your faith? The Israeli government does little or nothing about, and we treat them like they are out best friends.  
So, yes, Muslims across the Middle East see all this and they resent the West, but the resentment doesn't come out of thin air, and if we treated everyone in that region evenly and fairly, I believe things would change.  We need to start with having respect for a culture whose development and history is radically different from our own.  Having a culture that does not mimic the West does not make it bad, it makes it different.
For a country that was based on tolerance and freedom of religion, we look like hypocrites, in my view.  We should always condemn violence as a response to problems, but we also need to look at our own behavior and how that might have contributed to the prevalent attitude there, and what we can do to make things better.  
"where there is hatred let me sow love"
Carlos Orozco
6 years 3 months ago
The messages in english and demonstrations that support the invading forces are for the consumption of Western media. To believe that they represent the common Libyan citizen is foolish. Paint is as you wish, this was another war for oil.
Michael Schlacter
6 years 3 months ago
the real damning of America is in the second comment...Vets as Moochers...
Be careful just who says they wear a seamless garment. 
ed gleason
6 years 3 months ago
Frank T is hawking the FOX news take that the demonstrations in numerous Muslim countries were all Al Quada organized terrorism. When in fact, in the lone city of Benghazi about thirty fighters in pickup trucks with mounted recoilless rifles and RPGs took advantage of the world wide  demos about the film to kill the American ambassador and his ex-seal guards. This feigned GOP 'outrage' was a desperate hope for a one point poll advantage. An un-American stance to say the least. Fox News tried to tie the latest sad death of a border Patrol agent to the Obama Admin.. turns out he was killed by friendly fire. Have they no shame?
6 years 3 months ago
No, Ed, they don't.
C Walter Mattingly
6 years 3 months ago
As the Washington Post half-explains, half-apologizes for its tardiness at getting to the bottom of the apparent coverup of the truth about what happened at Benghazi that resulted in the death of several good men, including Ambassador Stephens, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the attempt to deflect criticism from President Obama's administration for inadequate security and the subsequent tragedy is unravelling. The initial report of Issa's committee, which has not been contradicted by the State Department, states that "Multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the Committee that, prior to the September 11th attack, the US mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi." These requests were denied by Washington.
The question of who has no shame, those who want the truth out to hold the administration responsible for the denial of the request for adequate security that preceded the tragedy, or those who are trying to assist in covering it up, likely for their own political purposes, is open to debate. 
Robert O'Connell
6 years 3 months ago
Seven comments: Do we really believe in prayer at all?
6 years 3 months ago

American forces can never provide absolute security for its embassies in a foreign nation. Whereas we can provide temporary security to delay an onslaught, we cannot have an armed fortress and air support in every nation in which we have representatives. We have to depend on the government or the controlling faction.

If there is no reliable government, should we be there at all? I don’t believe oil, minerals or influence are worth American lives or the lives of the people that we kill when we invade other countries for nebulous reasons.

6 years 3 months ago
Politicians makes me sick. All the talk of our 'heroes' is just for show; when it comes to supporting them at home with jobs help like the Veterans Jobs Corps Act that is another story; gosh, they might get dependant on government, not take resposibility for themselves, etc. etc. And we can't tolerated that, we might have to pay some taxes! And they dont admit the Bush's wars were paid for by borrowed money which now swells the deficit so we cant help anyone. 
6 years 2 months ago

When people have problems, why do we excpect Big Government to solve them? The U.S. Constitution does not suggest this role for government. Jesus did not tell us to form massive, wasteful federal bureaucracies as the way to "love your neighbor as yourself."

Veterans need jobs, certainly. Most all Americans regard them as heroes - and businesses want to hire veterans and put on job fairs for that purpose. Washington does not need to spend $1 billion to promote jobs for veterans; private industry is already doing that for veterans. Cut federal spending!

When I was a young Jesuit, I was a bleeding-heart liberal who thought government should do more to help the poor and anybody else in need. But since I have been paying taxes for 35 years, I am a fiscal conservative. A Nanny Governament is unaffordable and unnecessary. Local people helping local people is more personal and efficient, through churches, charities, etc.

Sisters, priests and bishops pay little or no taxes, and it is "no skin off their noses" when they promote big government entitlements like food stamps, Obamacare, unemployment handouts, etc. We taxpayers, however, see better options in helping our neighbor in need.

David B. Conner, M.Div.

Macon, GA 31204






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