Can you imagine the outrage we would have had as a nation if Tony Blair had rudely, publicly critiqued the words of Rudy Giuliani on September 11, 2001?
I can’t imagine that too many people wearing “These Colors Don’t Run” shirts and watching NASCAR would have been keen on a limey dude disparaging the mayor of our biggest city in the hours after a deadly attack.
I can’t imagine the airbrushed and polished hosts of Fox and Friends would have a calm, intellectual debate about the special relationship between the US and our former colonial patrons while Tony Blair’s shitty, terribly timed words crawled across the bottom of the screen.
Hell, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, and I would have sworn off fish and chips, Newcastle Brown Ale, and parliamentary procedure for at least a few weeks in protest. To paraphrase Merle Haggard, when you’re running down NYC and Rudy on September 11, boy, you’re walking on the fighting side of me.
Yet our president, the representative of all of us on the world’s stage, went out of his way to publicly critique the mayor of London in the hours after terrorists used a van and knives to kill people on London Bridge. Just days after a terrorist suicide bomber killed 22 in Manchester at a concert. Just weeks after another terrorist went on a rampage on another bridge over the Thames.
Never mind the fact that he took the mayor’s words out of context. Never mind that he used an attack in another country as political justification for his proposed travel ban here at home. Never mind the backdrop of his anti-Muslim rhetoric throughout the campaign and beyond. Never mind the fact that Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is Muslim.
Forget all of that.
Just focus in on the fact that a 70-year-old billionaire felt that the best thing he could do as a world leader in the wake of human tragedy was to denigrate a shaken but stalwart foreign leader on the way he was handling the terrible situation at hand.
Focus on the fact that rather than thinking in terms of empathy and kindness toward our best, longest-standing ally in the world, our president belittled their mayor’s response in the hours after a tragedy.
And ask yourself, if Tony Blair had even hinted at these sorts of barbs in the hours after the twin towers fell, would you urge a measured, deferential reading of his words? Would you defend him? Would you care what political back-and-forth was happening in his country?
Or would you have preferred to scissor-kick his crooked English teeth out of his mouth?