President Obama: “Our Fight Against Violent Extremism”
Pres. Obama (Archives)

Please Lead by Example as I am Confused.

As a US citizen and human being I would greatly appreciate it, President Obama, if you and the government you head would lead by example. When you write:

“Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change.”

It is difficult to understand your intentions, but perhaps we differ on what we believe to be human rights? For instance, I humbly submit not being subjected to torture is a human right, but become confused since my country has engaged in such activity and seems wholly uninterested in prosecuting those responsible. I have heard that America is a nation of laws, but perhaps I have misheard, because I do not understand how this can be true if such crimes as torture can occur without prosecution. You go on, in the same paragraph, to write:

“Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies.”

This deepens my confusion, returning to the example of torture, can you, as a constitutional lawyer recommend to me, a citizen, what steps I can take to address my grievance that my country has committed acts of torture? Perhaps my grievance is ill-legitimate? Or maybe my original premise, that not being subjected to torture is not a human right? Also, as I am not a lawyer, maybe my human instinct that torture is a crime is incorrect?

I understand you are a very busy man and cannot be bothered to answer every question put to you by every US citizen, but I would appreciate any insight you can provide me in these difficulties especially in light of your recent request to engage in additional acts of war because if I were to set out on a task such as “fight against violent extremism”, I would start first on my immediate surroundings, but again, maybe “violent extremism” is an inaccurate description of torture?

Lastly, may I suggest your observation that “Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds” begin with American hearts and minds? Returning to my singular example, what side ought my heart and mind be on — is torture a crime, it is violent extremism, is it ok for my country to engage in it, I am deeply confused by both your words and actions.

My common sense tells me that torture is wrong and my common sense also tells me that killing people over seas is a bad way to win the battle of hearts and minds, perhaps you can lead by example so I can better understand your meaning and intention.

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