President Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo was just that—a speech. As commentators at home and abroad pointed out, it will take deeds to give substance to his call for “a new beginning” in relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world.
Democracy is a wonderful form of government, especially compared to the alternatives. Giving everybody a vote provides a nonviolent means of managing conflict and of holding leaders accountable to the will of the majority.
Most Western observers of the Christian scene have learned to take African developments very seriously. They know that Africans will make up an increasing share of most denominations. The thriving churches of Nigeria and Uganda have become familiar to Western journalists through the activity of their leaders in the current Anglican schism.
After President Obama released memos from Bush administration lawyers that defended waterboarding, Dick Cheney told Fox News that extreme interrogation methods like waterboarding helped the country gain important information and deter terrorist attacks.
Activists on both sides were disappointed when the Obama administration revealed its policy on embryonic stem cell research last month. The guidelines issued by the National Institutes of Health are “not bold enough,” in the view of the New York Times. But to the Family Research Council actions permitted under the guidelines will “destroy human life.”
Mubarak Awad, a Greek Orthodox Catholic influenced by Quakers and Mennonites, could have become the Palestinian Gandhi. After his father was killed by Jewish freedom fighters in 1948, his mother taught her children to turn the other cheek. In 1983 Awad opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the aim of fomenting mass nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. His peaceful efforts got him kicked out of the country in 1988. He now teaches nonviolence at American University. He remains optimistic about the prospects of nonviolent resistance in the Middle East, but fears the current conflict between Israel and Gaza is driving more people into the extremist camp (Newsweek, August 11).