What does America stand for?

According to Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice, our chief diplomat:

We in America are blessed with lives of tremendous liberty: the freedom to govern ourselves and elect our leaders; the freedom to own property; the freedom to educate our children, our boys and our girls; and of course the freedom to think as we please and to worship as we wish. America embodies these liberties but America does not own these liberties. We stand for ideals that are greater than ourselves and we go into the world not to plunder but to protect, not to subjugate but to liberate, not as masters of others but as servants of freedom.


Finally, ladies and gentlemen, we must consider one further question which is this: If not for America, who would rally freedom-loving nations to defend liberty and democracy in our world? Nearly five years after the tragedy of September 11th, the United States is leading a great coalition of countries in a global war on terrorism. When possible, we are bringing terrorists to justice. And when necessary, we are bringing justice to the terrorists. (Applause.) This is the fate that our troops delivered last week to the terrorist Zarqawi and now he will never harm, he will never murder, he will never terrorize innocent people again. (Applause.) That is what America stands for.

[Emphasis mine]

When you see reports of this speech on the news in the coming days, it is like they will play only the last two sentences, because the sound bite is pretty striking. But before claiming Rice says that America is just about killing terrorists, I would encourage you to look at the context of those remarks and see just what she is saying.

Secretary Rice spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting on 2006-06-14. The full transcript is available at the State Department Website.

There may be some frightening remarks in the speech, or some that seem to contradict current government policy regarding civil liberties, but those are not the ones the media will focus on. The issues are more complex, and focusing on killing terrorists makes for better headlines.

In other words, what's true of this speech is what's true of most stories today -- look past the headlines. Don't be distracted by them. Beyond the large fonts is where the real story lives.

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