- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009

I was one of millions of Americans who attended the inaugural events this week, full of pride and hope for my country. As I listened to the speeches and soaring rhetoric Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial and Tuesday at the Capitol, though, my reactions were tinged with melancholy. You see, I am a resident of the District of Columbia, America’s last colony.

While listening to people laud the democratic values and history of this country and celebrate the inauguration of our first black president, I felt the deep irony that almost 600,000 American citizens living in the nation’s capital are denied the rights that all other Americans have enjoyed for more than two centuries.

District residents pay more federal taxes per capita than people in most states, and they send disproportionately more citizens to defend this country than most states. Yet 144 years after slavery was abolished and 89 years after women received the vote, you can’t say that in the District of Columbia, we have a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

I hope President Obama and the new Congress will right this wrong.



President Obama’s inauguration was historic in its own right. However, elements of his speech mimicked former President George W. Bush’s hawkish tone. For example, when Mr. Obama stated, “We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense” and then went on to talk about protecting freedom around the world. One didn’t have to remember too far back to recall this same rhetoric from Mr. Bush in regard to “why they hate us.”

According to Mr. Bush, the terrorists hate us for our freedom, not our ongoing presence in the Middle East - particularly the Muslim Holy Land - or our unwavering support for Israel. It’s this ignorance that keeps history repeating itself. If Mr. Obama is bringing hope and change with him to the White House, let this kind of rhetoric be kept solely for appeasing the part of the population that is still skeptical of his willingness to defend against terrorism, and let it not be mired in his actions. That would be “change we can believe in.” Until then, I will just have to hold out hope.



Boulder, Colo.

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