Saturday, January 17, 2015

An Open Letter to President Obama: On Fighting Radical Islamic Terrorism - What I Learned From A Bedbug

Dear Mr. President,

I did not want to write this letter.

For one thing, I am a civil servant, and I don't want to cause any trouble. For another, it's a heavy and upsetting topic, and I'd much rather kick back and relax on the weekend. Here's a third: I doubt my qualifications to speak to you. I'm not smart enough, not educated enough, and you have experts all around you, and updates 24/7/365. And finally, I am a Jew, so you might think that my agenda is only to help my people.

I will reach out to you anyway, Sir. In all these capacities, as the total person that I am. It is you who has the power and influence to fight back, and I believe the American people are waiting for you to do it.

Here is a little bit about me, Sir. My Hebrew name is Hadassah - born in 1971, the same year Starbucks was founded, on the Fast of Esther.

The Fast of Esther is associated with the Jewish holiday of Purim. It happened roughly 350 BCE, in Persia. Around that time, a Jewish man named Mordechai saved the king's life. His "reward" was the wrath of a royal advisor named Haman, who became enraged that Mordechai would not bow down to him.

Haman plotted against the Jews and almost succeeded in having them killed. But Mordechai's niece, Hadassah, interceded with the king, who was also her husband. Because of the way she handled it, the evil advisor was hanged.

Just like me, Hadassah was terrified to speak. She knew if she messed up what the consequences would be. So to bolster her merit, she asked the Jews to abstain from food for three days and pray. The Fast of Esther commemorates this.

It is in her honor, that I tell you the following story. Hopefully G-d will help me.

It's about a lesson a bedbug taught me. Or to be more specific, the existential threat posed to me by a bedbug. Which sheds light on the situation in which we find ourselves, with radical Islamic terrorism.

Exactly one year ago, my daughter woke me up in the middle of the night, screaming.

"Mommy, come here! Please! Wake up!"

I couldn't imagine what was making her scream like that and I came running into her room.

"Look! Look!"

She lifted up the sheet from her bed. At first, I couldn't tell what she was showing me.

"Is that dirt?" I said. It looked like the edge of the sheet had earth on it or something, like a lot of earth someone packed into the part where a fitted sheet gets tucked under the bed.

Then, the dirt started moving...independently.

"Oh my G-d," I said.

I didn't even know what a bedbug was. But it didn't take a genius to realize that our home had been invaded by thousands and thousands of bedbugs. And they were all over her bed.

All she saw at first was a single bedbug, crawling across the bed. But what lay beneath was an explosive nightmare of pestilence.

I thought I was so quick-thinking, grabbing that entire mattress and the sheet and taking everything downstairs. Back upstairs, I back-slapped and congratulated myself: "Well, we're done now, let's go to sleep."

But it wasn't over - not at all. It could have been over with pretty quickly, but I refused to admit that we had an infestation. And even when I did admit it, I refused to call in the big guns, i.e. a proper treatment company, and kept dealing with it "on my own."

Which of course, made everything worse.

By the time we finally got rid of them, we'd bought and discarded mattresses; washed and thrown out half our clothes; and spent a ton of money on two separate full treatments.

By the time I admitted how bad things were, we were on the verge of selling our apartment and starting over completely in another building.

That's what I need to tell you, Sir.

Radical Islamic terrorists really are an existential threat to this country. To every country that speaks in the name of freedom.

I know you want to handle things reasonably, and not get too dramatic. I know you believe we can win this thing by encouraging moderates to speak. That you don't believe in being direct and confrontational.

That's how I handled the bedbugs, at first. I didn't want to believe they were a threat; I didn't want to attack them full-on. I tried to use a "natural remedy."

But my efforts failed miserably. Until I went to war on the bugs, they kept on ruthlessly destroying me.

Radical Islamic terrorists are like bedbugs in every way. They mindlessly march forward hatefully, they multiply, they feed off of innocent people and they don't respond to anything except obliteration.

Mr. President, don't be like me with the bedbugs. I beg you, take the radical Islamic threat very seriously. You have a mighty gift of speech, expansive intelligence, the power of the pen and of the military, but most importantly you have the attention and respect of Congress and the people. Use these.

You know in your heart, Sir, that these people are an imminent threat to all we hold dear. They are not nice and reasonable and decent. All they want is to consume and to destroy - and they have no moral compass.

President Obama, in every generation there arises a threat like this. You have the power to take them out - please do it, with every weapon in your arsenal.

May G-d bless you and help you to do this.

Very respectfully,

Hadassah Miriam Rachel (Dannielle) Blumenthal


All opinions my own.