We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you…
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
Phrases become cliches because they vividly express something profound. “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist” one day soon will become a cliche. Today it is simply perfect.
The imagery is so compelling, the symbolism so precise, the message so important, that it’s hard to believe we have not heard it before. “Be quiet, and unclench your fist,” wrote Robert Browning, capturing half of the phrase and less of its power. But apparently he left it to a more modern wordsmith to make the inspiring connection.
Godspeed, Mr. President, and may you govern as well as you speak.