Voltaire Re-Imagined



Today President Barack Obama addressed the 2012 UN General Assembly for the fourth and final time of his first term in office. His speech was compelling and relevant; mixing geopolitics, international relations, and foreign policy. In a strong message to the world concerning recent developments in the Middle East, Obama reiterated a strong and lasting component of the United States of America. Furthermore he tactfully framed his remarks to fit nicely into the 2012 Presidential Election dialogue. The direct quote from the speech was:
"I know there are some who ask why we don't just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so."                                                                  - Barack Obama, UN General Assembly, 25 September 2012
The principle that President Obama highlighted was made famous by the 18th century French writer, playwright, and philosopher, Voltaire. [Wikipedia Entry] The exact attribution of the quote is shadowy and not concrete. However, Voltaire is known to have actually said - or rather written in his Essay on Tolerance, "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too!" While the famous quote that has been attributed to Voltaire is, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

For an outspoken and verbose person like myself, I very much admire this principle. I rely on the liberty of free speech for the vast majority of my endeavors. Thus I value the gravitas of freedom of conscience and cannot fathom denying that right to anybody. Although I do withhold and often exercise the option to influence a person's opinion and worldview as I see fit. So in appreciation of Voltaire's principle and Obama's leadership on the international stage, I wanted to commemorate this re-imagining for the 21st century in the form of a graphic:


Please feel free to share on the internet!

P.S.

Here is a 5 minute clip of Obama's speech today. Thanks to C-SPAN I was able to cut a specific clip. The quote I highlighted in today's post is only a few seconds in, but I included the larger context to fully paint the positive and liberating message President Barack Obama is re-affirming in the United States of America and re-iterating to the world.

Something Wicked Awesome
This Way Comes!

After a fascinating and fulfilling summer in Belgium, I have since returned to Sooner Nation! I have some new and exciting developments on the horizon for my senior year here at the University of Oklahoma.

1. I will be graduating in the Spring of 2013! My journey from a Journalism Major to a Double Major in Political Science and Religious Studies is almost complete. This semester is another 18 hour intellectual marathon. I am taking 6 courses: Administration & Society, Making Public Policy, Voters & Campaigns, The Christian Religious Tradition, The War on Terror, and Covert Action. And per usual, I will be posting my graded papers on this blog.

NATO - S.H.A.P.E. in Mons, Belgium
2. I am currently in the process of editing a research paper I wrote on the Evolution Debate. I wrote this paper last year - during the 2011 Fall Semester - for my Religion and the U.S. Constitution class, instructed by Dr. Allen Hertzke. I made an A on this paper when I submitted it and received this commentary:  

"This paper reflects excellent research and is persuasively (and passionately) argued and documented. You also nicely applied constitutional principles and tests." 

The reason for this edit overhaul is that my paper has been selected for publication in the University of Oklahoma Religious Studies Student Journal!

3. I have separated from PolicyMic. I enjoyed my time writing for them and really value the experience and feedback I gained. The majority of my work was covering the developments of the ongoing Syrian uprising. This was partly why I had been on a mini-hiatus from this blog. I have switched gears and have joined the University of Oklahoma's student newspaper - The Oklahoma Daily a.k.a. The OU Daily. Previously I had occasionally submitted letters to the editor and had been featured as a guest columnist. Now I am an official opinion columnist with a weekly op-ed column.

As for the future, I will keep this blog updated at least on a bi-weekly frequency. So stay tuned for an exciting Fall 2012 Semester!

P.S. I went to Belgium this summer and I will be compiling photos and writing a brief summary of my trip for the blog. This project is ongoing and covers a wide array of adventures!

-N.K.
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