In March of 1964 a young, Italian-American woman, Kitty Genovese, returning from work, was brutally murdered while her neighbors watched from their windows and did nothing as she begged for help. Kitty screamed out, “Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me! I’m dying!” Watching from their windows no one responded. The only attempt to help was from one witness who shouted from a distance, “Let that girl alone.” The assailant scurried away as Kitty lay there stabbed, bleeding and pleading for someone to help her, no one did. The observers shut their windows and dimmed their lights as the mortally wounded woman staggered toward an apartment lobby. Realizing that no one would come to her rescue her brazen attacker returned and continued to stab Kitty to death.
The onlookers opened and shut their windows repeatedly during the incident, finally shutting them as a dead Kitty lay inside the front door of a Kew Gardens, New York apartment lobby. Not one of the thirty-eight people who witnessed her murder called the police, no one came to her aid, they watched from their windows as she was cut down by a twisted, psychopath killing to quell an uncontrollable urge. It wasn’t until 4:00 am in the morning that a friend of the murdered woman found her and called the police. Two minutes later they arrived to find a lifeless body sprawled out on a cold, tile floor.
Kitty Genovese’s name symbolized the, “…dark side of national character,” and America’s failure to get involved. It stood for apathetic, anxious, estranged, self-centered Americans whose fear of being implicated outweighed their moral core. American voyeurs hid behind their shades and peered out into an alley as a sharp switchblade cut an innocent woman to shreds and stole her life. Those who watched retired to their beds pulling the covers over their heads and pretending they were unaware that a young girl lay bleeding to death in the foyer where they picked up their daily mail.
Fast-forward forty years, an unjust election thrust young Iranians into the streets in protest. People are beaten by Ahmadinejad’s hooligans. Pro-democracy protesters are slain as they scream for “help.” The streets of Tehran have been turned into an alley similar to Austin Street in Kew Gardens where Kitty Genovese was overcome and eliminated by a merciless thug. In the windows, watching the injustice is the United States of America, which was once the greatest champion of democracy on the face of the earth. Barack Obama, leader of the free world cautiously yells to the alley below in a barely audible voice, “don’t worry…we are watching what’s happening.” Obama’s presence is palpable, like those who witnessed Kitty Genovese high above the alley where she died. He, like they, just watch.
Winston Mosley, Kitty’s aggressor, knew no one would stop him. He chose women because he considered them weak and he knew they could be easily overpowered. In Iran defenseless, pro-democracy reformers are an easy target. The Basija Militia attack with axes, daggers and other crude weapons as Obama positioned in the window above the street peruses the landscape. He cautiously stands back as the blood of freedom fighters, viciously clubbed and axed to death in clear sight, drenches the streets. Obama ruminates over the political ramifications of his next oratory statement, while pro-reform protesters fight and sacrifice their lives for the right to exercise what he pledged to defend and uphold.
Iranian youth, the most supportive of the United States of all Muslims living in the Middle East, are being left to die as Obama shouts puny warnings from the window above the street halfheartedly proclaiming, “I strongly condemn these unjust actions.” Searching for hope the young pro-reformers are desperately attempting to make eye contact with the one in the window but find him lazily balanced on the windowsill smoking a cigarette and blowing smoke rings into the evening air as they yell, “Please help us! We’re dying!” Arms reaching skyward, eyes pleading for help…Obama winks at the Iranian government and then turns away.
Much like those who hid in the shadows as Kitty Genovese died are those who refuse to realize that the enemies that beat the pro-democracy protesters with batons are the Winston Mosley’s that long to murder both Israel and the United States if unlucky enough to be cornered in a dark alley. Moreover, their plan is to sabotage us in the future and like Winston Mosley have a specific objective and plan as they stalk in the shadows. Mosley, like Iran, was relentless returning to finish Kitty off, unafraid and moved more by his desire to see her dead than his fear of the consequence. Winston Mosley was an enemy to Kitty as well as those watching her die, as is Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs enemies to the protesters, Israel and the United States. Their enemy is our enemy and closing the curtain and turning our back on their plight won’t save our lives if Winston has his way.
Obama’s anemic response is similar to those who were asked why they didn’t take action while Kitty still had a chance to survive. He justifies a cool response by elevating lofty rhetoric in the place of measured action. Standing in the window, like the thirty-eight who watched Kitty die, Obama is “…appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments.” Yet, like them, he has walked away not wanting to get involved. Obama has openly admitted that he is not interested and will, “…not at all interfere in Iran’s affairs.”
As pro-democracy youth fight for their lives and the life of their nation an American president has pulled the shade down and failed to call for help from the international community like those on Austin Street who failed to call the police. For all they knew Kitty and Winston could have been having a lovers’ quarrel providing an excuse as to why the disconnected, shadowy figures watching from the windows ignored her blood curdling screams. Obama too has attempted to justify his lack of intervention in the righteous cause of helping to save a nation from despotic tyranny. His insipid excuse, “…the Iranian people are trying to have a debate about their future. Some in the Iranian government are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others outside of Iran of instigating protests over the elections.” Doesn’t Obama know that a debate fought with bullets, batons and billy clubs is like a lovers’ quarrel where an unrequited kiss is met with a switchblade?
As a result of Obama’s standoffish, disconnect from a democratic revolution 2009 has its own poster-child symbolizing the result of failure to get involved , her name was Neda Agha-Soltan. Neda, about the same age as Kitty Genovese, lay dying in the street with a bullet in her body, put there during a rally by Iranian plainclothes security or militia-sanctioned assassins. Global citizen, Barack Obama has responded by reminding the world that everyone, “…knows that there’s something fundamentally unjust about that.” Peering like a voyeur at Neda as she died in the street, Obama quickly drew the curtain over the window and focused instead on more up-beat self-serving agendas. As Neda’s heartbeat gently slowed to a halt and her beautiful brown eyes went dim, in one breath Obama coldly changed the subject from her untimely death to clinical clean energy and universal health care…sort of like turning from the window as Kitty died and changing the channel on the television set from Perry Mason to I Love Lucy.
Forty years ago, the case of Kitty Genovese touched on a fundamental aspect of the human condition, “…our primordial nightmare.” In almost half a century nothing has changed! The question broached then still remains and is applicable on both an individual level and on an international level, “If we need help, will those around us stand around and let us be destroyed or will they come to our aid?” Barack Obama’s response to the Iranian pro-democratic revolt has sent an even stronger message to the world than it has to Iran and that is that the America, who once sacrificed blood and treasure to to further the cause of democracy, cannot be counted on to defend liberty, while Barack Obama is president.
As democracy breathes its last in an alley in Iran, beaten and stabbed by the Winston Mosley of repressive totalitarianism, who will come to their aid? Obama, willfully turning his back on the hope for freedom in Iran, leaves democracy dying like Kitty and Neda, in a pool of their own innocent blood.