Obama cried about guns. Good for him.

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A sign on a tree in Newtown, CT, after the Sandy Hook school shooting. 
Credit: Gina Jacobs, via Shutterstock

A sign on a tree in Newtown, CT, after the Sandy Hook school shooting. Credit: Gina Jacobs, via Shutterstock

A sign on a tree in Newtown, CT, after the Sandy Hook school shooting. Credit: Gina Jacobs, via Shutterstock

A sign on a tree in Newtown, CT, after the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Credit: Gina Jacobs, via Shutterstock

Do you know what many knee-jerk Obamaphobes are snickering about?

It happened during the press conference in which President Obama announced the presidential order on new gun regulations.

What did the President do?

He cried about the deaths of the children at Sandy Hook.

What a wuss, they’re saying. The President was being overdramatic.

Or, he was faking it.

Some say that he even had a peeled onion on hand in order to provoke the tears.

The President had every right to cry. As Nicholas Kristof put it:

President Obama shed tears on Tuesday as he called for new gun safety measures, and some critics perceived weakness or wimpishness. Really? On the contrary, we should all be in tears that 225,000 Americans have already died of gun violence in his seven years in office.

Many, if not most, of Obama’s harshest critics are Bible-believing Christians. Perhaps they should spend a little less time laughing at our president, and reading the Bible.

This is what they would find: “real” biblical men, crying.

A short list:

  • Abraham cries when he learns of the death of his wife, Sarah. (Gen. 23: 2)
  • Jacob cries when he first meets his beloved wife, Rachel (Gen. 32: 11), and when he believes that his son, Joseph, has been killed  (Gen. 37:35).
  • Esau, the paradigm of biblical masculinity, cries  — not once, but twice — when he realizes that his brother, Jacob, has cheated him out of the blessing that he deserved as the oldest son (Gen. 27: 34, 38).
  • Joseph spends a lot of time crying: when his brothers expressed anguish over the fate of their younger brother, Benjamin (Gen. 42:24); when he first saw Benjamin, in Egypt (Gen. 43:30; when he reveals himself to his brothers (Gen. 45: 2, 15); and, when his brothers begged his forgiveness (Gen. 50: 17).
  • Moses cries as an infant (OK, that’s to be expected) (Ex. 2:6)
  • King David cries over the loss of his infant child (II Samuel 12: 22).
  • King Hezekiah weeps when he learns that he is gravely ill (II Kings 20:43).
  • Mordecai weeps when he learns of Haman’s decree of destruction against the Jews of Shushan, Persia (Esther 4:1)
  • Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus (John 11:35) — the shortest verse in the entire Bible.

This doesn’t begin to count the other times that men (and women as well, presumably) wept — mostly because of the persecution of the Israelites. Count them up: Egyptian slavery; the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (recorded in an entire biblical book of crying, Lamentations); the Jews of Shushan, hearing of Haman’s order of their destruction (Esther 4:3), and, famously, “by the waters of Babylon” over the exile (Psalm 137).

Not to mention the fact that in any number of Jewish legends, even God weeps.

I once wrote these words:

What is the message that young boys hear in our culture? Finish the sentence: “Big boys don’t _________.” Right. Cry. Men are not supposed to show emotion, or be vulnerable. But Jewish men do cry — at least, Jewish men in the Bible.

Bottom line: if you are a religious person, then you know that it is human to cry.

You also know that that men are allowed to do so. Especially in situations where tears are more than appropriate.

If John Boehner could (famously and often) cry openly and publicly, why can’t President Obama?

Or, as a particularly punchy Facebook post puts it: “If you find yourself mocking anyone who cries over murdered child, it’s Jesus’s way of letting you know you’re a sociopath.”

I am not a Christian, but I agree with that statement.

Here is what is happening. It is the American tradition. You cast aspersions on the masculine street cred of your enemies. Remember Hans and Franz on the old SNL show, offering to pump you up and sneering at “girly men.”

It is a highly effective way of making your enemies Other.

So, yes — President Obama was absolutely right to cry at that press conference. He should be crying about gun deaths, especially those of small children.

Maybe if we had all cried, a lot more and a lot sooner, we might have prevented some deaths.

It is not too late to do precisely that.

 

 

 

  • Jack

    Wow…my sentiments exactly on men crying in general and Obama’s crying in particular. The idea that real men don’t cry is one that is on a collision course with the Bible, as well as human psychology.

    And the idea that Obama’s tears were fake is Obama-phobia in overdrive. I have noticed in the past that he has gotten emotional when speaking about the child victims of violent crime, so this fits.

    As an Australian friend would say, “Good on ya, mate,” for speaking truth and sanity to our society.

    Having said that, I do disagree profoundly with the President on gun control. I think his heart is at least partly in the right place on this issue (no politician’s heart is truly pure on much of anything), but good hearts aren’t good enough in arriving at smart answers to tough problems. Gun control is all too often a “feel-good” answer rather than a “do-good” solution.

  • Gary Gabbard

    The whole problem with this conversation is as follows. We have got a president who thinks for all of us and he is afraid of all the realities of his own making and he is afraid the Americas might start doing something crazy like thinking for ourselves. All of this ilk be forwarned, you nor this President is going to get away with this.

  • Larry

    “he is afraid the Americas might start doing something crazy like thinking for ourselves. ”

    Given a lot of the rhetoric floating about, there is little danger of that from his opposition. There is just too much ‘stup1d’ taken as gospel truth coming from conservatives these days to think that people came up with these ideas on their own.

  • Gary

    Larry, it is important that we Americans drop the label calling and stick with the basics: the Psalmist said “I believe therefore I spoke”. If Americans don’t start speaking then lets just throw this whole country to the side. But if we start speaking more and monitoring less then more people can be in the narrative and more good comes out of it. Shutting peoples voice is not only anti-freedom, it is anti-God, anti-American, etc. Speak Larry, don’t label. Labels divide not promote, labels shut not open, labels inflame not educate. (The above verse Psalm 116:10)

  • Gary

    Mr Salkin, do we really think this is about tears? Or is this more about CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Power, should it speak its point from a pleading position (weak) or a discussing position (strong) How many times have we seen this president choose anti-respect, anti-democratic stances: discrediting those who disagree with him, preferring secrecy over clarity, disowning our Constitution, to name three. Often, daily, at will. This crying is not w Biblical cry, he is continuing his trend: divide, confuse, and misrepresent. His tears are doing what his 2014 election actions did: giving social security cards to people to whom it is illegal to work: divide, confuse, misrepresent. One of the comedians said it when Joe Biden said “I will appeal to the grown up wing of the Democrat party”. The comedian said “that is a small group”. We need action people in our country and less idea people. We need relevance and less theory. We need more parents and less children. Respectfully.

  • Larry

    There are just far too many subjects where the current conservative POV is based on misinformation, fictions and just plain hysteria to be taken as the product of independent thinking. Examples:

    1. Stumping for Creationism in public schools
    2. Global warming denialism
    3. The overwhelming majority of anti-gun control arguments
    4. “Religious Freedom” arguments by people who want to deny civil liberties to others.
    5. Most libertarian arguments which find corporations to be entitled to greater civil rights than actual breathing people.
    6. Most criticism of gun control measures (Evidently my desire to own a firearm overrides any consideration of public safety or personal responsibility)

    Not all opinions have equal weight or merit. Having an opposing view is not the same as having one which can be supported on its facts. Its not a matter of shutting out voices. Its a matter of leveling criticism at things which demand reflection and clear thinking.

  • Larry

    “giving social security cards to people to whom it is illegal to work”

    Never happened.

    “How many times have we seen this president choose anti-respect, anti-democratic stances: discrediting those who disagree with him, preferring secrecy over clarity, disowning our Constitution, to name three.”

    Please provide examples. I am curious as to what you think qualifies as disowning our Constitution.

  • There’s only one question here. Were there tears anywhere on his face before he wiped them away? Or did he wipe his eyes and then several seconds later, tears flowed?

    Just look at the video. Obama wiped his left eye in a very artificial way, all the way across, on the lower lid, with one extended finger. I don’t think anybody actually does that.

    Mainly, you can stop the video and look for tears. There are no tears until after he has wiped his eye.

    In fact, the same thing happened the day of the event, in 2012. Obama wiped his eye in the same artificial way. However, as many people reported at the time, there were no tears to wipe away. It was just a theatrical gesture that made people think he might be crying.