Ambassador Stevens Mother’s letter in the NYTimes: “A Mother’s Complaint About a ‘Cynical Use’ of Benghazi”

Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens was a Peace Corps Volunteer in from 1983 to 1985, he taught English in Morocco.  He joined the Foreign Service utilizing the cultural and skills he gained from his time in Morocco. He was assassinated at the Benghazi, Libya Outpost on September 11, 2012.  Three other Americans were also murdered. The terrorist attack at Benghazi was the subject of numerous Congressional Hearings, although no legislation was ever presented to  prevent such attacks on diplomatic posts in the future.  Now, the tragedy of the lost American lives at Benghazi has become a rallying cry for Republicans in their vendetta against Hillary Clinton.  One grieving mother even spoke at the Republican Convention.  Another, the mother of Ambassador Stevens has pleaded that her son’s death not be used in this manner.  Read her letter, here:

To the Editor:

As Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s mother, I am writing to object to any mention of his name and death in Benghazi, Libya, by Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party.

I know for certain that Chris would not have wanted his name or memory used in that connection. I hope that there will be an immediate and permanent stop to this opportunistic and cynical use by the campaign.


Oakland, Calif.

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  • Bless you and Thank you Mary.

    I wish in my deepest heart that your comments are circulated all week in Philadelphia.

    Chris’s intelligence, courage, and love of people from other cultures demonstrated that at our best Americans do have an open, kind, and thoughtful nature.

  • The corollary message to what Chris Stevens’ mother pointedly wrote in her above letter to the NYTimes came up during a lengthy interview with Stevens’ sister, pediatrician Anne Stevens. The article covering the interview recently appeared in the June 28th issue of The New Yorker and is aptly titled “. . . Don’t Blame Hillary Clinton for Benghazi.”

    Dr. Stevens decries the fact that her brother’s death has been crassly politicized by those who just want to use “Benghazi” as a bludgeon to whack Clinton. But RPCVs and other readers of “Peace Corps Worldwide” would especially find worthwhile Anne’s more well-rounded discussion of her brother’s life of public service. –Tino

  • Joanne, Tino, Edward, et al,

    Please forgive me for inserting this, but in this ridiculous election campaign, I think Chris might have gotten a chuckle from the article at that Same New Yorker site, click on the lower right:

    “Stephen Hawking Angers Trump Supporters with Baffling Array of Long Words”

    …. Hawking called Trump “a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator,” a statement that many Trump supporters believed was intentionally designed to confuse them.

    “For a so-called genius, this was an epic fail,” Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said. “If Professor Hawking wants to do some damage, maybe he should try talking in English next time.”

    …. Hawking attempted to clarify his remark about the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, telling a reporter, “Trump bad man. Real bad man.”

    By Andy Borowitz , May 31, 2016

  • Because this relates to the late Ambassador Chris Stevens, Morocco 1983-85, I wish to offer this thought for his sister Dr. Anne Stevens, with deep respect for our brother PCV, you, and your family.

    You told Robin Wright of The New Yorker that ” to use Chris’s death as a political point—is not appropriate.” And indeed, I imagine most of us strongly agree with you.

    But, your brother’s death has been used, unfairly, as a political point for over four years by the Republican Party and will continue to be used, unfairly and inaccurately, until forever.

    Today, just twelve hours after the completion of the Democratic Convention, Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson has once again parroted the Republican lies and twisted ideas that blame Hillary Clinton for the four deaths in 2012 Benghazi attack. And I am sure other Trump surrogates and he will continue to spout these lies forever.

    Many of us are deeply sadden by their behavior, Dr. Stevens, but a thousand wishes will not make them stop lying to the public.

    I know you’ve told NBC and some other media outlets about your wishes. And I imagine you don’t want to get into a public dispute with other grieving mothers, but this nation’s democracy is being threatened by endless Republican’ vitriolic rhetoric. And millions of Americans who watched their convention might never have heard your voice. And the foundation of their argument is the 2012 Benghazi attack. That is basis of their other false argument, Secretary Clinton’s emails.

    It is my respectful wish that you would speak out publically more often about your son’s service and about the fabrications circulated by the Republicans in this election.

    We must call their lie to honor Chris’s life and work.

    • Tony, I agree with your sentiments, but I think it is the responsibility of the Democratic Party to confront the false narrative of Benghazi. I am acutely aware of how quickly facts are distorted and misinformation broadcast over all the media platforms. It would not be fair, in
      my opinion, to ask Stevens family to enter that toxic mess. The Democratic Party, I would hope, would have the resources to preserve.

      I tried to read the letter on local talk radio, which in Colorado is always right wing. I was cut off and the screener explained to me that the staff and hosts knew all about the letter, but it was evidently dismissed because Steven’s mother was supporting the other party. That is mild compared to what could be said. For much the same reason, I do not think this is the place for politics. Who could anticipate how easily comments could be picked up on the internet, misconstrued and used to mischaracterize serving volunteers? I am far more circumspect that I was even a week ago.

      • Later: Mr. and Mrs. Kahn, Gold Star parents, stood up and spoke out. They are being subjected to a brutal harangue. My heart goes out to them. I salute their bravely and I morn their loss. But, I would not want anyone else to be subject to it.

  • Tony, Joanne, remember Whitewater? Like his predecessor investigator, Kenneth Starr couldn’t dig up wrong-doing in the Whitewater case, at least wrong-doing by Bill and Hillary Clinton while they were in business as developers in Arkansas. Then Starr came up with Monica Lewinsky, enabling the Republican-led Congress to impeach President Bill Clinton.

    In 2014, two years after finding no evidence of crimes leading to the deaths of four Americans including Christopher Stevens, House Committees searching for evidence they could use to damage Hillary Clinton stumbled onto her private e-mail server. Then, after a total of six Republican-led investigations came up with nothing else, Capitol Hill Republicans and now Trump have doggedly fixated on the e-mail controversy. This week, Trump even asked Putin to help come up with and turn over the missing e-mails.

    That’s how desperate Clinton’s opponents are. So, from Monicagate to emails. Some folks obsess about impeaching Clintons. First, Bill. Now, they can’t even wait until Hillary Clinton becomes President.

    [ BTW, Tony, your last paragraph refers to Anne Stevens as Chris’ mother. Anne is actually his sister. ]

  • I apologize to Ann. I get so worked up about this election that I don’t proof my messages carefully.

    I guess like many others, I nearly get physically ill when I hear that man’s voice (I don’t even want to write his name), let alone see him. He violated the 1798 Logan Act, from what I read. His Putin act and his son’s claim that lots of money comes in from Russia and close ties to Manafort? How can people not care?

    Should we avoid politics on this site? Forgive me for plagiarizing a couple of phrases from the convention: This man has “no clue” of what being an American means. He has “sacrificed nothing.”

  • Tony, you ask: “Should we avoid politics on this site?” Yes, for at least two reasons:

    1) Several weeks ago, we heard from a long-time RPCV reader/blogger of Peace Corps Worldwide who voiced his views on why RPCVs should support Donald Trump’s candidacy;

    2) It does honor to attempt to defend Chris Steven’s life story and tragic death from those who callously wield “Benghazi” as a codeword to bludgeon and bloody the current Democratic White House Administration in general and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular.

    If we are forbidden from exercising reason No. 2 on Peace Corps Worldwide’s website, why should anyone else allow us to do so on their website?

    In short, we ought to continue to take those to task who demean Stevens’ work and memory by writing here, as you have, and anywhere else we can truly honor Stevens.

  • Yes indeed, I’d much prefer to avoid politics and read John’s wonderful contribution to the American literary scene that highlights RPCV authors and their activities.

    But when even today, Sunday, Aug.1, Manafort and others of his tilt of conscience, continue to claim Clinton is responsible for the death of a RPCV who was still contributing “public service” to this country, which many of us also served as veterans as well as RPCVs, a nation for which thousands of Muslims and Jews and Christians and Hindus and Buddhists and Agnostics and Atheists and polytheists have served as loyal patriots, yes, tens of thousands of sacrifices of the fallen, injured, and survivors, of all political persuasions, I feel deeply an obligation to punctuate my own 50+ years as an educator from Africa to China, from the U.S. Northeast to the Midwest to Texas, by calling out those who publically insult the very core values of our service by asking foreign governments to interfere in this nation’s political life.

    • i agree with everything you have written, Tony. I just don’t think this is the venue. This is what I do: The Denver Post, Washington Post, and the NYTImes all have comment sections on most articles. I don’t know if you have to be a subscriber or not to comment. We currently are. I comment, every day, on political articles. I also “like” the comments with which I agree. I also post my opinion and links to articles on my Facebook. I also read what others are writing. There are passionate comments from all political persuasions. I use my real name, except on the Washington Post.. I give my age. Sometimes, I am attacked for what I post; which is fine, I can handle that. But I also appreciate how facts can be distorted in ugly ways and I choose not to identify as an RPCV or to mention Peace Corps. That is all I mean by being circumspect. I absolutely refer to Ambassador Stevens, his heroic service, and his family’s plea not to exploit his death.

      I currently am pleading with others to view the nazi propaganda film, Triump of the Will, and the classic Hollywood film, “Face in the Crowd.” I apologize if my comment suggested that
      we should be silent. I don’t believe that at all. I applaud your passion.

  • Joanne,

    I wrote Aug. 1 in my post, but too late I realized it’s still July 31, so I get to pretend I’ve got an extra day to save the planet.

    You do raise the biggest problem smarter people than I have never been able to solve: How to reach people who don’t sing in our choir.

    I’ve heard Carl Bernstein complain many times the lack of good investigative journalism today. But how do you offer depth journalism in 140 characters?

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