Substance and Style

All men sail through life’s rough waters, what shipwrecks some empowers others. Undying perseverance and a devotion to a higher calling belong to those who survive. Heroes they are, though that is not what we call them initially. England’s King George VI, for example, was depicted by the press of his day as a drab and timid man with a crippling stutter whose determination and untiring devotion left him bruised and battered, but undeniably heroic.

Susan Stamper Brown

Rising to kingship unwillingly and on the wings of scandal, he struggled with every public word he uttered.  His infamous September 3, 1939 prelude to war speech, which can be heard in all its crackly splendor online, opens with: “In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send this message to all my peoples [sic]…with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself.”

Each consciously calculated word enunciated, between far too many pauses and near-stammers, warned beloved countrymen of a clear and present danger should Nazism prevail. His brother, King Edward VIII, who had previously abdicated the throne to pursue personal passions, could have said it prettier. But not better. You see, a fine-tuned heart can see and hear what is invisible to the eyes and ears. Substance versus style.

Substance is that little thing that floats to the surface after style has long faded. And it is clearly missing in the words of our president these days in his continual vacillation between what he really believes and what he wants us to hear about ISIS and what is or is not “Islamic.”

He could have been the man of the hour, a King George VI of sorts. Rising to the American presidency, notwithstanding a challenged upbringing with two Muslim dads in absentia and a communist-leaning mom – had all the makings of an American success story extraordinaire. Given his devotion and conviction fell in the direction of his American “peoples.” Hence, the crux of the matter.

Sure wish we were just dealing with semantics here. However, in these most dangerous of times, this man who would rather be the king of someplace else will not define the enemy of our day. Instead he tenaciously refuses to acknowledge that Christians and Jews are being killed for their faith – at the bloody hands of those who vociferously claim they are doing it in the name of theirs.

Oh, what we would give for a side of stammering to go with a huge portion of American patriotism…

To see the truth and not respond in-kind is excusable cowardice. We’ve all been there. But to repeatedly insist the hungry lion loose in the zoo is not a lion because it doesn’t act like the caged ones is something different altogether.

And we cannot curb that lion’s cravings with a job, as State Department spokesperson Marie Harf recently suggested. How does one give a job to unnamed…unidentified…unlabeled…unpeople?  Open up a burger joint in Yemen, advertising openings for non-Islamic un-terrorists with beheading experience?

During his anti-extremism summit last week, Obama made the world a more dangerous place to dwell when, enunciating with a most exquisite command of the English language, he intimated that ISIS and Islam are mutually exclusive, emphasizing “We are not at war with Islam.”

And then my mind wandered a little…to a delightful little snippet in the movie “The King’s Speech,” Hollywood’s version of King George VI’s life, where the king’s daughter Lilibet sees a clip of Hitler speaking and asks, “Papa, what’s he saying?” King George VI replies, “I don’t know, but he seems to be saying it rather well.”

Susan Stamper Brown Susan Stamper Brown is an Alaskan resident and recovering political pundit who does her best to make sense of current day events using her faith. She tries to read every email sent to her at

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