I watched the television news which told of twenty schoolchildren killed without reason that we can comprehend in Connecticut. As is expected in these cases the leader of the United States spoke a few words. He spoke them, for he is a good orator, and as he spoke I hoped that Mr Obama’s words would bring a small measure of comfort to the bereaved. Then I saw it, a gesture by which Mr Obama undid any comfort his words may have brought.
Obama touched the corner of his eye, as though he was so overcome by grief, as to wipe away an invisible tear. To me it looked like the gesture of an actor, making himself appear to be weeping tears for the dead schoolchildren when no tears were really there.
And I wondered about Mr Obama. I wondered whether he cried tears for the dead schoolchildren killed by drones that he ordered to find targets in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and whether he sat down and wept when he remembered those deaths directly attributable to his orders.
Perhaps I am wrong and Mr Obama was sincere: perhaps Mr Obama perceives that deaths are unequal and that an American life is worth tears but the lives of thousands who are not American are merely collateral damage, not deaths. He would not be the first leader of a nation to suffer from selective grief.