Posted by on May 04, 2011 in News Clips
Mitch Daniels drew extensively on his Syrian heritage in accepting an award from an Arab-American group Wednesday night, connecting his own family’s journey to the United States with the uprisings unfolding in his ancestral homeland and elsewhere in the Arab world.
“There have been the same stirrings, same yearnings for freedom that have busted loose elsewhere," the Indiana governor said during his second public appearance of the day in Washington. “May Syria and all the lands near it soon become places of peace, and freedom and self-determination.”
Daniels, who gave a major education speech earlier in the day as he mulls a presidential bid, compared his paternal grandfather’s emigration from Syria to Ellis Island in 1905 to the broader struggles against dictatorship and autocracy in the Middle East, identifying the desire for freedom and a better life as the common threads.
“The same dreams and the same hopes and the same determination to make a great life for themselves that brought Elias Esau Daniels to this country — of which he knew nothing, whose language he did not speak — is alive now in that part of the world,” Daniels said as he accepted the Kahlil Gabran "Spirit of Humanity" award at the Arab American Institute Awards Gala. "And they have a chance to bring the same sort of wonderful opportunities he made possible for my father and ultimately for me.
“I love the story of our family,” he added. “Now I am so proud that brave Syrians have stepped forward, as their Egyptian and Tunisian and other counterparts have — and against, apparently, brutal threats and repressions — have stood up for the right to dream.”
It was a rare discussion of foreign policy for the Republican widely admired for his fiscal acumen and management expertise. Daniels had told a group of reporters the day before that he's "probably not" ready for a debate on foreign issues with President Barack Obama.