Monday, June 8, 2009

Playing Fast and Loose with History: Obama at Cairo University

I have been thinking about Barack Obama's speech at Cairo over this weekend, and contemplating where to start with a speech that was so full of misinformation and misdirection. As it turns out, others have said much that I might have said, and they have said it better than I would have. Here are some links:

In his post on Obama's Submission, Ed Cline at the Rule of Reason discussions some of the historicial inaccuracies in Obama's speech, which is useful, but his post directly addresses the differences in fundamental values between Islam and the United States. He writes:

"As ideas, America and Islam are mutually exclusive and fundamentally incompatible. There is no reconciliation possible between freedom and servitude, between reason and faith, between progress and stagnation, between the sanctity of property and legalized theft, between individual rights and societies policed by priestly castes. As with reason versus any other faith or religion, it is a matter of “either-or.” Obama repeated what he said in Ankara, Turkey in April, that the United States “is not and never will be at war with Islam.” That may be true, however, Islam has been and is certainly now at war with the U.S. and with the West."

In a post over at The Charlotte Capitalist, Andy Clarkson identifies the true origin of the advances that Obama claims for Islam. He concludes by saying:

"For Barack Obama to deny the reality of medieval Arab history by praising Islam as the tool of modern progress when in fact it is the consistent killer of human thought and action is a disgrace. It is a disgrace because it attacks not only the true tool of human progress (reason), but it attacks the philosophical and historical roots of the country of which he is president."

Finally, the straightforward Carolyn Glick of the Jerusalem Post discusses what Obama's evasion of truth-telling means for Israel, stating:

"In short, Obama's "straight talk" to the Arab world, which began with his disingenuous claim that like America, Islam is committed to "justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings," was consciously and fundamentally fraudulent. And this fraud was advanced to facilitate his goal of placing the Islamic world on equal moral footing with the free world."

Once again, the President of the United States has played fast and loose with history.
Or is it that he consistently plays fast and loose with the truth?

It imperils us all.


Judy Aron said...

I like the fact that in Obama's speech at Buchenwald he talks about his great uncle who helped liberate one of the lesser Bushenwald camps and yet the uncle said he never told Obama any of that stuff Obama said.

It seems that Obama is a pathological liar.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...


He's certainly a story-teller par excellence! From the link you sent, it sounded like he heard stories from his parents as a child, never spoke to his uncle, but remembered the stories when they became useful to him.

Stories a good. Around the campfire. But the more I hear this man speak, the more I wonder who he really is. Who is this guy we put in office? What does he really believe?

Mark said...

For more than seven years, the Bush Administration waged the Global War on Terror as a religious war - precisely what should not have happened. From Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin's derision of Muhammad as a satanic idol while preaching in uniform to official military evangelizing of the local population in Iraq and Afghanistan to the biblical quotes on the president's daily Pentagon briefings, everything was cast in a stark my-God-can-kick-your-God's-butt light.

The problem with a religious war is there can be no compromise and no middle ground. Anything less than total war is tantamount to surrender. Worse yet, it tells people of the opposing faith that they are the enemy, even if the vast majority of those people would never take up arms in such a war.

This is the dilemma in which we now find ourselves. President Bush and his crowd did indeed see Islam and all Muslims as the enemy, but how can you differentiate between "bad" Muslims and "good" Muslims? In a religious war, you ultimately cannot. Casting the battle against terrorist groups who follow a twisted view of Islam as a struggle against an entire faith guarantees that such a fight will go on forever, with new generations of recruits perpetually induced to sign up by whatever religious insult is offered at any one time.

Ed Cline is most certainly wrong when he said that "Islam has been and is certainly now at war with the U.S. and with the West." How can a religious faith be at war with anything? If he had said that some people who follow a faction of Islam are at war with the US, he would be more correct.

Rather ironically, he also says that, "There is no reconciliation possible between...reason and faith... As with reason versus any other faith or religion, it is a matter of 'either-or.'" Considering that the previous Administration saw the world precisely in such black-and-white religious terms, it's an odd argument for him to make.

After 9/11, the entire world was with us in our battle with al Qaeda - especially the Muslim world, who rightly saw Osama bin Laden and his murderous ilk as a threat to them as well. But President Bush threw that all away, preferring to fight the War on Terror as a global crusade - with all the connotations that word implies. The Administration and the larger Republican Party did everything they could to cast Muslims of all stripes as a vague and threatening Other, and all American Muslims were seen as potential traitors and terrorists. Is it any wonder that the Muslim world now sees us with deep suspicion, and is it any wonder that President Obama now has a lot of work to do to correct that image?

Let's look at it this way: suppose 9/11 had been carried out not by nineteen followers of bin Laden's perverted brand of Islam, but by nineteen followers of an apocalyptic Jewish sect. (And don't say "Jews would never do that" - look at Baruch Goldstein.) The vast majority of Jews loudly denounce what was done in their name and promise to root out the killers in their midst. And the White House reacts by declaring war on Judaism itself, claiming that the religion is inherently violent and terroristic, no matter what actual Jews may say or do. The military then goes on to desecrate the tallitot and tefillin of Jewish prisoners, as well as invade Israel and distribute Christian Bibles in Hebrew to convert local Jews to the "right" faith.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

President Obama was absolutely right last week in Cairo. We can no longer afford to treat 1.5 billion people as "less than" because they follow the same basic faith as do a band of fanatical killers. Such an approach would be tantamount to treating all Jews like Baruch Goldstein, or all Christians like Torquemada. If we want the Muslim world to live with us in peace, we have to live with them in peace, and that starts with treating them like adult human beings instead of religious untermenschen.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Mark, I can count on you to make a comment three times longer than the original blog. I have posted your comment in full, but I would suggest that you blog your comment on your blog and link mine. I think that would make a better (and more visible) controversy.

I also find it interesting that on my blog I say all sorts of interesting and provocative things but you only comment when I criticize Obama. I am beginning to believe you are--as we used to say in Chicago--a party hack.

In this case, I posted links to three articles about Obama's speech at Cairo, all of which critiqued it for the poorly researched history and outright false assertions that Obama made, and you return with a discussion of a religious war that you claim G.W. Bush started. I disagree with you--see Bush's speech on 9/13/01 in which he took pains to place Islam on par morally with the West--but I am not going to argue that. Nor am I going to argue about treating the people in Islamic countries like human beings.

The arguments posed in the three posts linked to my post were not about the treatment of individuals at all, nor were they about religious wars, real or imagined. They were about: 1) The falsehoods Obama used to imply that the Islamic world has contributed to the culture of the US; 2) Putting Islamic philosophy on par with that of the West by claiming that the values cherished in the West are the same as those in Islam. They are not; 3) The change in White House policy toward Israel implied in a speech that general, unmeasurable demands of the Islamic dictatorships and specific, suicidal demands made upon democratic Israel.

My point: Obama's speech sounds good--they always do--but the substance of it left much to be desired, and the only substantive things he did say were, for the most part, false or misleading. It was a speech given in order to suck up to Islamist dictators, and the empty admonitions for Islam to treat women better, etc., were forgotten by the audience before the speech was over. They heard the part they wanted to hear and will disregard the rest.

christinemm said...

DH & I discussed this the other night.

Thought you might like this article

At last, there is convincing evidence that Obama’s poll numbers may be descending to earth. While his approval remains high — and his personal favorability is even higher — the underlying numbers suggest that a decline may be in the offing. Even as he stands on his pedestal, the numbers under his feet are crumbling.
end quote

We knew it would come sometime...