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June 6, 2009

NRO Symposium on Barack Obama's Muslim Speech

Topics: Political News and commentaries, Understanding Islam

After listening to the president's speech in Egypt, National Review Online asked: Did the president do any good? Did he do harm?

The resulting comments make for a most worthy read. Here are a few selected excerpts from the respondents. Readers should derive their own "take-home" message (from the respondents), however, my own take from reading the responses in their entirety is that the president did Western civilization, and especially America and Israel, more harm than any good that will come out of it, and did much for Islam and the extremists, and the spread of sharia law. Barack Obama made it clear that whatever he may claim about being a Christian, in his heart he is a Muslim.

ANGELO M. CODEVILLA

Just imagine: After a thousand years during which Islam and Western civilization have trod opposite paths in philosophy, science, and the most basic attitudes toward relations between the sexes and the role of work in life -- and after a half-century during which Muslims have murdered Western ambassadors and Olympians, to the cheers of millions of their own -- suddenly a young American seems to believe he can conjure up a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." How could anyone imagine he possesses such a "reset button"? The answer only starts with Yuppie hubris.

It is all too clear that Obama and his followers share one of the postmodern world's most dangerous intellectual habits, indeed a habit that mainstream Islamic civilization adopted circa 1000 AD and that has so lowered its quality of life, namely disregard for the relationship between ends and means, cause and effect. Hence Obama told the Muslim world, "This cycle of suspicion and discord must end." Must? Who will make it stop? How? He went on to say, "So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace," True enough. But at the same time he preached those differences, especially regarding women. In his piece de resistence he urged his audience to "abandon violence," because "resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed." But his audience knew perfectly well that the U.S. government had given billions of dollars to to the Muslim world precisely because so many Muslims had succeeded in killing so many Americans. Of course they had succeeded.

Americans have only begun to suffer for having empowered a leadership class so intellectually crippled.

DAVID GELERNTER
There was nothing wrong with this speech in principle. The boy who makes good returns home to bask in adulation. The young man whose father was a Muslim, schooled in Indonesia, middle name Hussein, becomes president -- and naturally goes to Egypt to collect some homage. That's only human, and if it can do America some good, so much the better.

The president said, "No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust"; in reality, no single speech can do much of anything, which is lucky for us.

The Cairo speech was a sustained act of dancing around the truth, feeding the crowd an occasional bitter-tasting fact followed by a ton of sugary nonsense; treating the most important truths as if they did not exist.

MANSOOR IJAZ
The architecture of President Obama's speech was brilliant -- it certainly addressed the most burning issues facing Muslims around the world today.

Atmospherically, he hit it just right. His recitations from the Koran, his greeting to the gathering in Arabic, and even the respect he showed by saying "Muhammad, peace be upon him" when referring to Islam's Holy Prophet, all demonstrated an abiding respect for Islamic traditions.

Thematically, the speech contained important ideas that, with the power of the U.S. presidency behind them, could just take root enough to matter. He offered to help Muslim communities around the world raise up and empower their women and educate their children in very concrete terms. He sought to equalize the playing field for minorities in Islamic countries whose persecution at the hands of extremists is one of the greater blights on its record as a great religion. And he planned to do all of this from an America that does not dictate any longer its brand of democracy but rather seeks to support governments that reflect the will of their people -- governance born through the power of consent.

Where he failed in Cairo was to delineate the overarching fact that Islam's troubles lie within. It is not that America is not at war with Islam. It is that Islam is at war within itself -- to identify what this religion and system of beliefs is in the modern age. Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian sidekick Ayman Al Zawahiri want to take us all back to the Stone Age because they have nothing better to offer their followers than hate-filled preaching. Why didn't Obama say that?

RAYMOND IBRAHIM
Though he early indicated that this would be an honest, heart-to-heart talk -- "we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors" and "let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together" -- Obama did not follow through.

Obama followed every mild admonishment directed at the Islamic world immediately with several admissions of American mistakes, including reactions to 9/11, which "was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals."

This double-standard is typified by the way he barely touched on the topic of Muslim persecution of religious minorities, while repeatedly gushing over how he's helping American Muslims fulfill their zakat obligation and Muslim women wear the hijab vis-à-vis a non-friendly American system.

HERBERT LONDON
In his speech in Egypt President Obama has displayed yet again his view of American foreign policy. At its core, this position is one of transnational progressivism, a belief that the United States should adhere to international codes and agreements even if, in the process, national sovereignty is diminished.
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY
President Obama's Cairo speech should have been called "a pretend beginning" rather than "a new beginning." To the extent it wasn't dangerously naive, it provided little more than warmed-over left-wing dogma: Obama portrayed Islam and the world as he and other progressives would have them (the president said "progress" eleven times), rather than as they are -- under the risible claim that his desired "partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't."
DANIEL PIPES
Barack Obama's mention of "7 million American Muslims" in the course of his rambling and complex 6,000-word address to the Muslim world from Cairo symbolizes the whole message.

Study after study has found that demographic figure about three times too high. But Islamist organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America relentlessly promote the notion of 7 or even 10 million American Muslims. Obama's accepting their version amounts to a giveaway, a cheap way to win the approbation of Islamists who so widely influence Muslim opinion.

"Giveaway," indeed, defines the whole speech -- inexpensive nods, tips of the hat, and salutations to win Muslim favor without initiating new approaches or embarking on new policies. The speech confirms Obama's personal efforts (note how, in keeping with his past practice, he uses the word "respect" ten times in this speech) as well as the established practice of American political leaders to promote Islam, tell Muslims what their religion really means, avoid references to radical Islam, and excoriate violent Islamism while accepting the non-violent variety.

AMIR TAHERI
The speech could do a lot of harm. Obama endorsed the basic claim of Islamists such as Osama bin Laden and Ali Khamenehi, who divide the world into Dar al-Islam (House of Peace) and Dar al-Harb (House of War).

By abandoning Bush's Freedom Agenda, Obama could encourage despots whose brutal role has given radical Islamists, acting as opponents of the established order, a certain legitimacy.

Obama's position on women in Islam was pathetic. And he made no mention of the tens of thousands of trade unionists, journalists, and women's- and human-rights activists languishing in prison in most of the 57 countries with Muslim majorities. By promising to promote aspects of Islamic sharia, such as the payment of zakat, and the use of "hijab" by women, in the U.S. itself, Obama undermines the position of those Muslims who oppose the sharia in Muslim-majority countries.

BAT YE'OR:
The president's speech is similar to many such declarations by European leaders. The question it raises is how much the West is ready to forgo truth and its basic principles in its supplication for obtaining peace with Islam. Clearly, the full Islamization of the West is the quickest way to obtain it. Obama's political program in connection with the Alliance of Civilizations conforms to an OIC strategy that has already been accepted by the EU. In history, this policy has a name: the dhimmitude syndrome.
Be informed. Take the time to read it all.

Posted by Hyscience at June 6, 2009 6:49 AM



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