Monday, June 8, 2009

We're sorry? For what?

Something didn’t sit right with me when President Obama spoke in Egypt last week. I think I’m finally beginning to understand why.

He began his speech in Cairo by saying:
We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world -- tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

He was apologizing, but why?

Was it because we insist that Muslim women show their faces in their driver’s license photos? …or because we restrict their “right” to kneel to pray in the aisle of a commercial airliner?

Surely they are allowed to build Muslim Mosques here with about the same resistance as Mormon Temples and Mega-churches; there are municipal squabbles but somehow they dot the land.

And clearly Muslims are permitted to spread their message as evidenced by the growing number of converts to Islam; converts like the DC sniper, the killer of an Army recruiter, and the soldier who lobbed hand grenades into the tents of fellow soldiers in Kuwait. Would Obama be speaking of our intolerance of these adherents?

Is he talking of Homeland Security's fixation with young Arab-looking men? (See above for a better understanding of this “racial profiling.”)

For a prime example of our respect of Islam I present General Order #1 written to the troops in 1990 by General Norman Schwarzkopf. It details the rules for soldiers while stationed in the Middle East while evicting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.

Read it here:

And, Mr. President, did you broach the subject of allowing Christians to proselyte in the Middle East? Or is that just another one-way street?

Given the documented connection between terrorism and Islam, I’d say we’ve done remarkably well as Americans accepting the Muslims living among us.

There is a great danger in Obama’s choice of words as it relates to Muslims and America. Earlier he declared that America is not a Christian nation. Well, it’s easy to prove that his statement is simply not true.

He should have said that America is not a theocracy, that religion is kept at arms-length from the government, that when policy-makers deal with moral and religious issues they consult a variety of church groups…Christians of all types, Jews from Orthodox to Reform, Hindus, and yes, even Muslims.

And when he talks of building bridges with Islam he is legitimizing a political entity that only exists among terrorists and radicals. As a nation we should be talking specifically with NATIONS…Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen…not with a highly fragmented religion.

In the style of the Belfast Accords, shall we broker a truce between Sunni and Shia? Or shall we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan altogether?

How much of the terrorism we fight around the world today has its roots in Islam? Is Islam compatible with democracy? Why do they see us as the “great Satan” of the West? Can we really teach them to be less violent and more tolerant of our customs?

I fear that Obama exalts Islam and minimizes Christianity in an effort to “meet them half way” when in fact we are already well into their territory when it comes to accommodating them.

Such talk only strengthens the argument of those in the Arab world who would undo the nations as now created and return to a united whole, something like a nation of OPEC. We seem to have trouble sorting out a united Iraq; how well do you suppose the entire Middle East could get along?

It would seem that the President is attempting to appease the parties involved as he would street gang violence in Chicago, calling on his Community Organizer skill set. But these are not the Bloods and the Kings; these are nations of the earth with wealth, power, resources, and armies…and, most dangerous to the West, filled with splinter groups flying the banner of Islam.

Obama’s speech addresses them directly and apologizes for our fear and mistrust. His Kumbaya diplomacy is na├»ve and dangerous. It is true that there are hundreds of millions of peace-loving Muslims around the world.

But we must not forget that of all the religious movements of our day, factions of Islam are the most violent and ruthless. We hang on every detail of a case where one of our own goes berserk and kills an abortion doctor at church. Yet, the regular suicide bombings and beheadings in the name of Allah are scarcely noted.

Instead, our President needlessly apologizes for our behavior towards Muslims.

This is a special case. Don’t hold your breath for a speech where he reaches out to Buddhists or even Jews. Nor will he dare talk religion in China.

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