Vail Valley Voices: Mixed messages to Muslim world
August 22, 2010
“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation — at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” — Barack Obama to CBS News, June 2007. Then in August 2009, Mr. Obama said, “We Americans do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Muslim nation, but rather a nation of citizens who are bound by a set of values.” So what gives?
During the eight years of the Bush administration, the media did their best to discredit the president as the world was spoon-fed high doses of vitriol against his administration. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to discredit an administration without also discrediting the United States itself. And that is precisely the situation President Obama inherited.
Thanks in large part to our media, President Obama inherited a world where America was perceived as the “bad guy,” “the Great Satan,” and so on. So I find it more than ironic how the same media that slobbered all over the Obama candidacy also provided our new president his biggest challenge, — the high degree of anti-American sentiment that exists in the Muslim world today.
Shortly after his election, President Obama went on a Middle Eastern tour that included an obsequious bow to a Saudi monarch and apologies to the Muslim world for every real and perceived American transgression against their faith. Because of these actions, the far right has accused the president of being a closet Muslim. But could there be another reason for his perceived toadying to the Islamic world?
If President Obama was going to bring the world around to our way of thinking regarding Islamic extremism, he had to start with a clean slate, and that what better way to do this than to express his mea culpas on the world stage?
While George Bush offered numerous olive branches to the Muslims, he lost the moral high ground because of Iraq and his words fell on deaf ears.
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Enter Barack Obama. To enlist the world’s assistance in fighting terrorism, the new president had little choice but to publicly address every legitimate and perceived transgression the United States has ever been accused of.
President Obama is black, has a middle name of Hussein and spent his formative years in a Muslim nation. He publicly rejected the Iraq war and voted against funding it when a senator, he eschews holding terrorists at Gitmo, wants to conduct the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial in New York City, and it’s a matter of policy within his administration to avoid even mentioning the word Islam when referring to Islamic terrorists such as the Christmas Day bomber or the perpetrator of the Fort Hood Massacre, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan.
However, when one considers the trouble spots around the world — Muslim-Christian violence in the Philippines, Muslim-Hindu violence in Kashmir, Muslim-Buddhist violence in Thailand, Muslim-Animist violence in Sudan, Muslim-Igbo violence in Nigeria, and Muslim-Russian violence in Chechnya — it should be obvious that without the efforts of the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc., we assuredly would have been attacked again, so one must wonder if Obama’s strategy will prove effective.
Now comes the Cordoba mosque in New York City. At first, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “This is a local issue.” However, at the Iftar Ramadan dinner at the White House a few days later, President Obama officially weighed in on the topic and spoke of the “right” of Muslims to build a mosque on private property. While his words were met with approval from the many Muslim dinner guests, they didn’t sit well with scores of Americans.
Mr. Obama said nothing wrong at that dinner, but he left the impression he was in favor of building the mosque. And even that would have been fine if he had not said anything further. But the president felt the need to redress what some considered his political faux pas, and the next day and “recalibrated” his words saying he wasn’t commenting on the wisdom of building there, but rather the legality. And a firestorm was ignited.
Whatever your feelings about the Ground Zero mosque, the bigger issue is the message the president is sending to the Muslim world he is so desperately trying to conciliate. Besides, if this mosque is built near Ground Zero, no Islamic theocracy on earth is going to acknowledge it as a symbol of American tolerance because if it did, it would mean admitting that freedom of religion is something to be aspired to — and that is never going to happen — at least not in our lifetime.
Only time will tell if President Obama’s Muslim strategy will bear fruit, but what must be examined is how the Islamic world will receive his mixed messages.
Quote of the day: “The two pillars of political correctness are willful ignorance and a steadfast refusal to face the truth.” — Unknown
Butch Mazzuca is an Edwards resident.