The ‘in­ner Mus­lim’ at work in Cairo

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - Opin­ion by Wes­ley Pru­den

Now it’s on to Nor­mandy, to apol­o­gize to the Ger­mans. It’s the least an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent can do af­ter the way the Al­lied armies left so much of Europe in rub­ble. There’s a lot of grov­el­ing to do for what Amer­ica ac­com­plished in the Pa­cific, too.

This prospect should ap­peal to Barack Obama, who rel­ishes the role of Apol­o­gizer-in-Chief. Apol­o­giz­ing for man­i­fold sins against civ­i­liza­tion is not al­ways easy, but it’s sim­ple enough: “Blame Amer­ica First.” You just open a vein and let it flow. In Cairo, Mr. Obama opened an artery.

Amer­ica, un­like the pres­i­dent, is guilty of hubris, ar­ro­gance and cant. All that must change. “Change” is what the smooth-talk­ing Chicago mes­siah says he is all about. “Given our in­ter­de­pen­dence, any world or­der that el­e­vates one na­tion or group of peo­ple over an­other will in­evitably fail,” he told the Mus­lim elites June 4 at Cairo U. “So what­ever we think of the past, we must not be pris­on­ers of it.” It’s not “a world or­der” that el­e­vates Amer­ica, but events. No other coun­try is as gen­er­ous, as for­giv­ing, as will­ing to sac­ri­fice blood and bone when the world calls for help. If not Amer­ica, who? Hasn’t the pres­i­dent heard?

Big talk­ers don’t know when to stop when they’re on a rhetor­i­cal roll be­cause they can’t re­mem­ber which facts are ac­tu­ally facts and which “facts” they’re mak­ing up. Mr. Obama even at­trib­uted the Golden Rule, from the teach­ings of Christ, to “ev­ery re­li­gion.” In an in­ter­view be­fore the Cairo speech, he called the United States one of “the largest Mus­lim coun­tries,” based on its Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion, and he later put the num­ber of Mus­lims in Amer­ica at 7 mil­lion, more than even most Is­lamic ad­vo­cacy groups claim. The most re­li­able es­ti­mate, by the non­par­ti­san Pew re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion, is 1.8 mil­lion. That would make the United States the 48th “largest” Mus­lim na­tion, just be­hind Mon­tene­gro. Mr. Obama of­ten has trou­ble with num­bers, big and small; he once boasted of hav­ing cam­paigned in 57 states.

Mr. Obama de­scribed him­self as “a Chris­tian, but,” and of­fered a hymn to the Mus­lim roots he in­sisted dur­ing the late pres­i­den­tial cam­paign he didn’t have. He in­voked his mid­dle name, “Hus­sein,” as ev­i­dence that he was one of “them.” The Obama cam­paign in­sisted last year that any­one who uses the mid­dle name was play­ing with racism.

He told the Cairo au­di­ence that “to move for­ward we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts,” but he wasted the op­por­tu­nity to force­fully in­struct Mus­lims that re­spect and ap­pre­ci­a­tion must be mu­tual. While con­ced­ing the mote in Amer­i­can eyes, he said al­most noth­ing about the beam that blinds Mus­lim eyes. He enu­mer­ated the “sources of ten­sion” be­tween Is­lamic coun­tries and the West and never men­tioned ter­ror­ism. He chided the West for its harsh view of Is­lamic treat­ment of women — “I re­ject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is some­how less equal” — and sug­gested that deny­ing ed­u­ca­tion to women is the gravest Mus­lim sin against women. He could have de­nounced “honor killings,” forced mar­riages and how women in Mus­lim coun­tries are flogged on the pre­text of mi­nus­cule vi­o­la­tions of eighth-cen­tury Sharia law.

But it was more fun to fish for ap­plause by be­rat­ing Amer­ica and throw­ing rocks at Is­rael. “Let there be no doubt: The sit­u­a­tion for the Pales­tinian peo­ple is in­tol­er­a­ble. Amer­ica will not turn our backs on the le­git­i­mate Pales­tinian as­pi­ra­tion for dig­nity, op­por­tu­nity and a state of their own.” Is­rael, he said, must “live up to its obli­ga­tions,” but he had hardly a word of re­buke for the long record of bro­ken Pales­tinian prom­ises. It was a re­mark­able in­sult to an ab­sent ally, de­liv­ered to the ap­plause of Is­rael’s sworn en­e­mies.

Mr. Obama’s rev­e­la­tion of his “in­ner Mus­lim” in Cairo re­veals much about who he is. He is our first pres­i­dent without an in­stinc­tive ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the cul­ture, his­tory, tra­di­tion, com­mon law and lit­er­a­ture whence Amer­ica sprang. The ge­netic im­print writ large in his 43 pre­de­ces­sors is miss­ing from the Obama DNA. He no doubt meant no of­fense in re­turn­ing that bust of Churchill (“Who he?”) or imag­in­ing that a DVD of Amer­i­can movies was ap­pro­pri­ate in an ex­change of state gifts with Gor­don Brown. Nor did he likely un­der­stand why it was an of­fense against his­tory (and good man­ners) to agree to the ex­clu­sion of the Queen from Satur­day’s com­mem­o­ra­tion of the An­gloAmer­i­can lib­er­a­tion of France. Kenya sim­ply routed Kansas.

The great Cairo grovel ac­com­plished noth­ing be­yond the hu­mil­i­a­tion of the pres­i­dent and the em­bar­rass­ment of his con­stituents, few of whom share his need to put Amer­ica on its knees be­fore its en­e­mies. No pres­i­dent be­fore him has ever shamed us so. We must never for­get it.

Wes­ley Pru­den is ed­i­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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