THE DAILY BLADE: Deconstructing Obama’s Cairo Speech
President Barack Hussein Obama addressed an audience of 2,500 people at Cairo University for 55 minutes, fulfilling a campaign promise to deliver a major address from a Muslim country.
Obama’s speech was translated into 13 languages and disseminated by E-mail and Web video worldwide, in “an effort to turn technology, which has been a powerful recruiting tool for radical Islamic terrorists, to a tool of outreach and influence for the U.S.,” notes The Washington Times. Here, nine passages from the speech and what they mean in English:
1. “I’m … proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalaamu alaykum.”
This specific variation of the phrase “Peace be upon you” is used when addressing at least three people - one or more of whom is male - or when addressing a head of state. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who doesn’t know Russian – and, apparently, doesn’t know anyone on her staff who knows the language, either - Obama clearly knows Arabic and its nuances. He was, after all, educated in an Indonesian school that some describe as a madrassa (third item).
The Hadith instructs Muslims to use this greeting only amongst themselves – and not with infidels. Al-Salaam is one of the names of Allah, so His blessing is reserved for Muslims.
2. “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. … More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims … Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.”
Indonesian madrassas must be teaching a different version of history than The Stiletto learned because every schoolchild in the U.S. knows that America was itself colonized, and that we never colonized the Middle East – unlike, say, England or Italy. Or is Obama using sub rosa code to characterize our years-long efforts to bring democracy and stability to Afghanistan and Iraq as a form of “occupation” and “colonialism”?
And if modernity is hostile to the traditions of Islam - but not to anyone else’s traditions - then common ground ends right there. Western traditions are progressive - especially as regards individual rights and freedoms - whereas Muslim traditions are regressive.
3. “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.”
Nowhere in his speech does Obama ever refer to “terrorism.” His preferred euphemism is “extremism.” Since September 11th American citizens have repeatedly been targeted by foreign-born Muslims and native-born Americans who converted to Islam. To cite but a few examples: Afzal Haq, who shot six women at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, killing five of them; Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a naturalized citizen from Iran who deliberately rammed his jeep into a group students (third item) at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to “avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world”; Ali Asad Chandia and others, who formed the "Virginia jihad network"; and just a few days ago, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, an American-born Muslim convert who shot two soldiers at a Little Rock, AR, recruiting station - killing one of them - as payback for Muslims being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Perhaps more troubling, according to the 2007 Pew Research Center survey “Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream” - the first-ever, nationwide poll of Muslim Americans - 26 percent of the 2.35 million Muslims in the U.S. believe there are circumstances in which suicide bombings are acceptable. By The Stiletto’s calculations, that’s 610,000 people living among us - the population of Charlotte, NC - who can think of a reason to justify terrorism against Americans.
If the average citizen is “fearful” and “suspicious” that Muslims are hostile to Americans, (s)he has ample cause.
4. “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
But not, apparently, negative stereotypes of the United States, which you yourself continue to repeat (“Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked … led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. … I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.”) As Washington Times editor emeritus Wes Pruden puts it:
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. …
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.
5. “The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores - and that includes nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and educational levels that are higher than the American average. “
Not only Obama inflated the number of Muslims in the U.S. threefold, but he also misstated their educational levels. According to that 2007 Pew Research Center survey (see above), 21 percent of U.S. Muslims never finished high school vs. 16 percent of the general population; 23 percent of U.S. Muslims finished “some” college vs. 29 percent of the general population; and 14 percent of U.S. Muslims graduated college vs. 16 percent of the general population. As for measures of economic success: just 41 percent of U.S. Muslims own their own homes vs. 68 percent of the general population, and 42 percent of U.S. Muslims described their personal finances as “excellent” or “good” vs. 49 percent of the general population.
And a recent Gallup study (.pdf) of 941 Muslim Americans finds that they are culturally alienated from mainstream America (second item): Compared to the other religious groups surveyed in the Gallup study (Protestants, Mormons, Catholics, Jews), Muslims are the least likely to have Internet access in their homes; the least likely to report doing or learning something interesting; the most likely to report feeling angry for “a lot of the day”; and the least likely to be registered to vote.
6. & 7. “Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. … That’s why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.” … “[I]t is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. …”
When Muslims have brought lawsuits claiming infringement on their religious rights after being asked to remove their veils for security checks or drivers’ license photos, in most cases they have not found receptive judges. Further, U.S. civil and criminal courts issued rulings that place limitations on Muslim religious and cultural practices at odds with our laws and customs, including female circumcision, slavery and the right to face your accuser (last item).
More to the point, “practicing their religion as they see fit” violates the laws of Western nations giving women full and equal rights – not to mention violating laws against murder - and a case can be made that insistence on adherence to Sharia law in Western nations is jihad by other means. For instance, there was a brouhaha in England over a teaching assistant at the Headfield Church of England Junior School who obstinately wore a hijab though, as Telegraph columnist Stephanie Gutmann points out, “administrators at her children's school claimed the black fabric over her face scared the children and muffled her voice.”
Finally, despite Obama’s belief that Muslim women “choose” to entomb themselves in layers of cloth that restrict vision (second item) - much like blinders on a horse - and make it difficult even to eat, all too often the hijab is imposed on them. And Christian women living in Muslim countries are also forced to wear the hijab, even though it is not in their religious or cultural tradition (video). The Talibanis and religious police who roam the streets do not stop to ask whether a woman whose head is uncovered is Christian or Muslim; they simply beat her to a bloody pulp - if not to death - for her “immodesty” and “impiety.”
8. “The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as - it is as if he has killed all mankind. And the Holy Koran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.”
Not only have Muslims killed innocent men, women and children, in the case of the Armenian Genocide, Ottoman Turks nearly did kill all mankind, coming close to wiping one group of Christians off the face of the earth - and any trace of their existence - in what some historians now believe is the first Muslim jihad against a Christian population in modern times.
For what it’s worth, Obama made three references in all to the “Holy Koran” (also: “The Holy Koran tells us: ‘O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.’”) but only one reference each to the Talmud (“The Talmud tells us: ‘The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.’’) and to the Holy Bible (“The Holy Bible tells us: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of G-d.’”)
The Judeo-Christian passages Obama cites are explicitly about peace, whereas the passage from the Koran is open to interpretation – “knowing” someone isn’t the same as wanting to coexist peacefully with him. The Muslim religion is predicated on familiarity breeding contempt, hence Christians and Jews are regarded as infidels – an uncomfortable reality that Obama kinda, sorta acknowledged in his speech (“Among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of somebody else’s faith.”). But it is not “some Muslims” that reject the validity of other faiths, it's the “Holy Koran” itself. Indonesian students - Obama among them – are taught to recite the Koran (in Arabic) by heart. He knows as well as his audience that the Koran is infused with intolerance towards “nonbelievers” and “pagans.”
9. “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. … People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. … The richness of religious diversity must be upheld - whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt.”
What about Christians living in Muslim countries - and, conversely, Muslims living in Western countries? Turkey, for one, considers conversion from Islam to Christianity a criminal act; when a British-born Pakistani girl converted to Christianity, she had to go into hiding because she feared being murdered by her own family; and Saudi Arabia confiscates bibles from travelers upon arrival on its soil (Christians are not even permitted to pray in private with their own bibles), and arrests Christians for proselytizing if they discuss their religion. In fact, Muslim violence is driving Christians out of the Holy Land, and by one estimate they will be “extinct” in less than 60 years.
Columnist Victor Davis Hanson thinks Obama “should be congratulated for expressing a desire for peace and for gently reminding the Muslim world of the way to reform, even if he did so while inflating Western sins” but notes:
[T]he problem with such moral equivalence is that it equates things that are, well, not equal — and therefore ends up not being moral at all.
To pull it off, one must distort both the past and the present for the presumed higher good of getting along.
Obama’s speech was riddled with distortions - if not outright lies - through and through.