Criticism and Conciliation

by Raymond Ibrahim

National Review Online

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.

A heart-to-heart talk revealing what is “said only behind closed doors” would have included any number of issues pitting the Islamic world on a collision course with the West — from that business of jihad and enmity for infidels, to sharia law and dhimmi status of non-Muslim minorities, etc. — issues that have led to a majority of Americans having a negative view of the Muslim world.

Instead, for every mild admonishment directed at the Islamic world, Obama immediately followed by several admissions of American mistakes, including reactions to 9/11, which “in some cases, led us to act contrary to our ideals.” That’s to say nothing of the constant adulation he offered the Muslim world.

This double-standard is typified by the way he equivocated on the topic of Muslim persecution vis-à-vis 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.

All fine platitudes, including his talk of “hope” and “change” (yes, he managed to sneak those hackneyed words in, forgetting he’s not talking to Americans) — but will any of it be effective? Probably not — since he did not have the heart-to-heart he promised, but, once again, sought to placate and humor, under the delusion that the problem between the Islamic world and the West revolves around temporal issues that can be easily ameliorated.

In the long run, of course, nothing Obama said today makes any difference. After all, he — and the naive notion he embodies that all conflict is a product of “misunderstanding” and the need for “mutual respect” — is but a dot in that long continuum of stark history, one that he neither addressed nor understands.

In short, we need more than platitudes, or even a “blessing” — the Arabic meaning of Barack’s name — to make a difference. We need the heart-to-heart Obama promised but failed to deliver.

Raymond Ibrahim is the associate director of the Middle East Forum and the author of The Al Qaeda Reader, translations of religious texts and propaganda
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