Obama’s coddling of faith

President Obama just paid his first visit to a mosque, which is good insofar as it lets people know that Muslims are Americans too, that they enjoy the same rights as other Americans, that demonizing Muslims as individuals will not be tolerated in a diverse society, and that all religions enjoy the same Constitutional freedoms. What I didn’t like was this bit:

“An attack on one religion is an attack on all religions,” President Barack Obama says while visiting a U.S. mosque for the first time as president.

Seeking to rebut what he views as perilous election-year bombast about Muslims, Obama spoke at the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Wednesday.

If by “attack” Obama meant “physical attack,” it just isn’t true; in fact, it’s meaningless. Besides, there’s no physical attack on a religion: there are physical attacks on believers or religious structures or books.

But I don’t think he meant that; I think he meant “verbal attack.” And if that’s the case, then he’s dead wrong. You can attack one religious doctrine without necessarily attacking other religious doctrines, as not all religions make the same claim. Nor are all religions equally pernicious. If you attack Catholicism for its stand on abortion, or Islam for its stand on homosexuality, you’re not attacking Quakers or Buddhists. In fact, because not all Catholics or Muslims believe the same thing, or even the accepted dogma of their sects, you’re not even attacking the beliefs of every adherent to a given faith.

There’s only one way that what Obama said can be construed as true. If he meant that “attacking the basis for belief in one religion is attacking the basis for belief of all religions,” then what he said is largely true. For, with a very few exceptions, the basis for belief in all religions is dogma, revelation, authority, and wish-thinking.

77 Comments

  1. murali
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    “For, with a very few exceptions…”
    What are the exceptions?

  2. Posted February 3, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    That “attack on all religions” trope is just another tactic religions use to shield themselves from criticism.

    • Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      “That “attack on all religions” trope is just another tactic religions use to shield themselves from criticism.”

      I used to believe that was the primary motivation. Nowadays however with the “hurting my feelings equals harassment/abuse” atmosphere. I think many literally believe criticizing sacred cows amounts to a form of assault on the individuals who hold them sacred.

      • Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes, as a member of an atheist minority I can understand that any religious minority would want the same protection. As long as they don’t think protection from attack is the same as protection from criticism of the tenets of their religion.

        • Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          I think I replied to the wrong post–this was meant for Curt.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Obama was addressing “attacks” like Trump’s, who said we should stop muslims from coming into America. That singling out of Islam – of any religion – crosses such a significant line, into religious intolerance, and all religions are threatened.

      The only way to deal with the situation is through a policy of mutually assured destruction: I won’t criticize your religion if you don’t criticize mine, because once we start that it’s attacks for everyone.

      This isn’t about truth, it’s about getting along.

      • Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        About mutuality – if you find out that a number of Muslim countries don’t accept non-Muslim immigrants, would you agree with Trump to stop immigration from these countries?

        • GBJames
          Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          What kind of a question is that? If you found out your neighbor was a murderer would you go out and kill someone?

          The goal is to descend to the level of a narcissistic xenophobic dope?

          • Posted February 4, 2016 at 4:05 am | Permalink

            My point was that there is no mutuality in these matters, because all the tolerance is one-way; so this party (here, the Americans) has to decide unilaterally.
            If narcissistic xenophobic dope benefits the USA, so be it. Immigration policy must be subordinate to the long-term interest of the host country, not to some imagined “civil rights” of prospective immigrants. In my world, people must first be citizens to have civil rights.
            The “singling out of Islam – of any religion” is logical, because it is exactly Islam that motivates some to attack the USA and kill Americans. Not Buddhism, not Hinduism, not even Orthodox Christianity. If, however, there is a consensus that the USA is obliged to have proportional immigration quotas, then let’s restrict all immigration. (My people would lose from this, but anyway.)
            The question is not just about letting in people who will start plotting attacks. The wider question is that, as long as Europeans and Americans are letting in fundamentalist Muslims, fundamentalist Muslims globally will regard the West as foolish. And as long as your opponents considers you foolish, you cannot prevail and cannot reach a compromise. They will strive to full victory.

            • eric
              Posted February 4, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

              I care much less about mutuality or reciprocity than I do about policies that make our country free, fair, and prosperous. If some country adopts an anti-American or anti-Christian immigration law, I would not support our government responding in kind with an anti-muslim law. Immigration regardless of race, creed, color etc. is a benefit to us; the melting pot is a social good (IMO). If other countries don’t want to avail themselves of that social good, that’s their problem. But I don’t see any reason why we should dicriminatorially restrict our immigration just because some other country is discriminating in it’s immigration.

              The wider question is that, as long as Europeans and Americans are letting in fundamentalist Muslims, fundamentalist Muslims globally will regard the West as foolish. And as long as your opponents considers you foolish, you cannot prevail and cannot reach a compromise. They will strive to full victory.

              LOL I don’t think wars are won based on which side thinks the other is foolish. In fact my guess is that a military strategist would say it can be an advantage to have your opponent think you are foolish.

              Moreover, it has been pretty apparent to everyone since the cold war that the US doesn’t have an emigration problem the way some authoritarian regimes do. We don’t have to keep people in or restrict our own citizens’ foreign travels for fear of defection…but some of our enemies do. So while there may be individual cases of contact with the west creating more enemies, in general I think its safe to say that the net trend is the other way: open contact with western cities and peoples leads to more western and western-like thinking amongst visitors, not less.

              • Posted February 4, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

                Some European nations are having doubts whether Muslim immigration on a large scale benefited them, and wish they hadn’t availed themselves with this social good. Yes, the melting pot is a social good, but it doesn’t seem to work very well with devout Muslims.

                “I don’t think wars are won based on which side thinks the other is foolish. In fact my guess is that a military strategist would say it can be an advantage to have your opponent think you are foolish.”
                It will be an advantage only if your opponent is wrong. To win a war, you must be determined to win it and try hard. Since the Vietnam war, America’s problem in winning wars has been that she does not try hard, does not insist much on winning the war and always looks for an “exit strategy”. Of course, this couldn’t remain hidden from the enemy for too long. Mohamed Farah Aidid forced the USA back by killing several soldiers and mutilating their bodies. Some say this inspired Bin Laden to start a career aimed at “reducing America to its shadow”. Islamic militants know that the USA will not attack them with full force, nor will persevere. All they need is to have a little patients to win. And they do win.

                “The US doesn’t have an emigration problem the way some authoritarian regimes do. We don’t have to keep people in or restrict our own citizens’ foreign travels for fear of defection…but some of our enemies do.”
                Regimes of the Soviet bloc indeed restricted travel of their subjects to the West, knowing that it would undermine them and lead to their downfall. However, it doesn’t work so with the Muslim world. Contact of Third World Muslims with the West leads to spreading and radicalization of Islam. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt are much more fundamentalist than they were half a century ago. Meanwhile, new Muslim minorities have become a major problem in Western and Northern Europe. The West cannot try to export democracy anymore, cannot help people like Raif Badawi and Asia Bibi, because it is too hard pressed inside its heartland. Muslim minorities in Western countries increase in size, aggressiveness and influence, while non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries steadily decrease.

                I doubt that Europe as we know it will survive. Americans should take a lesson.

  3. GBJames
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I heard some of his remarks while chewing a bit of lunch. It annoyed me. He (and most people) need to come to terms with the difference between people and ideas. I turned off the TV when he started telling us all what the true meaning of Islam was.

    • Kevin
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, how extraordinarily naive people are such that they will listen to a person of professed faith, like Obama, make claims about what other people of faith really mean. And yet, a non-believer, like Dawkins or Harris, has no privilege to tell us what people of faith really mean.

  4. Kevin
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    The divine or supernatural or transcendent is one big house. Attack one part of it, and it is impossible not to attack the whole house.

    I think what Obama said was smarter than what he intended and it is the main reason Obama cannot criticize any religion unless he explicitly says he is an atheist.

    Without atheism, you will always end up attacking your own house.

  5. gluonspring
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t seen his remarks, but when I read about his attending a mosque it immediately struck me as a bad idea. The people he aims to influence do not like him or respect him. Many think he is Muslim. He is the wrong messenger to deliver a “treat Muslims decently” message. At minimum, he should have gotten a prominent Republican, GW Bush perhaps, to go with him or, even better, cajole them to go in his stead.

    • eric
      Posted February 4, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Hmmm I didn’t think his immediate audience to be right wing evangelists, but rather Muslims themselves. He’s telling Muslims that he considers defending their rights to be just as important, and equivalent to, defending the rights of people in his own faith.

  6. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    What Obama keeps saying is people (lots of us and or republicans) attack/condemn all Muslims for the actions of some. The some would be ISIS, those who flew planes in to buildings and the many, many others who kill and do suicide bombings.

    He does not list all these things so he makes it look smaller. But it is that same old tired apologists BS that we blame all for the actions of some. He thinks this is his teaching moment but it is not because it is not true.

    He is the one missing the reality that “the religion” has very bad consequences that directly result in the bad things being done by some Muslims. If he cannot stand up and say this, then he should remain sitting.

    • Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      + 1

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted February 4, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      The some would be ISIS, those who flew planes in to buildings and the many, many others who kill and do suicide bombings.
      He does not list all these things so he makes it look smaller…

      You on the other hand do not list all mass killings in the USA, and so by singling out the Islam-inspired events you make it look bigger.

      How many of the mass killings of the last year, or last 5 years, or whatever, are committed by muslims for religiously-motivated reasons?

      • Posted February 4, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        The other killings are irrelevant in a discussion about the role of Islam. They would be relevant if discussing e.g. gun control, or how much power to give to the establishment to monitor personal communications. The fact that most murder victims in America have been killed for other reasons doesn’t make the victims of militant Islam fewer, or more alive.
        By the same token, if there is a discussion whether to limit travel to and from Brazil because of Zika, it is hardly relevant to stress that birth defects happen anyway.

    • eric
      Posted February 4, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      It directly results? So if I tell you someone’s religious affiliation, you can predict whether they will be violent?

      Religion seems to me to be, at best, a really crappy proxy measure for whether someone is going to be a violent criminal or not. Its certainly far less predictive than, say, age or gender. If I had to predict whether an individual was going to go out and murder people or not, and I had to pick one indicator out of age, gender, or religious affiliation, I’d go with gender as most predictive, age second, and religion a far distant third. This also has strong implications for social policy; any risk-based restriction on the conduct or immigration of muslims should, if we were being rational about it, first be applied to males between the age of about 16-36.

      And ironically that is exactly what the current administration is doing, yet the right either can’t see it or doesn’t want to admit it. The majority (77%) of Syrian refugees and other people granted asylum are women and children. Adult men are only 23% of the total, and unfamilied adult men are only 2% of the total.

      • Posted February 4, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        If you irradiate some flies and then detect mutations in 5% of their progeny, the mutations (most of them, at least) will still be a direct result of the applied radiation.

        Age and sex are good parameters to predict which individuals are most or least likely to commit sex-related crimes. However, when we discuss religious extremism, females must be taken into account. One of the San Bernardino shooters was female. The Tsarnaev brothers were radicalized by their mother. Tina Isa’s sisters encouraged their father to kill her.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    However, if he’s trying to echo James Madison in arguing that a denial of civil liberties to one religion(a la Trump) is a slippery slope to denial of civil liberties to multiple religions, then he may have a point, albeit imprecisely expressed.

    (A hot potato among America’s original Founding Fathers was whether or not to ban Roman Catholicism. The Catholic-tolerant views of Washington and Franklin prevailed.)

    • Geoffrey Howe
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      This is definitely a possibility, and is hopefully what he meant. But I’m only willing to give so much benefit of a doubt to anyone who goes around talking about what ‘True Islam’ is while being a Christian who thinks that Islam is ultimately false.

      Still, religion is probably example number 1 for otherwise smart people being able to believe and espouse foolish things. So maybe Obama was saying this, and we’re just being overly critical.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        The cynic in me says that for Obama “True Islam” is whatever form of Islam is compatible with democratic values.

        Although BarOb’s father apostasized from Islam, his grandfather was a convert to same. Curious as to what style of Islam he practiced.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 3, 2016 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

          Although BarOb’s father apostasized from Islam,

          Oh, I hadn’t heard that, foreign politicians not being terribly important here. Now … is there any way that one can snooker a major Islamist politician into committing a serious diplomatic faux pas using that. The benefit being that maybe, by damaging an Islamist politician’s career, one might make sucking the political tit of Islamism (any religionism) a little less attractive.

    • Shwell Thanksh
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      This is exactly what came to my mind when I read the excerpt of Obama’s remarks — that he was channelling James Madison. (He’s a former professor of Constitutional Law, remember!)

      Madison is one of my intellectual heroes, and he made the point you cite many times. In fact, he made an even stronger one — that a tolerating an attack by one sect against another sect’s rights to be treated as equals (not against their loony ideas themselves, as PCCE notes) threatens all of us, heretics and apostates included. This is because it’s historically the way one sect gains political power they will later use against everyone else.

      Here’s one example:
      “The tendency of a usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded by an entire abstinence of the Government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect against trespass on its legal rights by others.”
      — James Madison, letter to Reverend Adams

      • Shwell Thanksh
        Posted February 3, 2016 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

        I can’t resist one more! (See why I love this guy?)

        “…Freedom arises from the multiplicity of sects, which pervades America and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest.”
        — James Madison, spoken at the Virginia convention on ratifying the Constitution, June 1778

  8. Mark
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Regardless of one’s views on religion, Obama’s heart was in the right place.

    More troubling to me is the utter hatred and ignorance of my fellow citizens. I could not believe how many people still insist BO is a Muslim and is conspiring with terrorists! How many people hate him for not being Christian and not believing in their one true God!

    Even the comments on the Secular Humanist Movement Facebook page concerning this topic were shockingly vitriolic. I am tempted to cut off that feed.

    I really despair for the future of the US and worry that a dangerous lunatic like Ted Cruz could sit in the White House.

    • Scott Draper
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      ” I could not believe how many people still insist BO is a Muslim”

      I see this as an example of motivated reasoning. When you dislike someone, you’re heavily inclined to believe anything bad about him.

      The only way to remain unbiased is to not care one way or the other.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      How many people hate him for not being Christian and not believing in their one true God!

      I’m sure the number who care that much about his religious assertions is lower than the number who really care about his skin being brown, but use the religion and economic arguments in public because they want to conceal their racism.

      • Victoria
        Posted February 3, 2016 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        I’d say its also the liberal orthodoxy of reflexively defending “brown people” (no one else use that phrase but people on the left trying to show how righteous they) that leads to our inability to have mature, nuanced discussions of problematic elements within Islam.

      • Posted February 4, 2016 at 5:08 am | Permalink

        Before Obama was even elected President, I mentioned that if you are white and against him, it is impossible to prove that you are not motivated by racism. In such cases, I admit racism immediately.
        Let me use the opportunity to tell all US voters here that you must support Dr. Ben Carson. Your references to his bizarre painting with Jesus, his views on evolution, the Holocaust etc., and your claims that you do not vote Republican to begin with, are just transparent covers of your racism :-).

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 4, 2016 at 6:48 am | Permalink

          To use the Victorian example, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 4, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          Before Obama was even elected President, I mentioned that if you are white and against him, it is impossible to prove that you are not motivated by racism. In such cases, I admit racism immediately.

          My view from the inside–it was my impression that a huge number of American Democrats/liberals/progressives/middle-of-the-roaders were deeply moved to (so unexpectedly!) have a black candidate to vote for. We are well aware of our past and present racial problems; many of us lived through the years of Civil Rights activism. There were literally tears at the polling sites. What I am saying is that there was much, much more sincerity than cynicism in that vote.

          Obviously, the fact that Carson has fallen by the wayside shows that we first want qualified candidates–even the Republicans seem to realize that! Because you can bet your life they’d have loved to have had an acceptable-to-them black prospect to put forward, especially in a race that’s likely to include the first female presidential candidate.

          • Posted February 4, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

            Some Americans I knew admitted crying when they heard of Obama’s victory. My reaction was very, very negative.
            About “qualified” – I haven’t researched all Republican wannabe candidates (there are sooo many of them at this stage), it seems to me that Carson is more qualified than Trump. At least, I’d prefer the former.

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 4, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        “I’m sure the number who care that much about his religious assertions is lower than the number who really care about his skin being brown, but use the religion and economic arguments in public because they want to conceal their racism.”

        That just reminds me of another factor in the equation–a significant part (~ a quarter, per Wikipedia) of the US Muslim population consists of USian blacks. Just another angle that affects political speech here.

        • Posted February 4, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          I get the impression that religion is more important (on average, of course) for black than for white Americans.

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

            Yes, I believe that’s fair to say. It was my impression that slaves relied heavily on faith to believe that there was at least something to look forward to beyond their servitude “in this world.”

            It also speaks heavily of Stockholm Syndrome.

            Segregation also resulted in black communities becoming very tight-knit and churches have always been a means of…what’s the idea I’m looking for?…something like a means of self-affirmation for oppressed communities.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:58 am | Permalink

          How does that compare to the overall USian population? I.e. is being a Muslim more likely if you are USian and “black” versus USian and Middle-Eastern or USian and SE-Asian or USian and “white” (with all the usual caveats about how it is actually quite hard to define “race” compared to defining ancestry).

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

            Oh, my, I’m sure there are plenty of demographic stats available that would tell us that, but I’m too lazy to delve into that ATM.

            I’d think a lot depends on how recent any ethnic group has been US-ian. Of those with relatively long-duration, I’d say the answer is yes, and blacks have been here from the beginning. (Of course, the majority of them are Xtian, just like the rest of the country.) Aside from the Chinese on the west coast, my impression is that most Asian-origin Americans arrived in later waves, have had fewer native generations, are thus less likely to have religion-shopped.

            OTOH, I believe it’s correct to say that recent immigrants tend to be less interested in quick assimilation than older waves; the latter were quicker to adopt majoritarian USian customs, including Christianity if they didn’t already arrive with it. (Of course the majority of our immigrants still come from the Western Hemisphere and they, the Hispanics, are overwhelmingly Christian.) Naturally a lot also depends on whether certain groups came here seeking “a better life” versus escaping persecution.

            AFAIK the black Muslim trend was largely a product of the 60’s turmoil; first it was the MLK Christians who spearheaded the Civil Rights battles, then a more radical faction found common ground with Islam. These USian black Muslims have significantly different political and cultural traditions than what are seen in recent Muslim immigrants.

            But I’m sure I haven’t told you anything you didn’t already know. Experts, speak up! (Alternatively, Google is our friend.)

            tl, dr. Percentage-wise I’d guess the answer to your question is yes, excepting groups that arrived as Muslims in the first place, esp. the more recent Muslim arrivals.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

              Well, I’ll let USian politicians try to work out how to best (for their values of “best”) jerrymander the electorate and which dog whistles to blow.

  9. Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Religion once again gets its free pass. The fact that religions have this side-effect of producing and maintaining human suffering, promoting ignorance, propping up dictators and giving rise to monsters or monstrous behaviour is always ignored.

    Religion is always said to be ‘a good thing’ by all politicians, no matter what they themselves believe, because not doing so is political suicide, particularly in the US. Obama is doing nothing new here, aside from some photo ops to shore up support among those who would vote against Trump in the next election.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and it can be seen as an attempt to give Hillary a few extra Islamic votes.

  10. Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    “there’s no physical attack on a religion: there are physical attacks on believers or religious structures or books.”

    The conflation of those two things, that an attack on religious doctrine equates with an attack on it’s followers is one of biggest problem we face when criticizing religion. Well other than being killed, assaulted imprisoned etc. for it.

  11. KD33
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure Obama’s reference to “attacks on religion” was in the context of the sharp rise in hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. that has occurred in the last year. In my view, this is a very different category than the intellectual arguments we tend to pursue here. I am quite willing to grant Obama lots of leeway here since this is a real issue in the U.S., and it’s his role to address that, and not wade into the (granted, important) questions of issues with religions themselves.

    • Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Well, why does he think that a hate crime against Muslims is a hate crime against all believers, then? That doesn’t make any sense.

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted February 4, 2016 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        Well, why does he think that a hate crime against Muslims is a hate crime against all believers, then? That doesn’t make any sense.

        It is an attack on freedom of religion. Which even atheists rely on for the freedom to enjoy their (lack of) religion in this country.

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Agreed with the exception of the last part. He does not appear, as far as I know, to address and believe the problems with the religion are directly related to the bad behavior – in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and many other places. He leaves us with the idea that ISIS, which he does not even seem to be able to say, but instead calls them by other names, has anything to do with the religion. That is a serious lack of understanding for the guy who is suppose to be removing and destroying them.

      • Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        I do not think that Obama has ever intended to remove / destroy ISIS. This would include engagement in Iraq, which he has never wanted. In Syria, it would solidify Assad’s rule. Moreover, massive US anti-ISIS operation could precipitate Kurdish demands for independence, and the popular global consensus (don’t ask me why) is that Kurds do not deserve self-determination. And, last but not least, every single civilian casualty of the operation would have been used to prove that US military is more destructive than ISIS.
        To be fair, US forces have provided some support to the Kurds by air raids.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 3, 2016 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

          To be fair, US forces have provided some support to the Kurds by air raids.

          … and in the process have come severely close to the brink of pushing Turkey out of NATO. Which is probably not what anyone in NATO thinks would be a good idea in the longer run of history.

          • Posted February 4, 2016 at 3:43 am | Permalink

            I do think it would be a good idea, and many other people think the same. Turkey has different values than other NATO members, and she has her own interests and strategies that she pursues. I don’t think she consulted other NATO member states before deciding to shoot down the Russian plane. There are also worrysome reports about clandestine collaboration with ISIS.

            As an ally, Turkey is increasingly unpredictable and disloyal; and as for the dominant ideology of the state, she has never acknowledged the Armenian genocide (imagine Germany in NATO without acknowledging the Holocaust!), never been fair to the Kurds, and now is reviving its imperialism (starting with the North Cyprus) and abandoning the secular principles established by Ataturk.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted February 4, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink

              No dispute on the various problems of Turkish history. The question is the frequent political question of whether you want them on the inside of the tent, pissing outwards, or on the outside pissing inwards.
              Turkey, as a state and as a collaboration of businesses, really, really wants to get full access into the EU, in the same way that Mexico wants more access to the American market. That has been a significant constraint on their actions in respect of the Kurds, in at least slowing the advance of Islamism … most of which most westerners consider good things.
              Few countries like admitting to the crimes of their ancestors, no matter how recent.

              • Posted February 4, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

                I don’t know about the degree of religion in the past, but currently, there is less Islamism among Kurds than among Turks.
                Some EU politicians in the past have initiated procedures to accept Turkey in the EU, and have given promises. I don’t know the details, but this was reckless and shameful. It is clear that Turkey culturally does not belong in Europe. EU could incorporate tiny Muslim-majority countries such as Albania and Kosovo, but with Turkey’s 80 millions, it would be unclear who is accepting whom. It was the right thing to freeze the procedure. However, I understand that there is now a backlash in Turkey from the (justified) feeling of betrayal.
                Turkey should have full access to the EU market. I hate the way bureaucrats usurpe power and do pointless harm by slapping arbitrary restrictions on trade and travel. I am for free trade with every country with which we are at peace.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted February 4, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

                The EU is just over 500 million, so Turkey joining wouldn’t necessarily be a major problem. But you’re right that the two cultures are so very different that it would be a big step.
                Possibly bringing Turkey into the EU has been on the agenda for decades, and has arguably been a major force towards bringing about resolution of long-standing disputes between, say, Greece and Turkey.
                That push has come from both directions – from the EU and from Turkey. There have been other political forces, for example from the US wanting to cement Turkey into NATO, so the US could continue to have access to a border with the USSR.
                That has drifted back over the last decade or so; partly because of the decline in importance of the NATO air bases ; partly in response to the increasing Islamisation in Turkey ; partly as the Turkish state has become more authoritarian. And some Turks are angry about it (though “betrayal” might be too strong a way to put it – all discussions have been very provisional) while other Turks want to become more Islamic and work more with the Islamic world and less with the Western world.

    • JohnW
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Agree 100%, the speech was motivated by bigoted domestic wingnut rhetoric aimed at Muslim Americans by the likes of Trump, Cruz, and F.Graham (friend of Ranch Stupidians)… The gist of BO’s comments:
      “That’s not who we are, we are one American family and when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second-class or targeted, it tears at the fabric of our nation….
      You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America too. You’re not Muslim or American, you’re Muslim and American.”

    • Victoria
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      “sharp rise in hate crimes against Muslims”

      I’m sorry but this propaganda message masks the harsh reality: violence against women within the Islamic community dwarfs Islamophobic crimes of comparable severity. You don’t see our elites speaking about that though.

      There have been considerably more ‘honour’ murders within Islam since 9/11 than Islamophobic killings. Worse the Depart of Justice estimated a lot of ‘honour’ murders are being missed, estimating two dozen per year in the U.S. based on trends elsewhere.

      The prevalence of FGM speaks for itself.

      Muslim propagandists use property crimes to inflate that ‘hate crimes’ number. We all remember the desperate attempt to turn teh Chapel Hill murders into an Islamophobic episode and I’ve seen Islam apologists shamelessly claim the Sikh mass murder in Wisconsin as their own.

      There have also been several ‘hate crimes,’ especially arson, that turn out to be accidents or intra-Islamic disputes.

  12. Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Another aspect of this visit:

    “This past weekend, dozens of girls and boys… ran up the stairwell to the main entrance of the musallah, or main prayer hall, of the Islamic Society of Baltimore, where President Obama visits Wednesday in his first presidential visit to a U.S. mosque. As the children rounded the corner, a stern mosque Sunday school teacher stood before them, shouting, “Girls, inside the gym! Boys in the musallah.”
    The girls, shrouded in headscarves that, in some cases, draped half their bodies, slipped into a stark gymnasium and found seats on bare red carpet pieces laid out in a corner. They faced a tall industrial cement block wall…
    On the other side of the wall, the boys clamored excitedly into the majestic musallah…”

    http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/02/03/obamas-mosque-visit-demonstrates-tacit-acceptance-of-a-form-of-gender-apartheid/

    • Filippo
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      sub

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 4, 2016 at 1:57 am | Permalink

        sub

  13. Pierre Masson
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Ophelia Benson has an interesting comment on this event:
    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2016/they-faced-a-cement-block-wall/

    • rickflick
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Interesting. I wonder if Obama, if he were to investigate the issue, could have found a Mosque which didn’t practice gender apartheid. Isn’t that part of the deal with Islam? Women in the back of the bus.

    • Filippo
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      I wonder what Obama understands the penalty for apostasy in Islam to be.

  14. Posted February 3, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    And I have a friend who is ex-Muslim and a Doctor, so I already knew more than I wanted to know about Islam. 
    One thing that we should know is in our history. It was about the year 1800.

    Thomas Jefferson and John Adams asked the Ambassador of Tripoli why they were attacking U.S. merchant ships and enslaving the sailors without provocation from the U.S.

    Thomas Jefferson then wrote a letter to John Jay that read:

    “The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

    This is loosely based upon the Qur’an’s teaching from Surah 47:4 which reads,

    “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.”

    This cycle of violent and unprovoked oppression started with Muhammad and has been repeated throughout the 1300 plus year history of Islam, having at one time conquered and held 3 times as many square miles as the ancient Roman empire.

    • Posted February 4, 2016 at 5:16 am | Permalink

      In this context, it’s worth noting that we eventually had a treaty that ended piracy and our treaty with Morocco is the oldest non-broken friendship treaty. In that treaty, it was famously written that exchange with the Sultan:

      As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims); and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

      Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States.

      I agree with the writer of this posts’ criticism of Obama. Moreover, I feel that some people in our government are insufficiently wary or Islamism. In regards to this sort of display, I think Obama and many people in the Democratic Party are not treating conservative Islam with the same criticism they would level on an equally conservative Christian group.

      At the same time, however, I believe the truth matters. Knowing about the Barbary Pirates and their relationship with the Ottoman slave trade will certainly show that the current vogue in some quarters to portray Muslims as the continuous victims of European aggression is some of the emptiest propaganda we see. At the same time, it show that it is possible to have treaties with political entities with whom we disagree about the best way to live.

      As fundamentalist Muslims become a more and more active political presence in the U.S., one that is not “grassroots” but has support from abroad, we will need to walk a very fine line between neither coddling them and allowing extremism to fester nor trampling on individual rights.

      • Posted February 4, 2016 at 5:17 am | Permalink

        Sorry for the garbled second sentence. I revised an earlier sentence.

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 4, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          “I think Obama and many people in the Democratic Party are not treating conservative Islam with the same criticism they would level on an equally conservative Christian group.”

          With the exception of the Westboro Baptists and the occasional abortion clinic murderer, I don’t think there’s much if any criticism leveled on conservative Christian groups at all. (Not nearly as much as they deserve!)

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          I hasten to add that your mention of the treaty of Tripoli was most appropriate in response to CCT.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 4, 2016 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      “…violent and unprovoked oppression started with Muhammad…”

      Actually, no, unless you mean tautologically since Islam couldn’t have been involved in cycles of violence before Muhammad.

      Cycles of violence and oppression are older than humanity.

      (Don’t understand my comment as an excuse for religiously motivated violence in which Islam is involved. A world without Islam would be a better world, but it would not be one that is free of violence and oppression.)

      • Posted February 4, 2016 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        Agreed. Violence is in human nature. Hate is typically easy.
        Erdogan, Turkey’s PM, said “Democracy is the train(Islam)will ride to it’s objective”. It’s objective is repeated in Muslim prayers 5 times a day.”No God but Allah, No religion but Islam”. They believe war brings peace when all infidels are subdued.Yet Shia and Sunni have always fought each other.

  15. Dan Paslawski
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    This is very typical of what Obama speaks on almost any topic. Grand statements that mean nothing and talk about actions that he will not act on.

    He may look good when compared to his predecessor, but that doesn’t say much. Looking at the options on both slates, I think things are going to get worse before they get better

  16. CJColucci
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    This isn’t anywhere near as hard as people are making it. It seems obvious to me that what Obama means is that attacks on people, and attempts to violate the rights they have as citizens or residents, or would-be citizens or residents, of the United States because they adhere to some unpopular religion is an attack on the rights of all people to be free to adhere to whatever religions they wish without being the targets of violence or discrimination backed or tolerated by law. Does anyone here disagree with that sentiment, or have a real reason for thinking Obama meant something different?

  17. Ray
    Posted February 4, 2016 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    My greatest disappointment with Obama’s speech is that he offers Muslim’s tolerance, but only asks in return that Muslims tolerate other “peoples of the book.” This must have been a deliberate choice as he mentions many examples of Muslims persecuting and protecting Jews and Christians, and most strikingly he cuts off Jefferson’s famous quote just before he mentions “the Hindoo and the infidel of every denomination.”

    By selling only this limited notion of religious toleration, he is not only tacitly undercutting the rights of Hindus, Atheists, and Yazidis, but he is leaving in the hands of the extremists, one of their most potent tools – the threat that reformers will be called infidels, as if it were worse to be an unbeliever than a child rapist or a terrorist.

    • Posted February 4, 2016 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      I think that your observation is very important.

  18. Posted February 4, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    How would it be if the President of the United States of America, the Leader of the Free World, visited a religious organisation that made all black people sit in a bare,ugly room while all white people sat separately in a beautiful, carpeted room? What would that say about that President? What would it say about the United States of America? Would you say that it was a good thing because “it lets people know that [people of that religion] are Americans too”?


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] Source: Obama’s coddling of faith […]

%d bloggers like this: