President Obama: If You Slander Islam’s Prophet, You Forfeit Your Ownership of the Future
So, what are we to make of the President of the United States speaking before the United Nations and declaring:
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shia pilgrims. It is time to heed the words of Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies. That’s the vision we will support.
First, notice the trademark Obama passive voice. What does it mean, “the future must not belong to” a particular group?
Does it mean these people won’t be around in the future?
That in the future, their viewpoint will be marginalized? Out of style? Unpopular? Suppressed? That sometime between now and “the future,” they will have changed their mind? That at some point in the future, no one will feel like slandering the prophet of Islam? Is the First Amendment still in effect in this envisioned future, or has it been rewritten or modified on this topic?
How does “the future” belong to one group instead of another? Maybe I have too much of a background in musical theater by non-Mark-Steyn-pundit standards, but anytime I hear somebody declaring, with great emphasis, that tomorrow belongs to them, I start muttering, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
(Another helpful hint: in a Hollywood movie, if you see a character who emphasizes that he and his kind are the future, and those who are different no longer matter, that character is probably the villain.)
I think Matt Welch, over at Reason, speaks for a lot of us here:
[Obama’s speech] deteriorates rapidly from there:
I believe [the video's] message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.
So many things wrong in so few words. Why this video, and not Theo Van Gogh’s Submission, or Lars Vilks’s animation of Mohammed wanting to go to a gay bar, the “Super Best Friends” episode of South Park, or Funny or Die’s “How to Pick a Pocket“? Is it the degree of the insult, the craptasticness of the production values, the size of the release, or the vociferousness of the outrage expressed?
Given the track record of our past two administrations, I think we know the answer to that question, which suggests another thing terrible about this sentence: As Eugene Volokh recently pointed out, “Behavior that gets rewarded, gets repeated.” If all it takes to earn a White House call for global condemnation of a single piece of expression is some violent protests outside a dozen or two diplomatic missions, then the perpetually aggrieved know exactly what to do the next time they pluck out some bit of cultural detritus to be offended by.
It is not any politician’s job, and certainly not any American politician’s job, to instruct the entire world on which films to criticize.
Also, how much of the above remarks are going to flow out through the corners of the Muslim world? How many accounts will just quote the first sentence, that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”?
(So, with the president going before the world and declaring that Mohammed-mockers have no future, is it a bad time for me to remind everyone that Obama’s favorite television show is Showtime’s “Homeland,” in which a captured POW is revealed to be a sleeper agent for al-Qaeda? This year’s storyline? The captured POW is now in American politics, and appears to be on a fast track to the highest levels of power.)