David Calling

Barack Obama, Apologist-in-Chief

President Obama’s speech on the occasion of the Ramadan dinner in the White House presents difficulties that are becoming his trademark. Why does he find it necessary to be an apologist for Islam? He started it in his speech in Cairo a couple of years back, which also had elements that were downright creepy. Now he justifies the building of a mosque at Ground Zero because Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else. This is obviously true, but a mosque in this site of mass murder committed by Muslims is not about freedom of worship, it is a statement of supremacy and conquest. Non-Muslims are not allowed any place of worship in Saudi Arabia, they cannot even approach within miles of the cities of Medina and Mecca. Imagine the outcry if Muslims were prevented entering, say, St. Peter’s or Westminster Abbey. Yet Obama makes no mention of reciprocity, he passes over the insult and the abuse. Besides, there are plenty of instances when people do have a legal right for something but not the moral right to proceed, so that it is wise to abstain. If this mosque goes ahead, it will prove a constant source of division.

Obama also says in this speech that al-Qaeda’s cause is not Islam –“it is a gross distortion of Islam.” Why this defensiveness? There are plenty of passages in the Koran and the Hadith which al-Qaeda can and does quote to give them religious justification for their violence. What Obama calls terror they consider faith, and this can’t be glossed over by the weasel word “distortion.” And he goes on that Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity. Try telling that to those condemned to death for converting to some other faith. Just as strange, he says that Islam has always been part of America — a line he used before, for instance in the Cairo speech. The evidence he gives for this is that Jefferson received the Tunisian ambassador of his day. That makes Islam part of America?

Finally he admits we are in a fight and the reason we’ll win “is not simply the strength of our arms — it is the strength of our values. The democracy we uphold.” This in the week he’s just been rejoicing about imminently in Cairo removing the strength of arms from Iraq, with Afghanistan to follow as soon as possible. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Iranians going nuclear — and we are to meet them with approval for a mosque at Ground Zero and babbling about upholding democracy? This speech sent a shiver of fear down my spine.

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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