The Mythology behind Obama’a Engagement with Islam or Why Tolerating intolerance is not a form of tolerance.

Posted: July 4, 2009 in Articles
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Part 2 of 4 on Obama’s speech in Cairo

islamicI’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings – President Obama.

These were the words that Obama delivered at Cairo, words which on the surface seem reasonable and fair. Words that present succinctly and directly, just what Obama wanted to say to something he called “the Muslim world.”  Words that, for lack of better words, symbolize the Obama attempt to get the USA, a nation, to engage with an idea.

For, dear reader, Islam is just that, nothing more and nothing less, an idea. Just like existentialism, individuality, freedom and fascism, ideas all. Now whilst the USA represents an Idea, and in broad strokes you could say that the USA is an idea, Obama went not as a philosopher, but as a President. As President of a nation, to a far away country, to talk to people who have an idea, to suggest that the USA was ready to engage with that idea.

It’s a first for any real leader, this notion of engaging ideas, and it’s certainly a first for global politics. EurabiaMapThe very notion is so far reaching and deeply flawed that it almost beggars belief. The question that needs to be asked, is since when did Nations engage with ideologies on an individual basis ?

Twice, actually !

With two ideas, namely Communism and National Socialism (The German variety).

However, there is a distinct difference between Obama seeking dialogue with the Mullah and Ayatollahs and Nixon making nice with the Chinese and too, with Chamberlain appeasing the goose stepping lunatics of Nazi Germany and their Italian collaborators.

Our previous engagement with opposing ideology on world stage politics was between nations who held different ideology for the sake of peace. Obama has gone to engage with the idea itself.

Breathtaking actually. Reagan never spoke of common values with communism, and Chamberlain never suggested that democracy and fascism overlapped. Unlike Obama who suggests that Secular states share values with Fascist Theocracies, and even worse that in fact the ideologies overlap.

To suggest that secular democracy shares values with Islam because they both espouse progress is like saying that Pedophiles and Buddhists share values because they both like to eat three meals a day. It might be true, but it’s irrelevant. What Mr. Obama ignores is that  all ideologies share some values, its where they differ that matters, and when it comes to Islam and Secular States on substantive ideas and values, there is no common ground, where it counts.

ittehad2Never mind the blatant dishonesty of claiming that Islam believes in the dignity of Human beings in the same way as the US constitution. This to an ideology that dresses its women in dustbin bags and thrives on stoning adulteresses and dismembering thieves and so on and so forth.

Mr. Obama’s justification for this embracing nonsense is interesting, as far as he is concerned, the vast majority of Islam have been held hostage by what he calls “Violent extremists” who he suggests “have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims.”

He goes further to say that as a result of this tiny band of Muslim extremists and the twin effects of what he calls “the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization”
 many Muslims have been misled into believing that the West is hostile to Islamic traditions.

Funny that.

The truth is that the ideology of the west, flies in the face of many ideologies that exist within its borders. The foundations of science fly in the face of the very Christian fundamentalists who populate large parts of the United States. The values of a society that allow abortion which is in direct conflict of the Roman Catholic Church, and yet no speeches in Rome to pacify the Vatican.

Perhaps that’s because the Vatican has not sent any priests into coffee shops wearing payloads of explosives ?


What Mr. Obama is skirting here is the very big elephant in the room. Every time the envoys of Islam blow something to hell in the name of anything from Palestine to Pornography, we get told, it’s just a small band of extremists.


Where do extremists with camels in caves of desert nations get satellite phones, bombs, arms and most importantly money ? The simple convenience of throwing your hands up in the air and condemning these actions, all the while financially supporting and hiding and enabling global terror, justified by religious rights is ridiculous.

In any event, if it’s truly just a small band of people giving Islam a bad name, why then does the Muslim world not crack down on it .

Even worse, why fly to Cairo to explain to Muslims what they already know ?

And too, why talk to the Muslim world about peace and co-operation if they are already peaceful and co-operating ?

Lets get Obama to run through the streets of Tehran or Dubai in his underwear to gauge this so called tolerance. Hell, never mind Obama, lets get Britney Spears to perform in downtown anywhere in the world of Islamofascism.

Ladies and gentleman, I don’t want to flog a dead horse, but when Islam starts letting its populations watch Will and Grace, then I’ll consider the idea that it’s just a small band of extremists we face.

The simple truth is that  Secular democracy cannot engage with religious ideology, it allows them to exist, they in turn must do the same, even if fundamentally they have opposing values.

What makes this Cairo speech so pathetic is that it was delivered with a semantic twist of titanic proportions, the “Muslim World” is not in the Middle East. Obama was not talking to Muslims, he was talking to Islamofacists, or if you like, plain old fascists.

If he had wanted to talk to Muslims, he should have gone to the Pacific Rim, but then again, the Islamofascists are blowing them up too.

Not too many bomb threats from Bali.

Perhaps then there is some truth in the distinction between Muslims and “Extreme Muslims”, perhaps it should be better phrased, for lets face it, there is no Jihad from Indonesia, and perhaps we should call a spade a spade?


The long relationship between Islam and Nazis is illustrated by this image of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem inspecting Nazi Troops


Arab national fascism or Islamofascim.

That’s whom Obama was talking to.

So why was he behaving like Chamberlain?

  1. The Center Square says:

    I fail to see why classifying Islam as an idea makes it an inappropriate subject of American policy. Communism is an idea, and that idea held center stage in American foreign policy for more than half a century, and for good reason and to good effect.

    Obama’s view I will summarize as the belief that Muslim extremism is an outlier in the larger Muslim world, and that American interests are well served by reaching out to the mainstream part of that world. Despite a careful reading, I cannot put my finger exactly on your rebuttal of that.

    Historicaly, there are centuries-worth of mainstream, moderate Muslim governance. You mention Bali: Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest country, the largest Muslim country, and has no significant history of Muslim extremism. (Bali itself, by the way, is almost entirely Hindu.)

    Of the top ten Muslim population countries [], seven — Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Sudan, and Algeria — scarcely bump the needle in terms of rampant acts of religious extremism. All are led by stable governments, whether fiercely secular like Turkey and Nigeria, or not. (I suppose Sudan is a tragically unique case, but religion seems to have little to do with its problems.)

    Even a case like Saudi Arabia is instructive. Certainly the government is stringent in terms of enforcing a Muslim state (although even that is blunted by the many ways they turn a blind eye to Western ways in their culture, and especially by their citizens traveling or living abroad). But there can be no doubt that the ruling monarchy values stability over instability, moderation over extremism. They are the ones who exiled bin Laden, after all. The challenge they face, like many ruling governments in these countries, is that they fear the instability that could result from cracking down too hard on such extremists. Their desire to preserve the status quo forces them to tolerate a certain amount of religious extremism, which absolutely is NOT the same thing as desiring, promoting, or encouraging that extremism.

    So, if your point is that the Muslim world is one big homogenous pit of extremism, utterly lacking fertile soil for Obama’s outreach, then I must disagree.


  2. thetroublemakertimes says:

    Absolutely true, and thats the point, its not about ISLAM, its about a brand of Islam. The trouble is that that particular brand is almost exclusively Arabic , and deeply fascist.

    No, Islam is not by nature fascist, but this engagement is not with Islam, this war is not with Islam.

    So then why an appeal to Islam ?

    Thats the point of the piece.

  3. The Center Square says:

    Even in the Arab world, there is a broad spectrum between extremists and moderates. For every Syria, there is a Bahrain. I am not saying that Obama’s perspective will prove fruitful. But he has an idea that is worthy of consideration: that there are those with entrenched interests which are threatened by extremism in their midst, and that reaching out to those moderates can be useful in marginalizing the extremists. When he brands his overtures as “engagement to Islam,” is he not merely saying that moderate, conventional, peaceable Islam is welcome in the company of nations? You may be right that there could be rhetorically more precise definition, but is the distinction important?

    Thanks for the discussion.

  4. thetroublemakertimes says:

    What troubles me, is this idea that its about a small band of extremists, how can that be, we are talking here of nation states, and then again, just how moderate is moderate Islam ? Not moderate enough for homosexuals, or cartoonists or writers ?

    PS Nigeria is not secular, the northern half has Sharia Law.

  5. The Center Square says:

    Granted, “not moderate enough for homosexuals, or cartoonists” is an accurate characterization of most Muslim countries, but that’s an entirely different notion of extremism. Domestic religious extremism in these countries does not threaten the US. The only measure of extremism that matters is terrorist-type attacks. The difference is reflected in the pre-2001 Taliban rule of Afghanistan versus Taliban tolerance of the presence of al-Qaeda. The former posed no threat to US interests; the latter of course did.

    And in that sense, most of these nations are conservative. They have great incentives to oppose the destabilizing forces of such militant extremism.

    I believe Shari’a has been adopted in Nigeria only in Zamfara State. This is a small district with about 2.5% of the country’s population. That is actually relevant to my point. Here is a large Muslim country with a stable, (mostly) democratic government and a clear incentives to maintain the status quo. Even domestically, the more extreme notion of Shari’a law represents a tiny minority of the country.

  6. thetroublemakertimes says:

    I write not only about threats to the US.

    As a queer, with Jewish heritage, who likes to write, perhaps you can understand…. this is not good enough for me.

    And you can bet your bottom dollar, one day, something will not be good enough for you too.

    TIME will tell.


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