Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Ready, set, outrage. I haven't checked everywhere yet, but I'm sure it's all over the right side of the internet, and Fox.

Obama goes to Turkey and says "We're not at war with Islam."

Side bet: number of times you'll hear or read "weak on terror," "selling out," "giving away the store," "apology," and, of course, "see, we told you he's a Muslim."

Of Islam, as is the case with many things about which I'm only too happy to opine, I'm no scholar. It does seem to have a dim view of women, and Sharia law is damn harsh. As religious extremism goes, radical Islam is as bad as it gets, and then some. But I'm willing to accept that not all Muslims support flying planes into buildings or the wearing of suicide belts or the beating of women. Likewise, I'm aware not all Christians believe that I will burn in hell for all eternity (or if they do, some feel sort of bad about it), nor want to replace our government with a theocracy and turn our classrooms into Sunday school. Many. Not all. I know Christians who are content with their personal relationship with their beliefs and don't feel the need to impose them on anyone else. Likewise, I'm certain many Muslims are the same; maybe even most. Just as some Christians seem able to refrain from stoning their disobedient children to death as called for in the Bible, so, I assume, are many Muslims able to contextualize and ignore certain parts of the Koran.

Indeed the US is not at war with Islam, and I think it's good to point it out. God knows there are plenty of Christians in this country who see the desire for maintaining separation of church and state as some sort of attack on their faith, and we know where that leads. So reminding the world that it's not Islam, per se, but its most radical and dangerous elements with whom we have a problem is a potentially fruitful endeavor in my view. After all, if it's true -- and it is -- that our best hope of fighting terrorists is in gaining cooperation from those who might point them out before they pull the trigger, then dispelling the myth is worth doing.

So. Good for Barack Obama for saying what he said, knowing the vitriol it will engender in some of his countrymen. If it sinks in around the world, we'll be the better for it, even as he takes the predictable and wholly loony crap about it back home.


tribulation periwinkle said...

Tangential rant and question:

?: My monitor is dying and it makes the baby look as if it's bruised. That baby is just gritty dirty and not harmed, right?

Rant: Mark Danner reports on the ICRC report confirming and describing US torture. The report is also included,and in that, the clear willing participation of licensed healthcare providers is detailed. We have sunk so far below the horizon that Obama's speechifying may be the sole counter messaging that has any real hope of beginning to make headway in the world's (especially Islam) opinion of us. Here's how Danner summed up the findings:

And yet the "loud rhetoric" of Dick Cheney, as Colonel Wilkerson remarks, "continues even now" and remains a persistent political fact in our debate about national security. What should be a debate about facts remains instead a debate fueled by reckless assertions about "still classified" intelligence and leaks that undermine those assertions. The debate over the supposed importance of intelligence provided by Abu Zubaydah, whose torture, including waterboarding, is related with awful immediacy in the ICRC report, is only the most prominent of these controversies. Though waterboarding has not been performed on prisoners in American custody since 2003, there is a reason we continue to talk about it. Though we have known about the Bush administration's policy of torture for five years, there is unquestionably more debate about it now than there ever has been. We are having, in a ragged way, the debate about ethics and morality in our national security policies that we never had in the days after September 11, when decisions were made in secret by a handful of officials.

Philip Zelikow, who served the Bush administration in the National Security Council and the State Department and then went on to direct the 9/11 Commission, remarked in an important speech three years ago that these officials, instead of having that debate simply called in the lawyers: the focus, that is, was not on "what should we do" but on "what can we do."[25]

There is a sense in which our society is finally posing that "what should we do" question. That it is doing so only now, after the fact, is a tragedy for the country—and becomes even more damaging as the debate is carried on largely by means of politically driven assertions and leaks. For even as the practice of torture by Americans has withered and died, its potency as a political issue has grown. The issue could not be more important, for it cuts to the basic question of who we are as Americans, and whether our laws and ideals truly guide us in our actions or serve, instead, as a kind of national decoration to be discarded in times of danger. The only way to confront the political power of the issue, and prevent the reappearance of the practice itself, is to take a hard look at the true "empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years," and speak out, clearly and credibly, about what that story really tells.

Sid Schwab said...

Got the picture off the internet, searching images for "outrage."

Sili said...

Always fascinating how it's only "Judeo-Christian" despite Islam recognising both as forbearers - "people of the book".

Popular posts