Are Muslims still testing our air security?

Pierre LeGrand’s Pink Flamingo Bar has a disturbing post.  In it, he reprints part of a message from someone who claims to have been on a recent flight that was disrupted by a large group of obviously Muslim men aggressively flouting airplane safety rules.  As you may recall, in the wake of 9/11, Anne Jacobson wrote repeatedly about incidents such as this, with special emphasis on the airlines’ fear of becoming embroiled in politically correct disputes if they engaged with these men.  One has to wonder whether the Islamists are still trying to figure out whether Americans generally and airlines specifically are willing to have political correctness march them into the grave.

Gay Hillary supporters realize that Bush had his virtues

I’ve now received five emails bringing to my attention a post at Hillbuzz, a blog that (as best as I can tell) is written by two gay Hillary supporters.  (And thanks to all of you who did bring it to my attention.)  What makes the post at Hillbuzz so unusual is that it’s a frank appreciation for . . . George Bush:

We know absolutely no one in Bush family circles and have never met former President George W. Bush or his wife Laura.

If you have been reading us for any length of time, you know that we used to make fun of “Dubya” nearly every day…parroting the same comedic bits we heard in our Democrat circles, where Bush is still, to this day, lampooned as a chimp, a bumbling idiot, and a poor, clumsy public speaker.

Oh, how we RAILED against Bush in 2000…and how we RAILED against the surge in support Bush received post-9/11 when he went to Ground Zero and stood there with his bullhorn in the ruins on that hideous day.

We were convinced that ANYONE who was president would have done what Bush did, and would have set that right tone of leadership in the wake of that disaster.  President Gore, President Perot, President Nader, you name it.  ANYONE, we assumed, would have filled that role perfectly.

Well, we told you before how much the current president, Dr. Utopia, made us realize just how wrong we were about Bush.  We shudder to think what Dr. Utopia would have done post-9/11.  He would have not gone there with a bullhorn and struck that right tone.  More likely than not, he would have been his usual fey, apologetic self and waxed professorially about how evil America is and how justified Muslims are for attacking us, with a sidebar on how good the attacks were because they would humble us.

Honestly, we don’t think President Gore would have been much better that day.  The world needed George W. Bush, his bullhorn, and his indominable spirit that day…and we will forever be grateful to this man for that.

As we will always be grateful for what George and Laura Bush did this week, with no media attention, when they very quietly went to Ft. Hood and met personally with the families of the victims of this terrorist attack.

FOR HOURS.

Please read the rest here.  It’s an excellent post and deserves the attention it’s getting for the honest take it has on George Bush’s solid decency — and the contrast between his low-key, virtuous behavior and that exhibited by the Obami.

Hillbuzz’s post is a reminder that the very loud, politicized gay class tends to make us forget that most gays are just Americans who happen to like people of the same sex.  When things are rosy, they’re happy to trail behind the political guys, since there might be some benefits dropping off that bandwagon.  However, when push comes to shove, and when agitating but scarcely life threatening issues go by the wayside, America’s gays are Americans first — or, at least, most of them are.  That’s very heartening.

I look forward to the day when America’s Muslims figure out that, at some point they have to make a public stand between America’s deep investment in liberty and Islam’s demand that all citizens in all nations should be subjugated to Sharia’s draconian requirements.  Right now, thanks to the politically correct ideology that permeates the media, the government, educational establishes, and the top echelons of the military, American Muslims are getting a pass on having to come to terms with their own patriotism.  If they want to hew to their religion — well, that’s the moral choice they have to make, but we Americans should know, so that we can do what is necessary to protect our Constitutional rights for the vast majority of Americans (gay and straight, Catholic and Jewish, atheist and, yes, Muslim) who believe in those rights.

The yin and yang: Obami insanity and military strength *UPDATED*

These are a matched set, and you must read them, one after the other:

Janet Napolitano, the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, having thought long and hard, decides that the real victims of the Fort Hood massacre are  . . . wait for it . . . Muslims.

On the flip side, Cassandra, at Villainous Company, talks about the solid courage and real values that characterize the American military.

Just to get things laid out nicely and neatly:  our current administration coddles our enemies, fears and denigrates our own military, and is actively seeking to destroy our economy.  Can anyone here remind me why we have this administration?

The only sort-of solace I have right now is the 2010 election, but even that doesn’t inspire great hope.  The Republican Party is so inept and out of tune, being neither Democratic fish nor Republical fowl, that I am not sanguine about its ability to provide voters with an exciting, or even viable, alternative to the Democratic march into the Marxist ocean.  Really, the only hope is that these trials are sent to us for a purpose, as the Anchoress, in a very uplifting way, believes.

UPDATE:  Rick, himself a religious man, has taken the Anchoress’ message and run with it.  As I told my mother (who, like me, can best be described as an atheist), those of my blog friends who are religious have a serenity we lack.  Even when things are bad, they feel that there is a purpose, although they might not be able to see it.  They can be upset, but they still feel they’re in God’s hands.  I mentioned that they manage to have this attitude without being condescending, antisemitic (which is what my Mom so fears in religious Christians), or fatuous.  They are very, very lucky in their faith.

As for me, while I can’t seem to beg, borrow or steal spirituality, I find comfort knowing that those I respect see a bigger, more important picture than I do.

I’ll add here as a random aside, given Cassandra’s point about the military, that I find it a good thing, not a bad, that our military has so many religious people in it.  Aside from the fact that my experiences with American Christians have been uniformly good, I also find it wonderful that those who are willing to put their life on the line for the preservation of my life and liberty, have a faith that they can turn to as they take the risks that go with their jobs.

Even the Muslims are mad at Britain’s most recent attack of dhimmitude

We’re getting near the tail-end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that requires dawn to dusk fasting.  Now, I’m a gal who enjoys noshing during the day, so I’m not thrilled about abstaining from food and drink for 10 hours.  I’d be especially unhappy if it was a hot day, ’cause any type of drink would look awfully enticing.  Nevertheless, it is not the end of the world to hold off on eating for a few hours, especially with the promise of a nice meal to come at the end of the day.  Also, assuming I’m a devout Muslim, I’m not fasting as a punishment, but as as a religious obligation.  It is my gift to God and my faith.

The British Home Office, however, was terribly, terribly worried about those Muslims amongst it who might have rumbly tummies and dry mouths.  It therefore sent around a 5 page document informing all the bone-headed ordinary Brits in its employ about all the sensitivity steps they’d need to talk to make their hungry colleagues happy until night fell:

Home Office staff were officially warned not to eat in front of their fasting Muslim colleagues during Ramadan – in case it made them feel hungry.

The advice came in a taxpayer-funded internal document listing do’s and don’ts during the Muslim holy month, which ends this weekend.

[snip]

The Home Office Islamic Network produced the five-page information sheet which says: ‘In practical terms, please be sensitive when eating lunch near a Muslim colleague who is fasting.

This can make an individual feel hungrier and make it more challenging to observe the fast.’

[snip]

It says: ‘The most likely need Muslim staff may present to managers during this period is for flexibility around working hours and break times as those fasting will have a slightly different routine from usual. Managers and Muslim staff should discuss what their needs are and be responsive and sensitive.’

Managers were also told: ‘Muslim staff who are fasting and whose environment allows it may wish to set out for work earlier than usual and finish their working day correspondingly early…in line with flexi-time arrangements.’

[snip]

The spokeswoman added that the Islamic Network was one of a number of staff faith and equality groups within the Home Office and was paid for by the taxpayer.

What’s so incredibly funny about all this is that the British, who have completely accepted that there home culture must always be subordinate to another culture, have not protested.  Instead, the protests came from Muslim groups, who felt as if they’d had a big target painted on them:

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which claims to be fighting a ‘political jihad against Islamophobia’, attacked the document.

It said: ‘It is designed to create more hatred in the hearts of non-Muslims.

‘We don’t care how much non-Muslims eat in front of us.

‘It’s never been an issue and never will be and we have never asked for any special treatment or sensitivity from non-Muslims whilst fasting.’

What’s sad is that we no longer live in a society where the bottom line is simply a party of human decency:  If possible, as a good human being and a member of a pluralist society, be nice to people and make reasonable accommodations to their needs — something that should be true irrespective of your or their race, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual preferences, etc.

Supporting a totally debased culture *UPDATED*

One thing I have to give credit to Barack Obama for being is a complete pragmatist, even if that pragmatism operates to the exclusion of moral decency.  Witness his decision to jettison Israel entirely (something Elliott Abrams explains carefully here) in order to placate the Muslim world.  Many think that Obama’s affinity for the Muslim world has a lot to do with his upbringing, although that’s mere speculation.  (I wouldn’t doubt it, but it’s still speculative.)

Much more likely, though, because it’s been an oft expressed sentiment on the Left for years, is that Obama is animated by the pragmatic belief that the Muslim world hates us because we support Israel and, if we’d just stop that support, they’d stop hating us.  If this theory is correct, the benefits that would flow from sacrificing Israel would be obvious:  cheap oil and no suicide bombers.  If you’re goal driven, it’s a worthwhile experiment.  After all, Jews have died before and they’ll die again, but peace in the Middle East is a once in a lifetime experience.  (And who cares if its the kind of peace only Tacitus would recognize?  Atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.)

The problem with this type of bottom-line pragmatism is that you have to sell your soul to achieve it.  Aside from running the risk of exposing a liberal democratic nation to nuclear annihilation (or just good old-fashioned machete slaughter), you also find yourself sending almost a billion dollars in aid to people who espouse values you might find just a little bit, just a wee bit, antithetical to your own.  We know about the misogyny, the homophobia, the antisemitism, and the anti-Christianity that characterize the Muslim world.

(Thinking about it, we ought to find new words than ones I used to describe Middle Eastern Muslim culture.  In America, those words lack punch, because in practice, they involve saying mean things about woman or gays or Jews or Christians, or depriving them of jobs or housing or, very, very occasionally, physical attacks.  In the Muslim world, the word “misogyny” means women have no legal rights, suffer regular physical abuse, including genital mutilation, and are regular victims of honor killings; homophobia means that gays are tortured and executed; “antisemitism” means a cultural press for total genocide; and anti-Christianity means that Christians are dispossessed, expelled and killed.  You know a culture is bad when it demands a whole new vocabulary to be intelligible.  But as is often the case, I digress.)

But if you thought those were the only things that need change in a culture that Obama proposes become our ally against the Jews, you’re wrong.  At Brutally Honest, Rick exposes yet another stomach churning aspect of Muslim culture.

In the culture of alcohol and drug abuse, a well recognized person in the game of addiction is the enabler:

An enabler in most definitions is a person who through his or her actions allows someone else to achieve something. Most often the term enabler is associated with people who allow loved ones to behave in ways that are destructive. For example, an enabler wife of an alcoholic might continue to provide the husband with alcohol. A person might be an enabler of a gambler or compulsive spender by lending them money to get out of debt.

The West has always been a Muslim enabler, whether it’s by buying Muslim oil (which we admittedly have needed, especially because we refuse to produce our own), or by funding to the tune of billions of dollars the most corrupt, hate-filled governments on planet earth.  Barack Obama is taking it to a new level.  Voters need to look inside themselves and see whether they want to take a gamble on pragmatism that sees them supporting these same governments, or if they want to continue to exist on the side of greater truth and morality.  I know where I fall.  Sadly, I also know where my president falls.

UPDATERick cautions that the video to which he linked might not be as it seems.  Nevertheless, I stand by everything else I said, and the possibility that Rick’s video isn’t as bad as it looks doesn’t change the basic tenor of my post.

UPDATE II:  Today, it’s a story out of Sudan regarding the misogynistic cruelty committed in Islam’s name.  And just reflexively, I’ll ask:  Where’s NOW now?

Why is this religion different from all other religions?

I want to recommend two interesting things to read as a prelude to my core post.  The first read comes from a reliably good source:  Rusty Shackleford.  Over at The Jawa Report, he looks at the banality that exists side by side with the evil that is North Carolina’s recently arrested home grown jihadists.  It makes for chilling read.

The second good read, again about Islam, comes, most surprisingly, from a normally terrible source on the subject:  The New York Times.  There, in today’s book review pages, you will find an honest and admiring review of Christopher Caldwell’s carefully researched Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West, about the Islamisization of Europe. I hope the paper’s editors read their own book reviews. They might learn something from this one, especially when it comes to the dangers of stifling discourse through a rancid combination of politically correct thought and fear of Muslims.

As to both of these, I’d like to make a larger point.  During Passover, Jews ask the question “Why is this night different from all other nights?”  At this juncture in history, it’s very important to ask a similar question:  “Why is this religion different from all other religions?”

Why, when religious Jewish women cover their heads, do I shrug and say, “Well, that’s their religion,” while when more and more Muslim women show up with heads covered, I get a frisson of fear?  The answer is not that I’m a philo-Semite or an Islamaphobe (although both statements are probably true).  Instead, it lies in the fact that the Jews do not have as their goal a world in which all women are forced to wear head coverings.  Even if Jews reached critical mass in America, they would not do what is done in countries in which Muslims have reached critical mass:  throw acid in the faces of or rape or murder women who don’t conform to their religious dress codes.

Why, when Hispanics sneak into this country illegally am I merely upset about their breaking the law and sucking up resources, while even legal Muslim immigrants frighten me?  The answer is not that I have an unreasoning fear of Muslims, while I’m willing to give Hispanics a pass.  There’s nothing unreasoning in my fear of an immigrant group that does not desire to assimilate into American society but wants, instead, to destroy it.  Nor is there anything unreasoning in my fear of an immigrant group that, when it achieves critical mass, engages in religiously driven violence against the others in the society. Nor are either of those fears fantasies.  The point of my reference to the Caldwell books is that those fears, which are still abstract in America, are fact in Europe.

Why, when certain immigrants cling to their unique cultures, do I think it’s charming or irrelevant, but when Muslims cling to their unique cultures it frightens me?  Could it be because Muslim doctors refuse to wash their hands, either because women aren’t supposed to show their arms or because none of them are supposed to touch (although I’m sure Mohammed meant “imbibe”) alcohol — a problem becoming increasingly chronic in the British health care system?  Or could it be because Muslim grocery store clerks, rather than getting a more religiously appropriate job, sue that they won’t have to handle ham, which is an American cultural staple?  Or could it be because Muslim culture is deeply misoygynistic, something that reveals itself in honor killings all over the globe — not to mention a desire to make women, all women, not just Muslim women, wear tents.  I’m sure you have examples in stored in your own memory banks so I won’t go on.  The point is that this is a religion that, once it enteres a country, wants things done it’s own way.  Rather than seeking to benefit from the host country’s good qualities, it seeks to destroy those things and subordinate everything to Islam.

Thinking about it, to call Islam just a religion is almost a misnomer.  Islam is a way of life and politics that transcends mere worship.  When Islam takes over, every facet of life is subject to its dictates.  One is either a slave to Allah, or a slave to Allah’s worshippers.  Islam does not accept pluralism.  Things that are quaint or bizarre in other religions are deeply threatening when the religion is Islam.

Keep yourself educated.  Hate-filled rhetoric is counterproductive.  But fact-filled rhetoric is something one hopes will help innoculate us against the deadly scourge of an Islamic takeover — because Islam is not a religion like any other.

The voice of the blogosophere about Obama’s speech *UPDATED* *AND UPDATED AGAIN*

You can read what I wrote about the speech here.  Others have been writing too.

The Anchoress, in addition to her must-read Ich bin ein Muslimer takedown of the speech, has a list of blogs thinking about what he said, which I’ll just copy wholesale:

Andy McCarthy: Koranic text Obama left out
Andrew Bolt: Islam, I am your savior!
Fausta: What was missing from the speech
David P. Goldman: Why Couldn’t Obama’s writers find a peace quote from the Koran?
Abe Greenwald: Not too good on Women’s Rights
Jennifer Rubin: Abudullah is not charmed by Obama
Bookworm: Gives the speech a C and wonders about specifically Muslim formulations
Ed Morrissey: Not so bad; not much different from Bush
Michelle Malkin: Not having any; didn’t like Bush’s speeches here, either.
Rich Lowry: On the whole not bad
Max Boot: Could have been a lot worse
Ann Althouse: Commenters parse the speech
Jake Tapper: President finds himself in Hieroglyphs
Hugh Hewitt: The World is Worse for this dishonest speech
“Yes we can” in Hieroglyphics
Mike Allen: Kinda common rhetoric
Confederate Yankee: Obama’s Brilliant Delusion
Andy McCarthy: Founding Fathers Friends to Islam?
Dana Perino: Comparing two presidents, two speeches
Damian Thompson: Watch out for Christian Terrorists!
Noisy Room: United Under Allah
Obama’s Nixon China Speech
Flopping Aces: Charm Offenses & History
Gateway: US President won’t stand for democracy

Here are some more reads I recommend:

Joshuapundit summarizes all the of ill-informed, fatuous and foolish statements that surrounded the nuggets of smartness and decency buried in that mess.

Rick Moran about the sadness the deliberately or foolishly misinformed speech engendered in him, and Sammy Benoit chimes in.

Ira Stoll, who hoped for better when it came to Obama and the Jews, confesses that the speech brings him to a different point of view.

Peter Daou also caught that strange obsession with the hijab.

Max Boot notes that the speech could have been worse, and explains what was good.  He also highlights all the false equivalencies Obama drew between the Muslim world and the west.  He also deconstructs the little misuse of history, by which Obama implied that Tripoli and the US have always been partners in freedom.  (I bet Boot would give the speech the same C I did.)

Jennifer Rubin also sounds many of the same notes I did.

And Abe Greenwald agreed with me on the bizarre fact that Obama kept harking back to those hijabs.

Here are John and Paul from Power Line, each of whom also damn it with faint praise and praise it with faint damns.

Reading all of these views shows that the issues I picked up upon — the vague mea culpas, the hostility to women, the hostility to Israel, the apparent willingness to protect America (thank God), the false moral equivalences, the bastardized history, etc. — were not products of my own anti-Obama imagination but were, in fact, truly present in an anything-but-earth-shattering speech to the Arab world.

Laer thinks the speech was as good as it could get, considering both audience and speaker.

UPDATE:  I have to add Peter Wehner to the list, for nailing both Obama’s rhetorical and substantive approach:

The best way to view President Obama’s speech in Cairo is to understand the way Obama views himself and the rhetorical devices he employs. In this case, the key to unlocking Obama’s speech may be Aristotle’s golden mean, the search for a mid-point between extremes. Obama’s rhetorical template is an increasingly familiar one: he gives voice to one side of a dispute and then the other. And Obama — our philosopher-king, the Voice of Reason in an unreasonable world — interprets and arbitrates these disputes, putting them in just the right context and arriving at just the right solution. Or so we are led to believe. The trouble is that Obama’s approach at times distorts history and mistreats our closest allies.

The above, by the way, is not just an airy-fairy conclusion.  Wehner goes on to support his theory — and also shows the lies Obama has to tell to maintain this Olympian posture.

Krauthammer wasn’t so thrilled either, and he caught the same point I did about the bizarre comparison Obama made between women in America and women in the Muslim world.  He also latched onto the innanely self-referential quality that is in all Obama’s speeches, as did Benjamin Sarlin, who gives the formula for writing your own Obama speech.

And you know you’re in good company when you make the same points Melanie Phillips does.

UPDATE IISoccer Dad reminds us that, as with Sotomayor’s 32 infamous words, context is king.  Also, JoshuPundit also wondered, as I did, if, in referring to Muslim charitable practices, Obama was suggesting that we do away with that little legal provision make it illegal to fund terrorism.

Grading Obama’s speech

This is the substantive part of Obama’s speech (introductory language omitted), with my comments.  Overall, I’d give the speech a C.  He made some obvious points, he made some good points, and he made some idiotic and offensive points. It would be nice if his speech was effective in bringing about the positive things he mentioned, but I’m not optimistic.  It wasn’t a sufficiently intelligent, visionary speech to do that.  It was just a mixture of praise, platitudes, desires, and insults.

*******************************************

We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world — tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.  [I guess it's good to open a speech by getting your audience to agree with you, so that they continue to agree with subsequent points.  Obama's very first substantive paragraph begins with the Marxist notion that it's all our fault.  That should get his audience nodding.]

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.  [This is a limited, but accurate statement.]

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.  [I'm having problems understanding what it means to have a relationship defined by our differences.  That fact alone doesn't inevitably lead to murderous conflict.  It does only when what makes the other side difference is its murderous ideology.  So this is just silly blah, blah, but it sounds nice and doesn't put the Muslim audience on the defensive.]

I’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.  [In what la-la land does Obama live?  First, we've repeatedly fought on behalf of Muslims around the world, so Obama's not inaugurating anything new.  Second, where in the whats-it does he get the idea that Islam shares with Western culture notions of "justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."  Islam is predicated on submission, a yearning for a return to the golden era of the 7th century, and, most significantly, the subjugation of half the population (that would be women), not to mention a scriptural mandate that all non-Muslims be destroyed or enslaved.  It's one thing not to insult your audience.  It's another thing to lie.]

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there’s been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point. [At least he's got some connection to reality.] But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” (Applause.) That is what I will try to do today — to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.  [I anxiously await Obama's truth.]

Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I’m a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.  [It's always about him, isn't it?  But, again, good to establish a connection with your audience.]

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities — (applause) — it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality. (Applause.)  [I won't pick this apart.  Some of it is true, some of it is wishful thinking and historical revisionism.  I don't think it matters too much.]

I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President, John Adams, wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they’ve excelled in our sports arenas, they’ve won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers — Thomas Jefferson — kept in his personal library. (Applause.)  [Somewhat exaggerated in terms of the scope of Muslim contributions to America, but still basically true and, again, a smart thing to say to a Muslim audience.]

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear. (Applause.)  [La-la land.]

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. (Applause.) Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words — within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum — “Out of many, one.” [Very nice.]

Now, much has been made of the fact that an African American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. (Applause.) But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores — and that includes nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and educational levels that are higher than the American average. (Applause.)  [More self-involvement, and more pander.  Also, I read the numbers in the CIA fact book to say America has fewer than 2,000,000 Muslims.  I'm lousy at math, though, so please help me here:  What's 0.6% of 307,212,123? UPDATEI'm not the only one who found the math suspicious.]

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That’s why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it. (Applause.)  [This makes me uncomfortable.  It's good to trumpet America's religious freedom, but I find it icky that he would boast about the fact that America (rightly, I guess) allows its Muslim citizens to enshroud their women -- and please note that this last is an applause line.]

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations — to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.  [For someone with a Muslim background, I think he's a bit unclear on the whole submission and sharia and jihad and "other religions need to be destroyed" concepts that are an intregal part of the Koran.]

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. [I actually believe he -- and his media sychophants -- do believe that words alone are all it takes.]  These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. (Applause.) That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.  [I know this is an example of his soaring rhetoric, but it leaves me cold.]

And this is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes — and, yes, religions — subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared. (Applause.)  [Good.]

Now, that does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: We must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and as plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together. [He keeps saying that he'll tell the truth and face the tension but, so far, he hasn't done that.  I'm waiting....]

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. (Applause.) We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security — because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.  [Good.  That's clear and unequivocal.]

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity. I’m aware that there’s still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11. [Grammar my dear "brilliant" President.  (I was told the other night at a comedy club that he's brilliant.)  What he meant to say was "there are still some...."] But let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. [Grammar:  he's talking about Al Qaeda as an entity, not a collection of individuals.  It should be "states its determination...."  Normally I wouldn't be so fussy but Obama is, after all, brilliant.]  They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.  [Substantive content of this paragraph:  Okay, and at least he didn't pretend to agree with the Truthers about the real responsibility for 9/11.]

Now, make no mistake: We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We see no military — we seek no military bases there. [That would be George Bush's policy.] It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.  [Good.]

And that’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths — but more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as — it is as if he has killed all mankind. (Applause.) [Obama is either prevaricating or he genuinely misunderstands what the Koran defines as innocent.  Indeed, given the verse immediately following, one has to suspect that Obama, the "Holy" Koran follower, is speaking in code.  Also, why is he calling it the "Holy" Koran.  Barring some parity at the end of the speech where he says "Holy" Bible, he's never before used the "Holy" Bible formulation.  Takes pandering too far.]  And the Holy Koran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. (Applause.) The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism — it is an important part of promoting peace. [Okay, don't insult your audience.  Get them to work with you, not against you.  Islam is the problem, but Islam also has to work on the solution, so a little praise here is probably a good thing.]

Now, we also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who’ve been displaced. That’s why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend on.  [Where in the world is all this money coming from?  We're broke.]

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. (Applause.) [Splendid waffle there.]  Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future — and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. [Wouldn't that be George Bush's policy?]  And I have made it clear to the Iraqi people — (applause) — I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. [And yes, George Bush's policy again.]  And that’s why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. [Which is a result of George Bush's surge and a (smart) repudiation of his campaign promise to have troops out in 100 days.]  That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012. (Applause.) [This would, again, be Bush, not "campaign Obama" speaking.] We will help Iraq train its security forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget our principles. Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. (Applause.)  [Whatever.  He's going to outsource torture and he's going to build a new, identical facility, give it a brand new name, and do the same old, same old.]

So America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.  [Good.]

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.  [Because Jews are pathetic they deserve their own country?  Feh.  At least he's reiterated support, even those his actions lately belie that.]

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed — more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. [Good for him for saying that.]  Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.  [Good again.]

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. [Excuse me? Is he implying Jews have persecuted Arab Christians?  This is a whopper.  It's the Muslims who have persecuted Christians, and have finally succeeded in almost completely de-Christianizing Bethlehem for the first time since Christ himself.]  For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. (Applause.)  [This is an unconscionable paragraph, that completely ignores the actual history of the regime.  It ignores the 1924 mandate that gave Jordan to the Palestinian people.  It ignores the fact that, in 1948, the Arabs attached the tiny new Jewish nation, willingly abandoning their own villages to make room for war.  It ignores the fact that Arabs have been in a perpetual state of war against Israel since 1948.  It ignores the fact that surrounding Arab nations have intentionally kept the Palestinian refugees in those territories as a running sore.  It ignores the fact that Israel (a) offered to hand over 97% of the territories but was refused and (b) handed over Gaza, to no result.  Yes, the Palestinians are a problem, but to imply that it's all Israel's fault is the kind of big lie Goebbels would have loved.]

For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It’s easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding [historical revisionism:  it's not the displacement.  The displacement is a symbol for the world to writhe about.  The problem is the existence of a Jewish nation in violation of the commandments in the peace and equality loving "Holy" Koran], and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. ["Hostility and attacks" seems like an awfully bland formulation considering the Palestinians oft-repeated desire to commit complete genocide against the Israelis.]  But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. (Applause.)  [Yeah, but what's that mean?]

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires. (Applause.) [Yes.  Another American president grabs the Middle Eastern tar baby.]  The obligations — the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them — and all of us — to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.  [A point is appropriate, but I don't get the black analogy in this context, because it would mean he's saying Palestinians are slaves to the Jews -- and he couldn't be saying that, could he?]

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.  [Does he really not understand that Hamas' sole raison d'etre is to destroy Israel?  I'm not imagining this.  Hamas leaders say it all the time.  Governing is just a time-waster.]

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.) This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. (Applause.)  [It does not violate previous agreements.  It's always been understood that Israel can maintain normal growth on old settlements.  This is a cruel slap, and Obama is not winning Jewish love for this one.]

And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.  [He doesn't seem to understand that, until the killing stops, Israel cannot take away the barriers to Palestinians earning their livings.  Anyway, the Palestinians don't really want that.  If Israel gives them access to the livelihoods they demand the overwhelming flow of cash money from the West stops, and that's worth more than a few jobs.]

And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.  [That needed to be said, and he gets kudos for saying it.]

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. (Applause.) We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.  [Meaningless.  Not quite straw men, but close.]

Too many tears have been shed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra — (applause) — as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, [Muslims, whenever they mention Muhammad, add "peace be upon him."  Is Obama a Muslim?] joined in prayer. (Applause.)

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It’s about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.  [Is it me, or has he said absolutely nothing at all here?]

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that’s why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. (Applause.) And any nation — including Iran — should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I’m hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.  [One word:  idiot.  No, two words:  delusional idiot.  No, six words:  America-hating, Israel-hating Leftist anarchist.]

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. (Applause.)

I know — I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere. (Applause.)  [So, after saying he'd never impose democracy on other people, he then goes on to say that people must govern themselves, which is Democracy.  He talks like a bad lawyer.  His ultimate principle, too, is right out of the Bush playbook.]

Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments — provided they govern with respect for all their people.  [Is he listening to himself?  ACORN, attempts to stifle talk radio, increased American media control, government ownership of industry, etc. -- these are all tools Obama uses to destroy Americans' control over their own destiny.  I think the word "hypocrite" applies well here.]

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they’re out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. (Applause.) [It takes one to know one.]  So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Barack Obama, we love you!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. [Uh, no.  About 800 years ago, Islam had a brief, shining moment during which it elevated some smart Jews to prominence.  It's had a few other moments of tolerance when it's in control, although that's usually because there's been a secular government in a country with an Islamic population (Indonesia and Turkey spring to mind).  Otherwise, throughout its history, it's been strikingly intolerant of other religions.  Jihad means bringing Islam by the sword.  With respect to other religions it kills, enslaves, taxes, confines, etc.  What is he talking about?  Is this his version of "truth"?]  We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it’s being challenged in many different ways.

Among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of somebody else’s faith. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld — whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. (Applause.) And if we are being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims, as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.  [Have we not been honest before, Obama?]

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That’s why I’m committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.  [I don't know what he's talking about, but I do know that America has been cracking down on Muslim charities that are fronts for terrorism.  Is that what he's talking about?]

Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit — for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We can’t disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.  [Obama doesn't understand that the clothes Muslim women wear are products of tradition, not religious doctrine.  The former gets less respect than the latter.  For example, if women want to cling to the clothing tradition, then they have to give up the right to drive, because the state should not be forced to take pictures of a bunch of rags with eye slits for driver's licenses.  And again, I find it very disturbing that his example of Muslim religious freedom is to harp on an Arab tradition of subjugating women.]

In fact, faith should bring us together. And that’s why we’re forging service projects in America to bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That’s why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action — whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.

The sixth issue — the sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights. (Applause.) I know –- I know — and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. (Applause.) And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well educated are far more likely to be prosperous.  [There he goes again with the hijab.  Maybe it's freudian, and he wishes he could shut Michelle down.]

Now, let me be clear: Issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, we’ve seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.  [To equate feminazi demands for equal pay for comparable jobs to women stoned to death for adultery is cheap.]

I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons. (Applause.) Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity — men and women — to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. And that is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams. (Applause.)  [Good.]

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and change in communities. In all nations — including America — this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities — those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith. [Fine.]

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradictions between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies enormously while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.  [Aside from the fact-free pander, fine.]

And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf states have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century — (applause) — and in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas. I’m emphasizing such investment within my own country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.  [Fine.]

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America. (Applause.) At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.  [I'm not sure what to think of this.  After 9/11, I'm not thrilled about inviting Muslims into the country.  I'd make it conditional on their being forced to engage in some cross-cultural activities (such as going to churches and synagogues, to grow beyond their blind prejudices, and I'd bar them from attending radical mosques.]

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.  [Considering that sharia law bars paying interest on money, I don't see a benefit to American businesses to get involved in investing in sharia economies -- but what do I know?]

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs. We’ll open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops. Today I’m announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.  [Where's the money coming for this?]

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.  [We are?  Ready, that is.]

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world that we seek — a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.  [Words, words, words.  Pretty, but neither soaring nor visionary.]

I know there are many — Muslim and non-Muslim — who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort — that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There’s so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country — you, more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.  [Ditto.]

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort — a sustained effort — to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It’s easier to start wars than to end them. It’s easier to blame others than to look inward. It’s easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There’s one rule that lies at the heart of every religion — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Applause.) This truth transcends nations and peoples — a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us: “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Applause.)  [Here's that unusual "Holy" Bible reference.]

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you. [Normally, Americans say "May God bless you."  What's interesting about this phrase is how it echoes the fact, which I appointed out above, that Muslims, whenever they mention Muhammad, add "peace be upon him."  Didn't Obama think anyone would notice this parallelism?] Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

Obama’s silence about a terrorist plot against the US military on American soil *UPDATED*

It’s been two days since our Commander in Chief lost one of his own in an attack on American soil — and his silence is deafening.  When an abortionist died, our CIC instantly issued a public statement and used federal marshals to beef up security at abortion clinics.  When one of his own men died in the line of duty (because recruiting is part of the job) . . . crickets chirping.

It’s getting worse, too.  It appears that 23 year old Pvt. William Long’s death was part of a larger terrorist conspiracy on American soil:

The man charged with the Arkansas military recruiter shooting might have considered other targets, according to law enforcement officials.

A joint FBI-Homeland Security intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press said officers found maps to Jewish organizations, a child care center, a Baptist church, a post office and military recruiting centers in the southeastern U.S. and New York and Philadelphia.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and in light of newly discovered information, the FBI cannot rule out additional subjects, targets, or the potential for inspired copy cats who might act out in support of the original act,” the intelligence assessment said.

Muslim-convert Abdulhakim Muhammed has pleaded not guilty to Monday’s deadly shooting in a suburban Little Rock shopping center where Pvt. William Long, 23 was killed and Pvt. Quinton I. Ezeagwula, 18, was wounded.

By the way, if you want to see true dignity in the face of death, tune in to this heartrending video of a conversation with Pvt. Long’s father.

Also, as you listen to Obama’s echoing silence, keep in mind his statement yesterday that “American is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.”  Aside from demonstrating the complete factual inanity of that statement, Melanie Phillips also asks if it was indeed just a statement . . . or an aspiration?

UPDATE:  You won’t be surprised to learn that the Anchoress has attacked this issue and embroidered it into a much larger (and quite disturbing) cloth.  Nor, of course, will it surprise you to learn that Michelle Malkin has a whole article dissecting this peculiar “liberal” (we really mean “illiberal”) pathology of prejudice.

UPDATE IIMichelle Malkin caught the flaccid little condolence statement Obama finally uttered.

The scariest video I’ve ever seen

To the extent that this video may be the production of a pro-Muslim organization, it could also be seen as a boast, not a warning.  Regardless of the intentions behind it, those of us who cherish a Judeo-Christian, Western civilization must sit up and take notice — although I’m not sure that, in the end, there’s anything we can do anymore.  Taking notice may just mean sitting there and watching the end of the world as we know it.

Can it happen here? *UPDATED*

In an earlier post, I directed your attention to the incredibly disturbing footage of Pakistani village authorities brutally whipping a teenage girl before a throng of men, because she violated Sharia norms by being seen in public with her father in law.  The footage is disturbing on many levels, not the least of which is the fact that the whole spectacle has a pornographic smell to it, one that makes clear how much of Sharia law is driven by Muslims’ deep fear of female sexuality — but that’s a rumination for another day.

What I want to talk about is whether this could ever happen here.  Certainly Muslims want it to happen here.  Their oft stated goal is a Sharia-compliant world, with every nation having as its one and only law Sharia law.  Given this goal, and given the Islamists’ willingness to steal planes and acquire bombs and lust after anthrax, it’s more than just a hypothetical possibility.

But I don’t think we need to worry right now about Sharia appearing in the West courtesy of a mushroom shaped cloud or virulent bacteria.  The more immediate concern is the fact that, through political correctness, the Western world is already reading itself to deal with creeping sharia law.

Leading the way, as always, is England, which is allowing sharia courts, even though there is every indication that this will trap Muslim women in a British sharia hell; routinely banning pigs from public discourse (Oh Piglet, Piglet, wherefore art though Piglet?); slavishly redesigning innocuous packaging to avoid ruffling Muslim sensibilities (ice cream, anybody?); protecting men from being charged with dangerous traffic violations so they can speed from one wife to another; etc.  The list is endless.

In America, we periodically hear stories about accommodations for Muslims who don’t want to drive people carrying alcohol (as if it could leap out of the bottle spontaneously and attack the driver); about Muslims refusing to share public university prayer spaces; about Muslims demanding special foot baths at public universities (and weren’t those high tech “required” foot baths a popular item in the vast Saudi Arabian desert in the 7th Century); or about Muslim women insisting that their driver’s license show nothing more than their eyes, rather than conceding that, if they want to practice the extreme Islamic tradition of a hijab, maybe driving is not an option.

On the whole, we in America are a solicitous people and, with our pluralist religious history, we’re willing to make reasonable accommodations.  Generally, we like it that people are able to live religious lives — as long as they don’t impinge on our own lives.  What’s different about the Muslim demands is the impingement that goes with them — you may not drive in our publicly licensed taxis unless you change your behavior; you may not worship in this public space unless you worship our way; you must abandon the commonly accepted public safety feature of a photo ID card so our women can be anonymous; and so on and so forth.

Each of these Islamic incursions on the public space has resulted in a hoo-ha (otherwise we wouldn’t know about them), and most, when they become known, have been reversed.  The fact remains, however, that there cumulative effect from these sharia attacks on our culture that is akin to water dripping on rock.  One drop has no effect.  Two drops, no effect.  A thousand drops, no effect.  But you get enough drops and the shape of the rock — in this case, the shape of the American body social and politic — begins to change and to conform to the water’s ceaseless demands.

I have an Irish friend who firmly believes that America’s deep rooted sense of liberty cannot be so easily drip-dropped away, whether the drops fall from the Sharia cadre or from the statists in the Obama administration.  He believes that a deep, long-lived history focused on individualism and independence will rebel.  I wonder.

I’d like to think that, if I were that teenage girl about to get flogged, I’d fight and fight and fight.  I’d be hurt anyway, but at least I wouldn’t just yield to barbarity.  But even if I fought, even if I waved the flag of independence, and humanism, and freedom, would it matter if everyone stood around me and stared, as those men in the crowd watching the beating stand and stare.  I’d be willing to bet that, in that crowd, many were true believers, and many were men whose stomachs churned at the horror, but who said nothing, because they were trained to accept. Whatever their reason, they stood and they stared.

In this regard, it’s worth noting that, when Hitler came to power in 1933, he did so with just barely more than 50% of the popular vote.  There was never a time when the majority of Germans were members of the Nazi party.  For most Germans, right through the end of the War, their crime wasn’t active complicity with Nazi atrocities, it was passive complicity.  From a mixture of fear and brain washing, they just went along.

As I said, my Irish friend thinks Americans won’t just go along.  But when I look at what passes for education in our public schools, I’m very worried that we’re raising a generation that will be so compliant and so lacking in a non-relativistic sense of right and wrong that, first, they’ll allow creeping sharia to become dominant sharia (so un-PC to object) and, second, once it’s dominant they, through a mixture of fear and braining washing, will just go along.  And they too will stand their silently and watch when one of their school mates is flogged bloody or hanged or decapitated for having violated sharia norms.

The 2010 election matters.  It matters not just because I don’t like Obama’s economic and social policies.  It also matters because it is the last election in which Americans will have a chance to renew their sense of individualism and liberalism.  You see, while Obama thinks he’s paving the way for a wonderful socialist state, I think he’s unwittingly grooming the population to be the passive recipients of law laid down by true believers who make Obama and his progressives look like impotent little children.

UPDATE:  I was spurred to write the above post because of the video I watched showing the girl getting beaten.  Turns out, though, that creeping sharia is on other people’s minds — not how we might respond to the more extreme demands, but how we are responding to the “reasonable” demands.

How to avoid the stigma of being called an apartheid state

The head of the UN General Assembly just called Israel an “apartheid” state.  In other words, Israel is emblematic of evil in the world.  I’ve finally realized what the problem is:  Israel has a mixed population.

Think about it:  Iraq expelled her Jews and hounded her Christians into obscurity.  Saudi Arabia makes it illegal to be Jewish or Christian — so there are no Jews or Christians, making it a nice, homogenous population.  Iran also simply expelled or murdered different people.  The same holds true for Arab/Muslim state after Arab/Muslim state, all of whom are in good odor at the UN.

The secret, therefore, to avoid this insulting epithet isn’t to try to accommodate your hostile minority populations.  Instead, the secret is to destroy them entirely.  Once they’re good and gone, and once you’ve become a completely homogeneous racial or religious state by virtue of their (enforced) absence, nobody can tar you with the crime of being an “apartheid state.”

Orwell would be proud.