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Blog of Mass Destruction

Pride In The President, Part 2

By The Reverend Published: June 7, 2009

Today I continue with Part 2 of my appraisal of President Obama's speech from Cairo, Egypt....

To those Muslims in Hamas, Hizbollah, al-Qaeda, or Iran,...Obama spoke honestly and directly about Israel...

Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. 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.

And to Jews and Christians, Obama made it clear that the Palestinians' plight was "intolerable".....
So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

What Palestinians must do...
Palestinians must abandon violence.

What Israel must do...
Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's.

But take note of something new from an American president. Obama spoke directly to the "settlement" problem created by radical extremist Israelis. Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post and the typical cast of American radical extremist neo-cons began hyperventilating the moment these words left Obama's mouth....
The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.

That's what true world leadership sounds like. A recognition of the problem from each side's perspective and an acknowlegment of wrongs from both sides. Community organizing...on a world stage.

I've never heard an American president own up to America's role in the overthrow of Iran's government in the 1950's. Obama's bold comments on Iran....

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.

And note that Obama did not avoid confronting Iran's wrongdoing.

The president denounces nuclear weapons in the hands of Iranians, but in so doing, he draws a new nuclear line in the sand for not only middle eastern countries, but all countries....

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 is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. 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.

On Bush, cowboy-imposed democracy....
So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

Backhanding American exceptionalism, again, Obama criticizes, indirectly, the previous administrations willingness to promote elections in Gaza, when the outcome was "presumed" to be favorable to anti-extremist forces. Instead Hamas won that election...
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.

Obama shreds the childish notion that elections alone make a democracy... 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.

An American president calls for Muslim reform, something Amerian evangelicals could take to heart, as well.....
Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's. ....fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

But without denying all people freedom of religion...
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.

Human rights, women's rights.... 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 cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.

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.

Americans can choose to be "bound by the past". Americans can choose to be afraid all the time. Americans can easily be swayed, if we choose to be, encouraged to be afraid by radical extremist opportunists from the conservative movement in America.

And so can Muslims...

There is so much fear, so much mistrust. 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 remake this world.

Obama's speech was historic and monumental....and that's why American media, for the most part, will ignore its content.

Finally, a postscript on something I blogged about this week.

Note today's AB Journal opinion page. Michael Gerson, former Bush, the Younger speechwriter, bashes Obama for his health care proposals. Jim Hoagland, Washington Post Villager, bashes Obama on American automakers.....AND....without any sense of irony, E.J. Dionne's column about how the corporate media's conservative bias shuts out any liberal policy discussions.



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