President Barack Obama seems destined to change America's relationship to the world's Muslims, a destiny for which he is better equipped than any other politician in American history.
His Kenyan father was a nominal Muslim. His middle name Hussein is culturally Muslim. His formative years in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country included mosque attendance, according to his childhood friends.
And this week, as pundits noted, the president resembled half of the Cairo audience before which he spoke. No wonder that more than one of every eight Americans suspects that Obama may be a secret Muslim.
Obama chose to take a soft, conciliatory approach in his speech addressed to the world's 1.5 billion Muslims.
This may prove to be wise, or it may be perceived as weakness and give radical Islamists the impression that America's president is a pushover.
As Israelis traditionally say of the Arab Muslims around them: “They're either at your feet or at your throat.”
To be perceived as weak and compromising in this tough neighborhood can be fatal, as has been shown repeatedly over thousands of years.
What if President Obama had chosen instead to take a hard line, giving a speech designed not to win love but to gain respect for American power and resolve? What might he have said?
A completely hard-line approach would have been to give no Muslim-oriented speech at all. Had Islamist terrorists not attacked the United States on 9-11 and murdered 3,000 Americans, Islam would be a back-burner issue. American children would not be studying Arab culture nor memorizing Muslim prayers in public schools where Christian prayers are prohibited.
Any Obama speech therefore implicitly confirms Osama bin Laden's success.
A semi-hard-line approach to the Muslim Middle East would have begun with a presidential visit to Israel, the only full democracy in the region, a visit that included statements by President Obama reaffirming our full commitment to the safety and survival of the Jewish State.
Instead, Obama landed first in Saudi Arabia, “the place where Islam began,” and ritually bowed to receive a golden chain from its unelected ruler.
“This chain reminds me of the ones Muslim slave traders put around the necks of the Africans they sold to Europeans, who took these captives in bondage to the New World,” President Obama could have told the world press. “And in parts of East Africa today Muslims continue to enslave non-Muslims, barbarity that should be condemned by all civilized human beings.”
Obama deliberately arranged to meet his wife, Michelle, in Paris later in his trip. The apparent reason: Muslim fundamentalists would expect a woman in the presence of the Saudi ruler to wear a veil.
“I would like to introduce my wife, Michelle,” President Obama could have told his audience. “The Quran has no requirement that women be veiled — only that they dress 'modestly.' In America, men and women are equals. You should learn from the example of Muhammad's wives. One was a skilled blacksmith. Another led an army in combat. All spoke out and were active in the politics of their community, as you should allow your wives and daughters to be today.
“Islam had a glorious dawn of scholarship and learning,” a hard-line President Obama could have said. “Islam's first Golden Age happened during Christendom's Dark Ages. The West today enjoys a Golden Age of science, technology and learning while Islam struggles to climb out its own Dark Ages.
“In the West's year 1400, we were just beginning to rediscover the lost achievements of our Greek and Roman ancestors, thanks in part to documents copied by Muslim scholars,” President Obama could have said.
“This is Islam's year 1400 and could mark your return from darkness to a new, enlightened dawn in which Muslims remember that Allah gave humans brains so that we could discover the wonders of his cosmos. We in the West, as fellow People of the Book, will help you leave the darkness of Islamism, just as enlightened Muslims long ago helped us outgrow our own Dark Ages.
“But let no one doubt that,” President Obama could have continued, “if Islamist terrorists attack the United States with nuclear weapons obtained from Muslim Pakistan or Muslim Iran, we will destroy those nations with atomic hellfire. Likewise, we shall show no mercy to any who use chemical or biological weapons against the Israelis, God's chosen keepers of the holy city of Jerusalem.”
Following his Cairo speech, President Obama headed to Europe to visit a Nazi death camp and the German city of Dresden, which the British firebombed during World War II (Obama thereby implying that Nazi and Allied behavior had moral equivalance), and then the Normandy beaches for the 65th Anniversary of D-Day.
While in France, a hard-line President Obama also could visit Tours and/or Poitiers and deliver a speech about how Christian knights led by Charles “The Hammer” Martel defeated a Muslim army invading France in 732, a turning point in the Islamic tide whose 800-year rule over parts of Spain ended with the Christian “Reconquista” in 1492.
“Had Martel lost,” President Obama could say, “the Western Enlightenment would never have happened. Koranic Sharia law would rule Eurabia, and European cities today would echo five times daily with the call to Islamic prayer — oh wait, that's happening now.
“An enlightened Islam might convert hearts and persuade minds by its example. It might democratically become the majority faith by making love instead of war, outbreeding the rest of us, if that is God's will,” President Obama could say.
“But like the West's declarations of human rights, the Quran says there should be no compulsion in religion. Like Charles Martel, civilized humankind will never allow Islamists to impose their ungodly imitation of Islam by fire, sword and terrorism.”
President Obama, rest assured, never will say such politically incorrect, multiculturally insensitive things.
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