Tags: America's Forum | Barack Obama | ISIS/Islamic State | James Zogby | Obama | prayer breakfast | ISIS

James Zogby: Obama's Speech Was 'Right on Target'

By    |   Friday, 06 February 2015 11:17 AM

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said Friday on "America’s Forum" on Newsmax TV that President Barack Obama was "right on target" in his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in which he compared the Islamic State’s (ISIS) barbaric acts to those committed by Christians during the Crusades and the Inquisition.

"As [Obama] said that when we do this, we're not doing this from a position of patronizing other societies as much as we are speaking from the experience of a culture and a civilization that has erred in the past, that continues to err in the present, and that understands its own flaws and understands the need to move forward," Zogby said.

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"He spoke at this time about the Inquisition but he also talked about Jim Crow, something that Condoleezza Rice spoke about when she used to talk about human rights issues. She would begin at the starting point of humility and then move forward.

"It's a very convincing way to speak to an audience about change. It's to start with your own faults and then move forward. It was a very important device."

Zogby defended how the president has responded to both Muslim nations and American Muslims about their need to participate in combating the Islamic State.

"He had a group of Muslim leaders at the White House just the day before the prayer breakfast, and he was very firm in his conversations with them about the need to develop a partnership here at home to make sure that we root out the problem of violent extremism here in America," Zogby said. "I don't think he's been shy about asking this at all."

There are places you can criticize Obama’s foreign policy, according to Zogby, but "I don't think this is one of them."

The mindset of radical jihadists, he said, can be explained by centuries of people having been "socially, politically, and economically dislocated."

"As a result of that, you have this trauma, a collective trauma that has produced this aberrant reaction, and the language of religion is what is being used as people act on their trauma," Zogby said. "It's not the first time in history, it's not the first place in history where we've had this kind of antisocial behavior. We've got to get to the bottom of it.

"Part of it, of course, has to be forceful action to stop people from doing things they do. The other part of it has to be helping the region advance, move forward, and get over this trauma. And you now have countries that are moving forward trying to deal with it."

The video of the Islamic State burning alive a 26-year-old Jordanian fighter pilot will likely receive a mixed reaction in Muslim countries, according to Zogby.

"If you're a lost, angry, pimply faced kid living some place in a slum in Europe, hate your country, hate the country you came from, feel that nobody loves or respects you and you look at this, you may get the opposite reaction and say, 'God, these guys are actually doing something' and it may make you more radicalized," he said.

"That will be the reaction for an absolute, infinitesimal minority, but for the majority it will galvanize it. It has been a horrific thing for people to see and even those who didn't see it just to know about it, that this level of barbarity is what people have sunk to."

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James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute, said Friday on America's Forum on Newsmax TV that President Barack Obama was "right on target" in his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast.
James Zogby, Obama, prayer breakfast, ISIS, Islamic State, crusades
Friday, 06 February 2015 11:17 AM
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