President Obama's speech in Cairo today was met with mixed reviews stateside and civil applause in Egypt.
There were a few things over which I nodded my head in agreement, for instance this:
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.
Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. 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 Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.
I would have been happier with that last bit had he forgone the political correctness and just called the "violent extremism" for what it is: terrorism.
Conservatives across the blogosphere reacted. Hot Air gave a surprising lukewarm review whereas others strongly disagreed with author Ed Morrisey:
Is that a joke?
With women being stoned, raped, abused, battered, mutilated, and slaughtered on a daily basis across the globe, violence that is so often perpetrated in the name of religion, the most our president can speak about is protecting their right to wear the hijab? I would have been much more heartened if the preponderance of the speech had been about how in the 21st century, we CANNOT tolerate the pervasive abuse of our mothers and sisters and daughters.
Pundette of Pundit and Pundette writes:
Obama can't make a speech that isn't teeming with straw men. Count them if you can.
She goes further to echo Daou's point:
He slides right past the brutal reality of the repression of Muslim women, ludicrously equating their status as chattel with the American woman's "struggle for equality." Muslim girls and women lack more than education; they lack basic rights and freedoms.
Most troubling of all, the speech lacked
4. An unequivocal, firm stance on democracy: A “commitment to governments that reflect the will of the people” is not enough. Tyrants since the dawn of history have been summoning the masses to demonstrate their regimes “reflect the will of the people.”
Additionally, the statement, “America does not presume to know what is best for everyone” is equivocating on a moral point. America, from its birth, has been a champion of democracy, and should remain stalwart in its position.
As a student of history, I also know civilisation’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – 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 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.
The origins of Algebra trace back to the ancient Babylonians, who were not Muslims. It was primarily developed by the ancient Greeks.
Recent research suggests that the compass may have been discovered by Central Americans. But if not, the Chinese are then its discovers. In either case, both did so centuries before the advent of Islam.
Of course arches and spires also pre-date the arrival of Islam by centuries.
As for their gift to music, music and especially instruments are forbidden in most Islamic traditions.
It should be unnecessary to have to note that Islam’s ‘religious tolerance’ has been demonstrated for centuries. Indeed, its history is that of destroying any other religion it confronts.
Similarly, the Mohammedans’ long history of enslaving African blacks has shown their regard for ‘racial equality.’
But what are a few lies among friends?
I'm glad that Obama acknowledged, and took care to reference twice, that Arab nations should stop using Palestine as a way to incite antisemitism in which to ferry a self-serving agenda. However, for many of the conservative Jewish bloggers I read, it fell short of their expectations.
Was it a strong enough speech? Too strong for certain Arab leaders? Time will tell.
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