“We will convey,” said Barack Obama to the Turkish Parliament Monday, “our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country”…Were there Muslims along Paul Revere’s ride, or standing next to Patrick Henry when he proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death”? Were there Muslims among the framers or signers of the Declaration of Independence, which states that all men – not just Muslims, as Islamic law would have it – are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…Were there Muslims among those who drafted the Constitution and…enumerated the Bill of Rights, which guarantees – again in contradiction to the tenets of Islamic law – that there should be no established national religion, and that the freedom of speech should not be infringed?…Did Muslims play a role in the great struggle over slavery that defined so much of our contemporary understandings of the nature of this republic and of the rights of the individual within it? They did not…Obama: Islam Has Shaped the U.S.A., Robert Spencer, Front Page, 4/7/2009
In Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, there’s a photo of the late Senator Hubert Humphrey shouting from a podium to a crowd. The caption? “Yes, my friends, I used to be a Jew….” The caption is obviously made up by the author Thompson, but, as an illumination of the craven in politics, the cartoon more than made its point about a kind of politics that enlists people solely on the basis of their membership in a given ethnic group. The resulting “coalition” is a confabulation of competing minor interests. Their “representatives” can satisfy them all with lip service to each group's agenda instead of with action.
Such craven behavior on an international stage, however, is an act based on blind ignorance. Muslims in the Middle East, or elsewhere, are not constituents to be bribed, or otherwise won, in a Chicago election district. Such oratory is an effort to bridge the gap between the world as it is, a hotbed of local conflicts, sometimes between major powers, and a world as it is fantasized about by bureaucrats in Brussels and Washington, D.C. The President was addressing Muslims as if they were an ignored constituency in a universal nation, as if he were the Emperor of the Earth.
Such hubris is not greeted kindly. Such hubris suggests a speaker who considers his own delusions more important than the reality of his audience. Semper tyrannis.…