Thursday, June 04, 2009

President Obama appeals to the children of Abraham

Well, here at last is Barack Obama’s speech to the ‘Muslim world’. And here is a summary of the initial (predictable) reactions.

When Cranmer first heard back in March that the President was intending to make such a speech, he speculated on what might be the best Islamic capital from which to make it. While Cairo was an attractive possibility, he recalls expressing a certain disquiet at such a high-profile visit being made during a general election year, and thought that Tower Hamlets might be more fitting.

Clearly, the perception of interference in Egypt’s internal affairs is of no concern at all to President Obama. And Cranmer could not have foreseen that the UK might itself be on the cusp of a general election.

But before Cranmer turns to the speech, he wishes to deal with this ‘Muslim world’ concept.

There isn’t one.

There is no more social cohesion, unity of doctrine or meeting of minds among the disparate expressions of Islam as there are between the myriad of denominations, factions and cults which purport to constitute Christendom. The ‘Muslim world’ is itself a patronisingly convenient classification of the West in precisely the same manner that ‘Hindu’ became an enduring legacy of the British Empire. The ‘Muslim world’ is meaningless because it implies a geographic entity unified by a monolithic faith – a caliphate. But the ‘Muslim world’ has no universal understanding of this, and so the concept of a ‘Muslim world’ is as meaningless to Muslims as it is to those of other faiths and none. It is as vacuous as an attempt to address to the Sikh world.

But to the speech.

It was replete with all of the great themes of ‘tension’ – violent extremism, Israel/Palestine, Iran’s nuclear ambition, democracy, religious freedom, women’s rights and economic development – but there was little expressed understanding of the religio-political ideology which gives birth to the divergences.

He avoided the link between violent extremism and extremist ideology, and he omitted altogether to mention that terrorism cannot be defeated until the ideology that breeds it is confronted. That's too much of a pig in an Islamic poke, a Muslim bull in the china shop of civilisation, or an Quranic elephant in the room of enlightened theology - whatever. But the President did call for ‘a new beginning... based upon mutual interest and mutual trust’.

That’s nice.

But new beginnings require regeneration and a mutual commitment to set aside (indeed, forget) the differences and grievances of the past. It will take more than one political speech to erase a thousand years of religious conflict.

Barack Obama (or is he ‘Hussein’ on this mission?) flatters his audience with a quotation from the Qur’an (which he terms ‘Holy’): ‘Be conscious of God and always speak the truth.’ As if the God of the Qur’an were the same as the God of the Torah and the New Testament, and ‘truth’ were a universal revelation to the world’s three expressions of monotheism. And in this ‘consciousness’ of God he alludes to the ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ of the Muslims in Chicago as though they were hewn of the same rock as the Muslims of Cairo. And he talks of America being ‘enriched’ by their history, learning and achievements.

It’s all very nice, designed to induce soporific warm and fluffy feelings.

‘Islam is a part of America’, he assures his audience.

Well, with seven million adherents, it is reassuring that the President is aware of this.

And he says that ‘America is not and never will be at war with Islam’. It is heartening that the ‘War on Terror’ has done away with armed conflict against abstract conceptions. His preferred foreign policy approach will be ‘diplomacy and international consensus’ rather than force of arms.

Cranmer sincerely hopes that tea and persuasion can supplant armed interventionism.

He shall not hold his breath.

But after the pleasantries and homilies, the President’s comments on Israel/Palestine were surprisingly unequivocal. He referred to US support for Israel as an ‘unbreakable’ bond. And challenging those undoubted millions of Muslims who deny the Holocaust, he reasserted the truth: ‘Six million Jews were killed… Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant and hateful.’

This moved the speech into substance. President Obama not only asserts the ‘fact’ of the Holocaust, he fired calculated insults at very many in the ‘Muslim world’ by dismissing them as ‘ignorant and hateful’. And even the quid-pro-quo mention of how the ‘intolerable’ plight of the Palestinians who ‘have suffered in pursuit of a homeland’ under ‘occupation’ is hardly a counterbalance to such undiplomatic (indeed, Bush-like) language.

It is when he moves to the detail of how a settlement might be reached in the Middle East that President Obama displays an understanding of political theology which transcends most of the worlds politicians and theologians.

His ‘two-state’ solution is based on those plans which preceded him: ‘Palestinians must abandon violence’ while the ‘continued Israeli settlements’ must cease; just as Israelis must acknowledge the existence of Palestine, so must the ‘Muslim world’ acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Yet all this is done not with talk of land or rights of return, or with appeals to borders or the status of Jerusalem. He calls for peace for ‘all of the children of Abraham’.

Well done, Mr President. For there will be no peace among the nations of the world until there is peace among the religions of the world. And the key to peace in the Middle East does indeed lie with Abraham.

Cranmer has already articulated this thesis, and nominated His Holiness to preside over the religio-political implementation.

The speech carried on with a bit about democracy, a fig-leaf to Iran, an allusion to Lincoln in Gettysburg, and a bit more about Islam’s ‘proud tradition of tolerance’. But he moves into messianic mode when he exhorts the ‘Muslim world’ to ‘choose the right path, not just the easy path... We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning… a world where extremists no longer threaten our people... American troops have come home... Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own... nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes... The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth.’

And here he began to channel the spirit of Isaiah:

‘We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

‘The Holy Koran tells us: “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

‘The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

‘The Holy Bible tells us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”’

Today, in your hearing, these scriptures could be fulfilled.

And yea there was much applause, for the itching ears of the assembled throng had been well and truly scratched.

But the slaughter of pigs and purge of Christians continues apace on the backstreets of Cairo, and the President said not a word about the suffering and persecution of his brothers and sisters, and did not mention Jesus (or even Isa) once.*

*Actually, as a faithful communicant has pointed out, he did, but it was a Quranic account of the time 'when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer'. This quite remarkable gathering, spanning, as it does, millennia, would appear to have involved 'another Jesus', not to mention another Moses...

22 Comments:

Anonymous Chris said...

I think you are being a touch uncharitable, Your Grace.

He did, at least, mention the Copts in Egypt (I am sure many thought they wouldn't even get a passing mention in a speech in Egypt).

"The richness of religious diversity must be upheld - whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt."

In addition, Mr Obama/Hussein/Barack (delete as applicable), made it very clear in his interview with Justin Webb that he knows there is no such thing as the 'Muslim world' and that it is just convenient short hand.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00l95xz/Obama_The_Interview/

In fact, all in all, I thought the speech was rather good. He obviously didn't address the nitty-gritty, but that would have diplomatically foolish and naive. He shied away from excessive flourishes and was clear on some quite difficult points, many of which less-rhetorically-able statesmen and women would have hidden from.

Besides, I didin't think Your Grace regarded this as Mr Obama's first speech to an Islamic capital, I thought he had ignored Turkey's secularism and had concluded that Mr Obama's choice of Ankara had been "theologically inept and ... religio-politically short-sighted".

4 June 2009 at 17:01  
Anonymous Queen John II said...

This sort of talk rings bells in my head. There was this Sergent when I was in the RAF who would talk like this, and at first it was taken as weakness by me. But it was anything but, it was fair, and it was brutal to anyone who decided not to take advantage of its offer. It was a rapid and steep learning curve, and when I hear it, I hear it.

4 June 2009 at 17:19  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

islam is a cult religion. It is satanic and to accommodate it is to submit to it. The struggle that we in the West have is to consign islam to the pages of history, like any other brutal belief. Obama appears to me to be either a fellow-travellor of the satanic religion, or is so stupid that hd cannot see the consequences of his utterances.

4 June 2009 at 17:28  
Blogger Jomo said...

The most dangerous man in the world! - not because he is malevolent but because he is naive.

Israel left isolated and expected to sacrifice its security to make BHO look presidential. Another middle east war appears inevitable

4 June 2009 at 17:50  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

This shit-head is the American Hitler. He is promoting the worst and most pernicious pro-Islam lies the Imperialist west has in its vocabulary.

4 June 2009 at 18:07  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

The myth of tolerant and pluralistic Islam was first promoted by British Turkophile Imperialists during the era of Gladstone and Disraeli. It was used to conceal the Bulgarian atrocities.

http://emperors-clothes.com/bosnia/bat.htm

Obama is the American Hitler.

4 June 2009 at 18:09  
Blogger ZZMike said...

We here in the US were somewhat surprised to learn that we're "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world".

Up till now, we've been arguing vehemently about whether we're a Christian nation (I'd say that we're a nation of Christians - though we have people working mightily to correct that).

I'm suspicious of "new beginnings". Islam has had so many "old beginnings" (beginning around 632 AD) with infelicitous consequences that we can hardly expect any different outcome this time.

Obama's pontificating on Israel (a mixed metaphor indeed) moves me to post this short exchange between our Secretary of State and a representative of the Israeli government:

Mrs Clinton: ... clarifying President Barack Obama’s demands for Israel to stop expanding Jewish communities in areas it acquired following the 1967 Six-Day War, including Jerusalem.
. . . .
[She] explained [that] President Obama demands that there should be no expansion in these communities for the purpose of “natural growth.”

Israeli Government Press Director Daniel Seamen: "“I have to admire the residents of Iroquois territory for assuming that they have a right to determine where Jews should live in Jerusalem.”

I might add that Mr Obama has no right to make demands of Israel. And apparently he has no intention of making any demands of Iran with respect to their "peaceful nuclear program". (As they have so little in the way of natural resources - such as oil - they certainly need some means of providing electricity to their burgeoning technical industries.)

4 June 2009 at 18:19  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Obama seems very keen to stop his own countrymen prospecting or drilling for US oil in the name of the Great Big Eco-Fascist Scam. I notice he didn't spread the same message to his new Middle Eastern friends.

I wonder why?

4 June 2009 at 18:26  
Blogger John Woolman said...

Surely the charitable will remind themselves when thinking of Islam is that "there is that of God in everyone". And the worst thing a moslem might think of Obama is that he is an apostate. One hopes that no misguided moslem would act on that thought.

4 June 2009 at 18:34  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

"there is that of God in everyone".

That is a pernicious gnostic heresy.

4 June 2009 at 19:33  
Anonymous len said...

If the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the god of the Koran were the same this would make sense.But they`re not!.

4 June 2009 at 20:44  
Anonymous Chris said...

Also, Your Grace, I insist you remove your last sentence from the post as it is completly untrue. He did mention Jesus.

"when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together. (Applause.) As in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer. (Applause.) "

4 June 2009 at 20:44  
Anonymous The one that has said it said...

Repent and seek ye the Lord!

Next week you will be glad that you did.

4 June 2009 at 20:53  
Anonymous len said...

This is a total abomination, Jesus and Mohammed joined!.
Can Light be joined to darkness.?
Can Truth be joined to error.?
Jesus said I AM the Way,the Truth , and the Life.

5 June 2009 at 08:31  
Anonymous Puritan Preacher said...

An obamination indeed!
He quotes his fathers god in one breath and his mothers in the next.
A deadly brew of truth and error this.
What thinkest thou Elijah? what is thy opinion? Methinks I hear him say "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him." (1 Kings 18 v 21)

5 June 2009 at 12:28  
Anonymous Chris said...

Thank you, your Grace. One cannot help but feel that the Quranic story Mr Obama referred to was made for this very speech... If it didn't exist, he would probably have invented it.

5 June 2009 at 14:24  
Anonymous jeremy hyatt said...

Dear meeeeeeeeeeeee.......

The guy certainly rattled some cages.

And all without mentioning that the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and their descendants are victims of what we know call ethnic cleansing. Or include in his condemnation of violence the Israeli butchery in Gaza and previously the Lebanon.

Now if he'd said those things I expect some of you would explode.

Literally would be comical.

5 June 2009 at 15:54  
Anonymous len said...

Jeremy Hyatt,
Quote from Walid Shoebat a former PLO terrorist,
"Why was it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?
We did not particularly mind Jordanian rule. The teaching of the destruction of Israel was a definite part of the curriculum, but we considered ourselves Jordanian until the Jews returned to Jerusalem. Then all of a sudden we were Palestinians- they removed the star from the Jordanian flag and all at once we had a Palestinian flag"
When I finally realized the lies and myths I was taught, it is my duty as a righteous person to speak out" ( end of quote.)
The 'Palestinians are merely pawns used by the Arab world , much as the 'cannon fodder was used in the world wars.

5 June 2009 at 19:07  
Blogger ZZMike said...

For those of us not as well versed in the Koran as Mr Obama, the "story of Isra" might be unknown. In a spirit of joyful ecumenism, I provide a link:

Isra and Mi'raj

"... in the second part of the journey, the Mi'raj, [Mohammed] is taken to the heavens, where he tours the circles of heaven, and speaks with the earlier prophets such as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, and then is taken by Gabriel to Allah. "

So you see, Your Grace, it isn't an anachronism after all.

Simply fabulous.

5 June 2009 at 19:18  
Blogger WATCH AND PRAY said...

Thank you for this! I am sharing with as many as I can. Many Blessings to you my friend.

6 June 2009 at 03:35  
Anonymous len said...

How can Christ and satan be joined even in prayer?
Christianity cannot be integrated. It is incapable of amalgamation with the sinful selfishness of the world. One cannot join light and darkness, God and satan, Christ and belial.Any attempt to do so will inevitably witness the withdrawal of the Spirit of God" Ichabod" " the Glory of the Lord has departed.
Jesus himself said many false Christs and prophets would come in his name.( Mark 13: 22)

6 June 2009 at 09:27  
Anonymous len said...

Also if you reduce Christ to be merely a prophet( as muslims do) you are denying Christs Divinity and making Christ totally ineffective as to the salvation of anyone!
Satans end time agenda is surely the blending and mixing of different faiths with christianity thereby rendering the gospel of Jesus Christ totally ineffective!!!

6 June 2009 at 12:43  

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