Middle East studies in the News
Birds of a Feather [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Victor Volsky
Is Barack Hussein Obama a Muslim? Even if he were, it would hardly matter. For his policies are apparently animated by an ideology that, even though a polar opposite of militant Islam, is little different from it in terms of objectives and results.
One can understand why so many people believe that Obama might be a Muslim. After all, his first official phone call as U.S. President was to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, signaling the new administration's foreign policy priorities. His first foreign trip was to Egypt. His first major foreign policy initiative proclaimed in his June 2009 Cairo speech was an extended hand to the Muslim world.
And how about his close friendship with Rashid Khalidi, a PLO propagandist and former mouthpiece for master terrorist Yasser Arafat? His rhapsodic observation that the muezzin's call to prayer is the "prettiest" sound in creation? His beyond-ludicrous assertions that America is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world and that from the time of America's founding Muslims have enriched the American legacy? His sonorous proclamation in the Cairo speech that "Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance"? His frequent deeply reverential references to the "Holy Koran" (has he ever referred to the Bible as "Holy?")? His deep bow to the Saudi King?
Even his famous gaffe that the U.S. comprises 57 states may have been a Freudian slip suggesting that the entity he actually had on his mind was the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which indeed has 57 member-states. Sometimes his seemingly infinite affinity for all things Muslim goes to ridiculous lengths, as when he tasked NASA with a new mission of raising Muslims' self-esteem by pointing out their invaluable historical contribution to aerospace science (did he by any chance mean the magic carpet from the Arabian Nights?).
Add to that Obama's hostility to America's allies in the Middle East -- all those "Westernizing" Mubaraks, Salehs, and Kaddafis -- which is particularly striking compared to his humble, almost ingratiating attitude toward Islamic radicals like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian ayatollahs. Why did he stay studiously aloof during the mass protests in Iran in the summer of 2009 when a mere gesture of moral support could have put a lot of pressure on the mullahs? Aside from Obama's overwhelming desire for negotiations with the Teheran regime in a delusional belief in his own magical powers of persuasion, was it because the protesters openly proclaimed their admiration for America? Under Obama, it is dangerous to be a friend of America; on the other hand, it is pretty safe to be her enemy.
But is such overt and boundless Islamophilia evidence of Islamic affiliation? Not necessarily. There is a more plausible explanation: Barack Obama is simply a far-left radical progressive, a member in good standing of a community whose ideology is not all that different from the Islamist worldview. This makes the two movements allies, as it were. Name just about any policy area, and everywhere the objectives of radical progressives and militant Muslims dovetail so closely as to be virtually indistinguishable.
At the root of such harmony of visions lies their shared visceral hatred for America.
Both Islamists and far-left radicals see the U.S. as the focus of all evil. Both believe that America must get her comeuppance. The Islamists call the U.S. the Great Satan, which is exactly what the radicals would call their country were they religiously inclined. But since they are not, they call America a greedy, imperialist aggressor and vicious oppressor, the paramount enemy of mankind.
Granted, there may be some divergence in the ultimate intentions of the two implacable enemies of America. The radicals want to destroy America so as to rebuild her in their own image, while the Islamists are intent on wiping her off the face of the earth. But that's a distinction without a difference.
How are the vehemently anti-American diatribes spouted by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose fiery sermons Barack Obama had absorbed for 20 years and whom Obama calls his "moral compass," different from the incandescent lava of hatred for all things American spewed forth by Wahhabi preachers during Friday prayers? Is there much difference between the Chicago pastor's furious scream "G-d damn America" and the frenzied Muslim rabble's chant "Death to America"?
Both Islamists and Western leftists view the third-world people as heroic martyrs and victims of American imperialism. Fittingly, many Democrats believe that 9/11 was an inside job. It's not only irrational hatred for George W. Bush that is behind this "theory," but also reluctance to blame the real culprits. Doing so would clash with the progressive view that the third world is pure as the driven snow. Thus, the left is virtually impelled to seek a way to exonerate the actual evildoers. But somebody must be blamed for that heinous act of mass terror. Enter George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
Both Islamists and radical leftists demand a redistribution of the world's wealth from the industrial West to the impoverished third world. That underdeveloped countries dream of perpetual welfare is understandable. Lacking education, technical and managerial skills, or work ethic, handouts from the guilt-ridden Western suckers are their lifeline. And seeing how these benefactors cringe with embarrassment at their own riches, the third world has come to believe that tribute is its rightful due. Its attitude is like that of a panhandler: the more the mark is obsessed with guilt at the sight of the beggar's misery, the more impudent the latter turns. Pleading gives way to demands, begging to threats.
And the progressives want nothing more than to oblige. They seek to assuage their guilty consciences and experience a rush induced by the feeling of their moral superiority. They wallow in guilt, a source of acute pleasure because it allows them to separate themselves from the benighted masses, replete as these masses are with prejudices and bigotry, and preen as superior beings.
Islamists hate Christianity, and so do radical progressives, although the former hate a rival religion, while the latter despise religion as such. But progressives pay proper deference to Islam, because they view it as part of the culture of the oppressed (and also for fear of violent retribution, for which the adherents of the "religion of peace" are justly notorious). But the upshot is the same. The progressive left mercilessly ridicules Christianity at home while studiously turning a blind eye to the more vigorous forms of hatred for the Christian infidel, the burnings and killings, rife in Muslim countries.
Another point of agreement between the far left and radical Islam is their shared anti-Semitism and implacable hostility toward Israel. Is it a coincidence that Obama has demanded that Israel return to its 1967 borders, which would place her in a totally untenable position and which is exactly what the Palestinians want? Again, there is a slight divergence of ultimate goals between the two: the Islamists dream of destroying the Small Satan and exterminating all Jews, while the American radicals would be content to see Israel wiped off the map and its inhabitants (what's left of them, anyway) merely dispersed to all four corners of the world. But for practical purposes the Islamists and the radicals are allies, forming two prongs of a pincers squeezing Israel.
Actually, some Muslims are more ambiguous in their attitude toward the Jewish state. For all their bloodcurdling proclamations, the Arab rulers understand full well the utility of Israel as a safety valve for the frustration and anger of their restive populations. At heart, they are actually not so keen on Israel's destruction. As for the far left, it is uncompromising in its disdain for the only democracy and America's sole reliable ally in the Middle East. Which foreign leader is the one Obama hates and despises more than anybody else? Chávez? Assad? Ahmadinejad? No, it's Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu. Enough said.
The American left and the Middle East potentates also see eye to eye on the issue of America's dependence on imported oil. Obama's staunch refusal to develop America's abundant energy resources and the roadblocks he has been throwing in the path of the domestic oil industry are in perfect harmony with the policy objectives of the oil sheiks of Arabia, even though the two allies may be animated by different motives. The Arabs wish to keep America hooked forever on their oil by preventing the U.S. from developing her vast hydrocarbon resources. As for the home-grown radicals, they seek to impose their "green" agenda on their country, however impractical it may be. Different motivations but a happy marriage of tactics and policies, cementing America's dependence on Middle East oil.
Now imagine that an Islamist mole has been planted in the White House. Would he behave any differently from Obama? Maybe he would be more cautious for fear of being found out, but ultimately he would pursue exactly the same kind of policies. So is Obama a Muslim? Maybe he is, and maybe he isn't. But when all is said and done, it doesn't make a dime's worth of difference.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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