There is little doubt President Barack Obama gave a well-delivered speech to the Muslim world today. For that, he deserves credit. Where he ultimately failed was his avoidance of the tough issues.
While his lofty rhetoric touched on some of the bones I am about to pick, it wasn’t specific enough to make a difference. Here is where he fell down and fell short:
1. Religious tolerance. Jews are vilified and persecuted throughout the Muslim world. From outright murder to blood libel, many Islamic nations equate Judaism with evil. If you will recall, Egyptian television even made a mini-series based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the tsarist libel of a people and a religion. That should have merited a mention.
What also should have received attention is the sad state of Coptic Christians. While they comprise ten percent of Egypt, a secular nation, they are the subjects of periodic perseuction both state-sponsored and, usually, private ventures on the part of extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
2. Holocaust equivalence. As Erick has pointed out, and related to the above, was the passage where Obama compared the plight of Jews at the hands of Nazis to the Palestinian issue. If there were any comparison at all, there would be no Palestinian issue because the Palestinians would have been murdered by the Israelis. I think that about sums it up, doesn’t it?
3. Iranian nuclear weapons and power. For the love of Pete, why in the hell does an oil-exporting nation need “peaceful nuclear power?” Let me submit for the same reason the North Koreans once claimed they did, Mr. President. Since you are so gung-ho that the petro-states get nuclear power, Mr. President, why do you oppose it in the United States? That contradiction is inexplicable unless you think the United States needs to be deprived of energy to level the economic playing field. And while we are at it, today would have been a nice time to emphasize Israel has the right to defend itself against Iranian nukes even if that means a first strike.
4. Torture. You apologized for American “torture” in Egypt, Mr. President. Do you know which nation continues to perfect torture? It ain’t America, sir. And the hypocrisy of Egyptians applauding your condemnation of waterboarding is beyond words.
You could have been a brave man today, Mr. President. Instead you went for the cheap applause lines and delivered an eloquent and ultimately empty speech.