President Obama’s recent pronouncements on Islam are offering us a view of the President that is markedly different from the view he offered us over the six years leading up to the 2014 elections. Now that he faces no further elections while President, we are learning of his belief that American and European citizens are themselves fostering extremist violence by protesting the migration of Muslims into their societies.

“When people,” The President said at a European meeting held to discuss ways to minimize jihadi violence, “spew hatred toward others – because of their faith or because they’re immigrants – it feeds into terrorist narratives…It feeds a cycle of fear and resentment and a sense of injustice upon which extremists prey.”

The President seems to be suggesting that ISIS is committing the mass murder of civilians because people in Europe or America are making negative comments about Islam. No matter what horrible acts are committed in the world, it is Europe and America’s fault.

President Obama rejected the idea that the conflict between Islamic extremists and the modern world (we could say the Western world, but that would wrongly exclude countries like Japan, India, and South Korea) is caused by a fundamental conflict of ideas. He said that instead, the conflict is being caused by “cycles of conflict” and lack of dialogue.

Note that the term “cycles” suggests equal responsibility.

“Let’s bring our youth together to promote understanding and cooperation,” he added, announcing a virtual exchange program that was designed to connect one million people from America and the Middle East to engage in Internet-aided dialogue. “The terror campaigns between Sunnis and Shias,” the President went on, “will only end when major powers address their differences through dialogue.”

The Sunnis and Shias are split by a doctrinal dispute that dates back to the 600s. Their conflict will not be solved by an American president with messianic pretentions sitting them down at a table like schoolchildren and explaining that the cupcake must be shared.

And where in America is this spewing of hatred that the President is talking about? American Muslims over the fourteen years dating from 9/11 have been treated with perfect respect and acceptance, even in the teeth of horrendous atrocities committed by their extremist co-religionists both in the Middle East and on American soil. There has been no nativist reaction.

Only a highly civilized people, as we Americans have shown ourselves to be in this situation, could exhibit such poise, wisdom, and restraint. Would that our president could exhibit the same qualities.




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