The topic:XB: What we really should acknowledge is the fact that calling someone Islamic or a Muslim is not a legitimate insult. If Obama was really Islamic he would oppose economic inequality as the Prophet Muhammad did in his opposition to the Quraysh establishment in 6th and 7th century Arabia. He wouldn’t implement corporate-friendly policies to enrich the wealthy and shield them from legal accountability. It’s also an Islamic value to look after the welfare of orphans, which, for some reason, isn’t listed above.
We also should be careful not to conflate the views of dictators in majority Muslim countries with the views of the population. But suppose the populations in Muslim majority countries did oppose multiculturalism: I doubt we can seriously get away with saying “Islamic countries” are alone in this.
Under the “liberal” Obama administration the FBI is carrying out massive surveillance against Muslim communities while the NYPD designates mosques as “terrorist enterprises”. Obama is also on track to deport a record 2 million immigrants, more than any Republican in US history. Is this not opposing “multiculturalism”?
And what gives us the hubris to designate other countries as “very supportive of the death penalty” while the US government presides over an extremely racist criminal justice system that placed in the top 5 countries in the world in the usage of capital punishment in 2012 (US, Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are the top 5)? Is being “very supportive of the death penalty” also an “American value”?
We should disavow ourselves of this historically illiterate caricature of Islam and “Islamic law” where it is associated only with extreme hatred toward others. Historically, Islam has been very inclusive in its reverence for all of the prophets of the Abrahamic tradition. Islamic teachings are also consonant with some principles of gender equality. I highly recommend the work of Karen Armstrong to anyone who’s interested.
DR: Whoa Xavier – Obama does not support some of the things you have listed here. He cannot arbitrarily change laws, Congress has to do that and the states have many rights of their own. As far as deportation – It has nothing to do with multiculturalism and everything to do with the law, which I might add, Obama and almost all the Dems are trying to change. Obama is not perfect, but consider the alternatives. You do not make repairs your house by first burning it down!
XB: @ DR—On the immigration front, I think it is highly disingenuous to say Obama is “trying to change” the law. There’s an embedded assumption here namely that US presidents are engines behind social progress and not an active and informed public. All of the positive work in the domain of immigration reform is a tribute to grassroots activism that is outraged by the actions of the “deporter in chief,” as some call him. The DREAM movement is a good example of this. Also if one examines Obama’s statements on deportations they range from being supportive of the status quo (“I make no apologies for us enforcing the law as well as the work that we’ve done to strengthen border security.”) to a level of deceitfulness that is comical. For instance, Obama said he could not halt deportations because “it would violate federal law” and it would be “very difficult to defend legally.”
Note these statements are coming from an international warlord who very recently made a public announcement that he had the executive authority to bomb Syria without congressional approval, someone who defends NSA programs on the grounds that we can’t have “100% security and 100% privacy with zero inconvenience” , someone who publicly said Chelsea Manning “broke the law” while he was still in a pre-trial detention that UN torture chief Juan Mendez deemed “cruel and inhuman”, someone who delivers capital punishment to American citizens without trial (re: Anwar Awlaki, Samir Khan, Abdulrahman Awlaki, Jude Kenan Mohammad). In the case of Anwar Awlaki’s killing Obama is recorded to have said it was an “easy” decision.
Considering this vast criminal record–which violates both federal and international law– it’s very difficult not to laugh at the notion that he is somehow sensitive to the conventions of the legislative process or the rule of law. This argument about the restraints of law and congressional barriers only emerges when it’s politically expedient. It’s a method he uses to absolve himself of any responsibility, a method his most avid supporters have adopted. Another dramatic example is Obama’s policies vis-à-vis Guantanamo Bay where he made the same argument of Congressional intransigence he’s making for immigration. This argument so disgusted Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin that she was forced to stand up and shout him down in the middle of his speech.
On the topic of Obama defending the interests of the wealthy over those of the poor I think the evidence is overwhelming. Obama’s Department of Justice dropped the investigation of Goldman Sachs saying “the burden of proof to bring a criminal case [against Goldman Sachs] could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time.” The Obama DOJ also granted retroactive immunity to telecommunications corporations found to have engaged in warrantless wiretapping of Americans. At this very moment he’s negotiating in secret what some critics are calling “NAFTA on steroids” in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This transnational agreement will install an “investor-state system” whereby corporations will be empowered to sue governments in “extrajudicial tribunals” while skirting environmental, health, and safety regulations at the expense of the American public. Here Obama is also engaging in a unilateralism that he refuses to apply on the immigration front.
There are many other examples to cite which show that Obama is, as you put it, “not perfect”, a stunning understatement I should say. Similar understatements were made after the death of Richard Nixon. In genuinely democratic societies the question of whether or not the president is “perfect” is an irrelevance. What is relevant is if the president is responsive to the overwhelming tides of public opinion. In Obama’s case I think it’s not controversial to say he has been disproportionately unresponsive.
JH: Well said, but I suppose they [Muslims] should support orphanages since they have no problem stoning women. Look, no matter how you slice it, Islam is not a peaceful religion so cut the pr. I am all for religious freedom, but lets call a spade a spade. The only thing I give them props for is that they are not hypocrites. No one can accused them of that, they are by the Quran unlike watered down Christians who are clueless regarding the Bible nor would they follow it to the letter if they did get a clue.
XB: @ JH: Your comment reveals a level of historical illiteracy that is quite disturbing. You write that “they” have “no problem stoning women.” Who are the “they” in this statement? Simply because someone claims they are doing something in the name of Islam does not mean it is an Islamic practice anymore than when an American leader says they are doing something in the name of “democracy.” This is so elementary it shouldn’t need stating. I suppose you uncritically accept the pseudo-religious pronunciations of those who use the veneer of Islam to justify heinous acts of violence–the Taliban, al Qaeda, al-Shabaab etc.–because you are aren’t motivated or inquisitive enough to do your own research.
Read Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad: A Prophet of Our Time, Islam: A Short History or the Qur’an. Also where in my comment did you see me describe Islam as a “peaceful religion”? I described Islam as being against economic inequality, the suffering of orphans, gender oppression and in favor of revering the Abrahamic prophets. You, not me, use the phrase “peaceful religion” in order to distort and belittle my argument or as you call it “pr”. If I simply stated Islam “is a peaceful religion”, without any further detail, there would be no serious need to examine my argument, its sociopolitical content or the historical context in which it is grounded. You may think in such reductionist terms. I do not.
It appears that you interpret any commentary about Islam that is not hostile as tantamount to calling it a “peaceful religion”. Incidentally, since you mentioned it, Islam does promote principles of peace and reconciliation and you would know this if you took the time to study Islamic history. This is not only demonstrated in certain Qur’anic passages–“the true servants of the Most Gracious are they who walk gently on the earth, and who, whenever the jahilun address them, reply ‘Peace’ (salam!)”–but also in 7th century military history.
Perhaps the most meaningful encounter between the Prophet Muhammad and the Quraysh occurred in the year 628 when Muhammad made a peace treaty with the Quraysh at Hudabiyyah. The Quraysh were driven by an ideology called jahiliyyah which Armstrong described as “a state of mind that caused violence and terror in seventh-century Arabia.” Here Muhammad dealt a devastating blow to this ideology by employing the Islamic concept of hilm which means “forbearance, patience, mercy, and tranquility.” I should say Muhammad’s allies were outraged by this decision because they interpreted it as a surrender to the Quraysh power structure. For example, part of the agreement was that Muhammad had to return all of the converts to Islam to Mecca but the Quraysh would not have to return any defectors to Medina.
Despite this clearly one-sided resolution, Muhammad maintained that, as Armstrong states, “It was not violence and self-assertion, but the spirit of mercy, courtesy and tranquility that would cause the ummah to grow.” In the Qur’an this is described as God sending down “his peace of soul (sakinah) upon His Messenger and upon the believers.” Islam only sanctions the use of force in self-defense and aggression is forbidden or as the Qur’an states “permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged–and verily, God indeed has the power to succor them …” It was only after Muhammad died and the caliphs took over that wars of conquest were fought, wars with “no religious significance” (Armstrong’s phrase).
This crucial historical context is totally absent from your comment. The anonymous “they” who you refer to in your comment are not representative of the Islamic tradition anymore than Barack Obama and George W. Bush are representative of the democratic tradition or Pat Robertson is representative of the Christian tradition. None of this information is particularly obscure or hard to find. All it takes is a little independent thought and a willingness question authority.
If you wish to read my review on Muhammad: A Prophet of Our Time: