Two Bad Ideas—Building a Mosque & Burning the Qur’an


Two big items in the news today: first, Imam Feisal Abdul’s article congratulating America on its religious tolerance of Islam; second, an American pastor’s plans to burn copies of the Qur’an on the anniversary of 9/11.

Building a mosque at Ground Zero is a bad idea. So is burning the Qur’an.

The media and politicians on the Left are obsessed with the differences between the two intentions. Putting it mildly, they condone the erection of the controversial mosque. But let’s be honest. Those who haven’t been silent—including President Obama and NYC mayor Bloomberg—have expressed unequivocal support for building the mosque (even though they have equivocated following their unequivocal expressions of support).

What about the pastor, with plans of his own? He is angrily denounced.

Ahem. What about the striking similarity between the two men and their “projects”?

Whatever else can be said about their true intentions, their plans appear to be deliberately provocative. That’s the point that ought to be stressed in the great conversation we’re having about “tolerance” and “rights.”

Within the framework of this likeness—that is, both are deliberately provocative—we can make more useful distinctions between the men and their plans. We should acknowledge their similarity, then ask: as deliberately provocative acts, how do they differ?

Here’s one salient difference. A mosque will have a longer term effect, with direct bearing on more people, than the singular act of burning copies of the Qur’an on 9/11. The minister’s action, if he goes through with it in a few days, will soon be forgotten—even by Muslims, I dare say. But if the mosque is built, it will stand as a permanent monument to—well, what?

For non-muslims, the mosque would not be a monument to anything at all. But can this be said of Muslims? Hmm?

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The Obama-McChrystal Debacle


They’re calling them “interviews.” I don’t know whether that’s the proper term, but statements by General Stanley McChrystal and several of his staff are reported and embedded in a narrative to be published in this week’s issue of Rolling Stone magazine. But this is already old news, rendered obsolete by developments of yesterday and today.

The Rolling Stone article reveals that Read more of this post

Americans Shamed by Obama for Carping?


Greta Van Susteren reported on Monday, December 21, about President Obama’s morning speech. In his speech, he scolded those who are opposed to his health-care bill, and said they need to “stop carping.” Greta went to the dictionary to check up on “carping.” She discovered that the word means “marked by or inclined to querulous and often perverse criticism.”

So the President thinks that if you express concern about his bill, then your criticism is “querulous,” and possibly “perverse.” I believe he said what he believes, even if he didn’t mean to say what he said.

On what basis can the President say what he did if the “carpers” add up to roughly 60% of Americans? I think it’s simple. Read more of this post

Who Is the Commander in Chief?


So it’s official . . . kind of. Major Hasan is a zealot for “radical Islam,” and people knew it. Doesn’t give you too much faith in the system, does it?

In an earlier post about the Fort Hood incident, I suggested that the question is: How could this happen? Though I suspected it then, it’s obvious now that part of the answer is our faith in political correctness. Yes, PC is an abstract concept, not a person. So having faith in it sounds preposterous. So what I should say is that because of the insidious influence of PC, we have faith in people we never should trust. PC blinds us to the importance of knowing whom we trust.

I did not knowingly trust Maj. Hasan. But I surely did indirectly. More important, the people he gunned down trusted him. That trust has always seemed warranted and invulnerable to suspicion. Not any more. Read more of this post

Has Obama Cut a Deal with FOX News?


The President’s advisors and spokespeople have publicly castigated FOX News and pronounced their verdict that FOX News doesn’t report news. Presumably, this is a calculated strategy to accomplish a certain goal. On the surface, it may seem that the goal is to discredit FOX News. But how realistic is that? Can the White House staff actually change minds about FOX in this fashion? Not likely. What’s far more likely is that more attention will be directed to FOX and that FOX will garner an even larger share of the cable media market. This has to be good news for FOX. But presidents surround themselves with smart people. Since it would have been predictable that FOX would benefit from this kind of “exposure,” you have to wonder, do “all the president’s men” (and women) have a different agenda? Are they out to promote FOX because deep down they regard FOX as an ally?

Again, you have to wonder.

Can Any Good Come from the Iranian Election?


There’s reason to believe that our national security in the United States will be stronger if Ahmadinejad emerges, as expected, the “victor” of Iran’s recent “election.” It doesn’t matter that Ahmadinejad’s opponent may be more “moderate.”

I believe this for one reason only. The United States president, Barack Obama, is too easily anesthetized by sweet-sounding shibboleths uttered by the most sinister of “world leaders.” We’ve seen his bizarre deference to Ahmadinejad already. That’s bad news for America. But with all the talk of the moderate politics of Ahmadinejad’s opponent (whoever he is), the presidential slumber factor would increase and things would be worse.

We have to wonder, what does “moderate” mean in comparison with Ahmadinejad? If Obama is asleep at the wheel with Ahmadinejad as the international face and presumptive leader of Iran, what sweet dreams will dance in Obama’s head if the “moderate” fellow “wins”?

Since becoming president in January, Obama’s conduct in relation to Iran has compromised the chances for democracy to grow in Iran.

Consider:

  1. Obama is flattered by the cajoling he imagines he receives from the current Iranian president. The freedom-craving people of Iran know this president to be friendly with Ahmadinejad, yet they despise Ahmadinejad. What will they think of America if their democratic revolution currently underway is not at least verbally supported by “the supreme leader” of the Free World?
  2. Obama has set a dangerous precedent for his dealings with Iran. He may have naively imagined that Ahmadinejad would fail in this election and believed that a more peace-loving, freedom-embracing regime would take over, thus leaving him the option of cajoling Ahmadinejad during an interim of temporary defiance from Iran. If so, Obama is pretty bad at reading the tea leaves. He will now be compelled to follow his previous course in dealing with a blowhard and a thug.
  3. We have taken one step back in our own affirmation of democracy by the representation we have received from our president in this desperate but opportune situation. If he doesn’t say so at times like this, how do we know that he believes in democracy?
  4. Obama has sedulously separated himself from a long-standing tradition of affirming freedom for Iran and called it “meddling.” In his infinite wisdom he thus condemns the policies of all past presidents, Republican and Democrat. Is that the kind of change “the people” really want?

In the transcript of yesterday’s Fox News “Special Report”, with panelists discussing Obama’s public comments about the Iranian election, Charles Krauthammer made this point:

He [Obama] is using an honorific [i.e., “the supreme leader] to apply to a man [Ahmadinejad] whose minions out there are breaking heads, shooting demonstrators, arresting students, shutting the press down, and basically trying to suppress a popular democratic revolution.

So he uses that honorific, and then says that this supreme leader — it indicates that he understand[s] that the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election. Deep concerns? There is a revolution in the street.

I believe Krauthammer was too gentle in his reproach when he said earlier in his comments, “I find the president’s reaction bordering on the bizarre.”

Many Americans believe that the president has passed on an opportunity to do great good in the pursuit of democracy where it is so desired. They believe this because they believe that Obama has mis-read the signals and intentions of the state of Iran. What should the same Americans think of the signals we are now receiving from our president? How should they respond?

If the American people conclude that the American president has been seduced by signs of obvious exploitation by Ahmadinejad, and has cratered to a heartless regime, then, by parity of reasoning, the American people should wonder what the president’s behavior signals. If his calculated action seems obviously naive and reckless, it makes sense to raise our voices loudly in support of a different policy.

President Obama’s Argument for Bipartisan Support for the Confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor


A few days ago, President Obama announced his first nominee for Supreme Court Justice. Among the various tools the President has used to get his message out is his website, where a 4-minute video announcement is posted here. I encourage you to view this video. I also encourage you to think carefully about what the President says at each stage in his announcement.

Here’s a specific question to consider:

  • Can you identify President Obama’s argument that Sonia Sotomayor should be a bipartisan slam dunk for confirmation by the Congress?

He makes an argument toward the end of his speech. He doesn’t say, “Let me give you a good argument for this.” But he does make an argument. If we’re paying attention, we’ll recognize the argument. And if we’re critically engaged, we’ll make a sober judgment about the plausibility of his argument.

So the second question I have for you is:

  • Does the President make a good argument that Sonia Sotomayor should be a bipartisan slam dunk for confirmation by the Congress?

These questions are rooted in my goal to encourage greater understanding of media messages—whether from the President, or anyone else.

By greater understanding I mean deeper awareness of what the message is and whether that message is reasonable. The President’s speech, because it is addressed to ordinary citizens and because it can be viewed very conveniently online, presents us with a great opportunity to hone the skills needed to be responsible citizens of a fragile democracy.

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