Obama May Need To Reassure Americans, Not Muslims

Scanning the new White House website can be an exercise in anger management for conservatives. The two dozen items under “The Agenda” section constitute a laundry list of leftwing policy goals and big government initiatives. But I was encouraged to see that our new president seemed to have at least one item prioritized correctly. Under “Homeland Security,” President Obama acknowledges that “[t]he first responsibility of any president is to protect the American people.”

Sadly, in the opening days of his administration, President Obama appears determined to accomplish something much different: to reassure the Muslim world that we no longer have the resolve to protect ourselves.

Last week, he extended new rights to terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay while authorizing the sentencing to death of innocent children around the world through taxpayer-funded abortion.

Things didn’t improve this week. In his first TV interview as president, with Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel, Obama made three assertions that provide insight into our new president’s worldview. It’s not very reassuring.

First, President Obama said he felt his “job” was to communicate “to the Muslim world … that the Americans are not your enemy.” Why does the American president feel compelled to reassure Muslims that Americans are not their enemy? It was the United States that was attacked on 9-11 by jihadists acting in the name of Islam. Our response to that cowardly attack was to send our military not to subjugate Muslims but to liberate millions in Iraq and Afghanistan from the rule of tyrants.

Citizens of both countries were able to vote for the first time in their lives. In Afghanistan today, in areas where the U.S. is in control, Muslim girls are permitted to go to school. Where radical Islamists are in control, acid is thrown in the faces of girls who try to go to school, and their classrooms are blown up.

After the 9-11 attack, we went out of our way to ensure that mosques in the United States were safe from any kind of backlash. American politicians visited mosques and prefaced every statement about the attack by reassuring Muslims that America was not at war with a faith but only with its extreme adherents.

Muslims are arguably treated better in America today than they were before Muslim extremists declared war on us. We have Muslim members of Congress, and we go out of our way to accommodate Islamic religious practices. Taxpayer money is spent around the world to renovate mosques, and the U.S. gives billions in humanitarian assistance and foreign military aid to Muslim countries.

One might think Muslims would be the ones trying to reassure us that they are not our enemy. But I have yet to hear one Muslim leader do so. In fact, throughout the Muslim world, Christians and Jews continue to be persecuted. We hear that the U.S. and Israel are to blame for everything from Islamic nations’ lack of economic development to 9-11 itself.

Every day in the Palestinian territories — on television, in movies and in music — there is a steady diet of incitements against Jews, who are routinely compared to apes and monkeys. Palestinian students are taught that Jews use the blood of kidnapped Muslim children in religious ceremonies.

During his interview, President Obama told his Muslim audience that he had another task: “to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.”

Even if the president is right, my first reaction is: So what? Muslims who simply want to enjoy peace and quiet are not the problem. It’s the Muslims who nurture groups like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and countless other murderous fanatics who have become the subject of investigation.

I met with Indian leaders this week to talk about the problem of Islamic terror in the world’s largest democracy. They told me that extremism is a big problem among the 14 percent of their population that’s Muslim, and the situation is deteriorating

Even if only ten percent of the Muslim world supports these murderers, then our enemy numbers 150 million.

Of course, freedom-loving nations cannot rely on the “international community” for help. As Joseph Loconte reports in The Weekly Standard Online, the United Nations General Assembly recently approved a “defamation of religions” resolution complaining that Islam is “frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.” The resolution encourages member states to take legal action against “discrimination, intimidation, and acts of violence in the name of religion.” But, as Loconte notes, the resolution names only Islam and Muslims as “targets of defamation… In a breathtaking omission, the U.N. document makes no mention of the appalling levels of persecution against dissenting Muslims and non-Muslim minorities in much of the Arab world.”

President Obama talks about a new kind of foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy over dictation. But what about the diplomacy of freedom? Like Obama, President Bush routinely reassured Muslims that Americans are not their enemy. But, unlike Obama, he did it by reassuring them that the United States would not abandon them in their struggle for freedom.

Obama also said that America was not born as a colonial power and that he hoped for a restoration of “the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.” But 30 years ago, the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran declared war against the West, a war he initiated by seizing the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and taking American hostages.

Twenty years ago, the U.S. shot down two Libyan jets over the Gulf of Sidra, Hezbollah militants tortured and killed an American Marine, and the Soviet Union finished pulling out of Afghanistan, a move that allowed the Taliban to entrench itself there.

Perhaps our President wants to take us back to a time of American hostages and fundamentalist coups. Or maybe he’s just a very poor student of history. Either way, it’s not very reassuring.