In Search of Islam's Contributions

Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s special envoy to the Organization for the Islamic Conference (OIC), last month named his boss America’s “educator-in-chief on Islam.”
That wasn’t surprising given the President’s Muslim roots and his affinity for some Islamic traditions (he once wrote that the Muslim call to prayer is “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth”).

Obama clearly takes this title seriously, as recent events have shown. But Hussain’s designation was ironic because the more Obama talks about Islam, the clearer it becomes that he doesn’t seem to understand its most devout adherents.

Obama refuses to acknowledge that radical Islamists are prompted to violence and terrorism by their understanding of their faith. And he fails to recognize that his blame-America-first foreign policy won’t appease an enemy committed to violent jihad and the installation of a global caliphate.

Almost as bad, Obama has been going out of his way to highlight Islam’s supposed contributions—to science and technology, to America, to the world. The main effect of Obama’s Muslim ego-stroking is to call attention to just how little Muslims have actually contributed in the modern age. 

NASA administrator Charles Bolden gave an interview in late June to Al Jazeera television and told the Arabic-language news network that before he took his new job, Obama told him that “perhaps” his “foremost” duty was “to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.”

This is ludicrous. It is not our government’s job to make foreigners feel good about themselves. Michael Griffin, a former NASA head, responded that Obama’s NASA Muslim outreach is “deeply flawed.” But the White House is standing by Bolden’s description of his mission.

And whatever happened to the liberal left’s extreme devotion to their definition of separation of church and state (which has been defined as the absence of all signs of faith)? Silent are the voices of the anti-religionists over Obama’s outreach to nations based on their faith.

NASA’s new mission ignores that many devout Muslims view science and reason as diametrically at odds with their faith. NASA’s task is to help propel us towards a new tomorrow, while Islam’s most radical adherents want the world to recede from modernity.

Obama’s politicization of NASA belies the image of the man who ascended to the White House promising that “the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.” 

But science has repeatedly taken a back seat to ideology in this administration, on everything from stem cells to oil spills. The administration has been particularly anti-science when it comes to NASA.

Perhaps Obama wants NASA to focus on the psyche of Muslims because it is obvious there won’t be much of a space program for it to focus on. Under Obama, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has demoted space exploration. Obama announced last spring that he would be grounding the space shuttle fleet and abandoning the Constellation project that was to take astronauts back to the Moon and beyond.

Twenty-six former astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, opposed the cuts, writing in a letter to the administration that the decision was “terrible” and “devastating.” But NASA has a more important mission now in Muslim outreach.

Obama’s desire that Muslims feel good about themselves has become a bizarre obsession.
He routinely calls Islam “a great religion” and has falsely claimed that America is one of the world’s largest Muslim countries.

When the White House celebrated Ramadan last September, Obama declared, “The contributions of Muslims to the United States are too long to catalog because Muslims are so interwoven into the fabric of our communities and our country.”

He said, “American Muslims are successful in business and entertainment; in the arts and athletics; in science and in medicine.” (Quick: name your favorite American Muslim athlete, entertainer or scientist. I said quick!)

“Above all,” he concluded, “they are successful parents, neighbors and active citizens.”

This is undoubtedly true. But the White House strained to affirm the President’s other grand assertions.

The White House honored, among others, the first American Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, who has compared Bush’s actions after 9-11 to Nazi Germany. Then there was Nashala Hearn, who won a lawsuit against her Oklahoma school district for the right to wear a hijab, the Muslim women’s traditional head covering.

Perhaps Obama’s constant references to Muslim contributions has less to do with what they’ve bestowed to the country as a whole and more to do with the suspicion that millions of dollars in contributions to Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign came from Muslims abroad.

Even Libyan President Muammar Gadhafi cheered “all the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa…[who] may have been in involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable [Obama] to win the American presidency.”

Then there were the votes of Muslim Americans, which, according to one post-election poll, Obama won by a more than nine-to-one margin.

Muslim contributions have been significant after all—if not to America then at least to America’s President. In Barack Obama’s eyes, contributions to his campaign and contributions to the country he leads is a distinction without a difference.