08 June 2009

Digging Deeper Into Obama's Cairo Speech

The interesting thing about Barack Obama's self-indulgent, teleprompted speeches is that the more you dig into them the more they reveal his extremist ideology. Whether it's socialist nationalization within the public sector, radical partial birth and post birth abortion stances or an economic policy that makes Mike Tyson seem thrifty, the Chosen One's bizarre world view is hard to miss for anyone who cares to take look closely.

I found another example today as I read an article by Christopher Hitchens that made an observation about Obama's Cairo speech that I had completely missed . . . and as is often the case when you dig into the mind of Barack Obama, it's more frightening than Freddy Krueger at a narcoleptic slumber party.

Take the single case in which our president touched upon the best-known fact about the Islamic "world": its tendency to make women second-class citizens. He mentioned this only to say that "Western countries" were discriminating against Muslim women! And how is this discrimination imposed? By limiting the wearing of the head scarf or hijab (a word that Obama pronounced as hajib—imagine the uproar if George Bush had done that). The clear implication was an attack on the French law that prohibits the display of religious garb or symbols in state schools. Indeed, the following day in Paris, Obama made this point even more explicitly. I quote from an excellent commentary by an Algerian-American visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School, Karima Bennoune, who says:

"I have just published research conducted among the many people of Muslim, Arab and North African descent in France who support that country's 2004 law banning religious symbols in public schools which they see as a necessary deployment of the "law of the republic" to counter the "law of the Brothers," an informal rule imposed undemocratically on many women and girls in neighborhoods and at home and by fundamentalists."

But to the women who are compelled to dress according to the requirements of others, Obama had nothing to say at all, as if the only "right" at stake were the right to obey an instruction that is, in fact—if it matters—not found in the Quran. In Turkey, too, head scarves for women are outlawed in some contexts. Is this, too, Islamophobia? Does the president think that the veil and the burqa are also freely chosen fashion statements? This sort of naiveté is worrying, and it means that among the global Muslim audience, the wrong sort of people were laughing at us, while the ones who ought to be our friends and allies were shedding a disappointed tear.