By making misleading statements and peddling misinformation, US President Barack Obama is weakening the war against jihad—which, in his scheme of things, is a figment of ‘Islamophobic’ imagination. His administration has banned the use of expressions like jihad and Islamic terrorism; it uses amorphous terms like violent extremism instead. Obama’s latest remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5 underline the fundamental flaws in his ideology.
Further, it is deceitful to downplay the atrocities perpetrated by jihadists by saying that Christians too “committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
“Lest we get on our high horse and think this [violence as in a Peshawar school and Paris massacre of journalists] is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” Obama said. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Notice the chronological confusion. He is mixing up—quite insincerely—the events that took place hundreds of years ago with the horrors that the world faces today. The Christianity of the medieval period is not the Christianity of today; there are no witch-hunts, burning of heretics at stakes, and other atrocities in Christendom today. Nor is the United States of 2015 the same as it was in the middle of the nineteenth century (when there was slavery) or even as it was in the middle of the twentieth century (when there was racial segregation). Of all people, Obama should have been most expressively aware of this simple fact.
Further, it is deceitful to downplay the atrocities perpetrated by jihadists by saying that Christians too “committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.” For one, these deeds were committed long ago, in a remote past which is far behind—unlike the crimes of the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Lashkar, Taliban, and other terrorist bodies which are trying, with varying degrees of success, to revive the worst aspects of Islamic rule all over the world.
Besides, there is scarcely any Christian—at least no prominent one—working ardently to bring the world under papacy or some kind of Holy Roman Empire. This is in sharp contrast to the Muslims across the globe cheering up to the victories of jihadists, be it the September 11 attack or the Charlie Hebdo killings. Christendom has left behind crusades and the Inquisition. The same cannot be said about the Islamic world.
Apart from denigrating his own country and coreligionists, Obama also tended to malign India and Hindus. He said, “Michelle and I returned from India—an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity—but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs—acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.”
The United States of 2015 is not the same as it was in the middle of the nineteenth century (when there was slavery) or even as it was in the middle of the twentieth century (when there was racial segregation).
When he was in India, too, he had reminded us about our diversity and tolerance and the need to preserve them. But it is curious that, a few hours after making that speech, Obama forgot the importance of such virtues of civilized life when he visited Saudi Arabia.
According to his own government’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2013, in Saudi Arabia “freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under the law and the government severely restricted it in practice… The public practice of any religion other than Islam is prohibited, and there is no separation between state and religion. Shia and other Muslims who did not adhere to the government’s interpretation of Islam faced political, economic, legal, social, and religious discrimination, including limited employment and educational opportunities, under representation in official institutions, restrictions on religious practice, and restrictions on places of worship and community centers.”
Further, the report said, the Saudi “government detained individuals on charges of insulting Islam, encouraging or facilitating conversion from Islam, ‘witchcraft and sorcery,’ and for engaging in private non-Muslim religious services. The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) continued to harass and abuse individuals for religious reasons at a similar rate as the previous year.”
The human rights violations by Saudi Arabian and other Muslim regimes have been widely and comprehensively reported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other bodies as well as the media. But Obama rarely talks about this subject. So, the intriguing question is: why is he focused on the minor failings of democracies while turning a blind eye to the gross violations minority right in Muslim countries?
The US, India, and other democracies are doctrinally, constitutionally, and politically wedded to the ideas of diversity and tolerance; yet, they are incessantly lectured to respect pluralism. Most Muslim countries—of which Saudi Arabia is an extreme example—badly treat non-Muslims; yet, they are not criticized, let alone pressured, by the liberals like Obama.
Such duplicity not just disingenuous; it also strengthens the overground forces of jihad and Islamism. These forces—comprising sundry activists, academics, journalists, et al—continuously and ardently strive to undermine the war against Islamic terror. They champion the human rights of jihadists, impute extraneous motives to any action against them (oil in the case of the US, communalism in our context), and spread the lie that ‘this is not about Islam.’
It is unfortunate that the US President, the most powerful man in the world, appears to in the company of, if not among, the apologists for jihad.
Ravi Shanker Kapoor is a journalist and author. He upholds freedom of expression, individual liberty, free market, and open society. He is an uncompromising opponent of Islamism, communism, and other totalitarian ideologies. He is also a critic of intellectuals, as evident from his third book, How India’s Intellectuals Spread Lies (Vision Books).