Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA'S HISTORIC CAIRO SPEECH


I was very much impressed with President Obama's courageous speech. He addressed what a number of pundits called "third rail" subjects that few politicians, let alone presidents, would ever have the courage to tackle in such an environment. After eight years of bullying, imperialistic, and in-your-face diplomacy, which got us more enemies, and few friends, it is a remarable achieve for this young, brilliant president to have reached out to the Muslim world in the way that he did, and speak honestly to them and to us.

I am proud of President Obama and the courage he showed in speaking the truth.


Michael S. Roth, Historian and President, Wesleyan University (Ct.):

The Cairo Address will be seen as one of the great speeches by an American president on foreign soil. He spoke with conviction as someone with roots in the Islamic world, with the faith of a Christian, and with the commitment of an American leader devoted to equality, freedom and democracy. He said things his audience probably did not want to hear (on Israel, for example), and thus he did not pander. But he also said things that showed that his intelligence is informed by history as well as empathy (on Palestinians, for example). It was respectful of cultural differences, but firm in support of core principles of human rights.“If we see this conflict only from one side or the other, President Obama said, “then we will be blind to the truth.” His speech was a masterful presentation of the multi-dimensional relationship of America and Islam. Perhaps it will enable us all to see more of the truth going forward.

Malika Saada Saar, Executive Director, Rebecca Project for Human Rights:

A new children of Abraham politics

At the point that the planes hit the twin towers, and in the Bush years that followed, a language of provincialism, fear, and supremacy dominated our politics. President Obama’s speech ushered in a new children of Abraham politics—the need to recognize our inevitable intersectionality as Christians, Jews and Muslims. In his ability to hold all parts of his own varied, nuanced identity, President Obama invited the children of Abraham to recognize our shared humanity and begin a new process of dialogue and diplomacy from that place. It was an A+ speech that only a leader of multiple backgrounds, who adeptly speaks in many tongues, could effectively deliver.The Cairo Address will be seen as one of the great speeches by an American president on foreign soil. He spoke with conviction as someone with roots in the Islamic world, with the faith of a Christian, and with the commitment of an American leader devoted to equality, freedom and democracy. He said things his audience probably did not want to hear (on Israel, for example), and thus he did not pander. But he also said things that showed that his intelligence is informed by history as well as empathy (on Palestinians, for example). It was respectful of cultural differences, but firm in support of core principles of human rights.“If we see this conflict only from one side or the other, President Obama said, “then we will be blind to the truth.” His speech was a masterful presentation of the multi-dimensional relationship of America and Islam. Perhaps it will enable us all to see more of the truth going forward.

Diane Ravitch, Historian of education, NYU and Brookings:

A terrific speech that worked on many levels

First, he showed the necessary respect and deference to his hosts, even quoting from the Koran with a certain amount of ease. Second, he spoke to his American audience, not apologizing too much for America's role in the world. I was glad that he spoke about women's equality before this audience, though I fear it will fall on closed ears. I wish he had been more outspoken about the closing of girls' schools by the Taliban; I wish he had even mentioned the Taliban and their violent program to prevent girls from getting any education. I was somewhat surprised that he drew even a tenuous analogy between the blatant denial of women's rights in Muslim countries and "the struggle for women's equality" in the United States. But there were so many excellent points that he made so very well. His denunciation of violent extremism, which many Muslim nations have been unwilling to denounce. His rebuke to those who deny the existence of the Holocaust. His reminder that 9/11 was perpetrated by Muslim extremists, an implicit reminder that it was not the work of the U.S. government or the Israelis.

William Jelani Cobb, Professor of History, Spelman College:

This may well be the most important foreign policy speech of the post Cold War era. I would give it an A. There were any number of statements which individually could have been taken as significant. In its sum total it was quite remarkable. We know the structural hallmarks of an Obama speech by this point -- the balance of poetry and policy, making use of his unique biography as an advantage, offering the panoramic view of a complex problem, arguing that we have been mired in false dichotomies in approaching the problem and then offering common sense, pragmatic, non-ideological alternatives spiced with just enough idealism to spark the imagination of young people. For all that, this may have been the most brilliant iteration of that approach. On its most basic level, his speech made it that much more difficult for the caricatured view of this country to persist. You saw him hit that theme repeatedly -- the references to the role of Islam in American history and the number and prosperity of Muslims in the US. The statement "There is a mosque in every state in our union," his support for Muslim charitable giving for instance, the reference to Rep. Keith Ellison being sworn in using Jefferson's Quran. The same is the case with his argument that the US policy of democracy promotion is a human rights initiative, not an imperial one. Ditto the cultural touches -- beginning the speech with the greeting "A Salaam Alaikum."

Julian E. Zelizer, Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton:

The speech was very strong

President Obama reached out to everyone and challenged everyone as well. The point was to call for a new beginning, rejecting long-held beliefs and biases that have prevented progress and peace. While respecting the power of history and warning that change will be slow, President Obama called for new relations between the U.S. and Muslims while criticizing key aspects of Muslim society (from the treatment of women to the use of violence) to change so that improved relations will be possible. He criticized Americans for negative stereotypes of Islam but added that “America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. He stressed that he will use economic assistance and not just military might to create more stability in the region. The speech established a framework for how President Obama will think about this challenge in the coming years. Now though the real challenge begins. In the past, U.S. presidents have often learned that that the devil really is in the details when dealing with the Middle East.

James Carafano, Heritage Foundation, Defense and Homeland Security:

Green Light to Iran?President's words on Iran seem more like a "green light" to their nuclear program than the start of serious negotiations-and completely contradictory with the statement that we don't want "an ams race in the Middle East."Hope is not a strategy but it seems White House counter-proliferation strategy is to cut our missile defense programs and nuclear weapons inventories and "hope" we don't have a new arms race age.

Read the rest of the reviews here:

34 comments:

MOSTLY KIND AND GENTLE TRUTH101 said...

All this is good and wonderful Shaw. But the smart ass in me appreciates how the righties hate that Bin laden hates Obama also.
The right wing cabal of Obama haters, Hannity, Douglas, Cheney and the rest, have a new friend. Osama Bin laden.

dmarks said...

I like it whenver bin Laden gets frosted. Including when Pres. Obama is the cause.

Christopher said...

Obama was Churchillian in Cairo.

Whatever anger and frustration the Muslim world felt toward the the US after 9/11 and the senseless invasion of Iraq, today gave way to a new perspective and beginning.

Thank you, President Obama.

In MY Humble Oponion said...

Obama offends me every time he puts down America and America's values. I turn off the TV every time I see his face or hear his choppy voice telling us what we can and cannot do. If the Muslims love him so much, he can go live there, but I wonder how Michelle and his two little girls would feel about not being able to eat Steak and Lobster in New York's finest restaurants?


Perhaps we shouldn't be so hard on Barry.. he is merely a Chicago south side community organizer who has never run a company, a village, or even his own household.
The USA is now being run by committee (a la the old USSR) likely consisting of Rahm Emanuel, Begala, Carville, Rangel, Conyers, Durbin, Schumer, Barney Fwank, and soon.. Sotomayor!

Anonymous said...

And you are certainly entitled to your oponion.

Shaw Kenawe said...

IMHO typed:

"Obama offends me every time he puts down America and America's values."

More people believe he exemplifies the best America can be because he tells the truth about America, the good and the bad--IOW, he's HONEST. We are NOT a perfect Union. But we can become one if we stop lying about ourselves and our history.


"I turn off the TV every time I see his face or hear his choppy voice telling us what we can and cannot do."

He doesn't tell anyone what to "do." That's your interpretation. Please give us evidence by linking to a statement where he's telling us what to "do." He's too smart to do such a thing.--I think this is revealing of certain feelings of inferiority you take with you when you listen to him.


"If the Muslims love him so much, he can go live there,"

This is a childish whine. There's no evidence that the Muslims "love him so much." They listened to him and treated him with respect. You have a problmen with that? Does it interfere with you prejudices against Muslims?

"but I wonder how Michelle and his two little girls would feel about not being able to eat Steak and Lobster in New York's finest restaurants?"

What on earth are you talking about? Were you hitting the bottle when you wrote this nonsequitor?


"Perhaps we shouldn't be so hard on Barry.. he is merely a Chicago south side community organizer who has never run a company,"

This is another silly observation. When did running a company qualify anyone to be president? Harry Truman ran a haberdashery into bankruptcy. And that didn't impact his presidency. Did Ronald Reagan run a company?

You're not making any sense.


"The USA is now being run by committee (a la the old USSR) likely consisting of Rahm Emanuel, Begala, Carville, Rangel, Conyers, Durbin, Schumer, Barney Fwank, and soon.. Sotomayor!"

Please do yourself a favor and read a book. Educate yourself so you don't make a fool of yourself in public with statements like that.

You're really a very silly person.

Antoine Chalons said...

Shaw, you said that the commenter "In MY Humble Opinion" was a "a very silly person" And that he or she was "not making any sense"

Well I'm sorry but I do agrre with him or her. And I think that YOU should read a bit more or perhaps you are not reading the right things.
Obama is a weak president. They like him in the Middle East because they view him as weak. The Middle East hasn't changed its opinion of us. Neither have they changed the way they treat their own citizens. Women are not people in the Middle East. Homosexuals are put to death in the Middle East. And Jews are still treated as if they were animals.! So much for "peace" with these guys. And so much for Obama slobbering all over them.

0bama needs to be careful about the Muslim sympathizing. I refuse to buy into the Muslims are peace-loving too, stuff.

dmarks said...

IMHO: While it was true that candidate Obama had negligible executive experience (even exceeded by Sarah Palin's), he has had 4 months of Chief Executive experience now, and that counts for a lot. In other words, a valid campaign point no longer applies.

"The USA is now being run by committee"

I fail to see any charateristic of your list that makes the current situation different than any other time in history that a President, his Cabinet, and key Congressional allies called the shots at the Federal level. Has there ever been a time when this has not been the case?

Antoine: Do you personally know any Muslims?

Shaw Kenawe said...

Antoine Chalon typed:

"Shaw, you said that the commenter "In MY Humble Opinion" was a "a very silly person" And that he or she was "not making any sense"

Well I'm sorry but I do agrre with him or her."

You wrote that you are "sorry" about agreeing with IMHO? Well that is understandable, I'm sorry for you, too.--S.K.


A.S. typed: "Obama is a weak president. They like him in the Middle East because they view him as weak."

Back those statements up with facts and evidence. Otherwise it's just an uninformed opinion. Exactly how is Mr. Obama "weak?"--S.K.



A.C. typed: "The Middle East hasn't changed its opinion of us. Neither have they changed the way they treat their own citizens."

Really? How exactly should the President of the United States make an entire culture change overnight? Change comes slowly to a culture. It took 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation for African-Americans to achieve a semblance of equality and to enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to every citizen of America here in the Land of the Free.--S.K.

A.C. typed: "Women are not people in the Middle East."

Women will have to petition for change the way that our African-American citizens did here in this country--A.A.s were not considered whole people here, once, in the Land of the Free. Women were not allowed to vote, own propery and were discouraged from becoming doctors and lawyers in this country not so long ago. But change can come to a culture. We're living proof of that.--S.K.


A.C. wrote: "Homosexuals are put to death in the Middle East."

Have you forgotten the Matthew Shepard murder? That wasn't state sponsored, but that happened in our recent past in the Land of the Free. There are more than a few people here in this country who still hold prejudice and hatred in their hearts toward gay and lesbians.--S.K.

A.C. wrote: "And Jews are still treated as if they were animals.!"

And Mr. Obama set them straight with his speech yesterdy, which you apparently did not read.--S.K.

A.C. wrote: "So much for "peace" with these guys. And so much for Obama slobbering all over them."

You prove my point, as the extremists on the right always do. You did not read Mr. Obama's speech. What you wrote above is an uninformed, prejudiced OPINION based on your dislike of our president. Very weak and not to be taken seriously as a point of discussion.--S.K.


A.C. typed: "0bama needs to be careful about the Muslim sympathizing. I refuse to buy into the Muslims are peace-loving too, stuff."

There are 1.5 BILLION Muslims on the planet. We have a choice: keep our citizens ignorant and seething with hatred for the actions of the extremists within their culture, or accept them as fellow human beings who share this planet and seek some common ground [we can] so that we can work toward mutual respect.


You apparently want the former; I choose the latter.

Christopher said...

"I refuse to buy into the Muslims are peace-loving too, stuff."

Yes, the world's 1.5 billion Muslims are just predisposed to violent, anti-American and anti-western thinking.

Do you care to offer any proof for this statement???

Anonymous said...

Not only did many Muslim countries not “like” President Bush, they also didn’t respect his policies. A 2006 poll of five Muslim nations found that just 8-16 percent of those surveyed believed that “the ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein made the world a safer place.”

In fact, the reason that so many Muslim communities didn’t approve of Bush was because of his policies.

The United States may have had “strength and power and influence,” but under the Bush administration, it used it to “weaken and divide the Islamic world,” according to a 2007 poll of four majority Muslim nations.

The abuse of this power is what led to “widespread…unfavorable attitudes” of the United States by Muslim nations throughout Bush’s two terms.

Bush weakened America and strengthened the terrorists' influence in the Muslim world.

La Shawn said...

Some notes and observations on Obama’s speech in Cairo:

I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.Really? With all you have on your plate, this is a priority?So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.Oh, there’s no doubt: 9-11-01, …yeah, we get the picture.Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.This is one of the most asinine statements I have ever encountered. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.Tell your Muslim amigos to stop skipping over that part of the Holy Koran.9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.Never stop apologizing Hussein! You’ll earn enormous respect.Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice…Obama’s reference to the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a “war of choice” touched at least one nerve. Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwafaq Rubaie said that while it was a war of choice, “it was a good choice, because that choice brought down one of the most brutal dictators in history.”More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Aww, that’s so sad![Palestinians] endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation.So they know what it’s like to be a conservative living in ObamaNation.No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.America imposed systems of government — thank goodness — in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons.You naif!I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.You believe in free speech? The rule of law? Equal adminstration of justice? Transparent government? Government that doesn’t steal from people? The freedom to live as you choose? Ha! Could have fooled me! Your actions speak louder than your words.

EverydayRepublican said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Arthurstone said...

La Shawn typed:

"Aww, that’s so sad![Palestinians] endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation.So they know what it’s like to be a conservative living in ObamaNation."


Pity the 'Founding Fathers' (that decidedly mixed bag of slavers, religious fanatics, pirates & free thinkers) aren't around to see how pathetic certain conservatives (i.e. Real Americans) such as La Shawn have become.

There is no larger group of 'victims' in this country than the poor, abused, put-upon conservative.

Poor you.

Anonymous said...

The La Shawns of the blogsphere suffer from the condition that is known as diarrhea of words and constipation of thought.

Right Is Right said...

Anonymous said...
"The La Shawns of the blogsphere suffer from the condition that is known as diarrhea of words and constipation of thought."

Isn't it funny that Shaw did not delete this stupid and name calling senseless and disgusting post comment post!
But I guess it's part of the liberal thinking.

Christopher said...

I clicked on Right is Right's name and visited the oddity she's satisfied to call a "blog" and encountered this bon mot:

"Sicko, Ugly, Lesbian, Comic Wanda Sykes Is Just Another Plain Dumb Liberal"

So, Miss Thang, before you sashay to Shaw's house and get all high and mighty on her about how she runs her blog, I suggest you start first with cleaning up your own racist, homophobic mind because I just busted your ass for being just another, rightwing hypocrite with issues.

dmarks said...

Once again a batch of conservatives that I find little in common with.

Bring back Patrick M and Griper, and drive the current batch back under the bridge.

Mary Mary Quite Contrary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Right Is Right said...

Thank you Christopher for your so eloquent response to my comment.. Thank you for your gracious response. But at least when you click on MY name you can leave a comment...when I click on your name I get nothing. so much for free speech. I was only trying to reach out to the loyal opposition. And I received your gracious response.

And by the way, do you honestly think that Obama is getting through to these monsters?

Christopher said...

Right is Wrong,

You're welcome. You're still a racist and a homophobe.

James' Muse said...

Right is Right:

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the World.

Do you really think they are "monsters?"

If so, your xenophobia is showing.

Anonymous said...

If anyone thinks what she (Right is Right)said before is nutty, check out her latest post. It's downright mad.

Right Is Right said...

Right is Wrong,

You're welcome. You're still a racist and a homophobe.


A homophobe me? Because I called Wanda Dykes what I did?


That lame brain Wanda Sykes said “I Hope His Kidneys Fail” — Wishing Evil on Rush Limbaugh — Obama sat there and Laughed..and I'm a homophobe?

Humm...

Well then you make me feel proud.

Right Is Right said...

James' Muse said...

Right is Right:

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the World.

Do you really think they are "monsters?"

If so, your xenophobia is showing.


I said THOSE monsters.. Meaning the ones responsible for 9-11.

Oh what the hell am I doing arguing with a nitwit for. Bye bye.

James' Muse said...

Did you just call me a nitwit?

I was asking for clarification.

At least I'm not intellectually lazy.

MOSTLY KIND AND GENTLE TRUTH101 said...

Damn. I have a close Muslim relative by marraige. After I asked him to be my kid's gaurdian in case something happened to my wife and me. After all the advice on finance,(He's a bigshot with a big company) After helping my oldest two pick colleges and help choose courses that will best help them in their chosen fields, after 20 years of being a good friend and uncle to my kids, I find out he's one of 1.5 billion "monsters."


You know what Kathleen, I wish this world had more "monsters" like him.

James' Muse said...

This is much like the anti-semitism of just a few decades ago.

People thought all Jews were the same.

Now its Muslims.

It's sad.

Helen of Troy NY said...

This is one of Right is Right's newest posts:

"The disgusting blog that are written by some Liberals are so bad that I even hate to read them. . Liberals should be ashamed of themselves.

It does not get any more disgusting when you bet against the very hero’s that keep our country safe from tyranny. God Bless our Troops. The American people want success in Iraq, how come the liberal media doesn’t and will not report it?"

It is a perfect snapshot of her mind.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

“Balanced and nuanced” is how Republican Senator Richard Lugar described President Barack Obama’s Cairo address to the Muslim world. “A signal achievement” and “important and necessary,” Lugar also dismissed Republican criticism that the speech was too apologetic. The complete story here.

I always regarded Senator as a rational voice without knee-jerk partisan bias. Children who play in sandboxes and throw sand at the slightest provocation can learn a lot from Senator Lugar.

C4SA said...

Obama's speech was horrifically nauseating.
The caliber of stupidity that flows from this man's mouth is MIND-BOGGLING.Obama says he believes that there are Israelis who want peace, giving off the impression that the normal assumption anyone would make is that all of Israel is against peace. From previous peace offers and agreements to the fact that Israelis have many times elected governments for the purpose of negotiating away land in exchange for promises of peace, it would seem obvious that most Israelis want peace. Also he confuses the desire for peace with the acceptance of a "two-state solution" that many Israelis now believe will bring them more war.

He talks about the "legitimate rights" of the "Palestinian people" but never mentions the desire for autonomy, independence or statehood for any people who don't claim the Jews are occupying their land.

He talks about Israel stopping all settlements as called for in the Road Map to Peace. He talks as if that same road map has no specific and measurable obligations that the Palestinians are supposed to take. He also doesn't believe his government must honor US commitments to Israel made by previous administrations.

Obama says we are not a Christian nation or a Jewish or Muslim nation, but a nation of citizens. He then later says that we could be considered (inaccurately) one of the biggest Muslim countries in the world.
Obama criticizes Netanyahu for not verbally committing himself to the "two-state solution." I have never heard him criticize Abbas regarding his refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state or his refusal to acknowledge Jewish rights and historical connection to Israel. In fact, I don't recall him criticizing Abbas on any issue of importance.
The president's speech is so detestable from the beginning that I can't bother finishing it. He tells a Muslim audience of how Ellison was sworn in on Jefferson's Koran but doesn't explain that Jefferson read the Koran to gain an understanding of the faith responsible for holding Americans hostage in Algiers. You might have the impression John Adams respected the laws of Islam but here's what he really thought of that religion :"THE ESSENCE OF HIS (Mohammed's) DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE" (Adam's capital letters). I gather President Adams' "tolerance" toward Islam is a little musunderstood by President Haremboy.

I'm sure there's more crap in this speech but I can't read this.

Shaw Kenawe said...

C4SA,

You came to the speech hoping to hate it, and you read only the parts that would support that prejudice, therefore, your review of it is invalid.

But thanks for stopping by. I think.

My Files said...

You thought the speech was good? Are you mad!!!!He validates Al Qaeda on ‘torture’ by restating his expeditious Gitmo get out dream. He makes a moral equivalency between the Holocaust and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory!!!!!He all but apologized for America’s ‘blunder’ in Iraq. No mention of terrorism in the speech. He knifes the previous US administration in the back in front of a foreign audience. No pat on the back for American military sacrifices in the Middle East. All this against a scenario where he visits and lauds dictatorial Saudi Arabia and Egypt and snubs democratic Israel. You better reread the speech.

Shaw Kenawe said...

My Files,

You don't like Mr. Obama, therefore, anything he says or does will not please you.

Fortunately, an overwhelming majority of those who are more rational saw this speech as important and a watershed for American-Middle East relations.