Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama in Cairo

Obama gave a speech in Cairo this morning that was excellent. You can read the full transcript of it here, but I am going to give you, what in my opinion, are the high points of the speech:

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I agree with Obama that the general principals of Islam, much like Christianity, are respectful and tolerant. But, as Right-Wing Extremists in the USA and Muslim countries have frequently perverted the message of the two religions, these over all principals are sacrificed for small, archaic laws in both the Bible and the Koran.

But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." That is what I will try to do - to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

You have my attention... What are these things?

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.

Good Job Obama! Islam is part of America, in fact we have 7 Million Muslims living and worshiping in this country. Maybe you should say that back in America to get it through to some segments of America.

And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

Has Obama done anything on this? Not being sarcastic here, but I haven't heard of anything he has done. I didn't like when Bushed used it to stir emotions and did little about it, so if anyone knows of anything Obama has done, please let me know.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not - and never will be - at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security...

Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths - more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. 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. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism - it is an important part of promoting peace.

Good, I agree and I think the Muslim world can generally agree with this.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers - for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

Great, we are going to help both sides, the way it should be! Now, all we need to do is get the Israeli Prime Minister on Board?

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

Good, I do not want Iran to have Nukes, so I am down with that. Though, this isn't a Muslim issue, I do not want North Korea to have nukes either.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

Good, we are not in the business of, nor do we have the more for, nation building!

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom. Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

I'm down with Religious Freedoms. I think this is an issue where we do have some "moral high-ground." Many Islamic countries do not allow people to worship freely.

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's.

As there are of some Christians in our country. No compromise on certain issues, such as gay marriage and abortion.

The sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights. I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

I completely agree with Obama on this 100%. If women want to exercise their faith by wearing certain clothes, then by all means, exercise your faith. But, a government should NEVER NEVER NEVER deny the women of its country the freedom it gives its men.

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity. I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations - including my own - this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities - those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

I agree somewhat... I do not think "offensive sexuality" should have been placed there. What "offends" someone may not offend others and people have the right to not look at offensive things, but should have access to it. Many in our nation find homosexuality "offensive," but we do not disallow people to explore that.