Commentary Magazine


Unfair and Fictional

On Fox’s “Special Report w/Bret Baier,” Charles Krauthammer said this about President Obama’s interview with Al-Arabiya television:

Conciliatory, but also apologetic and defensive, I thought needlessly. We heard him say that he we shouldn’t paint Islam with a broad-brush. Who does? That’s a straw man. Did the Bush administration do so? Obama said “My job is to communicate from the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives.” Well, where is the American heartland which is arguing otherwise?

Look, if he wants – dare say, “I have Muslim relatives,” as he did in the interview, “and I lived in a Muslim land,” as he did in the interview, “and thus I have a special appreciation of Islam,” that’s OK. But somehow he is implying that somehow the Obama era is a break with the American past. Somehow it is undoing a disrespect of Islam that had somehow occurred under the previous administration.

One week after 9/11, the president of the United States, George Bush, showed up in the Islamic center in Washington and declared Islam is peace and extended a hand of tolerance and generosity. There were no anti-Muslim riots in America. There was a spirit of generosity and tolerance. And, in fact, over the last 20 years, the United States has been engaged in exactly five military engagements in the world, two in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait, all of them liberating Islamic peoples. We have no need to apologize. Extend a hand, yes, but to imply that there was a disrespect of Islam in the last administration, I think is unfair and fictional.

Krauthammer is quite right. I would only add to what he said by pointing out that President Bush went on Al-Arabiya television several times, stressing many of the same points as President Obama. But for some reason or another, the Bush appearances garnered both less attention and less praise from the press.

In addition, in his September 20, 2001 speech to a joint session of Congress, with smoke still rising from the rubble from the Twin Towers, Bush said this:

I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.

President Bush repeated his praise for the Muslim faith, and extended his hand to Muslims around the world, on countless occasions.

Krauthammer’s final point is a crucial and often overlooked one: over the last two decades – in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Kuwait – we have expended blood and treasure in wars of liberation. Some of those wars were justified primarily on humanitarian grounds; others were based on national security interests but advanced humanitarian aims. And when the rest of the world, and most of those in America, were pressing for George W. Bush to retreat from Iraq and consign it to mass death and genocide, he would not abide.

Bush has since been vindicated.

Charles Krauthammer is right; the effort to imply that there was disrespect of Islam in the last administration is unfair and fictional.

Welcome to the Era of New Politics.

(h/t: NRO’s The Corner)

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