It would be silly for Barack Obama and his advisers not to recognize that there are many people in this country who are anxious about his Muslim background, his Muslim name, and his Muslim supporters getting out the vote for someone whom, they, at least, in this country, and abroad, are convinced is deeply sympathetic to Islam and to its aims. This does not go away by declaring oneself a Christian. And it does not go away after the election, whether Obama wins — in which case the anxiety only increases — or if he loses, and plans to run four years from now.
It is humanly understandable. How strange it is to think of a President Barack Obama after Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, and others of that ilk. The fact that Obama is mentally superior to Bush and morally superior to Clinton cuts little ice among those who, like the King in “Now We Are Six” who did “want a little butter for his bread,” would in these disturbing (or “great” kraussian times) want just a little cultural continuity, even in the names of our presidents. Many don’t like such sudden shifting, even nymic shifting, under their feet.
His views on Islam we do not clearly know, but we have a right to suspect they are not clear to him either. He has not done enough studying or thinking or consulting except with the usual esposito-armstrong-rashidi apologists (that is, the venal, the stupid, and the islamochristian Arab propagandist). He has no idea about the scandal of MESA Nostra (which google, and consult for detail Martin Kramer’s analysis of the teaching about Islam and the Middle East in this country). He should begin with, say, The Dhimmi and Islam and Dhimmitude and then for textual analysis of the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira, the books of Robert Spencer — pay no attention to the “conservative” publishing house and stick unswervingly to the contents. And it would be wonderful if Obama could start looking at websites conducted by former Muslims, who are so knowledgeable, helpful and impassioned in a way that inspires.
His remarks, or almost asides, about Islam, are clouded by sentimentality and childhood memories: sentimentality in particular about an absent father (and the search for “roots” and for “identity,” by now a banal theme, but one that was all Barack Obama had to work with when, at a little over thirty, he decided My Life So Far is worth a book). He learned a little more, or thinks he did, in that most unrepresentative of Muslim countries, more easygoing and not-entirely-Muslim Indonesia — compare Indonesia to Iran or Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Indonesia, with its Hindus in Bali, its Christians in the Moluccas, still enjoys the afterglow of the post-Dutch nationalist leaders who really were secular, such as Suharto and Sukarno, or were sui generis, as is the truly Muslim “moderate” Wahid. Wahid had been greatly affected by his time as a student in Baghdad, when he befriended, and was befriended by, an Iraqi Jew working in the same office, who was one of the very last Jews in Iraq, and someone who apparently made a deep impression on Wahid for the better.
Until Obama has spent a few days on the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira, and applied his mind to them — he has a good mind, but the wrong instincts about the world — and until he has at least consulted, in person or on paper, the most piercing commentators on Islam (both non-Muslims and defectors from the Army of Islam now living in this country, such as Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali), he should remain silent.
For so far those who read the tea-leaves have good reason to worry about his understanding. Yes, he is against the war in Iraq, and claims, not quite accurately I”m afraid, that he has been so steadily. In fact, once the war began he wavered, and after he was against it he was for it and then he was against it again. But that is not enough. We need to know why he was against it. Was it because we merely anger Muslims, and we must do nothing to do that, but must instead come to some conceivable accommodation with them, one largely based on throwing others — i.e., Israel and possibly the Christians of the Middle East — to the wolves by forcing them to give up their legal, moral, historic rights, whatever those rights might be? (We hardly hear about those rights. All we hear about is strangely-neutral “processing” as in “peace-processing,” as if the “process” itself will lead with certainty to a “solution” — which again implies that there is a discrete “problem” to which there is a “solution,” a most naÃ¯ve, and some might cruelly suggest naively American, notion).
He thinks that every enemy can be “talked to” and “without preconditions,” and that the mere fact of this talk is a Good Thing. No. Sometimes such talk legitimizes a regime on its uppers. Sometimes such talk allows a regime to engage in tactics of delay, delay, delay — see the regime in Khartoum, hoping always to get in another good month or six of mass-murder, before it happens to call it a day; see the regime in Teheran, that hopes to buy time to finish the “project” about which we all know. If it is engaged in “talks,” the American government is unlikely — so those who rule the Islamic Republic of Iran correctly conclude — to do what it must and should have done six months or a year ago. Now it seems to be both waiting to see if permanently imperiled and brave little Israel will take on the difficult task — one that would be so much easier for the Americans to do, with their vast airpower and spy satellites and other resources. They seem to want the Israelis to do this for the Infidels of this world, as it has before. And at the same time, they”re trying to pressure Israel not to do so, for supposed fear of the “headache” this would cause American military planners, who already have their “hands full” in the Middle East. So Israel has to risk being decapitated, because Admiral Mullen and others, having been bogged down in Tarbaby Iraq through the sole folly of the American government, might suffer a “headache.”
But Obama doesn’t talk about any of that, as he might, and score all kinds of unanswerable points. No, instead he talks about “talks.”
At least Obama should understand why people are made nervous, and why he has to say, and then do, very dramatic things to show not only that he is not a Muslim, but that he truly — unlike Bush, and unlike McCain up to now — studied, and grasps, the meaning and menace of Islam.
For if he doesn’t, and if he does nonetheless manage to become President, those who do know all about Islam will make mincemeat of him. And all kinds of things that should be done will not be done. Above all, those who are most interested in reducing the use of fossil fuels because of their desire to deprive those conducting Jihad of the Money Weapon, will continue not to have sufficient influence, at the very moment when, if their “concerns were addressed,” they could constitute a powerful ally of alarmed environmentalists, in a Grand Alliance to cut back the use of fossil fuels. And that alliance might be just what the doctor ordered, in order to efface or diminish left-right attitudinizing and hostility, as both sides work, with different emphases and promptings, toward exactly the same goal: a reduction in the world-wide use of fossil fuels. It would help if Obama, anointed champion of that left, would articulate why the “war on terrorism” is actually a Jihad and that among the instruments of that Jihad is not only terrorism but also Da’wa, and demographic conquest, and — undergirding all three of the others — the Money Weapon.
Yes, Obama can point out — unless McCain beats him to the punch — that the Money Weapon is so much more effective, at this point, than terrorism in promoting the goal of removing all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam. And he can grandly reach out, he with his “improbable” life story and his race-and-nation-bestriding impulse, to create that Grand Alliance that will “harness the energies” of “both left and right.” But Obama can’t do it if he doesn’t recognize Arab and Muslim oil revenues as a Money Weapon, and is unable to connect that instrument of Jihad, the Money Weapon, to support for other instruments of Jihad, including Da’wa, and demographic conquest and, yes, that terrorism to which such dangerously exclusive, even monomaniacal, attention has been given by the benighted Bush Administration.
Everything connects. Or, to put it in a way that the Obama campaign might like, and as a way of proving that I once was forced to study the rudiments of another, “foreign,” language, just as candidate Obama says more Americans should: Tout se tient.