If anyone believed a Muslim could be president, it was probably George W. Bush. After all, GWB got the lion’s share of the then-new Muslim voting bloc in the 2000 presidential elections. “According to a CAIR poll released after the election, [the final results] were 72 percent for Bush, 8 percent for Gore and 19 percent for Nader.” The events of September 11, 2001 did not change GWB’s mind. In a landmark speech before the National Endowment for Democracy in 2003, the year Bush invaded Iraq, he committed himself to the fatal goal of a decades-long effort to bring democracy to the Middle East.
As the 20th century ended, there were around 120 democracies in the world — and I can assure you more are on the way. (Applause.) Ronald Reagan would be pleased, and he would not be surprised.
We’ve witnessed, in little over a generation, the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500 year story of democracy. Historians in the future will offer their own explanations for why this happened. Yet we already know some of the reasons they will cite. It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world’s most influential nation was itself a democracy. …
Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East — countries of great strategic importance — democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free. (Applause.)
Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This “cultural condescension,” as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, a so-called Japan expert asserted that democracy in that former empire would “never work.” Another observer declared the prospects for democracy in post-Hitler Germany are, and I quote, “most uncertain at best” — he made that claim in 1957. Seventy-four years ago, The Sunday London Times declared nine-tenths of the population of India to be “illiterates not caring a fig for politics.” Yet when Indian democracy was imperiled in the 1970s, the Indian people showed their commitment to liberty in a national referendum that saved their form of government.
The Democratic Party and then-candidate Barack Obama decisively convinced the American electorate that Bush had embarked on an impossible mission. Obama came to power largely by pushing the notion that bringing democracy to the Middle East was a fool’s errand. By 2010 it had been dropped altogether. Francis Fukuyama, in a Wall Street Journal dated 2010 titled, “What Became of the ‘Freedom Agenda’?” argued that the United States was better off working with dictators because if one actually gave Muslims a democratic choice they would choose Islamism more often than not.
It does mean working quietly behind the scenes to push friendly authoritarians towards a genuine broadening of political space in their countries through the repeal of countless exceptional laws, defamation codes, party registration statutes and the like that hinder the emergence of real democratic contestation.
The longstanding risk that true democratization will lead to takeover by radical Islamists remains real; our ideals do not require us to commit suicide in this manner.
The Muslim-American vote appeared to endorse the Democratic Party narrative. By 2004 the numbers had flipped. Polls showed that 76% of their vote went to Kerry and 7% to Bush. “‘For American Muslims, there has been a sea change in political alignment and outlook since 9/11,'” said Zahid H. Bukhari, director of Georgetown University’s Project MAPS, a long-term research project on American Muslims, which commissioned Zogby International to conduct the recent poll.”
There was a referendum on the issue of bringing democracy to the Middle East and Democrats appear to have won. Today it is commonplace to hear in progressive circles that ‘it would have been better to leave Iraq under Saddam’. Saddam, far from being the symbol of an evil old despot, has today become for the Left emblematic of the halcyon days when happy natives lived under their accustomed shackles. Even today the Obama administration apparently thinks the Syrians would be better off under Assad than anyone else. The only credible contenders for power in the region were thugs.
Perhaps acting on this belief Obama reopened the US embassy to Syria. Hillary declared Assad a reformer. When the Opthalmologist of Damascus disabused them of these expectations the president still refused to treat with anyone who remotely reeked of liberal democracy. In a 2014 interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, explaining his reluctance to back a rebel side, president Obama made his feelings clear:
It’s always been a fantasy, this idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists, and so forth, that that they were going to be able to battle a well-armed state, but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle hardened Hezbollah. That was never in the cards.
The fact that “former doctors, farmers, pharmacists, and so forth … [vs] a battle hardened Hezbllah” represented an absurd situation for Muslims while the historic fight between the Founding Fathers vs the British Army symbolized the natural progression of freedom raised no sense of irony in the media precisely because the idea that “they” were so different from “us” had been so thoroughly accepted — on a split level.
Perhaps one of the biggest ironies in the brouhaha over Ben Carson’s statements that a Muslim is unfit to be president of the United States unless he renounced sharia is how little different it is from the notion that Muslims can never accept democracy in the Middle East. Those who are rending their garments in indignation over Mister Ben Carson’s blasphemous words might want to ask themselves if they also think that Iraqis would be better off under Saddam and the Syrians best left under Assad.
Even though Ben Carson’s words may be legally incorrect (and certainly non-PC) his support among voters has risen probably because they sense, although they cannot articulate, the hypocrisy in the whole setup. They know Carson is on to something. David Weigel of the Washington Post makes an attempt to explain why Mister Ben Carson has suddenly become popular:
On Monday, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson was bailed out of the controversy over his views of Islam by an unexpected ally. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called a news conference to “ask Mr. Ben Carson to withdraw from the presidential race.”
The mild disrespect of calling a medical doctor “mister” was apparently unintentional, but the sheer audacity of CAIR’s ask lit a fire on the right. CAIR, which plays a role in Islamic controversies similar to the one the Anti-Defamation League plays in Jewish ones, is not viewed that way by elements of the conservative movement. To many, like Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney, it’s viewed as a veritable fifth column that may be “engaged in money-laundering foreign funds to pay for civilizational jihad here.” The mainstream media’s stenographic coverage of CAIR and Carson sent some leading conservative voices into Carson’s camp.
“We are confronting a problem called sharia that is the authoritative version of Islam, not practiced by a lot of Muslims, but those who do have an obligation to force it on the rest of us,” Gaffney told liberal radio host Alan Colmes. “It is absolutely anti-constitutional.” …
CAIR’s battle to debunk this has largely succeeded in the media — but not on the right.
Carson, Fiorina and Trump have discovered that by refusing to play the media game, they can compel the men behind the mouthpieces to come out and speak for themselves. You can never win debating the press. But Trump vs Jorge Ramos, Fiorina vs Planned Parenthood and Carson vs CAIR is much higher percentage game than defending yourself against the gotcha questions of some Sunday talk show host. Engaging the Men Behind the Curtains is better than talking to the smoke and mirrors.
By wading outside the marked channels Ben Carson may not have served the cause of strict legal truth, but he certainly served the cause of his own candidacy.
Suddenly the media’s radar is saturated with incoming bigots. Joe Lapointe in the Observer headlines: “Carly Fiorina’s Abortion Distortion, Ben Carson’s Bigotry; Donald Trump’s Evasions”. Oooga-ooga. Man battle stations. If this were a World War 2 movie you would see media men running up companionways and cranking around 40 mm Twitter accounts to face the kamikazes.
Even as Dr. Ben Carson soiled his Republican Presidential campaign with anti-Muslim bigotry on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, the Carly Fiorina backlash began.
“She’s about to get pounded,” Peggy Noonan said on Face the Nation on CBS.
Even as Donald Trump repeatedly refused to criticize anti-Muslim bigotry uttered by one of his supporters at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, the mood against Ms. Fiorina turned negative around the major Sunday TV talk shows.
Huma Abedin has even acquired a Twitter account of her very own for the express purpose of taking on Ben Carson. Yet one must ask: where’s the bigotry coming from? It’s perhaps worth noting that the worst accusation Hillary Clinton could level at Barack Obama in 2008 was that he was a Muslim — and now she employs Huma Abedin to accuse Carson of objecting to sharia.
Who really thinks Muslims and democracy are compatible if all the effort they are worth to the administration are missiles fired from Reaper drones or the odd covert help supplied by private military contractors? Liberals may claim that that Muslims are people just like us, yet the overwhelming weight of their policies screams the opposite. Why should you trust someone to govern the United States who you would not trust to govern himself. Do liberals really love the Muslims? To paraphrase an old saw, “their lips says yes, but their spies say no.”
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