The President's Speech to the United Nations

It was a rather long address, but one that has some well-crafted moments. The fears that it would be an apology by the President of the United States for the free speech of an American citizen were either unfounded, or were addressed in revision once Drudge leaked the rumor.

Most speeches at the UN are pretty empty affairs, and this one lacks teeth just where teeth are most needed -- on the issues of Syria and Iran. Still, it's not weak, just non-specific about exactly when and what shall be done. As Israel has so often asked of late, what are our red lines? "Let me be clear" is not enough if it isn't followed by actual clarity.

Still, overall it wasn't nearly as bad as we were told it would be, and a few parts of the speech are very solid. Let us give credit where credit is due, on the occasion that the man was representing all of us to the world.


John Bolton is not happy with the speech.

Bolton's remarks aside, most of the reaction has been on one line: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Well, slander is a known lie about someone's character. Of course you ought not to speak known lies.

If you can defend the distinction between "debate" and "slander," there's no problem. The question is whether America will have the strength to defend that distinction.


douglas said...

He makes reference to the principles the UN was founded on, but we all know those principles are not the principles of those in the Middle East who cause us trouble, so calls to live up to them are meaningless precisely to those whom he is attempting to address.

"We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy put us on the side of the people." Did it?

"We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture. These are not simply American values or Western values – they are universal values. And even as there will be huge challenges that come with a transition to democracy, I am convinced that ultimately government of the people, by the people and for the people is more likely to bring about the stability, prosperity, and individual opportunity that serve as a basis for peace in our world."

Self-contradictory nonsense. The values of Islam (may I remind that the translation is 'submission') have little to do with ideas about goverment of, by and for the people. It has to do with a governement of and for Allah, and by self-appointed interpreters, who, human nature being what it is, inevitably abuse the absolute power inherent in being the de facto voice of God.

"Nelson Mandela once said: “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” True democracy demands that citizens cannot be thrown in jail because of what they believe, and businesses can be opened without paying a bribe. It depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear; on the rule of law and due process that guarantees the rights of all people."

This is all meaningless without a call to connect these values to God, and connecting them to Allah yields a different set of values, which are incompatible with those values. Sharia insists that 'people of the book' are obliged to pay a bribe to open a business- Jizya. You can't seriously ask them to discard it- it's asking them to discard the whole set of values connected to it.

"in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask how much they are willing to tolerate freedom for others."

Ironic from a President who has done nothing but denigrate the exercise of free speech for the last few weeks.

”Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.”
I, I , I… How big of him.

It does get much better from there for a while, but given the context of who is delivering those words, it rings pretty hollow. I don’t think too many in the Mid-East will think differently. Then he gets to this-
”Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated”
Where was his voice all the times Christians were mocked? Oh, that’s right, he was busy figuring out how to get the Catholic Church to pay for abortifacients.

In the end, sure he says some things that sound nice and right, but I wish I could see it as anything other than political season positioning to be able to say that he said those things. I don’t think the diplomats in that audience are fooled one bit, they’ve heard all this before. Hopefully, the American people won’t be fooled either.

Grim said...

The values of Islam (may I remind that the translation is 'submission') have little to do with ideas about goverment of, by and for the people. It has to do with a governement of and for Allah, and by self-appointed interpreters, who, human nature being what it is, inevitably abuse the absolute power inherent in being the de facto voice of God.

As terrifying as that sounds, it was actually pretty easy to understand why some Iraqis (and many Afghans) preferred an Islamist system to a secular one. They appealed to sha'riah in just the way that we appeal to the Bill of Rights. If the government does something that strikes us as a violation of our rights, we appeal to the courts -- but even if SCOTUS decides that the government can do what it likes, and reinterprets away the right, we still feel that the court is wrong and our rights have been violated. The secular authority is limited in this way.

By the same token, sha'riah establishes limits on secular power. So long as you are living in accordance with it, you are otherwise free: at least, in the same theoretical way that we are free insofar as we obey the law.

Their experience with secular law was that the law was manipulated for the interests of the powerful. Because sha'riah cannot change, in theory it cannot be altered by the powerful man to betray your traditional freedom. In practice, of course, there would be ways to do so: threatening the families of the Islamic judges, or killing the ones who issued rulings you disliked, and so forth.

Still, I understand why it seems appealing to them.

douglas said...

Indeed, I get that among the choices they believe they have, that Islam and Sharia can seem the better choice. Can we realistically expect enough of the Muslim world to change their views and join us in the modern world, or will it take a true culture war?

douglas said...

Oh, and I'll add that it shares many of the same flaws of not accounting for human nature as communism.