For seven years now, the president has reprimanded the American
people for their attitudes about Islam.
And Barack Obama’s big speech to
the Islamic Society of Baltimore — granted, filled with many harmless
platitudes — was no different, leaving little room for any honest
dialogue about ideology or faith.
Many of the president’s ideas about
“tolerance,” in fact, are antithetical to the American experience, and
not something to celebrate.
Acceptance of outsiders is an American virtue, yes. Do we have to
embrace all ideas, as well? Obama has conflated tolerance of individuals
and groups with tolerance of a select belief system — one that he
demands be immune from criticism.
We certainly don’t want people attacking peaceful Muslims, but it’s
irresponsible and intellectually obtuse to act as if the pervasive
violence, misogyny, homophobia, child abuse, tyranny, anti-Semitism,
bigotry against Christians, etc. that exist in large parts of Islamic
society abroad has absolutely nothing to do with faith.
This week, Obama spoke about the evils of Islamophobia to a group that
featured women covered, subordinated, and segregated from men. I’m happy
he’s open-minded about that sort of thing. Americans are free to
practice their faith in any way they choose. But I’m not sure why all of
us should feel obligated to celebrate this kind of narrow-mindedness.
You will remember how offended liberals get when presidential candidates
visit Bob Jones University or Mormons fund campaigns they find
objectionable. Why is this different? Take this CNN headline: “Obama rebuts anti-Muslim rhetoric in first U.S. mosque visit.” What does it mean? In the piece, we learn that the president reacted to “young Muslim parents whose children are worried about being removed from the country.”
I know of no Republican candidate — or anyone of note on the right, or anywhere else for that matter — who has ever suggested any policy resembling this. Not even Donald Trump. A president who wanted to bring people together would have dismissed this as a preposterous idea. He would have explained that no one in American politics is plotting to kick Muslims out of the country.
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He could have pointed out that in the United States, these children will enjoy more religious freedom than any Islamic nation offers, and be free of virtually any religious or factional violence — but that in this country, people still have the freedom to be critical of one another’s beliefs and even denounce them. This freedom is a lot more useful than dangerous notions about “tolerance.”