Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Obama and the stifling of dissent

Reuel Marc Gerecht discusses his visit in 2000 to Peshawar in the Pakistan's Northwest frontier:
What I liked best about the place was how easy it was to have conversations about Islam. Westernized businessmen and officials, journalists, imams from neighborhood mosques, the ordinary faithful after prayers, rug merchants, taxi drivers, soldiers, and die-hard Islamic militants pumping iron in god-awful gyms would all proffer their opinions about the faith, America, Christianity, Jews, and Osama bin Laden (most applauded the man). Pakistanis become intellectually serious pretty quickly. And even among the hesitant, it didn't take that long before you could have an energetic conversation about what many Westerners would describe as sensitive issues. After the attack on the USS Cole in Aden in October 2000, everyone there knew that bin Laden and the Taliban’s leader Mullah Omar had found some common ground. By and large, the Peshawaris saw jihad against the United States as understandable and acceptable, and those who agreed, and those who didn’t, weren’t offended when an American asked them about the earthly manifestations of their faith.
He contrasts the free and easy conversations he had in Pakistan to the stifled conversations of Obama's Washington:
It’s an odd situation: Throughout the greater Middle East, frank discussions about Islam are easier to have than they are in Washington, D.C.—especially among government officials. Ask someone in the Obama administration about jihad and, unless the official knows the conversation is off the record—and sometimes even if it is off the record—that official likely will become a bit panicked, nonplussed, and try to change the subject.

It’s been 18 months since Mr. Obama became president; thirteen months since he gave his Cairo speech and rolled out his “New Beginning” approach to the Muslim world. Primary result: In the nation’s capital, conversations have become boring, lightweight, and sometimes inane.
PREVIOUSLY on Pres. Obama's contributions to American thought:
Obama: a child's view of the world
Obama: ignorance is knowledge
Obama and constitutional law
Obama as demogogue

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