How appropriate that Barack Obama featured Aretha Franklin in his Inaugural festivities since her signature song is "Respect." Literally from the moment she finished belting out "My Country 'Tis of Thee" on Jan. 20, the new president has been conveying his "respect" the Muslim world. Unfortunately, the way he practices it seems to be spelled S-U-B-M-I-S-S-I-O-N.
Several observers have noted in recent days that Mr. Obama's outreach to the Muslim world is not only defensive and apologetic. It explicitly embraces a narrative that is factually erroneous and deprecating to his own country.
For example, in his Inaugural address, the president spoke of seeking "a new way forward [with the Muslim world], based on mutual interest and mutual respect." He amplified this idea during his first post-Inaugural interview, which was granted to a Saudi-owned network, Al Arabiya: He is determined to "restore" the "same respect and partnership America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."
The problem with this formulation is that it misrepresents the more distant as well as the recent past, even as it panders to those (abroad and at home) who would blame the United States for the ills of the Muslim world. As Charles Krauthammer put it in his syndicated column last week, over the last 20 years, "America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. ... It is both false and injurious to this country to draw a historical line dividing America under Obama from a benighted past when Islam was supposedly disrespected and demonized."
The president also told Al Arabiya that: "My job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries." Lest there be any doubt about the priority he attaches to this messaging, Mr. Obama repeated the point. "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect."
For good measure, the new president described America as a country of "Muslims, Christians, Jews" and others - a presumably intentional upgrading of adherents to the faith of his father, Islam, from the second place position he accorded them in his State of the Union address several days before. (The rankings of both orderings obviously reflect something other than demographics; there are far fewer Muslims than Christians in the United States and, according to independent estimates, only half as many - or less - than Jews.)
Mr. Obama has also seriously mischaracterized our enemy as "a far-reaching network of violence and hatred," averring "We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence done in that faith's name." Such statements deliberately ignore the animating and unifying role in jihad of authoritative Islam's violent and hateful theo-political-legal program: Shariah.
What is really worrying is that Mr. Obama's actions and rhetoric are almost certainly being perceived by his target audience as evidence not of respect but of subservience - precisely what Islam (literally, "submission" in Arabic) requires of all of us, Muslims and non-Muslims, alike. Consider the following:
c Mr. Obama has made no secret of his desire to cultivate improved relations with the mullahs of Iran, who have repressed their people and threatened ours for 30 years. It appears he started to do so months before his election, as a senior campaign adviser, former Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry, met repeatedly with a representative of Iran's genocide-supporting president, Mahmoud Ahamadinejad. In recent days, Obama special envoy for Afghan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, hired as a senior adviser Professor Vali Reza Nasr - an Iranian expatriate with an appalling record of shilling for the Islamic Revolutionary Iranian regime.
c According to GeostrategyDirect.com, a newsletter published by The Washington Times' ace national security reporter Bill Gertz, "Diplomatic sources said Barack Obama has engaged several Arab intermediaries to relay messages to and from al Qaeda in the months before his elections as the 44th U.S. president. The sources said al Qaeda has offered what they termed a truce in exchange for a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. 'For the last few months, Obama has been receiving and sending feelers to those close to al Qaeda on whether the group would end its terrorist campaign against the United States,' a diplomatic source said. 'Obama sees this as helpful to his plans to essentially withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq during his first term in office.' "
If surrender in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran were not enough, upcoming opportunities for Mr. Obama to exhibit American submission to Islam include ordering U.S. participation in the United Nations' "Durban II" conference - thereby legitimating its Iranian-dictated, rabidly anti-Israel, anti-American, Holocaust-denying and "Islamophobia"-banning agenda; adopting the program for undermining Israel promoted by longtime Friends-of-Barack Rashid Khalidi and Samantha Power (the latter just appointed a senior National Security Council official); and reversing the FBI's long-overdue decision to end its association with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent front organization of the Muslim Brotherhood (whose stated mission is "to destroy America from within.")
Whatever Barack Obama's intentions, the kind of "respect" he is exhibiting toward Shariah-adherent Muslims will surely be seen by them as submission. And that spells only one thing: D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.