According to the mighty Wurlitzer in the White House press office, last week’s penitent presidential venture to the Middle East has been “historic” and a “new beginning” for our relationship with Islam. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama - and his campaign promise to make a major speech in a Muslim capital - Osama bin Laden didn’t play along. That’s the trouble with homicidal megalomaniacs - they very often don’t abide by the rules of “acceptable behavior.”
As the Grand Apology Tour swept into Saudi Arabia, the al Qaeda terror chieftain released yet another audiotaped diatribe, condemning “U.S. aggression” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Though Mr. Obama’s carefully scripted “grand gesture” before a thoroughly screened audience in Cairo was simultaneously translated into a half-dozen tongues and broadcast around the world, it wasn’t enough to push the bin Laden commentary off Islamic Web sites. That’s because bin Laden “gets it” and Mr. Obama doesn’t.
Bin Laden doesn’t make any apologies for who he is - or the violence he advocates. He is a vicious religious extremist - and is proud of the carnage he has wrought against thousands of innocent Muslims, infidels in general, and Americans and Jews in particular. He knows his audience is but a tiny fraction of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims - and is well aware that if only one-tenth of 1 percent become “jihadis,” he will have succeeded. Bin Laden doesn’t want to be liked. He wants to be feared.
Mr. Obama, on the other hand, is desperate for affirmation - thus his repeated references to his Muslim father and the Holy Koran in an effort to bond with his Islamic audience. To demonstrate empathy with “our Arab allies” - and show improvement from his predecessors - he did not visit Israel and pointedly condemned Israeli settlements, the construction of which, he said, “undermines efforts to achieve peace.” To further establish how “different” he is, Mr. Obama has become very deft at distorting the truth to serve his own ends.
He has been practicing the lines he used on this Muslim outreach expedition for months. In April, while in Turkey, Mr. Obama baldly said, “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.” He stressed, however, that the United States will “convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world for the better - including my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans.” “Shaped” and “enriched” are not words that instantly spring to mind when visiting Ground Zero in New York City or the West Wall of the Pentagon.
As the White House embarked on this “new chapter of engagement between the U.S. and the Muslim world,” it changed the presidential job description and stretched the facts. “I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States,” Mr. Obama told his Cairo audience, “to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.” He also told an interviewer, “If you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.”
Sorry, Mr. President, but that’s not even a stretch - it’s just a bald-faced fabrication designed to ingratiate yourself with your audience.
The 1,209 mosques in the United States claim slightly more than 2 million members. There are 48 Muslim-majority nations on Earth. Even tiny Oman (population: 2.7 million) has more Muslims than the United States - as do more than two dozen other Muslim-minority countries. We do have more than Iceland (Muslim population, less than 500).
Note to White House staff: These are called facts. The president needs to stick to them. Bin Laden and the ayatollahs in Tehran (Muslim population: 63 million) know better - and they see his grasping for approval as what it is - weakness.
Mr. Obama’s plaintive promise of “mutual respect” and his utopian hope that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will keep the Iranians from using nuclear weapons or Islamists from wanting to kill Americans is beyond naive - it is dangerous.
Some of the Sunni Muslims Mr. Obama met with and spoke to in Riyadh and Cairo undoubtedly want to believe that this “enlightened” American president will protect them from extermination by a Shia Muslim-Persian bomb. Others even may hope he can help prevent their heads from being removed by bin Laden’s minions. More likely, the pragmatic among them will quietly get to work assembling their own nuclear arsenals.
Endless apologies to everyone for everything the United States has done “wrong” or “failed to do” denies the reality of our past and present enemies - and denigrates the American people. Just before the president’s departure for meetings with Saudi King Abdullah and the group hug with Muslim leaders in Cairo, an abortion doctor was murdered by a gunman and two U.S. soldiers were gunned down in front of an Arkansas recruiting office by a Muslim convert.
Before getting on Air Force One, Mr. Obama took time out to tell a French television reporter, “I think that the United States and the West generally, we have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam,” and ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to start protecting abortion clinics. Too bad he didn’t do the same for military recruiting stations.
Oliver North is the host of “War Stories” on the Fox News Channel, the author of “American Heroes” and the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance.