- - Thursday, January 15, 2015

What is it about cartoon images and radical Islamist jihad that makes it so difficult for educated men and women in the Obama administration to embrace informed reasoning, make sensible choices, and defend the best interests of America and of our long-standing allies?

A government that rightly refrains from elevating one religion above others has no business reordering life inside America to avoid offending adherents of Islam or of any faith, anywhere.

Writing in 1784, Thomas Jefferson encouraged rigorous consideration in all facets of life, noting: “Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion, by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error, and of error only.”

So why is it that President Obama seems only too willing to submit before the dictates of a single religion, thereby hurting America’s natural and enduring interest in promoting free inquiry into all ideas?

Evidently, Mr. Obama and his counselors are ignorant of lessons learned and taught by America’s founders that richly distinguish the American constitutional government from other attempts to reconcile church and state inside geographic territory.

As Jefferson also noted: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Mr. Obama needs to disengage from picking favorites in doctrinal debates and immediately focus upon resolving the real issues.

Paris is a small part of the problem

The massacres last week in Paris were not the first time that adult men and women exacted vengeance for affronts against Islam arising from offensive images.

So far, the most thoughtful analysis explaining why radical Islamist jihadism chooses an errant path when it foments attacks against offensive images comes from a Muslim contributor to The New York Times.

Put differently: Each of us will be dead forever. During a time we cannot comprehend, our accomplishments, our shortcomings, and our offenses will be assessed by an incorruptible power, not before then by self-appointed and misguided human vigilantes.

There is a solution. Credible Islamic authorities starting inside Saudi Arabia and Egypt should re-interpret the Kora. as a matter of urgency.

If these authorities agree that encouraging jihadists to cause harm to those who violate sharia law outside Islamic territories usurps highest authority, they must state this clearly, unambiguously and prominently.

Should we hope that governments, imams and other Islamic authorities worldwide may reflect upon what happened in Paris and choose to steer the community of nations in a new direction?

Recognizing legitimate local concerns

En route to his historic address in Cairo in 2009, Mr. Obama errantly claimed that the United States was “a Muslim nation.” 

The most recent estimates compiled in the CIA World Factbook are that 0.6% of the 318.9 million persons in the United States were Muslims, or 1.9 million in total as of July 2014.

An overwhelming majority of this tiny minority of Americans is peace-loving and integrated productively into life inside our borders.

However, as national security expert Ryan Mauro and others make clear regularly in mainstream media, there are numerous pockets of militant Islamic adherents who advocate and try to advance violent overthrow of our Constitutional government.

The problem resolving inherent conflict between existing laws and sharia law is more difficult outside North America, where populations of Muslims form a higher percentage of national totals.

In France, at the low end of the estimated range (5%), there were 3.3 million Muslims, and at the high end (10%), there were 6.6 million. So, in both countries Muslims were a decided minority, while in France, the size of the Muslim population was 1.7x to 3.5x that present in America.

Asking residents of the United States, France and allied Western nations to consider moderating and adjusting their views of how to practice Islam inside our borders seems a relatively easy and benign approach, over which our governments and citizens must hold considerable influence.

In contrast, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is embarked upon a set of challenges that is far more daunting, including a road ahead fraught with obstacles that are starkly different than what we face in America and our Western partners face in Europe.

Instead of hiding within a protective cocoon of partisan supporters, Mr. Obama must abandon platitudes and reenter the ideological debate.

Obama’s imminent appointment with reality

The volatile conflict with and among Muslims located throughout the electronically connected world is among the most challenging of any faced in human history.

Granted, Mr. Obama, his current advisers, and Hillary Clinton have much to fear now as events inside Egypt play out.

Recognizing that revelations coming from trials against former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood members could prove deeply embarrassing, Mr. Obama nonetheless needs to fire up Air Force One for an extended tour across the Middle East and back home via Africa, as soon as practicable.

He must shun and shame Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his incendiary and manifestly incorrect comments concerning who was behind the atrocities committed in Paris.

Our president then needs to join steadfastly in supporting Egypt’s brave president in his quest for responsible reform of Islam.

Under his direction, Mr. Obama should concentrate waning American economic and military might against nations and individuals who continue to finance, promote, and enable radical Islamist jihad.

Otherwise, continuing along the course that Mr. Obama has set so far assures that he and any who support him will end up in an unfortunate place beside former President Jimmy Carter, on the wrong side of history, and in ignominy.

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