The foundational premise of Islam is that other peoples distorted and perverted the true message of God, which Mohammed presented in its pure and final form in the Koran. The Koran does not “fulfill” Christian or Jewish scripture, as Christianity claims to do for the Jewish Scriptures it embraces. It replaces them. To address the “Muslim world,” therefore, by definition is to address those who consider themselves faithful to the true prophecy that corrects the perversions and distortions of other religions.
Muslim megalomania is the cognate of Muslim paranoia: if we are the bearers of the final prophecy, why are we so weak and poor? The answer must be that a Satanic conspiracy has kept us down.
Obama sought to blunt Muslim paranoia by appealing to megalomania, in several ways. Daniel Pipes points out a howler of particular importance, namely Obama’s claim that America’s Muslim population was 7 million. “Study after study has found that demographic figure about three times too high. But Islamist organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America relentlessly promote the notion of seven or even ten million American Muslims. Obama’s accepting their version amounts to a giveaway, a cheap way to win the approbation of Islamists who so widely influence Muslim opinion,” Pipes observes.
Or the falsification of history to exaggerate (or invent of whole cloth) a Muslim contribution: “Ignoring the role of ancient Greece, pre-Islamic Persia, China and india, he credited Islam with having invented modern medicine, algebra, navigation and even the use of pen and printing. He went so far as to trace the genesis of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment to Cairo’s medieval Al Azhar theological school,” as Amir Taheri wrote this morning in the New York Post.
Or equivalencies between perceived Muslim suffering and Jewish suffering. Israeli leaders noted with distaste Obama’s equation of the Holocaust with Palestinian suffering. The Jerusalem Post reported this morning:
“Obama shockingly equated the destruction of European Jewry to the suffering Arabs brought upon themselves when they declared war on the nascent state of Israel,” National Union MK Arye Eldad said. “If he doesn’t understand the difference, perhaps he will when he visits the Buchenwaldconcentration camp [on Friday]. And if he still won’t get it then, the Muslims will teach him a painful lesson that his predecessor learned on September 11.”
Just what is the great “suffering” of the Palestinian people? Per capital income of Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank and Gaza strip is estimated at $2,900, or $8 a day. Half of Egyptians live on $2 a day or less. Living standards among Palestinian “refugees” (no where else in history have the great-great-grandchildren of refugees been classified as refugees) are somewhat better than those in Egypt and other Arab countries without substantial oil exports. Foreign aid per capita of $300 per year is the highest in the world. The Palestinians, to be sure, are subject to considerable annoyance and delays in movement due to Israeli counterterrorism controls, but that is another matter.
Nonetheless, the humiliation of the Palestinians — for it is humiliation rather than impoverishment — looms as large in Arab eyes as the extermination of European Jewry. Obama obliged by accommodating the linked megalomania and paranoia of his audience.
Angelo Codevilla said it best in a National Review Online roundup:
After a thousand years during which Islam and Western civilization have trod opposite paths in philosophy, science, and the most basic attitudes toward relations between the sexes and the role of work in life and after a half-century during which Muslims have murdered Western ambassadors and Olympians, to the cheers of millions of their own suddenly a young American seems to believe he can conjure up a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” How could anyone imagine he possesses such a “reset button”? The answer only starts with Yuppie hubris.
n his piece de resistence he urged his audience to “abandon violence,” because “resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed.” But his audience knew perfectly well that the U.S. government had given billions of dollars to to the Muslim world precisely because so many Muslims had succeeded in killing so many Americans. Of course they had succeeded...Americans have only begun to suffer for having empowered a leadership class so intellectually crippled.
Obama has made the “Muslim world” feel strong and empowered, not only by showing obeisance to Islam, but also by demanding unilateral concessions only from the Israelis. He has validated the Islamists, who always claimed to speak for “Muslim” interests, rather than, say, the national interests of an Egypt or Jordan. By conceding “peaceful use of nuclear energy” to Iran, he has validated the stance of the present Iranian leadership, which sees only irresolution from the United States.
Codevilla is right. We have only begun to suffer the consequences of our own stupidity.