Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hitchens on Obama's Cairo speech.

".....Nothing prepared me for the way in which the authorities at the camp have allowed the most extreme religious cultists among the inmates to be the organizers of the prisoners' daily routine. Suppose that you were a secular or unfanatical person caught in the net by mistake; you would still find yourself being compelled to pray five times a day (the guards are not permitted to interrupt), to have a Quran in your cell, and to eat food prepared to halal (or Sharia) standards. I suppose you could ask to abstain, but, in such a case, I wouldn't much fancy your chances. The officers in charge were so pleased by this ability to show off their extreme broad-mindedness in respect of Islam that they looked almost hurt when I asked how they justified the use of taxpayers' money to create an institution dedicated to the fervent practice of the most extreme version of just one religion. To the huge list of reasons to close down Guantanamo, add this: It's a state-sponsored madrasah.

The same near-masochistic insistence on taking the extreme as the norm was also present in Obama's smoothly delivered speech in the Egyptian capital. Some of what he said was well-intentioned if ill-informed. The United States should not have overthrown the elected government of Iran in 1953, but when it did so, it used bribed mullahs and ayatollahs to whip up anti-Communist sentiment against a secular regime. The John Adams administration in the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli did indeed proclaim that the United States had no quarrel with Islam as such (and, even more important, that the United States itself was in no sense a Christian nation), but the treaty failed to stop the Barbary states from invoking the Quran as permission to kidnap and enslave travelers on the high seas, and thus Thomas Jefferson was later compelled to send a fleet and the Marines to put down the trade. One hopes that Obama does not prefer Adams to Jefferson in this regard......"

At least Hitchens has the secular spine to remind us that Islam carries no more authority than christianity or judaism (which is to say, in terms of logic and science, no authority). As CH also noted, the blogocrats refused to address Obama's oversimplifications and verbal gaffes (like hajib, when the word is hijab). Had Bushco muttered hajib instead of hijab, the Kossacks would have indulged in their gonzo-lite jokes for weeks.

(Ah I forgot: Hitchens is on the Oppressor list, according to some in Linkspartei. Perhaps. He oppresses with a modicum of taste, and avoids the stalinist gambit "we can exploit religious hysteria to our benefit.")

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