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New President, Same Rhetoric

Of course, the many Muslims of both the East and West who called for Obama’s support, with his every word on the tip of their tongues, will undoubtedly be overwhelmed with a sense of shame while many commentators both Muslim and otherwise resist the urge to say “told you so”.

The inaugural speech, prepared by Obama’s writers and edited by himself, left more to be desired resembling a sermon more than a speech. There is no doubt that Obama, being evidently more intelligent than Bush, managed to address issues that affect the wider citizens of the world, yet the leaders he criticised for oppression and terror wouldn’t necessarily evoke names such as those Obama intended.

As well as addressing the economic, healthcare, and environmental problems facing the US, he spent an important part of the address discussing foreign issues. As the first (semi) Afro-American president, it was quite ironic that he mentioned the ‘founding fathers’ who “faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations”, especially given that most of those founding fathers were slave owners and in no way would they have accepted, nor intended in the charter, the presidency of a black man.

In keeping with the contradictory state of US presidents, Obama said, “We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan.” Having accepted the irresponsibility of Bush and Co in attempting to occupy Iraq and milk it for its oil’s worth, Obama apparently isn’t ready to afford Afghanistan the same amount of dignity in letting Afghani’s decide the future of their own country. If anything, it will renew the call of the mujahideen of Afghanistan with fighters gathering once again reminiscent of the Afghan-Russia conflict.

Obama also indicated that in similar fashion to Bush, he intends to continue with the Israeli instigated accusations that Iran is building nuclear bombs. Of course, Iran were not as quick as the Gulf states in welcoming the Obama presidency, Ahmadinijad saying earlier, “If changes are fundamental, genuine and based on respect… we wait and see and do not make premature judgement”. However, more aptly, if Obama intends to “work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat”, then I suppose he’ll be commencing with Israel.

Turning his attention to so-called ‘terrorists’, he claimed “We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence”. It is extremely poignant to note that such rhetoric has been continually utilised by neo-cons (such as Bush) who have attempted to portray fighters as those who want to destroy the US, where in reality, individuals such as Osama bin Laden have repeatedly stated that if the US were to cease from imposing their oppressive policies in the Middle East all acts of violence would also discontinue. Thus, the mere fact that Obama has resorted to such propaganda evidently proves that although there may be ‘change’, it certainly won’t be in the Middle East. In continuing with his Bush-like rhetoric, he said “those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.” Spoken like a true neo-con, Obama managed to resemble his Zionist colleagues egotistically assuming that the US will manage to eradicate all forms of resistance to their colonial oppression. Moreover, his statement concerning those who “terror and slaughtering innocents” highlights the theme of contradiction running through all neo-con discourses, as if any nation could surpass the US and Israel in the massacre of innocent civilians. The mere fact that Obama failed to mention the current carnage of Gaza by the terrorist apartheid state of Israel clearly demonstrates that pro-Zionist policies will continue to dominate both the bias of the US president and the policies of the White House.

In an apparent attempt to imply states such as Iran, Venezuela, and others who openly disagree with US policies, Obama said, “To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West…To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” Yet, any individual aware of the oppressive regimes littering the Middle East would promptly apply the above descriptions to leaders such as Hosni Mubarak, the Gulf monarchies, Mahmoud Abbas, and many others. Yet in keeping with the American colonialist mindset, Obama has clearly indicated that support for wicked dictators shall continue in similar fashion to the killing and torturing of those who dare to resist. What was quite notable was the fact that Obama didn’t refer to the ‘axis of evil’ nor the ‘war on terror’, an obvious bid to distance himself from Bush terminology. However, in using the Shakespearean phrase in the current context, “a war by any other name is just as evil…

As was clear from Obama’s speech, the continual support of pro-Zionism and pro-Middle Eastern dictatorships shall continue, with the intensified oppression of innocent Muslims continuing in Afghanistan once again. In the end, Obama is a politician, and as one he chose his words carefully, ambiguously mentioning nations and leaders. Overall, the tone of the speech was sombre, imparting no great news nor informing us of any change, but instead affirming the reality so well known to all those who despise both Zionism and those who wage war killing innocent Muslims in foreign lands.

The eminent companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), once famously said, “if anyone amongst you used to worship Muhammad , then Muhammad is dead, but if (anyone of) you used to worship Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die.” He then recited “Muhammad is no more than an Apostle, and indeed (many) apostles have passed away before him…1 Similarly, if anyone had trust in Obama then it is incumbent that s/he know that he cannot even help himself, as Allah stated “And those whom you call upon besides Him (Allah) cannot help you nor can they help themselves.2 But “whosoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.3

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Notes:

1 Qur’an 3:144
2 Qur’an 7:197
3 Qur’an 65:3

10 comments

  1. Fatima Barkatulla

    I understand what you are saying and I am merely hoping for better. Not necessarily change in a dreamatic way but at least a different approach? Time will tell. It could all be spin, buzzwords and hot air.

  2. Obama
    Great analysis. I find it quite notable that the article was posted the same day shortly after the speech – go Islam21c!!

    On a serious note, I strongly disagree with F.Tayyib and F.Barkatullah in that that the author doesn’t offer cynicism but instead a dose of reality. I don’t believe that there is an individual who wouldn’t want peace be who it may, but the reality, as Nizami stated, is that this president will continue with the same policies of the old, but with a better worded rhetoric. For example, he himself knows how important words are when describing the war against Muslims using softer terminology than his predecessor – such as shying away for using the terms ‘war on terror’ and ‘axis of evil’, see http://www.marinij.com/ci_11619873

    In reality, there is no change with Obama except in the ethnicity of the leader of the US, br. Fahad argues that they (the US) are ready for change, but where? Obama refuses to address the massacre of Gazans and oppression of ISrael, continues with Bushs’ claims that Iran is building a nuclear bomb, is continuing with the war in Iraq (for the time being), and plans to boost murderous soldiers in Afghanistan. Where is it exactly that you see change (except of course for the fact that he’s willing to pump billions into his own economy)? All he has agreed to do is ‘speak with respect’ to the Muslim East, but to be fair, so did Bush – with Husni Mubarak, the Gulf states, King Muhammad of both Jordan and Morrocco, Mahmoud Abbas, Nur al Maliki, and the list goes on… Yes, Obama is willing to cooperate (more like command) with these tyrants who were either put there or aided by the US in the first place! It’s not exactly like he’s building bridges is he? Why not talk to Hamas and Hizbollah? Because its not in America’s interest.

    Br. Fahad contradicts himself when he states “what is important is not what part of Obama’s speech was right and what was wrong, rather what is important is that it embodied the sentiments of the western nations, be they contradictory.” so how can we then be ready to engage with contradictory policies – is this not the problem Muslims continously get caught into?

    “His speech or sermon made sense to the people. The change he outlined, which allowed him to world stage, are the changes west is prepared to make and is inspired by. The question is not what change will Obama bring, the question now is that we know the western world is prepared to make that change and what will we do to facilitate that change?” This paragraph strikes me as extremely odd, in that the change Obama promised was exetremly superficial as I stated previously. Furthermore, why is it assumed that the US fictitous slogans for change means the entire western world is ready for change? It seems , with all respect, that br. Fahad has also been duped by the seemingly intellectual and ver empty words of Obama – as if US presidents are known for telling the truth!

    As for br. Fahad’s quote “Allah does not change a nation until they change themselves”, that is the point! The US have perpetually vilified those who have called for shari’ah (in the East) yet Obama clings religiously to a document written by some old men a few hundred years ago who were actually quite racist! Its like a jew defending the constitution of Germany during the time of Hitler!

    There is no change and there won’t be any until the US gives up on its colonialist ambitions spurred by greed, secularism, and Zionism. Let us not be the naive Muslims waiting for the US president to toss us a piece of bred although he has no intention to. The US will engage, but on their terms, they will dictate and they will expect us to go to the fields.

  3. Thanks
    Good analysis and excellent conclusion. I don’t think Obama has much to offer.

  4. Fatima Barkatulla

    I agree with the last comment. I think we should not be overly cynical and we should see this as an opportunity to engage with people who are willing to engage.

  5. Obama
    I think what is important is not what part of Obama’s speech was right and what was wrong, rather what is important is that it embodied the sentiments of the western nations, be they contradictory. His speech or sermon made sense to the people. The change he outlined, which allowed him to world stage, are the changes west is prepared to make and is inspired by. The question is not what change will Obama bring, the question now is that we know the western world is prepared to make that change and what will we do to facilitate that change?

    I do not know the personal vision of the founding father of United States or their personal sentiments towards slavery. But I do know that it lead to some great technological revolution, political revolution and lead to terrible things. But why should this be our concern!! I feel we need to rise above these tiddly piddly views and look at the bigger picture.

    We cannot ask a nation to change in areas which it is not ready to change, but we can declare our presence is areas which the nation is inspired to change for good, and some changes were good. Allah already told us ” Allah doesn’t change the state of the nation unless it is willing to change its own state” so we can only contribute “now” to that which the state has declared. And prepare the new change for tomorrow.

    500 years from today our children won’t ask the question what change Obama brought, but they will ask when the nation was ready what change did our fathers bring. In my view, (that I acknowledge to be limited) that’s what important.. !!

  6. Fatima Barkatulla

    I don’t think we should expect too much from Obama. Do we really expect him to put down the whole idea of ‘America’ and the founding fathers and do we really expect him to not say that he is proud of the American way of life? Of course he can’t do that even if he wanted to and especially not in his innaugeration speech! Sometimes it seems that Muslims think he should come up and say everything as it is. Of course he won’t. He is part of the system after all. We should be just though and wait and see. What we can at least perhaps hope for is something better than what we have been experiencing before this. That’s all.

    I have heard even Muslim Imam’s in the US use the idea of the Founding Fathers and some of the nobler principles and ideals they talked of or represented, as a way to remind Americans of those principles and realise that they are not alien to them. It is a way to penetrate the emotions of Americans and make then feel that what is being said is already part of them.

  7. Fatima Barkatulla

    I don’t think we should expect too much from Obama. Do we really expect him to put down the whole idea of ‘America’ and the founding fathers and do we really expect him to not say that he is proud of the American way of life? Of course he can’t do that even if he wanted to and especially not in his innaugeration speech! Sometimes it seems that Muslims think he should come up and say everything as it is. Of course he won’t. He is part of the system after all. We should be just though and wait and see. What we can at least perhaps hope for is something better than what we have been experiencing before this. That’s all.

    I have heard even Muslim Imam’s in the US use the idea of the Founding Fathers and some of the nobler principles and ideals they talked of or represented, as a way to remind Americans of those principles and realise that they are not alien to them. It is a way to penetrate the emotions of Americans and make then feel that what is being said is already part of them.

  8. For me, Obama’s speech was a little strange and at times contradictory. It emobodied both of the perspectives talked about by FB and Muhammed, which left me slightly confused as to where Obama stood. I too like Muhammed could not understand the language he lavished on the founding fathers, as if Obama had chosen to ignore the patterns of History….it was not the founding fathers to whom America owes its ideals of democracy and equality but the millions of African Americans and white Americans alike who fought for equality in the true sense of the word. I was also deeply hurt that the Native American population who have suffered so much were not given a mention. For me, that was a betrayal. Again, I agree with Muhammed about the similarity in rhetoric between Bush and Obama on the ‘we will not apologise for our way of life’. At that point, it hit me that seeing Obama as an indivdual is misguided and that the hope we place on him is at best misplaced. He is quite frankly just another proponent of Brand Americana.

  9. Fatima Barkatulla

    Jazak Allahu Khairan brother. However perhaps we should also mention what Obama said addressing ‘the Muslim World’, an article written for Muslims about his speech wouldn’t really be complete without mentioning that….here are some of my thoughts on some of the other things he said:

    “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
    On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”- I thought this was clearly a criticism of Bush and the last administrations approach.

    “It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”-Here he seems to be preparing America for some of the less popular decisions he is possibly planning on making?

    “Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint. “-Here he seems to be preparing people for a more diplomatic approach to world conflicts. “Restraint”? Wow. Would George W ever use the word “restraint”?

    “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
    To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
    -This seems to be Obama recognising that the American-Muslim realtionship needs a new approach, a more diplomatic approach. Also isn’t it extraordinary that he calls it “The Muslim World” as if America has clearly and openly identified Muslims as ‘the other’? It was as if he was saying “live and let live”?

    “It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate. “-I thought this was a nice idea…he was making individuals take responsibility and telling them that each of their efforts count…”the parent’s willingness to nurture a child” is clearly influenced by his strong ideas from his own childhood of the importance of fathers taking responsibility for their children and being part of their lives.

    I know it is definitely a case of wait and see, but I have recently read his book: ‘Dreams from my Father’…..and if that book represents his true feelings, his history and past and his thoughts, then we are definitely looking at a person who has insight into the lives of people from different countries and situations as well as empathy…someone who has seen and felt the problems caused by the coloniolism of the West in the East.

    His half brother is a Muslim convert. His grandad was a Muslim. Malcolm X’s autobiography had an impact on his life…

    Also, apparently Edward Said (the Palestinian journalist) was one of his friends so, who knows. The thing is, even if he wants to have a different approach, can he really actually do what he wants?

    FB

  10. swift!!
    wow – that is some efficient coverage! I wasn’t expecting to read anything about it until the day after – is it possible that you post the whole speech (if you have it) as I missed it…

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