As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, June 05, 2009


Let's take a look at a couple reactions to the President's speech in Cairo. One, Senator James Inhofe:

Sen. Jim Inhofe said today that President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo was "un-American" because he referred to the war in Iraq as "a war of choice" and didn't criticize Iran for developing a nuclear program.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, also criticized the president for suggesting that torture was conducted at the military prison in Guantanamo, saying, "There has never been a documented case of torture at Guantanamo."

"I just don't know whose side he's on,'' Inhofe said of the president.

Two, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of Iran:

Speaking shortly before Obama delivered his address, in which he called for a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that "beautiful speeches" could not remove the hatred felt in the Muslim world against America.

"People of the Middle East, the Muslim region and North Africa -- people of these regions -- hate America from the bottom of their heart," Khamenei said at a gathering to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and Khamenei's predecessor as the predominantly Shiite Muslim country's supreme religious leader.

"For a long time, these people have witnessed aggressive actions by America, and that's why they hate them," Khamenei, 69, told a crowd of several thousand supporters in his televised speech. He attributed these feelings to "violence, military intervention, rights violations and discrimination" by the United States.

Is there much of a difference between these two statements? I actually agree with Khamenei on the point that sweet talk and speeches must match action in the Islamic world. But from the standpoint of tone, aren't these just two mullahs worried about keeping their grip on the world and the adversarial relationship that bolsters them? Just like Iranian mullahs, American mullahs need an enemy, to demonize and to criticize their domestic opponents for failing to take seriously. It's no accident that the most vociferous critics of the speech are the right wing in America and extremists in the Muslim world. They need each other.

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