Obama and the culture of fear

President Obama’s 10-day Asia trip includes visits to India and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. The president chose not … Continued

President Obama’s 10-day Asia trip includes visits to India and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country.

The president chose not to visit the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar during his time in India because it required a head covering that his advisers feared would fuel speculation about his faith. A Pew study showed that nearly 20% of Americans believe falsely that the president is a Muslim.

The more Obama reaches out to Muslims, the more his critics are likely to slander him, implying that he is not a Christian.

An example is his April 2009 speech in Turkey, in which he said, “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation, we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.” The president’s critics have seized on that statement, insisting that he rejects the Christian foundations of America.

Is Obama stuck between a rock and a hard place? If you were the president, how would you handle this dilemma?

Obama’s decision not to visit the Golden Temple was yet another blot on his lackluster record when it comes to combating religious bigotry.

So 20% of Americans think he is Muslim. Big whoop. Even more people think that his birth certificate was forged, that he’s a socialist, that he’s the anti-christ, or even, that he wants the terrorists to win! Clearly, facts have nothing to do with their perceptions of the president. If Obama thinks the fact that he declined to visit the temple and wear a turban is going to convince them of his Christian pedigree, his citizenship or anything else, he’s wrong.

While there are many things I wish the president had done differently, his lily-livered response to accusations that he is a Muslim is representative of one of his most significant short-comings. The president has squandered, again and again, the opportunity to challenge the current culture of fear and fear-mongering that has gripped these American states. Whether it be the fever over immigration, over Muslims, or over liberal ideology, Obama should have used the presidency as a bully pulpit to challenge the rampant bigotry and intolerance that has been fed to us by TV and radio pundits, and which seems to be the accepted manner of carrying out politics these days. This past campaign season was marked by the worst kind of fear mongering, whether it was by Sharron Angle against Muslims, or aspersions against Rand Paul’s Christian faith, or Mike Pompeo’s attack on immigrant Americans. Obama should have taken the lead, denouncing these sorts of tactics, and opening a dialogue on civil rights, mutual tolerance, and bigotry in all its forms. His response to accusations of being a Muslim, a socialist, not a born citizen, etc should have been, “I’m not, but so what if I were? It is not a crime to be Muslim or socialist or an immigrant in this country. Nor do these things mean you do not have a place in our society, and those who suggest that we need to institute second class citizenship for folks who are Muslim, socialist, or immigrant, etc need to think again. That is not what America stands for, it is not what our Constitution mandates, and it is not what we will accept in the future.” (Obviously, you can’t be president if you are not a born citizen, but anti-immigrant sentiment is about far more than whether Obama is legally president or not.)

I find it scary that portions of the American populace think it is OK to bar Muslims (and gays! what a coupling!) from public service. We seem to have lost our bearings as a country. And President Obama could do so much to help bring us back on track. Or at least to start the dialogue that will bring us back on track. And yet, instead, he chooses to skip visiting a temple, slighting the Sikh religion and American Sikhs, because it might give his opponents ammunition against him. It’s time Obama did what was right, rather than pander to his opponents!

Not only does Obama’s cowardice in face of patently ridiculous accusations leave unchallenged the bigotry that is behind such accusations, it has squandered all the good-will that Obama once had in countries where America’s image needed improvement. The fact that the president won’t stand up for minorities, that he declines to visit temples because he is afraid of how his detractors will use the resulting images only reinforces the notion that America is an unsavory place to be if you are not White, Christian, relatively well-to-do, and Republican. This is thankfully, still a false notion… America is still a wonderful place, for the vast majority of its citizens… but the president surely has not done his part in demonstrating that to the world, or ensuring that it remains so! The ramifications of this are not only in the damage to America’s image, but in the way our enemies will use the president’s shortcomings and the ravings of his opponents, or anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant activists, to recruit people to their cause, and motivate those who have already joined. The president’s weak response, thusly, jeopardizes not only the status of certain American citizens, but the safety and security of us all.

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  • AKafir

    Jihadist writes: “A religious test and expulsion for those not meeting certain self-set criteria? “Jihadist is a supremacist and racist Malaya. Malayas do think that they are too good for the others. A Malaya has to be a muslim, and by law is not allowed to be a non-muslim. A Malaya gets economic benefits in Malaysia that non-malayas have to pay for. So Jihadist your country imposes a religious test and a racial test and treats non-muslims as second class citizens. Do you feel the slightest shame in trying to tell the Kafirs that they should not think about defending themselves against the evil of Islam?

  • AKafir

    Ms Taylor, you asked “what’s wrong with being a Muslin?” There is plenty wrong. A Muslim worships Allah, a deity that hates the non-muslims, about 80% of humanity. A Muslim believes in the laws spelled out in the Quran that clearly are designed to oppress and suppress non-muslims and women. A Muslim is commanded by Allah to love Muhammad more than his parents, and his siblings, and to emulate Muhammad because Allah thinks that Muhammad is an exemplary human. Unfortunately Muhammad actions are far far from exemplary by the modern world. He killed, had people assassinated, he enslaved those who would not submit to him, and he sold, gifted, and traded those slaves. Those are only a few of the nasty actions of the prophet of Islam that Muslims are taught to emulate.

  • bruce18

    While I dont agree with much of this article, there is a culture of fear in the US. But its not the fear you speak about Pamela, its a fear of flying, that somehow the government will make us safe. Its the fear of drilling for oil, that somehow the government can prevent an industrial accident.

  • woodstock-41

    OYE…!

  • woodstock-41

    …..3) PAKISTAN’s Ummah are mass murdering “Sufi”s and or Ahmadiyya SECT-tions or CULT-tures? PREDICTION: In The Next 360 Days i[WE] guarantee that 1,00’s of Keffirs, Heretics etc.. Will needlessly perish in the hands of some Ishlami’s; and Not The other way around. . 4) 5) see part 2 of 1 [this]

  • woodstock-41

    ……2) In IRAQ, the …..

  • woodstock-41

    ……1) IRAQ Hoodlums ride on waves of mass murder of Xristians and now threaten to assault their Xrstian NABE’s. And Some Keffir European Countries want to provide Asylum, safe Harbor? Note: Mentioning “ISRAEL in any Iraqi News is a Felony…….

  • woodstock-41

    ATT: Pleazza. Keep the Spaces but remove the curly-Brackets, repost and see what happens.Then: Att:

  • ucfengr_2000

    Wow, another America sucks and most Americans are stupid bigots column from the WaPo. How original. Pam, were you aware that there are actual countries where Muslims are welcomed, and red-necked, hilly billy Christists aren’t? Move to one, and take Obama with you. You’re both clearly to good for us.

  • abrahamhab1

    Ms Taylor said:You expect the president of the only superpower to admit to his countrymen that he sees no fault in the ideology that turned, for example, the great civilizations of Persia and Egypt to what you see today and have a chance at a second term?

  • Jihadist

    “Move to one, and take Obama with you. You’re both clearly to good for us.”*******************************************A religious test and expulsion for those not meeting certain self-set criteria? While at it, demolish the Statue of Liberty and ban Emma Lazarus’ poetry too?Why not tear up the Constitution and Bill of Rights as well?

  • starjack

    Thank you, Pamela! So many of the same people who call Obama a Muslim were haranguing him for the church he went to in Chicago. The fact-free crowd on the far right will never give him a break so why bother pandering to them? Talk about head-coverings. Presidents have often visited Indian reservations and been photographed in feathery war bonnets. Nobody would have accused them of wanting to return an inch of American land to the First Nations, but were Obama to meet with Indian leaders… Geronimo! In the last election the Ds were complaining that they couldn’t get out the vote. This lackluster pandering is exactly why. They should work on shoring up their own base instead of trying to work with the most intransigent of their opponents.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Ms Taylor, you asked “what’s wrong with being a Muslin?” The answer is: it goes against the Ethic of Reciprocity, considering that a Muslim is required to tell the children a big lie : that there is a just supreme being. But killing of innocent babies and children ( in addition to adults) from tsunamis and earthquakes – caused by the slow moving tectonic plates – shows how absurd is the concept of a just deity. Please Ms Taylor, never tell children a lie!

  • AKafir

    momtotsan writes:”People tell all kinds of lies about Islam. It doesn’t foster a meaningful dialogue.”Allah does hate the non-muslims. The medina and the meccan verses and the abrogation of verses is too well known for me to rehash here. I am sure you already know that. You already also know all the verses where Allah curses the jews and christians and calls the pagans filthy and unclean. Why not look at the laws of the Muslim countries and see how they treat non-muslims? These laws are derived from Sharia or are Sharia Law which explicitly codifies Islam as the Muslims understand it. And the Sharia laws in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sudan, Yemen, etc. all implement that hatred for the Kafirs that is in the Koran.Disbelieve what? Disbelieve in Allah and Muhammad. That covers nearly all living Christians, Jews, and Zorastrians, and Allah is calling his own creation “the worst of created beings”. 58.022Is Allah saying that a Muslim by definition cannot love his fathers or sons or brothers if they reject Allah and Muhammad?9.028And the Shia’s compare the unclean Kafirs to urine and feces. That is how unclean the non-muslims are. Kafirs are banned from entering Cities of Medinah and Mecca (not just the mosques in those super clean and pure cities but entire cities and surrounding areas because Allah conisiders the non-muslims that filthy).This is just one of many verses where Allah thunders against taking jews and christians for friends.

  • AKafir

    momtotsan,Ibn Kathis states:[أَلا إِنَّ أَوْلِيَآءَ اللَّهِ لاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ ](No doubt! Verily, the Awliya’ of Allah, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve) (10:62).The angels will proclaim to the dying believers, as mentioned,[إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَـمُواْ تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَـئِكَةُ أَلاَّ تَخَافُواْ وَلاَ تَحْزَنُواْ وَأَبْشِرُواْ بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِى كُنتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ ](Verily, those who say: “Our Lord is Allah (alone),” and then they stand firm, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): “Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!”). (41:30)Basically, before Muhammad you are Okay, but after Muhammad you better believe in Muhammad or else you are toast. That is the reason why in Muslim Mythology Muhammad’s mother and father are both in hell because they were pagans and had not accepted any of the religions with prophets that Allah deemed acceptable before Muhammad. However After Muhammad only one religion is acceptable and that is Islam. 003.085

  • woodstock-41

    1 of 2:HALOZCEL2:NOTE: “Forced religion Conversion is Tantamount to DEATH”.Now Something, on Like ‘cousins Both Techniques or tool are an affront to S.pace-S.hip Earth’s Note: (PD) can have 2-way applications. 1st: With MILITARY, like the TURK OTTOMANS did by EXTRACT some Teeth, oops do Implants and 2nd: By the ‘PULL, PUSH-god or POP’ method. Both are cruel &extreme Too. “BRAIN-WASHING by WaterB{oarding’

  • woodstock-41

    2 of 2:LIFE: OUR Miracle in Holyi Cosmic Motion, appearing in Photons on earth,Justly in time via Holyi TIME(TEMPerature as Carbon-Based Entity’s) are NOt A They Rob US of extraordinary GLOBAL-INTELLECTUAL-GAINS. They Live off of & Depend on Our Holyi-INTELLiGENCE, yet Want to Kill US Off & or Control our Lands, Wealth,Daughters.SUMMARY: PRE-Apocalyptic Thinking Religious folks from the War-Mongering Themes; not from our Peace-Blessing time are Causing A “….

  • woodstock-41

    ….VOTE: Death To ….

  • woodstock-41

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  • halozcel2

    The Culture of Fear*I(Allah) will cast Fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve(infidels)* 8.12The Festival/Holiday of Sacrifice is coming in next week.Holiday of Sacrifice based on Jewish Legend.Abraham and Isaac.This Culture(Cult of Desert Order) grounded on Fear,Blood,Hate and Brainwashing.Have a great Holiday.

  • woodstock-41

    GO{TO ‘S.pace-S.hip HELL’ or ‘S.pace-S.hip HEAVEN like Worlds; but NOt Here! Time to make [SECULAR] Believers out of Ye/Yo Yet.

  • woodstock-41

    testing:”GO TO S.S. HELL”

  • woodstock-41

    testing:”GO TO S.S. HEAVEN”

  • woodstock-41

    Ahhh. The Culprit Key Words that onfaith won’t let the rest of me 2,944 Letters Go free is the spelling “The correct use is “I Think the New Owner of This Web Site, OYE…!

  • momtotsan

    @akafirAllah does not hate non-Muslims. Rather they are promised heaven. From the Qur’an 2:62 VERILY, those who have faith [in the Qur’an], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians -all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.This is repeated in 5:69, and 22:17. People tell all kinds of lies about Islam. It doesn’t foster a meaningful dialogue.