Barack Obama’s Apology Tour Continues
President Obama has stirred quite a hornet’s nest of criticism with his claim that Christians are just as guilty of atrocities as ISIS. But it’s not the first time he has done so – and he is not even the first president to have done so.
Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, Obama argued that ISIS and Al Qaeda are not the only religious extremists to use violence. “This is not unique to one group or one religion,” he claimed. “There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.” For proof of this assertion, however, he had to go all the way back to the early Middle Ages: “[L]est we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” he declared.
In other words, because Christians killed non-Christians nearly 1,000 years ago, that makes the Christian world today morally comparable to the beheaders and immolaters of ISIS. It’s a way of saying that we are all guilty – and therefore nobody is guilty.
The President’s remark is actually a continuation of the theme he promoted during his infamous “Apology Tour” in early 2009. In a series of speeches in Europe and Muslim countries that spring, he rattled off a list of past American transgressions.
At a town hall meeting in Strasbourg, France, on April 2, he said: “There have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive” toward Europe. Next came the G-20 summit in London, at the conclusion of which President Obama pledged that the United States would henceforth “show some element of humility and recognize that we may not always have the best answer…”
Four days later, the President addressed the Turkish parliament. There he implicitly compared America’s past actions to Turkey’s genocide of the Armenians – although, ironically, in order to avoid offending the Turks, he refused to acknowledge that it was genocide, calling it only “the terrible events of 1915.” (This despite his explicit pledge as a U.S. Senator to publicly recognize the genocide.) “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history,” Obama announced, citing “the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.”
America’s past treatment of African-Americans and Native Americans is of course deeply regrettable, but should such mea culpas be presented to the parliament of the country that committed the first genocide in modern times, and that to this day, in the worst tradition of Holocaust-deniers, insists that the genocide never happened?
Stung by widespread criticism of his we’re-guilty-too perspective, President Obama generally refrained from revisiting that theme in the years to follow. But now that he does not have to run for re-election, Obama evidently feels more free to express his genuine feelings. And since he does not want to undertake a serious military effort against ISIS and other Islamist terrorists, he now seeks to minimize the problem of Islamist violence by spreading the blame to Christians.
Not that President Obama is the only occupant of the Oval Office to have tried to shift blame from Muslims to Christians. He has company on this from former president Jimmy Carter. Last year, Carter authored a book about violence against women around the world. He allotted less than three pages to the problem of “honor killings” of women in Arab and Muslim countries, in which women are murdered by male relatives who suspect them of transgressing some aspect of fundamentalist Islamic morals.
In an attempt to minimize such Muslim murders, Carter asserted that the phenomenon of honor killings “has a justification in the ancient Holy Scriptures of Jews and Christians.” He then quoted a verse from Deuteronomy prescribing capital punishment for certain instances of adultery. He did not bother to explain that the verse in question, like other biblical references to capital punishment for various crimes, pertained to ancient times and are obviously not carried out in our day and age.
Carter and Obama share an approach to foreign policy that flows naturally from the “we-are-all-guilty” mindset. Both have refused to fully acknowledge and seriously combat the forces of evil in this world. And that has led, in turn, to American defeats and retreats. As president, Carter stood by as the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, and as Ayatollah Khomeini took over Iran and then held Americans hostage in Teheran for more than a year.
Obama’s non-response to the Soviet occupation of Ukraine, his lip-service “red line” in Syria, and his repeated attempts to minimize Islamist violence (from denying its Islamist nature to covering it up with terms such as “work place violence”) echo Carter’s foreign policy. The fact that both men embrace the Palestinian cause is no coincidence, of course, but it is a reflection of the much broader problem of how they view – and interact with – the world.
The authors are president and chairman, respectively, of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the current U.S. World Zionist Congress elections.