Why Does Obama Keep Apologizing?
President Obama's defense of the right of Muslims to build a mosque and Islamic center in New York City turned the issue into one of religious freedom. That was wrong.
Obama's first priority—like that of every national leader—is to speak for his country and on their behalf. Obama's refusal to do so, his insinuation that questions raised about a proposed Islamic mega-center near the site of the 9/11 attacks are un-American, unconstitutional, and prejudiced have shamed every American, and the good name of America.
Obama could have defended America; instead, he apologized for it.
He could have said that 4,400 Americans have died in Iraq, 1,200 have died in Afghanistan, and over a hundred thousand Americans have been wounded to help those Muslim countries attain freedom (and, of course, hundreds of billions of dollars towards that effort).
But he didn't.
Obama might have said that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the U.S.; hundreds of thousands of Muslims have found a home in America since and despite 9/11. He could have said America has and continues to stand for freedom and democracy.
But he didn’t.
He is probably the first American president to malign his own country while in office.
Obama could have explained that American law and values do not support discrimination, certainly not against Muslims; our history proves that.
There are about 2,000 mosques in the United States, serving about 8 million Muslims; New York City alone has a dozen mosques.
And Muslims are doing well in America: 67 percent have degrees; their average income is over $42,000; 26 percent earn over $100,000; 67 percent buy a new car every three years.
President Obama could have noted that most American Muslims don't attend prayer services; mosques are often political and social centers, some of which are problematic.
According to FBI estimates, 10 percent of the mosques in the United States are associated with radical jihadist ideology. Others estimate that 80 percent of mosques are dominated by the extremist Wahhabi ideology promoted by Saudi Arabia. And Wahhabists are allowed to practice their faith, under American principles of freedom of religion.
Unlike houses of worship in America which are built and supported by the local population, most mosques receive funding from foreign countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Stephen Schwartz in the National Review gives an example:
In a particularly disturbing case, the Islamic Development Bank also granted $295,000 to the Masjid Bilal Islamic Center, for the construction of the Bilal Islamic Primary and Secondary School in California, in 1999. Hassan Akbar, an American Muslim presently charged with a fatal attack on his fellow soldiers in Kuwait during the Iraq intervention, was affiliated with this institution.
In addition, the previously mentioned official website of the Saudi government reported a donation in 1995 of $4 million for the construction of a mosque complex in Los Angeles, named for Ibn Taymiyyah, a historic Islamic figure considered the forerunner of Wahhabism .
A study by Freedom House concluded that "American mosques are filled with Saudi publications that promote hate ideology. All of the books and publications were found to have some connection to Saudi Arabia. According to the study, these publications advanced a "dualistic worldview in which there exist two antagonistic realms or abodes that can never be reconciled, Dar Al-Islam and Dar Al-Har, or Abode of War and that when Muslims are in the latter, they must behave as if on a mission behind enemy lines."
The study also concluded that these publications "pose a grave threat to non-Muslims and to the Muslim community itself." The study further found that the "spread of Islamic extremism, such as Wahhabism, is the most serious ideological challenge of our times" and that "[t]he Saudis' totalitarian doctrine of religious hatred now planted in many America mosques is inimical to our tolerant culture, and undermines the war on terrorism by providing the intellectual foundation for a new generation of Islamic extremists."
President Obama could have explained that this is obviously not an issue of religious freedom. He could have championed America, its reputation, institutions and values. Instead, he reinforced the view that America is bigoted.
For that, President Obama owes every American an apology.
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Elliott Aron Green - 9/12/2010
Oil is huge but the Old Testament is bigger.
jjb, are you implying here that American foreign policy ought to be dominated by oil?? Israel has discovered hydrocarbon deposits, by the way. Much natural gas. Now if Israel were proven or estimated by expert opinion to have more gas or oil than Saudi Arabia, for instance, would you then advocate an intensely pro-Israel policy, rather than the present anti-Israel policy which, by the way, Obama inherited from Bush, although Obama is more assiduous and nasty about it?? Of course it is quite properly expected of Obama to be intensely anti-Israel insofar as he is a disciple of Zbig B.
Arnold, in view of what seem to be your paranoid fantasises about the power of the Israel Lobby [pace walt-mearsheimer], you might benefit from a new book by Mitchell Bard, The Arab Lobby. Walt-Mearsheimer neglected the Arab Lobby, particularly the influence of the Saudis [already described in Craig Unger's anti-Bush book, House of Saud, House of Bush, the basis for M Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11]. Bard's book, which is much more reliable than the W-M tract, could be enlightening for you. Read it, Arnold, don't be afraid of the facts.
Elliott Aron Green - 9/12/2010
Arnold, yes, we don't like US foreign policy. Neither you nor me. And maybe if you scratched Moshe Dann, you'd find that he doesn't like it much either, especially Obama's foreign policy which is like Zbig Bzzzzzski's dreams come true.
But, Arnold, does that dislike for US foreign policy justify 9-11?? Does it justify the murder of 1000s of people in the Twin Towers?? What happened to the "innocent civilian" who turns up so often when a certain breed of self-righteous hater wants to pound Israel?? Weren't those 1000s of folk innocent civilians??
You don't make clear, Arnold, whether or not you approve of 9-11. Could you please clarify your stance on this issue for us, Arnold??
Arnold Shcherban - 9/1/2010
Jews, in general, do not have dual allegiance, only the ones like mutiks do.
However, the singular, one-sided allegiance of the US ruling elites (under tremendous pressure of powerful Israeli lobby) to the interests of Israeli ruling elites is well-known and established fact that even adherents of the so-called Judeo-Christian values (don't you just love the recent metamorphosis of purely Cristian whatever into Judeo-Christian ones?) have acknowledged, though under different premise.
Maarja Krusten - 9/1/2010
Ha! I don’t think giving people the benefit of the doubt is a gender thing. In my case, it’s mostly an historian thing. That and the fact that I am most comfortable in a data- driven, fact based environment. That said, I’m also affected by my past experiences. Keep in mind, my cohort at the U.S. National Archives came under attack from the right while I was working with the secret Nixon tapes during the 1980s. This occurred when we tried to fulfill our statutory obligations as federal employees to release to the public “the full truth” about the so-called Watergate “abuses of governmental power.” My work was so impartial and nonpartisan, as disclosure laws and the Archives’ federal mission demanded, I was called a liberal and biased against Nixon. Nixon’s lawyer also called us incompetent, despite the fact that my supervisor and I had received numerous “outstanding” yearly ratings from senior managers. In reality, I had worked on Nixon’s 1968 campaign, voted for him in 1972 (my letters of support are in the Nixon Presidential Library), and considered myself a Reagan Republican then. No one outside of my friends knew my then political affiliation I’ve been unaffiliated, an Independent and moderate, since 1989 or 1990
Some of our experiences at the Archives in dealing with Nixon and his defenders were pretty harrowing. When you’ve had mud and false accusations flung at you, you do one of two things. You become embittered and decide to treat others that way. Or you work to develop a moral compass and to stand up for others who are under attack, wherever you see it. I did not choose the former. I developed a strong antipathy towards mud slinging, demagoguery and baseless attacks. I’m consistent. I defended Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush when liberals speculated about them here in some essays posted on HNN. I’m doing the same with President Obama here. Regardless of who is in office, I strive to explain how government works, what I’ve learned from my study of presidents, and to call for fairness for officials of both parties. Maybe it’s an American thing, as well. I can't control what anyone else does, that's a personal choice for everyone who writes here, as an author or a poster. I can control how I approach things.
From the bio I read, I know Mr. Dann lives in Israel and that he moved away from the U.S. 30 years ago. From his essay, I can deduce negative reactions to President Obama. And what he writes doesn’t fit the America I grew up in and know. The most I can do is to go with the most benign reason I perceive -- that he seems out of touch with the U.S. and its citizenry. I haven’t read any of his other works (after reading this essay, I have no interest in doing so, his writing style and method of advocacy is not one to which I am drawn). So I can’t and won’t speculate anything beyond (1) seeming negative feelings and (2) doesn’t reflect the U.S. I know.
But your comment gave me an idea and I went to The Gender Genie, which allows you to enter text which it analyzes for whether it was written by a man or woman.
http://bookblog.net/gender/genie.php The site notes that its analysis works best for passages over 500 words.
Interestingly, The Gender Genie writing analysis showed that according to its methodololgy, the “It’s an American thing. . . .” comment I posted above was written by a male. Same for my “Apologies can be weak or strong” and my “Re: What Obama Should Have Done” comment. Both came up male. Actually, the essays I’ve posted here on HNN and many of the comments I’ve run through Gender Genie come up as being male-style although I am a female, of course. Under this essay, my short “No, forgiveness” post and my “Advice for advocates” post came up as female on Gender Genie.
Gender Genie doesn’t always get things right. I ran four sections of Mr. Dann’s essay through Gender Genie just now, after reading your comment. I had to split it because he quotes at length from others, which would skew the result if you’re looking at one individual’s writing style. Gender Genie guessed that Mr. Dann’s concluding paragraph, with the call for an apology, was written by a female. (It is only 43 words, however—the site states that it does best with passages of at least 500 words.) Mr. Dann is not. Gender Genie also guessed that the quoted passage from Stephen Schwartz was written by a female. (Also less than 500 words.) Mr. Schwartz is not. The quoted passage in Mr. Dann’s essay from a website came up as male. For the first 508 words of Mr. Dann’s essay Gender Genie correctly guessed were written by a man. The essay as a whole—the four parts together—came up as male.
Joseph Mutik - 8/31/2010
Oh these Jews with their dual allegiance! For the Irish or Italians it's OK but not for the Jews!
Maarja Krusten - 8/30/2010
Well, this report that the Taliban and similar groups have been energized by the anti-Park 52 demonstrators potentially is troubling. One has to hope the effect can be contained:
As to the larger issue of apologies, I don’t think this is a generational thing, although it’s tempting to present it that way. I think there are people of all ages who are comfortable with critical analysis and apologies and ones who aren’t. I know people in their 70s and 80s who are comfortable joking about their own flaws, they don’t all cling to the mantle of perfection and infallibility. So I think people look at love of country differently, just as they do personal relationships. To some, love means never you’re sorry. To others, saying you’re sorry strengthens bonds. People handle those things differently, there never will be a consensus on them. The improtant thing is that in the U.S., we can disagree and walk away, saying, you go your way, I’ll go mine, that’s cool.
I’m in my 50s, I cast my first vote for President for Nixon. I’ve spent my entire career in Washington. The best bosses I’ve ever had in the government were the ones with a touch of humility. They apologized sometimes when decisions or projects went awry. The managers most likely to stumble and hurt their teams were the ones who were know-it-alls who never admitted error. (They also were the ones most likely to be blindsided, because they took a shoot the messenger approach which led staff to keep their distance.) So I tend to see fear of admitting error as more of a problem than saying, “hey, we goofed, let’s try to do better.”
To a person like me, admitting error doesn’t mean the person hates the organization or country. Quite the contrary. As a manager noted last year in a video posted by Steve Pearlstein in a series on leadership, saying you screwed up doesn’t weaken you, it strengthens you. Because then you yourself own your weaknesses. The end result is that your employees relax and focus more on the tasks at hand, rather than wasting time griping about you behind your back. In can work that way for countries, too. Just as not everyone has the same managerial philosophy, so, too, do presidents differ. I think most fair minded peoiple know, even if they can't admit it, that itt doesn’t mean any of them hate or are ashamed of America.
james joseph butler - 8/30/2010
Maarja, why are women better than men? You're ready to give the benefit of doubt to the stranger. I share your disposition regarding the stranger but Dann is far too familiar.
The Park 51 mosque/community center business is simple. I don't care if Mr. Dann has spent more time on Mars than Marvin the Martian but he knows enough to tie BHusseinObama to that mosque because he wants to tear down BHO and all he stands for.
Dann says Obama's priority is to "speak for his country". No, his first priority is to speak the TRUTH. I don't want a celebrity spokesmodel (is that a word?) I want a leader who levels with me. Isn't that the biggest problem with American politics today? Reelection VS. truth.
Dream on. But getting back to Dann, he has a design and OMG Israel is #1. How is it that the 21st century has bloomed yet we find American politics mired in Moses, Noah, and Yahweh? Because that's the Middle East's truth. Oil is huge but the Old Testament is bigger. Mr Dann's allegiance is 2000 years old, so is Congress'.
Arnold Shcherban - 8/30/2010
The apologies are nothing without the
respective actions to radical changes inthe US foreign and domestic policies.
Obama (or any other US President with a speck of integrity and conscience, provided (with a minuscule chance) such a human creature will ever be able to reach the heights of political power in this country) must condemn the actions
of his own administration to begin with, e.g. in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (for a start) and immediately
withdraw ALL the US-coalition troops
and military contractors from those countries, eliminating the already built and stopping the building of ALL
US military bases there, letting the people in those countries to govern and live the way they want to.
John Connally - 8/30/2010
Yes, why stop there? Obama should apologize for America being the biggest blight on mankind since the beginning of civilization.
Arnold Shcherban - 8/30/2010
Ah? What does the achievements of Americanized (who were mostly of European descent) engineers, scientists, and artists have to do with the US wretched imperial foreign policies?
Actually,... they have something to do with the latter: those policies of imperial conquest, control, and domination (through acquiring the natural resources of the subservient countries for peanuts and manipulating with the world prices of raw materials and financial dealings)
allowed this country to create the quality of life and opportunities for luring the best human resources from all over the world, too.
Ephraiyim ben Yisrael - 8/30/2010
"this country is one more 9/11 away from Palin and Beck's dream come true"
And if they have their way our government will see to it that another false flag like 9/11 id perpetrated no matter what fall guys they use. And Palin and Beck have nothing to do with it. Government by it's nature is evil and will do what is necessary to retain control of the masses. It has nothing to do with right or left they are all playing the same game for the same prize. The enslavement of the people.
Ephraiyim ben Yisrael - 8/30/2010
But we are bigoted. If not then why use deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan or, for that matter, the twin towers as an example of what Muslims have done. We attacked them. Neither Afghanistan or Iraq were involved directly in 9/11.
9/11 was perpetrated by radical Muslims, if. They can not be equated with the average Muslim. As well, why is it that you are saying this is not a religious freedom issue and yet you quote sources which insinuate that mosques are supported by other than local resources. Um, how do we know unless we are violating their religious freedom to investigate?
I also think Obama missed it here but for different reasons. I think the most important reason to stand up for this Muslim center is a property rights issue. They own the property so it is nobody's Dam*ed business what they do so long as their is no direct physical harmed caused by it. Period.
If some radical Muslims did have something to do with the twin towers it has nothing to do with these particular ones. Leave 'em alone.
Maarja Krusten - 8/30/2010
I've been reading HNN since the Bush years and have decided to start speaking out more about tactical matters, without taking positions on policies per se. That's because I think some of the people defending George W. Bush (whom I think is as fundamentally decent a man as Obama) here on HNN between 2004 and 2008 inadvertently helped cost his party the election in 2008. They pounded too hard and used unfair tactics. It backfired.
So this essay provides a great opportunity for me to say, c'mon, historians, we can do better. No more essays premised on Americans being weak people. We're not.
We're strong and proud of our two party system and our ability to disagree with each other. That includes people on the right. Conservatives aren't all marshmelow bullies who fall apart and boo hoo hoo when a Democrat speaks of American values. People on the right don't all clutch the flag and demand that only their views be validated as those representing "real" Americans. That's a misleading impression of only a handful of conservatives, created by clowns on radio and tv.
In the real world, I know conservatives who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 and for McCain in 2008 who are irked at the nonsense now being aimed at Obama by some of their side and who defend the president. Just as I knew liberals who were irked at some of the equally silly nonsense once aimed at Bush by liberal blowhards in the blogosphere. I'll bet everyone who reads HNN knows such people on both ends of the political spectrum, too--decent, brave, honorable people who understand how to cope in democratic society with a two party system and who don't fall apart when their side loses.
I used to be a conservative but moved to the center 20 years ago. Having once been one, I refuse to believe most of them are as weak as these types of essays imply. I've had some dealings with John Dean but don't believe that his argument that some conservatives are authoritarian personalities fits most people on the right. It may fit a handful, but such people tend to make poor spokesmen for conservatism. They repel rather than appeal. Nor do I buy Stephen Ducat's depiction of the hawkish but fundamentally anxious right-leaning male.
Part of our believing in our two party system is letting presidents use the microphone as they see fit. I'm amazed that this even became the subject of an essay here. Presidents often try to point Americans to higher ground, to get them to look at the shining city on the hill, as President Reagan once put it. That's pretty SOP for a president, to look at things aspirationally and to urge Americans to look to their better angels. Reagan did it, Clinton did it, Bush did it, Obama has done it.
I think you need to consider the metamessage, not just the message. I suspect Obama was trying to get people to aspire to a higher level of discourse on this and it backfired because the demagogues don't want that.
Why shouldn't people push back against silly demagoguery by talk show blowhards? Politics aside, there's something that happens to men once they take charge of the country. I dare say Clinton and Bush would have said something similar to what Obama said about the NYC zoning issue, had such an issue come up while they were president, even if this wasn't a federal issue. It seems very normal to me, using the big microphone in hopes of getting people to consider a more elevated point of view than that offered by talk radio blowhards.
I do feel sorry for Mr. Dann for his tactical miscalculation here as he may have had good intentions. I don't think he considered what it sounds like to have some scholar living abroad thundering about Americans being owed an apology. What if an American scholar demanded that the president or the prime minister of the country Mr. Dann is living in (it looks to be Israel from the bio I found on the web) give an apology to its voters for something he said? Israelis live in a democratic country, too. If an American scholar showed up at an Israeli website with a demand for apology by an Israeli leader to all Israelis, would Israeli historians say, "OMG, thank you so much, dude, we needed that, I hope the Israeli official listens to you Americans and apologizes to us?" I doubt it. Israelis are strong people, by and large. So are we. If it wouldn't work in Israel, why in the world would it work here? That's just odd. This whole essay just doesn't make sense substnatively or tactically.
Jon Martens - 8/30/2010
...was keep quiet.
It's not his business.
The decision goes no further than the zoning commission or whatever governmental institution issues permits in New York; and the residents of that area.
It's not the president's business to weigh in on what a city does. The federal government has no say in what a city says can be built where except as it comes into contest with federal programs, such as historic places or federally funded housing.
The best possible thing he could have done was to say nothing.
To allow the opposition to shout all it wants, and keep quiet knowing that the opposition can do nothing but make noise.
But then again, Obama has precious little experience with which to inform his actions.
Maarja Krusten - 8/30/2010
I know nothing of Mr. Dann except that he seems to dislike our president. But I do know the presidency and how presidents operate, having worked with the most intimate secret records of one of the most disliked and disparaged presidents, Richard Nixon. I respect every president whose administration I’ve lived under, because I understand that they have strength of character that most ordinary people don’t. Patriotism leads them to put themselves in position where they become targets of calumny, mud slinging, insults, and lies. Who of us could endure that as well as most presidents, including the current one and his predecessor, have? Not many, I think.
That said, some advice, if I may, to writers offering advocacy pieces here, especially if they live abroad in another country. If you believe in a cause, don’t try to force it down our throats. And if you don’t like a president, make an extra effort to strive to treat him fairly. It’s the manly thing to do. Moreover, you’ll win a more sympathetic eye from readers. Taking cheap shots at Americans is counter productive. It doesn’t work. It didn’t work from the left with George W. Bush, it won’t work from the right with Obama. Explain why you believe in your positions and take your chances with the public.
Here’s how I see it. The U.S. has never been a nation of submissive people who can be pounded into obediently falling in line. Avoid the trap of treating Americans as if we can be bullied and browbeaten into agreeing with you. It doesn’t work that way. Our strength lies in our vibrant disagreement on issues—all issues. You’ll never have all Americans walking in lockstep on any policy. Sometimes you will lose. It happens. It’s what happens in a democratic society where people are all over the place in how they look at things. Beat us up verbally and many of us will dig in our heels and say, no, you cannot subjugate us, this is not the American way. We have a long history of people taking differing positions, debating them, and not having to apologize for disagreeing with each other. Understand that and respect it. That is what has made America great and which still makes us great today. Want to win rather than lose? Play fairly and decently and lay out your case. Resist mudslinging or whining.
What we do have, as a nation affected by human actions, is a past filled with good and bad things. Every nation does. We like to think we mean well, and often we do, but we’re not perfect. Only totalitarian states claim perfection. That’s not how we roll here. Sometimes our leaders do well to note that (both President Reagan and President Clinton apologized for some past American actions while in office.) If you want Americans to listen to you, avoid hang wringing over apologies. That only weakens whatever cause you support, especially on a history site. Historians are accustomed to examining what went right and what went wrong. Not only is examination of cause and effect part of scholarship, admitting wrong and trying to do better is something many well-adjusted, normal, ordinary Americans do in their daily lives. We’re human, we make mistakes. We apologize to our spouses, to our colleagues, and we gain their respect by doing that. It’s part of being a well adjusted person. But what we apologize for isn’t looking at issues differently. It’s for character flaws—for anger, for lying, for rudeness. For disagreement over policy positions, no. That’s not the way we roll in the land of the free and the home of the brave. To overlook that is to lose. Most people come to HNN with a cause. I don’t know what Mr. Dann's cause is (I even mispelled his name above, LOL) I’ve never heard of him. Something made him reach out and try to talk to us here in the U.S. He probably means well whatever he is trying to do. But I do know that when someone comes to HNN with an essay, they shouldn't use tactics that risk losses rather than gains.
Maarja Krusten - 8/30/2010
Why should any of us hate this guy? I just feel sorry for him. He doesn't live in the U.S. and he thought he had something to say to those of us who do. People who lose touch with a country and its people sometimes fumble, as Mr. Dann did here, it happens. Big deal. Why would hate be a factor? I say, let's just forgive Mr. Dann, he undoubtedly meant well but flopped because he's out of touch.
Maarja Krusten - 8/30/2010
Ho-kay, another HNN essay dripping with emotion and feelings. What does this trend here on HNN mean? Probably that there is a bit of a summertime drought in submissions, perhaps there haven't been enough people submitting fact based, scholarly essays.
Don't read too much into this, guys. I don't think Tim Burke is right when he wondered recently whether professors should give up on teaching critical thinking and respect for facts. Nah, we know that it is not the case that "Evidence is Old Fashioned" and of course, neither does Dr. Burke.
So as a someone who studies presidents, what should I make of this evidence free, feelings-filled essay by Mr. Dunn, other than to think, wow, hope Stephen Ducat doesn't read it! I think offering forgiveness to the author for his anger and lack of understanding of America is best.
Teh Google reveals this writer left the U.S. 30 years ago. Yep, I could tell when I read the essay. Best thing to do with out of touch pieces like this is to flip the page. (What a way to fall on one's face here on a U.S. site, ouch!) Especially if, like me, you're the child of refugees who fled totalitarian regimes and who loves the "dude, you go your way, I'll go mine, whatever" zeitgeist in America.
Better yet, grab an ordinary American who has read David Remnick's The Bridge or Jonathan Alter's The Promise or Heilemann and Halperin's Game Change or, heavens forbid, Barack Obama's own books. Books--they're still our best friends, especially when we're scholars!
Edmond Dantes - 8/30/2010
Why stop there? President Obama should apologize for over two and a quarter centuries of American developments in medicine, telecommunications, transportation, technology, international trade, agriculture, commerce, jurisprudence, philosophy, literature, art, music, foreign aid, and for providing freedom and opportunity for millions of immigrants from every part of the globe.
John Connally - 8/29/2010
This one should spur up plenty of angry rebuttals from HNN readers. Let the hate begin!
james joseph butler - 8/29/2010
I would to think that HNN is acquainted with the world of academia where one needs to bulwark truth. I lived in NYC, Moshe Dann states that "New York City alone has a dozen mosques". He's off by a factor of more than a 100, look it up.
By coincidence or not today's Washington Post Five Myths feature is about Islam in America. Moshe Dann is factually wrong about virtually everything in this article. "Most mosques receive foreign funding from foreign countries" is typical.
I know HNN wants to precipate audience participation, it's money after all, but Shenkman and company need to recognize that this country is one more 9/11 away from Palin and Beck's dream come true, oh yeah OBL too, a 21st century Crusade. Printing lies leads to ignorance and ignorance empowers Becks and Palins.
Arnold Shcherban - 8/29/2010
Let me apologize for some grammatical mistakes made in the initial comment, like "long-due" (should be "long overdue") and "Obama have done" (should be "has done".)
Arnold Shcherban - 8/28/2010
To begin with, my position on the decision of building a mosque so close to the Ground Zero site is that doing so is inadvisable, although perfectly constitutional.
And, perhaps, Obama should have completely abstained from commenting on the mosque issue, since that was local, New York City's deal.
(I'm an atheist, and, therefore, am against any religion, since any religion is essentially a totalitarian ideology.)
However, some of the comments of Moshe Dann, as well as the gist of his article are more than controversial; they are just extremely hypocritical and rendering grave insults to the Muslim countries mentioned by the author.
The author preaches: <He could have said that 4,400 Americans have died in Iraq, 1,200 have died in Afghanistan, and over a hundred thousand Americans have been wounded to help those Muslim countries attain freedom (and, of course, hundreds of billions of dollars towards that effort).>
"He" could have also said that the US and "coalition of the willing" wars against Iraq and Afghanistan were not (and still aren't) just wars, according to the respective definition and conditions of the UN charter, but aggressions, plain and simple.
"He" could have also said that the human price Iraqis and Afghans paid for those 4,400 Americans that have died in Iraq, 1,200 ones that have died in Afghanistan, and over a hundred thousand Americans that have been wounded there was overwhelming:
at the very least, three hundred thousands Iraqis have died on the causes, directly or indirectly linked to the war, more than one hundred thousands Afghans have died on the same causes, and about a million
altogether have been wounded or made
disabled, not already mentioning millions of refugees and displaced folks. And if in the US case only
troops - adults - that are recruited and sent to conscientiously risk their lives lost them, in Iraqi and Afghan case, the indicated above victims of the US-allied aggression have included thousands of women and children - non-troops.
("And, of course," the economy, infrastructure, social life of those countries subjected to the US-allied aggression and many years of occupation have been almost completely
destroyed by the US "altruistic" drive for freedom and democracy... for the Muslims.
The latter traditional and obsolete excuse of every imperial power of modernity, substituting the real designs of the mighty, is especially disgusting. Since its outrageous hypocrisy and falsity has been thoroughly revealed and commented on myriad of occasions, it would have been a great waste of time to replicate the respective analysis.
The author continues: <He is probably the first American president to malign his own country while in office.>
"He" has not maligned the US, a very few mistakes that Obama quite timidly acknowledged in the past had no connection with the issue in question. Any US President with integrity should have criticized American past foreign policies immeasurably more and stronger.
<Obama could have explained that American law and values do not support discrimination, certainly not against Muslims; our history proves that.>
Obama have done exactly that by saying that the US constitution forbids discrimination against any religion.
What Obama really should have apologized for in earnest is the US deadly aggression against and occupation of the two foreign (Muslim or not) countries on flimsy (actually false) premises with all their grave consequences for those countries, the world at large, and the US international reputation and for the support of anti-democratic and human rights violating regimes in other Muslim countries (e.g., in the same Saudi Arabia the author obviously dislikes so much.)
Not already mentioning the long-due appology for completely one-sided support of Israel in its conflict with Palestinian and Arabs, which has been the essential ingredient of the American Middle Eastern course for decades by now.