An Advocate for Islam

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An Advocate for Islam

Is America’s relationship with Muslims really based on “mutual interest and mutual respect”?

A month ago, after wishing Muslims a happy Ramadan with a special video greeting, President Obama hosted a Ramadan dinner at the White House. In his address to the audience of Muslim dignitaries and others from around the country and the world, he said, “Together, we have a responsibility to foster engagement grounded in mutual interest and mutual respect.”

Mutual interest and mutual respect.

While some Muslims agree with that notion, many if not most demonstrate nothing but contempt for non-Muslim religions and cultures. Religious tolerance is simply not a hallmark of Islamic countries. In fact, Muslim converts to Christianity face the death penalty according to Islamic law. In extreme cases, Muslim leaders terrorize and/or kill those who have any dealings with “infidels.”

Nevertheless, many Western governments—America’s increasingly among them—continue to pretend the feeling is mutual as they show strong interest in and respect for Islam. They permit and promote Islamic customs and laws in place of their own customs and laws. They trash their national interests to grant privilege to a foreign faith.


Such flawed thinking has infected several European countries. It is worst in Britain. As the Trumpet has documented in severalarticles, the British have taken a full-scale posture of submission toward Islam. Eighty-five Islamic courts currently operate throughout the country, trumping British law. Britain’s banking system has become increasingly “sharia compliant.” Its schools include Islam-tolerant curricula. Its police sniffer dogs wear rubber-soled booties while searching Muslim homes. The result has been, well, the opposite of mutual interest and mutual respect. The country has become a hotbed of Islamic radicalism. British Muslims have grown more extreme. Homegrown British Muslims have committed terrorist acts against the country of their birth. Four in 10 young British Muslims want to be governed by Islamic law. Nearly as many believe that “apostates” from the faith should be executed.

Britain is hardly a model to emulate. Nevertheless, America is treading that same path. In fact, though many people speak as though this trend originated with the current president, it has been going on for the better part of two decades.

Beginning with the first Bush administration in 1992, the government began to depart from its longstanding policy of leaving religion out of politics. Even before 9/11, it began to embrace the task of explaining and defending Islam. Government officials right up to the president began speaking as experts, dutifully explaining how terrorism was contrary to the true nature of the faith. Osama bin Laden and his ilk, President Clinton said in 1998 for example, were using “a horrible distortion of their religion to justify the murder of innocents.”

True Islam, the argument went, was a positive force in America. Officials praised its espousal of Western ideals like personal freedom, devotion to family and society, justice, faith and good works. “America is made stronger by the core values of Islam,” said President Clinton: “commitment to family, compassion for the disadvantaged, and respect for difference.” While speaking of how “Americans respect and honor Islam,” the Clinton administration also expressed embarrassment over how the religion was also the victim of “unfortunate stereotypes” among Americans. It blamed not Islamic terrorists, but an uninformed media for linking Islam with violence. This reinforced its sense of obligation to educate Americans about the wonderful virtues of this religion.

This trend intensified during the Bush administration after 9/11, when the government entered into full apologetics mode. “These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islam faith,” President Bush preached. “That’s not what Islam is all about.” He visited a mosque, accepted a Koran as a gift, and convened a diwan—an assembly of Muslim representatives—at the White House. He also held Ramadan dinners for each of his eight years in office. He encouraged Muslims to evangelize: “By educating others about your religious traditions,” he told them, “you enrich the lives of others in your local communities.” The interest and respect was certainly flowing in one direction.

Daniel Pipes, detailing these measures in his 2003 book Militant Islam Reaches America, concluded, “In adopting a determinedly apologetic stance, [federal officials] have made themselves an adjunct of the country’s Islamic organizations. By dismissing any connection between Islam and terrorism, complaining about media distortions, and claiming that America needs Islam, they have turned the U.S. government into a discreet missionary for the faith.”

Why Islam and not Buddhism, Hindu or any other religion? Simply because no other religion is applying the kind of pressure on the U.S. and other Western governments that Islam is. Muslims are using a potent mixture of political pressure and violence with extraordinary success. They have managed to secure privileges for Islam not afforded to any other religion, including Christianity.

Now, under a president who spent formative years of his life in a Muslim-dominated country, this trend is clearly accelerating. At his inauguration, Barack Obama said, “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” There are those words again.

Since voicing them, the president has worked hard to show America’s interest in and respect for Islam. He has trashed America’s alliance with Israel. He sent a conciliatory video greeting to the mullahs in Iran. He visited Turkey, telling its parliament that despite America’s huge Christian population, “one of the great strengths” of the U.S. is that “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” He created a new State Department Office for Muslim Outreach. He went so far as to erroneously call America “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” He spoke directly to Muslims worldwide from Cairo, seeking a new beginning based on—you guessed it—“mutual interest and mutual respect,” apologizing for America’s past and voicing his acceptance of the Muslim view of history and of present-day grievances. He stood behind Iran’s ruling religious class during that nation’s election protests in July. Then there were the Ramadan celebrations. In addition to the president’s own initiatives, the State Department enacted a multipronged plan to celebrate the Muslim “holy month,” including using a government website to showcase essays by young Muslims, producing articles on civic and political advocacy of Muslim Americans, and publishing a lavishly illustrated book called Being Muslim in America.

Talk about turning the government into a missionary for the faith.

If the purpose is to stem anti-Americanism, evidence shows it isn’t working. Surveys show distrust of America among Muslims about even with what it was when George Bush was president. The “mutual” part of the equation has yet to manifest itself.

So the question again arises: Why is America working so hard to make this relationship work? It’s hard to imagine tax dollars being used to fund such initiatives for any other religion. Particularly with Christianity, the government’s mo is precisely the opposite: to outlaw it and erase it.

But apparently, those other religions don’t stimulate the kind of awe and fear that Islam does. What other explanation is there? The political pressure and violence Muslims are using is clearly serving its purpose. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that so few “moderate” Muslims are willing to condemn the activities of extremists. It’s all demonstrably helping the greater cause.

It says volumes about America and Britain—which pride themselves on keeping religion out of politics—that, in the face of an aggressive foreign faith, they aren’t resolutely resisting. That they don’t view efforts to insert an alien religion into public life—let alone the barbaric acts of misogyny and murder routinely committed in the name of that religion—as something odious and worthy of condemnation.

These nations are surrendering ground to Islam, bit by bit. And as they do, they close their eyes, plug their ears, and keep trying to convince themselves: We’re building something here. And it’s based on mutual interest and mutual respect.