After President Obama's 6,000 word address to the Muslim world in Cairo, it is safe to say Egyptians haven't been this enamored with a foreign leader since Mark Anthony was amorously engaged with Cleopatra. How Mark Anthony managed to gain so much Egyptian support without a teleprompter is a mystery most historians have yet to broach.
All-in-all, I thought President Obama's speech was…gulp…pretty darn good. I thought he struck an appropriate chord by focusing on America's shared history and values with the Muslim world. While I don't expect his speech to have any impact on the extremists operating in the Middle-East, for the silent majority of moderates, the picture of America as "the Great Satan" certainly became less focused.
President Obama's speech provided America's forked tongue, cloven hooves and sharpened horns a much needed cosmetic cover-up. A few more speeches from President Obama to the Muslim world and we might be able to move out of the Satan category all-together and become just plain-old "demonic infidels". Who says there isn't hope for U.S. –Arab relations? Maybe all North Korea needs is a 10,000 word speech from President Obama on America's appreciation of kimchi and old-lady sunglasses.
However, this speech did reveal something far more troubling about Barack Obama than the fact that his middle-name is Hussein --seriously, who knew? It revealed that President Obama suffers from Acute Moral Equivalence, a disease afflicting much of the Left.
Those suffering from Acute Moral Equivalence lump everyone into a gray, churning pool of guilt resulting in a puppies-as-polar bears equivalence where the victims become the perpetrators and the perpetrators become the victims. For the moral-compass deficient, Columbine is a tragedy but so is the social isolation that may have caused it. September 11th is a tragedy but so is the intrusive foreign policy that caused it. Rape is a tragedy, but so is the short-skirt that caused it.
Take, for example, the portion of the President's speech concerning women's rights where he correctly pointed out the need to educate girls in the Muslim world and allow them the freedom of choice. But then he had to temper his remarks with the caveat that "the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life." Equating the struggles women face in America to those faced in the Middle-east is like equating Mother Theresa's struggle with chastity to Paris Hilton's.
This acute case of Moral Equivalency that President Obama suffers from is most apparent in his remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In an attempt to straddle the moral fence and reach out to both sides, President Obama mandated that the Palestinians "abandon violence" and that the Israelis abandon "settlements" in disputed territories.
When you equate those who destroy with those who build, you have lost any sense of moral authority. When building homes, hospitals and schools brings with it as much condemnation as suicide-bombings, rocket attacks and kidnappings then any claims you may have on a moral-North Star vanish.
To be sure, these settlements are inflammatory but to specifically ask that they be abandoned while making only a superficial condemnation of the horrific violence used by the other side is unfair to the Israelis who have gone out of their way to make the peace process possible. One side of this conflict builds schools, the other side fires rockets from them. One side of this conflict wants to raise their children in peace, the other wants to turn them into unwilling martyrs. One side of this conflict fires rubber bullets, while the other throws Molotov cocktails. There is only one side in this conflict, that while not perfect, has shown a demonstrable desire to achieve peace. President Obama would do well to remember that one side of the conflict deserves public praise, not public berating.
Even the Great Satan knows right from wrong.