Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Message From The President

“Good evening.

This week, while vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard I received a call from DNC chairman Tim Kaine. Chairman Kaine informed me that many congressional Democrats, in addition to many of the folks who supported me in 2008 have become deeply concerned over the fact that so many of the positions I have taken and so many of the policies I have proposed over the past two years are deeply unpopular with an overwhelming majority of Americans.

This was news to me.

Chairman Kaine went on to tell me that most Americans still don’t understand how terrific my health care plan is. Apparently, they are also in favor of Arizona’s new illegal-immigration law and they are not too thrilled about my support for the proposed Mosque at Ground Zero.

I was surprised to say the least. After all, most of the people that I talk to on a daily basis--my old professors from Harvard Law School, my buddies from Hollywood and everyone here in the White House--are in total agreement with me when it comes to these issues. So, I just assumed that the rest of the American public was as well.

I now understand that this is not the case.

But let me be clear. I did not run for this office in order to do things that were popular. I ran for this office to do what I believe is best for the country. That’s why, I have decided to enact a sweeping new legislative agenda over the next two months. This agenda will consist of a series of executive orders and legislative initiatives to be taken up right before the November elections. I understand that these ideas may not be very popular and may, in fact, lead to big losses for my party in the upcoming elections, but I am absolutely sure that the American people will thank me later. Once they stop being so stupid and come to understand what’s good for them.

First, as part of my administrations’ efforts to curb childhood obesity, tomorrow I will sign an executive order that makes it illegal to sell or consume pizza in the United States. All restaurants that serve pizza as well as calzones and Stromboli are to cease serving these items immediately and to replace them with a dish containing beets.

Next, I will work with congress to increase the number of black jellybeans contained in standard jellybean packaging. In recent years Jellybean companies like Jelly Belly and Brachs have lowered the number of black jellybeans in their packages while increasing the numbers of the more brightly colored beans. I understand that they are doing so because the black jellybeans taste bad and no one likes them. But, it is time that the Jellybean companies put jelly bean equality ahead of profits. The Jellybean Reparations Act of 2010 will ensure that at least 50% of every jellybean package sold is made up of black jellybeans.

In October I will personally stump across the country for a bill that was recently proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Once passed, this bill would order that all puppies and kittens in the United States be immediately euthanized. These family pets will then be replaced with porcupines and electric eels. These new animals will be paid for in full by the federal government. I understand that these actions will upset many Americans, particularly small children. However it is time that we as a nation stopped discriminating against certain animals simply because they are not as cute and cuddly as the ones we are used to or because they are potentially dangerous and could cause severe bodily harm to our loved ones.

For those of you concerned about the potential costs of providing millions of families with porcupines and eels, I assure you that this program will not add one dime to the federal deficit. All of the euthanized puppies and kittens will be sold to immigrants from China, Vietnam and Cambodia who will now finally be able to enjoy the cuisine of their homeland without living in constant fear of being arrested for animal cruelty.

As every parent knows, not all young people can fulfill their dream of becoming a professional sports star. At least not playing a sport that is enjoyed by spectators in this country. That is why, in order to encourage young people to adopt careers playing less popular sports, football will no longer be broadcast on Sundays and will be replaced by soccer. Because let’s face it. If the rest of the world likes it, it must better. Additionally, World Series broadcasts will be replaced by cricket matches and the NBA will be replaced by the WNBA.

Next week I will sign an executive order declaring gay marriage to be not only legal in every state, but also mandatory. All heterosexual couples are to divorce immediately and marry someone of the same sex. The federal government will fund all divorce proceedings and pay for all wedding receptions. Male couples will be automatically registered at Pier 1, female couples at Home Depot. All wedding ceremonies will be officiated by Rip Taylor.

Finally, the following locations will be converted into Mosques:

-Space Mountain
-Cowboys Stadium
-Independence Hall
-All Las Vegas Casinos
-The Oval Office

That last one will be done more as a convenience to myself than the public as a whole.

I understand that many of these changes may cause consternation among an American public that already believes that I’m completely out of touch with the concerns of the average American. Frankly, I just don’t care.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a tee time.

Please direct all questions to my new White House Spokesman, O.J. Simpson.”

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Monday, August 23, 2010

What Makes A Moderate Muslim?

There was no widespread backlash against American Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. This was an inconvenient truth for some on the American left as it flew directly in the face of the progressive movement’s most important narrative--the idea that a large swath of the America population suffers from xenophobia and racism caused by ignorance and an irrational fear of the unknown. To the contrary, the vast majority of Americans bent over backwards after the 9/11 attacks to assure the world that we understood the difference between everyday Muslims and the murderous Jihadists who had killed 3000 of our fellow Americans in the most horrific way imaginable. This proved that the picture of the “intolerant” America that liberals had worked so hard to paint over the last several decades was grossly inaccurate.

In the Cordoba House Ground Zero Mosque brouhaha, the Left has seen an opening. Having lost nearly all of its credibility on economic issues over the last two years, the progressives have jumped at the opportunity to divert attention from their incompetence by returning to their favored fall-back strategy--labeling as agents of intolerance anyone who takes a position contrary to their own on matters that involve ethnic minorities. This should come as no surprise to anyone.

Meanwhile, the rest of America--the majority of the nation consisting of moderates, independents and conservatives--is engaging in a far different type of conversation. The debate over the proposed Ground Zero mosque has encouraged many in this country to re-examine what they had previously believed was a well-defined line between savage Islamic radicals and those who the government and the media have consistently told us are “moderate” members of the Muslim faith.

The extremes on either side remain of the issue remain fixed. There are undoubtedly some Americans who have never been willing to give any Muslims the benefit of the doubt and who have remained insistent that Islam in all its forms poses a danger to the values of the United States and humanity as a whole. These are, for the most part, creatures of the Right.

On other side are individuals who feel the need to apologize for Islam in almost every circumstance and have always worked hard to find some way to excuse violent or otherwise provocative actions by blaming American policy itself for the behavior. These are individuals and groups who believe that the War on Terror is, in actuality, a war on Islam itself and point to our actions in Iraq and Afganistan as evidence. These are views held primarily by those residing on the far-left of the American political spectrum.

The vast majority of Americans fall somewhere in between these two misguided extremes. While this is evidence of the thoughtfulness and moderate nature of the American majority, the truth is that most Americans really don’t know much about Islam at all--either as a religion or as a political force. Most Americans simply haven’t had a desire to examine carefully the various beliefs of a religious group that is not really part of the mainstream of American society. In keeping with the American tradition of open-mindedness and tolerance, these well-meaning and compassionate Americans have adopted the standard assumption that most Muslims reject violence and extremism but that the religion has been hijacked by a handful of nuts who have horrendously misinterpreted the basic teachings of Islam.

But since the Ground Zero Mosque controversy erupted, a great deal of focus has fallen upon the mosque's founder, one Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Rauf has been sold to the American public by mosque advocates and some in the U.S. government as the definitive Islamic “moderate.” The kind of Muslim that is representative of the “good” Islam; an ally of the U.S. who stands beside us in our battle against the Islamic killers who seek to terrorize our society; a leader with the capacity to educate the American public about the true nature of Islam and thus foster understanding and tolerance towards the religion among Americans who remain skeptical of the religion’s beliefs and motives.

However, as the mosque controversy heated up, questionable statements made by Rauf began to trickle out. It was discovered that Rauf has repeatedly made comments laying a great deal of the blame for the 9/11 attacks on the United States itself. While condemning the 9/11 bombers, his condemnations are heavily sprinkled with moral equivalence between the U.S. government’s actions in the Middle East and the acts which caused the civilian deaths on 9/11.

"We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims."

According to Rauf, Osama Bin Laden’s terror was a product of U.S. actions. But in order to make this claim, one must truly believe that Bin Laden was justified in his opposition to the U.S. military’s efforts to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991--the event that provided the impetus for the founding of Al-Qaeda. In order to sympathize with this belief one must share at least a portion of the warped view of Islamic sovereignty that Osama Bin Laden used to justify his anti-American attitudes.

Rauf points to C.I.A actions in the Middle East in the 1980s as an early justification for Bin Laden’s hatred of America, conveniently forgetting that had it not been for U.S. assistance, much of Afghanistan--and in all likelihood many of its Muslim neighbors--would be speaking Russian right now.

Rauf has refused to condemn Hamas, a terrorist group directly responsible for countless civilian deaths.

Despite all of this, Rauf’s defenders continue to cite him as a perfect example of a “moderate” Islamic leader, simply because he has condemned the actions of the 9/11 terrorists and frequently throws around words like “peace,” “tolerance” and “understanding” when speaking to audiences around the world. To his credit, he does advocate the idea of equality for women and rejects some of the more barbaric practices carried out in the name of Islam in the Arab world. But believing that women should not be stoned to death for adultery does not make you a paragon of Islamic temperance.

This raises an essential question that Americans have failed to address since 9/11: what constitutes “moderation” when it comes to defining Islam and those who adhere to its tenets?

Very few people consider themselves to hold views that are “extreme.” “Extremist” is a label that is bestowed upon an individual when there is a consensus that his or her views fall far outside the political or social mainstream. Many of my liberal journalism professors sincerely thought that the New York Times was a politically “moderate” or even “right-leaning” publication. In other words, just because one is “moderate” compared to say, the Taliban, doesn’t mean that everyone else must take this self-proclaimed “moderation’ at face value.

That being said, how many Americans would consider Rauf’s statements to be within the mainstream of American thought? Probably not many.

There must be some kind of litmus test applied before we bestow the “moderate” label on Islamic clerics and activists who seek to play a leadership role in mainstream America. Condemning terrorist acts alone is not enough, particularly if that same individual is supportive of historical narratives and moral equivalency that has long served to foment the very terrorist actions they now seem to be condemning.

Since 9/11, Americans have wondered why no high profile Islamic “peace” movements have evolved. It’s a good question. We don’t need such a movement to prove that most Muslims deplore terror tactics, but such a movement could certainly be an effective way to bring Muslims out of the shadows and to examine exactly how they view the post-9/11 world.

Do they support Israel’s right to exist? Are they sympathetic to Hamas and Hezbollah? Do they support the tactics of these groups? What are their views on Sharia law? Americans deserve answers to these questions. It would be foolish and dangerous to assume that American-style tolerance and religious acceptance is the default position of most in the Islamic world if we have no idea where Muslims stand when it comes to these important geo-political issues on which America has based its foreign policy and national security principles.

In order to fight Islamic extremism, we must fully define it and be able to identify it when it rears its ugly head. We must also understand that just because an individual isn’t blowing up bridges it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be put in charge of building them.

-Dan Joseph

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