: Feb 04, 2016

My thoughts on President Obama’s visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore:…

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My thoughts on President Obama’s visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore:

We see two very different reactions from the Muslim community. Many Muslims (and especially those who were invited) were gushing their praise and fawning at every aspect of this move. They could barely contain their excitement as the POTUS gave some positive attention and showered some praise on America’s Muslims. Facebook went wild with each and every facet of his visit – pictures of the security detail, empty chairs with ‘White House’ stickers, and even pictures of the president taking off his shoes went viral.

Some others were extremely critical, calling the entire debacle a political stunt. ‘Too little too late’ was the most common point of criticism. As well, this group pointed out that the President is directly responsible for much bloodshed, and in particular for directing and implementing a far more lethal version of the drone program first started by Bush. How – such critics asked – could the Muslim community welcome him with open arms and not raise such difficult concerns?

Both groups have some legitimacy to them. During these times of hatred and Islamophobia, it is in fact healthy and good that the POTUS visits a mosque, and makes some harsh comments against Islamophobia. Realize that Rubio, Trump and others all roundly mocked and criticized the President for this very visit!

It is the job of a leader to protect his own country, and to quell any internal violence and dissent. His speech was on point, and hit all the key notes that it needed to.

At the same time, critics as well have a valid point. Clearly, he’s on his way out of office now, and has little to lose visiting a mosque at this stage of his presidency. Yes, it is too little, too late. But alas! ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’, and even this little bit is better than nothing, and that is a bitter fact difficult for us to swallow. As well, he is worthy of criticism for much of his foreign policy, and it is necessary and healthy for a segment of our community to point that out and call him to task for it.

The bottom line is that the mixed reaction of our community is in fact a part of ‘realpolitik’. You do need some to welcome him and clap at him, and thus make life easier for American Muslims. And you do need others who point out the sheer hypocrisy and shallowness of the entire spectacle.

There is good in both. But me personally, I clearly feel better being in the latter camp over the former.

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