Thursday, June 4, 2009

More Fresh Air

I've been reading Obama's Cairo speech, and I must say, the president made some compelling points. I'm not completely finished with the transcript, but here's an early passage that caught my eye.


We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world -- tension rooted in Western attempts to suppress or buy off Arab nationalism, using Islamic mercenaries as a violent counterweight until they were no longer needed.

The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of colonialism, exploitation and religious wars. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by capitalist expansion and global corporate rule led many Muslims, for some strange reason, to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

So long as our relationship is defined by existing power relationships, we will embolden those who sow struggle rather than surrender, and who promote resistance rather than the capitulation that can help rich people achieve even more leverage and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world -- what we call in America a "do over"; one based upon elite interests and phony respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, as our close relationships with oil kingdoms prove. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles –- principles of greed and private power; intolerance for the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that capitulation cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mass murder and theft, nor do I have any intention of answering all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we know not to be true, as the real policies are often shaped behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground -- well, on your end anyway. For us, nothing substantial will change, only some of the rhetoric.

As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." Then again, I'm a Christian, so the Holy Koran doesn't really apply to me. But you get the idea.