Smooth Moves: President O Speaks to Muslims, Arabs as Human Beings

In an image made from a video provided by Al-Arabiya, President Barack Obama is interviewed in Washington by Dubai-based Al-Arabiya cable network Monday Jan. 26, 2009. It was the Obama’s first formal television interview as president given to an Arabic cable TV network. (AP Photo/Al-Arabiya) President Barack Obama recently gave his first post-Inaugural interview to a satellite Arabic news network, Al-Arabiya — the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based news channel.

He used the forum to throw up the virtual Vulcan sign for “Live Long Prosper,” telling everybody in the Middle East that the new prez comes in peace.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose an Arabic satellite TV network for his first formal television interview as president, delivering a message to the Muslim worldthat “Americans are not your enemy.”

The interview underscored Obama’s commitment to repair relations with the Muslim world that have suffered under the previous administration.

The president expressed an intention to engage the Middle East immediately and his new envoy to the region, former Sen. George J. Mitchell, was expected to arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for a visit that will also take him to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy,” Obama told the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel.

Obama said the U.S. had made mistakes in the past but “that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that.” (Source: Associated Press)

Yay! The people of the Middle East are humans again! Not just “us versus them” comic book villans from bad, 1990s era Hollywood blockbusters. They’re all like Sayid from “Lost,” interesting, deep, romantic, ass-kickers. Sexy and beguiling. Not random terrorist number whatever from “True Lies” — murderous, crazy, screaming “Death to America.”

They’re, like, complex now! With feelings! Just like us! Not mindless masses with all phasers set on kill.

This doesn’t mean everything is coming up strawberries yet. Obama is an American. The US is still Israel’s No. 1 international BFF for life, but it’s a good gesture to say, “Hey, just because we love us some Israelis doesn’t mean we want to invade all of you and start the mass conversions.”

Of course, for those who INSIST that Obama is a “secret Muslim” this will only send their xenophobic little hearts into hatefilled flutters. But who cares about those people? A few days ago radio yakker Rush Limbaugh said he wanted the prez to fail (why does Rush hate America) but then “revised” his statements after the folks who REALLY run the conservative agenda chin-checked him.

Having a screaming mimi is great when that screaming mimi is helpful. That, I want the president to fail when the whole country is falling off a cliff and people are losing jobs and Obama’s failure would be AMERICA’S FAILURE is not cool. Once again, Rush, why do you hate America? This is such a King Solomon situation. Rush would be all for that baby being cut in half. Dammit if the baby dies! If he can’t have the country, NO ONE CAN!

But Rush, like al-Qaida, is in the midst of an identity crisis. Bush was easy for both of them. For Rush, Bush = right. For terrorists, Bush = PERFECT RECRUITMENT TOOL. Obama is like wrestling with Jell-O. You tell your people America is racist and hates the Negroes, then they turn around and elect a half-Kenyan man with whose middle name is Hussien and once lived in a Muslim country. How do you mount a proper attack when the public is all curious to see what this brown fella is going to do? Obama is like a giant walking, talking advertisment of what’s good about our country. That we are, despite our failings, “working towards a more perfect union” thing.

It’s a Yeltsin in the grocery store moment.

In an interview with Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes several years back, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin became unhinged when talking about his first visit to the US in 1989 and seeing a Houston grocery store. It was an average store, but to him, a gigantic, mesmerizing grocery store. Upon seeing it he realized how we’d actually won the Cold War decades ago economically. That we’d tangentially contributed to the economic downfall of the USSR by engaging in an arms race the Russians couldn’t afford.

The election of Obama is a similar situation. If you’ve been going “poor pitiful American Negro” dance (among other things) for decades to win people to your side, President Obama makes those who’ve been listening to this story question how well the storyteller really knows America. It makes them curious if we really can back up all that shit we talk about regarding self-determination, self-governance, free religion, free speech, free press, free elections. All that, “we are so hot” talk we put up all the time. Maybe we’re not completely bullshitting. Maybe we’re flawed but still, kinda hot. Like Angelina Jolie. (We are sooo the Angelina Jolie of countries.) Like you know we’re kind of crazy, but you still wanna do us. We can be a pretty seductive enterprise.

Hence why this interview by Obama was a “smooth move.”

Speaking directly to the people. Demonostrating we don’t just talk a good game, but we are a people of action. That we can back it up. That we are getting better. That we learn. That we adapt. That we see them as humans with a shared interest in peace and prosperity. That would bode well for Arabs and Muslims here and abroad.

Welcome back to the sensible, public discourse, my Arabic, Persian and Muslim Snobs! Maybe you can go to the airport once and awhile without geting searched twice, then kicked off the plane for discussing seating arrangements. Now maybe we can get ignoramouses to stop beating up Sikh people just because they rock the turban.

They’re not even Muslims, you racists assholes!

Not that the truly bigoted can be bothered with details.

14 thoughts on “Smooth Moves: President O Speaks to Muslims, Arabs as Human Beings

  1. Oh, that is a smooth move. Of course, I have a new romance coming out with a Muslimah heroine. Wonder if this will impact sales? -lol- People might be less angry with me now that we have a prez with a functioning brain stem.

  2. Obama, being the son of a East African muslim father is in a unique position to reach out to the muslim world. Yet, he has to be weary of the Middle East because muslims around the world are watching to see how he deals with the Israeli conflict negotiations. His appointment of Rahm Emanuel to Chief of Staff could also be a source of contention among muslim people. Basically, its too soon to tell.

  3. I agree with rikyrah. It’s great that he’s doing this, taking the time to reach out to the Muslim community in an attempt to establish himself as the complete opposite of Bush. I hope it works. It might mean good things for the future.

  4. Well….here we go again(Insert smiley face here).I don’t want to kill the buzz here but if you want I’ll have some words to add later on tonight.I just don’t want to post unwanted material.

  5. It is nice to see people engaging with others using common sense and respect. Hopefully, consistent efforts like this will go a long way towards undoing the diplomatic damage that’s been done over the last eight years. By the way, Ms. Black Snob (no title there seemed rude), your blog is awesome, as if you didn’t know. Do you have a link to the "revisions" of Rush Limbaugh? I’m curious as to how he revised "I hope he fails."

  6. @ HalfmoonIt’s a free blog. As long as you don’t type it in all caps, defame anyone’s character or "be a douche," say whatever you want to say. @ RCAI can’t find where I saw it on CNN, but Rush sort of quantified the statement to be more about the policies of Liberalism and less about Obama. I mean, either way, he was saying he wanted the dude to fail, but he was doing this "correction" of sorts in the midst of a flame war with Rick Sanchez of all people. And if you’re in a flame war with Rick Sanchez how lame a flame war is that?

  7. It was the correct opening play…now comes the hard part putting putting the bufoons that believe that anyone that looks or has a different sounding name than Smith, Jones, etc can possibly be American…sometimes they forget that America is made up of immigrants.Hopefully this is the opening of real dialogue with the middle east, not another gambit to gain political ground.We and the rest of the world will see. But at least I have some hope for the future and for increasing the possibility of peace "over there" someday.Harold Shaw

  8. Somehow I doubt that Obama’s nice words are going to convince the Islamic terrorists not to attack the US. Maybe when they prove him wrong he will wise up.

  9. @ ScottI don’t think the goal was to convince terrorists (since he did threaten them in the interview), I think it was to assuage the fears and concerns of the actual citizens of Arab countries who are suspicious of the intentions of the US. This is a "hearts & minds" issue. After all, the terrorists are the minority here. The citizens wanted to hear what the president had to say.

  10. Considering how black populations in the arab world are marginalized (google black iraqis), and how slavery still goes on in some Middle-East countries, I honestly can’t say that I care too much for arabs.

  11. About now, I think the only thing Obama can to to win the hearts and mind of the average Arab would be to recognize a Palestinian state. However, other Dem administrations could have done that but have chosen not to, so I doubt Obama will be much different. Given my doubts for a real change in US policy, I believe that his words will end up ringing hollow.

  12. @ HahaConsidering we’re mired in two wars in the Muslim world, Dubai and Saudi Arabia are writing our checks, we get a good percentage of our oil there and we are players in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I seriously don’t think we can afford to ignore the citizenry of Arabia, Persia and the rest of the former Ottoman Empire. So racial issues aside between Africans and Arabs and black people living in the Middle East, we can’t really ignore the entire region. If anything, we could have a positive influence if we stopped pussyfooting around thought about this in broader terms to make the lives of the average impoverished person in these countries more bearable … hence, creating less disaffected individuals who will side with the extremists when things go bad.@ ScottI don’t see much change happening on the Palestinian-Israeli front either, other than perhaps we’ll be a tad less reckless than the Bush Administration. I think we’re returning to the status quo of past Democratic Administrations where we didn’t necessarily give the Israelis carte blanche, but didn’t really create any lasting peace either.And I’m among the minority who thinks the two state solution will never work unless some sort of retribution, understanding, reconciliation happens. As long as one side is marginalized and living under a siege mentality and the other is constantly in fear of random acts of violence in the form of suicide bombers, shooters or crude rockets, nothing will get solved.No one trusts anyone. Trust died 60 years ago.Besides, for there truly to be "two-states," Israel would have to turn over control of Gaza’s power, water and boarders and as long as the Israelis fear terrorist reprisals the siege will continue. They have to learn to live together or have a bloody endgame. I don’t see either happening anytime soon and I’d prefer for things not to end with the full-scale slaughter of an entire group of people.

  13. One of the things that initially pissed me off about Bush was his mindless obsession with being the Anti-Clinton. I remember the pre 9/11 days of his presidency were really a huge condemnation of Clinton. Even the most ardent conservative will admit that the over arching trajectory of the Clinton years was a positive one. Now eight years later the roles appear to be reversed(Except for that trajectory part). And I still don’t like it. From his website to press briefings to news stories I just don’t like the Bush bashing, I don’t see the point. Let’s move on, let history decide. At first that’s what i felt that this was about. But the more I think about it, he would probably have done this anyway. So, I’m not sure how to feel. As a matter of foreign policy it’s meaningless, absolutely meaningless. A gesture and nothing more. The idea that he will be better at communicating with Arabs because of his childhood and his appearance I think is bigoted as fuck. I saw Jimmy Carter on Charlie Rose the other night. He seems out for a little vindication, and free advertising I’m sure. I wouldn’t send Jimmy Carter to negotiate a lollipop sale gone wrong at a middle school. Jesse Jackson has always had more success in talking to Arabs, maybe it’s because their complexions favor.

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