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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Obama's opportunity in Charm City

Doug Burton wrote this piece at the Philo's project. The writings in the blog are all mine, except when some one write about me, it will be included here.  I don't have to agree with Mr. Burton, but he has quoted me and I agree with some of the material.

Mike Ghouse
Courtesy of Philo's project. 

Obama's opportunity in Charm City 

Doug Burton

The president’s upcoming visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore will give him the opportunity to tell us all to take a breath before sounding the alarm about new waves of non-vetted Muslim masses crashing our gates. Expect a legacy statement to showcase American religious freedom, tolerance, pluralism and inclusiveness to audiences overseas.
Hopefully this visit will be more than a photo-op guaranteed to underscore the politically correct myth that Islamism isn’t Islam and that the religion of Islam has no causal link to terrorism. Americans know this plank is a nonsequiter: the Obama Administration says that no terrorists are Muslims, whereas virtually all Jihadi terrorists say they are Muslims.
Perhaps conservatives can give Muslim believers a break here. True, many American imams will not acknowledge that the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda or any form of violent Jihadism is Islam. But anguish could be hear in one imam’s voice as he spoke up during an interview to say, “Let me stop you right there. ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, which is a religion of peace – only peace. That’s like saying the crusaders who raped, murdered or tortured Muslims for centuries were really Christians.” While his constraint on language is his hapless dilemma, it reminds us that in the hearts of the vast majority of devout practitioners, Islam is a divine encounter, leading to a higher plane of compassion, self-transformation, lawfulness and justice.
More importantly, on Feb. 3, President Barack Obama has an opportunity to educate Americans about the great potential of American Muslims in the war of ideas within the Islamic world. As many an analyst has pointed out, Islam as a civilization has had neither a renaissance nor enlightenment, and is due. Fundamentalist Islam rooted in the Arabian Peninsula is actually at war with modernity. We aren’t dealing with “a clash of civilizations” as much as a crisis within one civilization – Islam.
American Muslims could make a big difference because they are different. The fact is, Islam has contextualized in North America’s democratic environment. Just as Christianity adapted to new cultures and ethical traditions as it moved from ancient Israel to Greece, to Rome to the heart of German Europe, and finally to North America, so has Islam.
The Muslims who murdered their colleagues in San Bernardino were in America, but notof it. American Muslims are inured to modernity: well educated and rooted in America. By one count, 5 percent of America’s doctors are Muslims, and many have served in the armed forces. Muslims are voters and public servants. At least two American Muslims serve in Congress. A week after the Paris attacks, the American Muslim Institution held an anti-ISIS protest on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. After the San Bernardino massacre, several Islamic societies held a candlelight vigil and memorial service at the Islamic Center of Silver Springs.
American Muslims who are passionate about Islam flourishing under the protection of a secular government have champions such as Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser M.D., the founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and the author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith.” Jasser currently serves as a commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
As Dr. Michael Ghouse, executive director of American Muslim Institution, said, “America is unquestionably the land of the free and the brave. The American Muslims love it, and once here, have unmoored Islam from its cultural chains. Yet American Muslims have retained the true spirit of Islam; a beautiful system devised to restore sanity and common sense in a given society through simple basics like being truthful, trustworthy, standing up for justice, humility and kindness as their life style.”
Dr. Walid Phares, an advisor to members of Congress and the author of “The War of Ideas,” said, “The problem in President Obama’s approach to diffuse the so-called Islamophobia is that his administration marginalizes the groups within the Muslim community that promote liberal views and anti-jihadi activities, while the more Islamist factions close to the Muslim Brotherhood have been elevated by the White House to the status of sole representatives of the community.
“Like any other community, the Muslim American community is not monolithic,” Phares argued. “American Muslims include the more fundamentalist and the more secular. To fight the ideology of the Jihadi terrorists, you need NGOs who would respond to the latter’s ideology not cover up for it.”
He went on to point out that, as seen in both Egypt and Tunisia, for example, the silent majority is strongly opposed to the Islamists. “But the advisors of the Obama Administration may have convinced the president of the opposite. Hence the repetitive failures of Washington in the campaign against the extremists. For the Islamists won’t challenge the jihadists – only secular Muslims will. Obama should have asked Zuhdi Jasser and his reformers to walk with him to that mosque. That would have created balance and neutralized Islamophobia among Americans.”
Muslim American patriots will be sitting in the pews Wednesday, yet it’s not clear yet if a president looking for opportunity will see America’s best assets looking back at him.

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