President Obama had a few words to say about discrimination against Muslims in his State of the Union speech, but nothing about discrimination against Christians – which includes assault, murder, and imprisonment globally. The omission was as shameful as it was unsurprising.
President Obama used his plan to close Guantánamo Bay as the prelude to his broadside against anti-Muslim discrimination, asserting that he would keep working to shut down the prison because “it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies.”
He explicitly positioned Gitmo as an example of bigotry and offensive politics:
That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong.
The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith. His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.”
When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.
No doubt Obama apologists will insist his line about rejecting “politics that targets people because of race or religion” was meant to apply to Christians, too. That would come as a surprise to the Little Sisters of the Poor, the order of nuns targeted by the Administration for their religious objections to provisions of ObamaCare, who were invited guests of House Speaker Paul Ryan at the State of the Union event.
It would also come as surprise to the many Christians targeted by hate-swarms of Obama voters for dissenting from orthodoxy on gay marriage, abortion, and other issues. President Obama could make a real difference by strongly lecturing his supporters that it is wrong to assault religious Americans for beliefs that contradict the Democrat agenda.
The specific examples given after a general statement of principle are important. President Obama went out of his way to castigate politicians who “insult Muslims,” and the vandalism of mosques, leading one to wonder if he intended the “kid bullied” as an oblique reference to Ahmed the Clock-Maker. He pointedly did not mention anyone but Muslims.
The intent of such a rhetorical construct is to indicate that the specified example of anti-Muslim discrimination is the most urgent and important example of the general principle under discussion. Anyone following current events knows that President Obama’s response to domestic terrorism concerns consists almost entirely of slandering Americans who criticize his immigration and national-security policies as “Islamophobes.”
The Democrats are making a hard pitch for the Muslim vote. Democrats who have never actually seen a Koran claim to understand its true meaning better than any imam. (In this, Muslims and Christians are very much alike, because liberal elites who have rarely cracked a Bible are constantly lecturing devout Christians on what it “really means.”)
On the world stage, Christians and Jews are under assault. Persecution has driven a great Christian exodus out of the Middle East and Africa, and it is getting worse with every passing year. Christians are jailed everywhere from China to Iran for practicing their religion. Ancient Christian communities in Syria have been annihilated, with Assyrian pleas for help too often falling on deaf ears.
The Islamic State has murdered and tortured Christians in staggering numbers, while others were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint. Long before they barged into Iraq, the exodus of Christians was already well under way. Even as President Obama throws caution to the winds and tries to sweep thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees into the United States, Christian refugees are receiving very different treatment.
As for Jews, they are learning in France that wearing traditional skull caps can be hazardous to their health. A Jewish exodus from Europe is quietly gathering steam as anti-Semitism surges. When Jews are targeted by Muslim “discrimination,” Western media can scarcely bring themselves to acknowledge the reason for the attack. Anti-Semitic crimes remain far, far worse than anti-Muslim crimes, in both the United States and United Kingdom.
And when Jews ultimately give up their European homes to seek safety in Israel, they still have to worry about “discrimination” administered at the point of knives, or beneath the wheels of cars.
Emphasis guides the way a universal principle is understood, and makes it possible to abuse those principles for political reasons, as President Obama does. It matters that Christians and Jews do not merit a single word of support during the State of the Union speech, while anti-Muslim discrimination – which is never as widespread as activists portray it, or as vicious as the “anti-Muslim backlash” we’re warned about after every terrorist attack – is stressed for political purposes.
President Obama’s political narrative would be greatly complicated if he gave listeners the full picture, especially if he faced uncomfortable follow-up questions about who, precisely, is carrying out all the persecution against Christians and Jews.
“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness,” asserted the President. The first statement was indisputably correct. The second was made false by everything else he said, and did not say.