This list of 365 ways to exasperate a liberal is in some ways a response to a book released this year by James Delingpole, 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy. As I review Delingpole’s list, I can’t help but be astonished at his audacity — and this is not the audacity of hope I’m talking about. It’s a cynical, calculating and immoral audacity that Delingpole exhibits, often making things up; they’re simply and demonstrably untrue.
Take, for instance, James Delingpole’s #28 Way to Drive a Liberal Crazy:
Give them another reason why Obama’s got to go.
He’s a Muslim extremist. Witness his disastrous Cairo speech, in which he toadied to the worst elements of Islam—and betrayed the moderate elements—a) by referring to the 9/11 killers not as “terrorists,” but as “violent extremists”; b) by pandering to the notion that there is an Islamic global community (“Ummah”) set apart from the rest of the world; c) by apologizing on the West’s behalf for the (defensive) Crusades; and d) by announcing that it wasn’t the business of the United States to decide which countries can and can’t have nuclear weapons (so go right ahead, Mister Ahmadinejad)…. Oh—did anyone mention this before?—and his middle name is Hussein, and he made one of NASA’s top priorities an outreach program to make Muslims feel good about Islam’s alleged contributions to science.
Let’s address Delingpole’s four claims about Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo one by one:
a) Fact Check: Did Barack Obama refer “to the 9/11 killers not as as ‘terrorists’ but as ‘violent extremists’”?
Answer: Yes. President Obama discussed “violent extremists” across eight paragraphs of his speech. He did not use the word “terrorists.” In this aspect, James Delingpole is technically correct. But is “violent extremists” a coddling term of endearment? It’s difficult to see what Delingpole’s point is, other than to insist on the use of one derisive term rather than another derisive term. This is perhaps the most trivial of James Delingpole’s four factual claims. One might say that his insistence upon one choice in vocabulary over another to describe pretty much the same thing is adopting one of the most tiring practices of the politically correct.
b) Did Barack Obama pander “to the notion that there is an Islamic global community (‘Ummah’) set apart from the rest of the world”?
Answer: No. Barack Obama did not use the word “Ummah” even once in his speech. More significantly, he never used the word “community” in the singular when referring to Islam (or otherwise). He referred instead to multiple, distinct “Muslim communities” in different places with different experiences. President Obama did not even refer to a single “Muslim community” within the United States, but described multiple Muslim communities even within the United States. Obama only used the word “global” once, and that was in reference to a global effort to eradicate polio.
As for the notion that Islam is set apart from the world? In his Cairo speech, Obama explicitly disagreed with that notion:
America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
c) Did Barack Obama apologize on the West’s behalf for the Crusades?
Answer: No. There are no terms of apology in Obama’s Cairo: no “sorry,” no “apologize,” no “apology,” no “regret,” no “regrettable,” no “condolences,” no nothing. The word “Crusade,” “Crusades” or “Crusaders” does not appear in the speech either. The closest he ever comes to even referring obliquely to the Crusades is in five words in one sentence: “The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars.” It is an indisputable fact that religious wars have occurred between Islam and the West. Barack Obama spoke no words in judgment of them.
d) Did Barack Obama announce “that it wasn’t the business of the United States to decide which countries can and can’t have nuclear weapons” and tell President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to go ahead and get some?
Answer: No. A person would have to read Barack Obama’s speech wildly out of context in order to come up with that position. Barack Obama specifically declared that Iran should not have nuclear weapons, and that the nations of the world should cooperate to make sure that it does not get them:
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.
This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It’s about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that’s why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation — including Iran — should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it.
Under the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, nations other than China, France, Russia, the UK and the United States are forbidden from receiving, acquiring or making nuclear weapons. If Barack Obama wants Iran to abide by the Non Proliferation Treaty, that means Iran cannot receive, acquire or make nuclear weapons. This is about as far as you can get from Barack Obama saying, “so go right ahead, Mister Ahmadinejad.”
Why would James Delingpole declare as fact things that clearly aren’t so? You’ll have to ask Delingpole for a conclusive answer, but here’s my guess: he suspects his conservative audience is eager for reasons to despise the President and is not liable to check his facts. I would hope that such a suspicion is unwarranted, but I’m not sure.