Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Commentary Magazine Stifles Free Comment

Barack Obama as "Muslim Socialist"

Allen Z. Hertz was senior adviser in the Privy Council Office serving Canada's Prime Minister and the federal cabinet. He formerly worked in Canada's Foreign Affairs Department and earlier taught history and law at universities in New York, Montreal, Toronto and Hong Kong. He studied European history at McGill University (B.A.) and then East European and Ottoman history at Columbia University (M.A., Ph.D.). He also has international law degrees from Cambridge University (LL.B.) and the University of Toronto (LL.M.).


Barack Obama's links to Islam are more fully discussed in a July 2013 posting entitled "Obama's Muslim Past Spells Appeasement of Iran." Many would prefer to avoid this controversial topic. But forthright talk about Barack Obama's ties to Islam and the Muslim world is demanded by intellectual honesty and professional integrity. Such candor is also required to safeguard vital national interests. Matters touching Islam and the Muslim world now affect the security of many countries -- including Canada, the USA, and Israel. It is also imperative to alert the Jewish People, which has already been victimized by Muslims for close to 1,400 years. Willy-nilly, an understanding of this President's Mideast policies is not possible without considering his extraordinary attitudes to Muslims and the Muslim world.


At the beginning of November 2013, Commentary Magazine suddenly shut down its "Intense Debate" platform for offering readers a digital opportunity to quickly comment on the various blog posts on the publication's website. However, even before abruptly shutting the door to such rapid feedback from readers, Commentary Magazine was arbitrarily blocking the posting of some comments by readers. This censorship was an issue that readers had already started raising in talkbacks to the Commentary Magazine website.

In late October 2013, Commentary Magazine blocked the following comment which I had offered with respect to a Max Boot article criticizing the current round of defense-spending cuts in the USA.

Text blocked by Commentary Magazine

Max Boot's interesting essay omits from the current defense equation, the sitting President. On April 28, 2013, at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Barack Obama significantly quipped: "I am not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be." Perhaps no longer so young, but maybe still something of the "Muslim socialist," as he himself put it.

Domestically, the "socialist" side is confirmed by a penchant for astonishingly big government and massive expansion of entitlement programs of near universal scope. This is tantamount to the systemic redistribution of wealth via relentless tax and spend. This President sometimes uses "guns or butter" lingo to justify deep defense-spending cuts. He says that USA tax dollars must instead go to existing and new social programs. His aim is to buy the electorate for a new vision of the country.

In terms of foreign policy, the "socialist" side underlines an extraordinary commitment to rapidly liquidate the post-WW2 pax Americana in favor of a new world disorder, in which the USA will play a more modest role. This includes acting through multilateral agencies like the United Nations and withdrawing from foreign entanglements. For example, Mideast allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel are to be abandoned, so that the region can be turned over to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Muslim optic comes into play in terms of the President's firm understanding that there is a socio-political phenomenon called the Muslim world. This contrasts with Western Civilization. Barack Obama is the first USA President to frequently frame his discourse in terms of Muslims and the Muslim world, in relation to which he clearly believes that apologies are owed by the USA, as expressed in his June 2009 Cairo speech. This President curiously thinks that the Muslim world should bulk larger in the affairs of the planet, which by definition means that the USA's role must be diminished. This diminution Obama sees as intrinsically positive.

A strong believer in distributive justice, Obama deplores the kind of economic and military-security advantages that Americans have for so long enjoyed. He is troubled that so many in the Muslim world suffer from insecurity and violence. So, this President wants to see more equality as between the lives of Americans and those in the Muslim world. His sensibility is offended that Americans (or Israelis) might be too happy and too secure. Accordingly, he favors deep defense cuts that would help align the situation of Americans more closely with the insecurity experienced by Muslims.

How can this be possible? The answer is that, unlike his predecessors, Barack Obama does not worship in the temple of USA national security. To the contrary, as a "Muslim socialist," he abhors the geopolitical status quo, which from youth he has always seen as intolerable. Accordingly, Obama frequently invites far-reaching change, without that fear of disorder which so terrified previous Presidents. By contrast, Barack Obama has always believed that chaos can be creative of new political and social relationships.

Earlier Presidents were leaders of "the free world." Namely, they were champions of Western civilization. By contrast, this President at best is impartial as among the various civilizations; and, at worst, he particularly favors the claims of the Muslim world, notably including the Islamic Republic of Iran. Thus, traditional USA prudence does not play in his foreign and defense policy.

The essential truth is that he will subject the USA to real risks to ensure realization of a distinctive worldview that was shaped during his childhood in Indonesia, where he went (1967-1971) to be reunited with his Muslim stepfather. Indonesia is a 90% Muslim country, to which Obama subsequently returned on at least five occasions during the 1970's and 1980's.

President Obama's particular worldview was also partly derived from his anthropologist mother, Stanley Anne Dunham. She married two Muslims; and spent most of her professional career in Indonesia, where she encouraged her son to adopt local culture. She was sharply critical of her fellow Americans, but deeply committed to both Indonesia and its people.