The Apology Tour: Will It Ever End?

Earlier today, President Obama addressed the Parliament of Turkey. What made news were his positive references to Islam:

“Let me say this as clearly as I can,” Obama said. “The United States is not at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject.”

This is, of course, indistinguishable from many similar pronouncements that were made by President Bush.

What I want to focus on is Obama’s continuing attack on his own country, unprecedented, to my knowledge, for a President on an overseas tour. Here are Obama’s comments on his own country’s history:

An enduring commitment to the rule of law is the only way to achieve the security that comes from justice for all people. Robust minority rights let societies benefit from the full measure of contributions from all citizens.

I say this as the President of a country that not too long ago made it hard for someone who looks like me to vote.

This is untrue. A minority of states did “make it hard” for someone who “looks like Obama” to vote until “not long ago,” but most did not, and the federal government certainly did not. There has never been a time when it was hard for people who look like Obama to vote here in Minnesota, for example.

As we’ve seen before, Obama appears to betray a surprising lack of knowledge of American history. It seems that instead of actually having studied his own country’s history, Obama has merely absorbed the ignorant, left-wing narrative that is peddled by Jeremiah Wright and others of his ilk. As a result, Obama not only confesses his country’s sins overseas, he confesses wrongly.

But it is precisely that capacity to change that enriches our countries. Every challenge that we face is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This work is never over. That is why, in the United States, we recently ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and prohibited — without exception or equivocation — any use of torture.

Torture has been illegal for a number of years, and President Bush insisted just as strongly as Obama that the U.S. does not torture. There was a legitimate debate about waterboarding, which does no physical injury, and which I do not believe constitutes torture. But according to press reports, only two or three top-ranking terrorists were waterboarded, none after 2003. And waterboarding has been banned by the U.S. military since 2006. So what was Obama’s purpose in implying that until he came along, his own government was engaged in torturing prisoners? His speech was carried live by Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, broadcast into countries where “torture” doesn’t mean getting your face wet. Obama at least impliedly exaggerated the supposed sins of his predecessors and the “change” brought about by himself. Why? For what purpose? Isn’t the campaign over?

Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past. The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods. Facing the Washington monument that I spoke of is a memorial to Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. And our country still struggles with the legacy of our past treatment of Native Americans.

Human endeavor is by its nature imperfect. History, unresolved, can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past.

These words were a lead-in to Obama’s comments on “the terrible events of 1915,” i.e., what Obama himself has referred to as the “Armenian genocide.” So what was the point of Obama’s gratuitous reference to “our past treatment of Native Americans”? Did he mean to suggest that it was somehow equivalent to the Armenian genocide? If so, once again, he needs to be better educated about history. If not, why on earth is he throwing it into this part of his speech as a mea culpa?

Obama’s seemingly compulsive need to apologize to foreign audiences on behalf of the United States cannot be explained as a rational approach to diplomacy. As Paul suggested here, the roots of Obama’s America-bashing seem to lie in a combination of ideology and psychology.

Thank goodness he’s coming home soon.

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