President Obama and Islamophobia

It is some time now since President Obama managed to disillusion the progressives — what the left is called in the U.S. — without whom he would never have got into power. He made fantastic speeches, positioning himself alongside the best orators that the country has known. He went to Cairo to promise a new era and new policies and the end of the unpopular Iraq war. Recently, an academic wrote in the famous Harper’s magazine that he deceived us all — even, unexpectedly, the Nobel Committee — presenting himself, before we knew him, as something he wasn’t and in fact has ended up as the most imperialist president in recent history. The very recent drama in the city in which the famous Duke University in North Carolina is situated, has made us think again that he or his advisers are avoiding or are not worried by the tragedy of the conversion to jihadism of our young Muslim citizens.

The incident began in a condo complex (privately owned flats and dwellings) in Chapel Hill, a very quiet city with universities and well known research facilities. It is a pleasant place, somewhat flat, very green and with a good climate. A very unpleasant man lived here; divorced, 50-ish, who was forever putting photos of his automatic weapon on his Facebook page and who in fact sometimes knocked, gun in hand, on the door of neighbors who annoyed him. He was poorly thought of because of his confrontations, which were threatening, complaining and demanding. Curiously no one ever complained to the police. It seemed that he was forever watching over the parking area. As the complex was private it wouldn’t have been easy to move him on.

One day, the man saw the car of some comfortably-off and working Muslim neighbors arrive with three students in it, all about 20-something, a recently married couple and the wife’s sister. He went out with his gun and a dispute quickly developed with the young people about whether the space where they had parked was for residents or reserved for visitors, a subject that was one of his obsessions. The man fired three times and the young Muslims, who of course were unarmed, were killed.

Police and the White House Don’t Take it Seriously

To the police, this was simply a parking dispute between neighbors and they decided to ignore the racist and xenophobic nature of the crime, which to everybody else seemed obvious. What would have happened if the three dead people had been black rather than Muslim of Pakistani heritage? Curiously the White House, from where there are so many speeches about coexistence and tolerance, also didn’t want to get involved. One would have to be very ignorant not to immediately see the danger. This is not only for the large number of Muslims who live in the country, but also because jihadi websites are continually repeating to their young people that Muslims are hated and badly treated in all Western countries and that the only option is to escape to save their lives and fight to the death. The case of the Abu Graib prison and civilian deaths in the Middle East caused by U.S. drone and aerial attacks are two of the main arguments used with so much success by the jihadi recruiters that live among us. Now they have another one.

Two days after the crime, once complaints and warnings had come in from all over, the White House finally began to understand. So many people turned out at the funeral of the three victims in Chapel Hill that it had to be moved to a sports field. Muslims started to demonstrate all over and suddenly a crowd gathered, in Muslim prayer, touching their heads to the ground, in Lafayette Park in front of the White House. At last the president was seen to understand and deigned to condemn in public. Too late. The jihadis have scored again. A dispute in a parking lot and nothing more?

Wars, Wars and More Wars

Mr. Obama got himself elected with the promise of ending the war in Iraq, something that he achieved very slowly and, as we are seeing now, very incompletely. He started and has never finished the war in Afghanistan that has now lasted 10 years. Yes, he tried to impose a peace treaty on Israel in Palestine, but he was made to retreat with his tail between his legs. New wars broke out in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, the Russian Caucasus, Lebanon, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Mali, Algeria and Libya; there are continually more conflicts and more regimes that are shaking Arabia, and the Israelis continue to boycott any negotiations with Iran, insisting on bombing and a new war. Mr. Obama has impotently presided over all this, simply responding with force and even more violence. It cannot be denied that some things need a military response, but no one gets the impression that there could also be a convincing political response or a credible analysis of the situation made. We will continue to see wars and destruction for many years even in the West. Where are the spirit and the changes announced in Cairo? Everything seems like a ship in a storm that cannot go where it wants or decide its destination. If only the good old days of President Bush could return, when there was only one war …

The American Left and Obama

The president does few press conferences, preferring instead to travel to provincial cities and present himself at town meetings — meetings and question and answer sessions from supposedly ordinary people who don’t worry about things which are too complicated. However, journalists have managed to ask him his opinion about the growing hostility from within progressive circles about his policies, now as bad as those of the Republicans. He always answers arrogantly, like an emperor offended by discourteous subjects. But, leaving aside the completely out of control issue of jihadi wars, there are other things.

One example is the matter of the protection of privacy and the storage of phone data, which has put the two giants of industry, Google and Apple, on a war footing. Imagine their anger and surprise when a few weeks ago, after the incident with the North Korean dictator, government agents presented themselves at the headquarters of those companies, physically opened certain computers and forcibly installed their own chips, saying that they needed them to know where the attacks in defense of the dictator had come from. Both Google and Apple have responded by developing an encryption system which is impossible to penetrate and refusing to give the government the code, so long as Congress doesn’t pass a law requiring them to hand it over and this is unlikely. Obama continues to talk of Edward Snowden as a traitor and a criminal who should go to jail for spying. Every day there are more and more people who see it differently.

Another example would be the matter of the law establishing compulsory health insurance, Obama’s only legislative success. In principle, it was a notable success, but looking at the details, it doesn’t seem to be so well thought out. Those who don’t get company health insurance — like the insurance which I have had for my whole career — are obliged to buy one from a profit-driven private company. If they don’t, they have to pay a fine in the form of additional taxes. Some reasonably priced health plans are offered but there are many exclusions and above all demand enormous contributions — of $7,000 in the worst case, which is very common. There was always the option of simply admitting younger ill people to Medicare, the federal insurance for people over 65, which works quite well. Instead of this, the government offered a fabulous business opportunity with millions of new compulsory policies to private industry, which surely will do nothing to control the ever escalating prices. It would be good if the Federal Supreme Court were to end this fundamental aspect of the program very quickly.

With regard to the lack of punishment or prosecutions against the bank directors who caused the 2008 disaster and who happily continue to earn salaries of millions, don’t they need locking up like Snowden?

I always say that the politicians we have in the U.S. have never been the best. In any case less than two years remain. Will the successor be any better? Ah …

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