President Obama returned from his Asian trip last week, with pundits around the world branding it a failure. Leaving economic issues aside, his sojourn in Indonesia prolonged his pathetic, already failed campaign of buttering up Muslims so they will love America enough to stop terrorizing us.
In a major address at the University of Jakarta, Obama said he would “focus on three areas that are closely related, and fundamental to human progress – development, democracy and religious faith.”
He then proceeded to lavish repeated praise on “the spirit of religious tolerance…that remains one of this country’s defining and inspiring characteristics.” He fleshed out the idea of religious tolerance as “the freedom to practice your faith without fear or restriction,” flattering Indonesia as a place where people can “choose to worship God as they please.”
But just how tolerant is Indonesia? Here are some clues:
Just this year, Indonesia adopted a new statute against blasphemy, defined to include “intentionally insulting religion,” with a punishment of up to five years in jail. Although Obama praised “the spirit of religious tolerance that is enshrined in Indonesia’s Constitution,” the country’s constitutional court has explicitly ruled the blasphemy law to be constitutional.
One of the first persons arrested under this law was, in fact, an American citizen. Luke Lloyd, age 64, got tired of being awakened every night during Ramadan by Muslim prayers blasted over a loudspeaker until 3:00 a.m. So he walked into the mosque and pulled the plug. Rude, undoubtedly trespassing, and downright grumpy? Yes. Deserving of a five-year jail sentence and destruction of his house by the congregation? Obama didn’t address that, because it would have confused his message.
Indonesia’s less-than-tolerant law recognizes only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Jews, Mormons, Taoists, and Sikhs (not to mention humanists) are required along with every other Indonesian to carry an identity card listing which one of the six they belong to.
Even within the favored six, those who “deviate” from official teachings can be jailed under the new law. This is a special problem within Islam, which has hundreds of thousands of followers of sects considered heretical, such as the Ahmadiyas. The spirit of religious tolerance which Obama gushed about resulted in a 2008 decree against the Ahmadiyas attempting to promote their views, followed by a proposal just last August from the government’s Minister of Religious Affairs to “disband” the sect throughout the country, because it disobeyed the 2008 law.
No places of worship can be built in Indonesia without the consent of 60% of the local residents. That makes it nearly impossible for minority religions to grow; just last August, when Christians in Bekasi gathered in a field to worship after their church building was shut down for being illegal, they found the field covered with human feces, and had to brave violent demonstrators throwing bottles at them. The local government responded decisively: by banning the Christians from praying in the field. Last year Muslims in East Java even succeeded in shutting down a Catholic orphanage for crippled children, lest the orphans be Christianized.
In 2008, Indonesia’s parliament passed a law facilitating “Sharia finance” – banking that considers interest sinful. More on just how backwards and debilitating Sharia finance is can be found here. A key element is that Sharia finance requires lining the pockets of Muslim God experts to certify that investments are “Sharia compliant” – a nice little annuity, if you can get it, and money that is often used to support terrorists.
Indonesia’s Aceh province is moving steadily toward complete adoption of Sharia, and at least fifty other localities are not far behind. Effective last January 1, women were banned from wearing tight pants, homosexuality became punishable by public lashing, and adultery became punishable by stoning to death. Aceh now has its own Saudi-style religious police to enforce Sharia, called the “vice and virtue patrol,” to apprehend victims for public caning.
There does appear to be some backlash to all this brewing in Indonesia. In last year’s elections, the secularist party tripled its share of the vote, while support for hardline Islamist parties fell from 39% in 2004 to 24%. Here’s a curious fact: although only 8.5% of Indonesians have access to the internet, when the Geert Wilders anti-Islam film Fitna was posted in 2008, it was viewed more often in Indonesia than in any other country – including Holland. That is, until the government blocked access to it. Again, none of this appears to effect President Obama’s mindset, where religion is “fundamental to human progress.”
It might be one thing if Obama’s exaltation of Islam in disregard of the facts was actually improving America’s stature in the Muslim-majority world. But it isn’t. Some 20,000 Indonesian Muslims demonstrated against Obama’s visit before he even arrived. “We don’t see the differences between Obama and Bush,” said their spokesman. “They both oppress Muslims, they both have blood on their hands.” The Pew Global Attitudes Project released a study last June that showed confidence in Obama plunging in the Muslim world just a year after it was first measured: from 41% to 31% in Egypt, from 33% to 23% in Turkey, and from 13% to 8% in Pakistan. Another survey by Zogby International showed 51% of respondents in six Middle East countries were optimistic about American policy in the region at the time of Obama’s Cairo speech last year; 17 months later, the figure had fallen to 16%, with Obama’s personal popularity falling from 45% to 20%.
The reason, according to the Pew figures, is overwhelming – near 90% – disapproval of American handling of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in places like Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey. Flattery has its limits; what Muslims really want is hard evidence that America regards them as full-blown human beings, rather than as pawns of western imperialism. All Obama has to do to reverse the trend is to get Prime Minister Netanyahu on the phone, and say “Remember when we told you not to build those new settlements? Well, guess what: we meant it. You’ve gotten your last dollar from America. And we’re switching sides in the UN, to get your troops evicted from all the conquered territories.”
America has given over $100 billion to Israel since 1974, more than to any other country. By the most conservative estimate, direct American aid to Israel now adds up to $385 for every man, woman, and child in the country, every year; adding indirect aid would push the total far higher. Muslims cannot be faulted for seeing this as the last remnant of colonialism, rule by a western elite over people they regard as inferiors.
“But,” you say, “That’s unrealistic. No American President could ever stand up to Israel like that.” Historically, that’s simply not true. Franklin Roosevelt was flatly opposed to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, warning the Zionists that attempts in that direction would result in unending jihad. Talk about a prophet! He was much more interested in working out an arrangement to resettle Europe’s displaced Jews in the western hemisphere and other friendly spots. Had he lived, Israel as we know it would not exist – nor would the principal basis for the Muslim world’s hatred for America.
By far the firmest stand was taken by President Eisenhower in 1956, when Israel attacked Egypt with the connivance of Britain and France, in the hope of substantial territorial gains. In the midst of battle, Ike told the Israelis they had better stand down, while the State Department threatened that Israel might lose American aid, be expelled from the United Nations, and have sanctions slapped on it. Even though Egypt was beaten militarily, the Israelis backed off, and did not gain an inch.
If Obama is to save his presidency, he needs to take some chances, rather than blindly riding the conventional wisdom right down the drain. Forcing Israel out of the conquered territories while ceasing all the slobbering over Islam would be a game-changer. Putting America first, rather than foreign God experts – what a novel concept!