On October 25th the State Department hosted an annual event honoring the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It was the kind of affair that one would expect, a celebration of brotherhood, tolerance, international fellowship, etc.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made some remarks to the assembled guests:
|We in America also know that Muslims, like people of all faiths and people of no faith at all, possess certain basic rights that arise from our equal human dignity. Among these are the right to live without oppression, the right to worship without persecution, and the right to think and speak and assemble without wrongful retribution.|
|Ladies and gentlemen, these are not American rights or Western rights. They are human rights, unanimously desired and universally deserved. Muslims freely exercise their rights as American citizens and Muslims have claimed their rights throughout Northern Africa and Western Europe and Central Asia and Southeast Asia.|
So far, so good. She is echoing President Bush here, emphasizing the centrality and universality of basic human rights.
But, Madame Secretary, did you have to lay it on so thick?
|So, on behalf of all the men and women of the State Department, thank you for honoring us with your presence this evening. Thank you for what you do every day as people of a great faith, of one of the world’s great religions, of a religion of peace and love. Thank you for spending this important holiday evening with us. Ramadan Kareem.|
Islam is no longer simply the Religion of Peace; it has been promoted to the Reigion of Peace and Love.
This, while Muslims are:
· burning down the suburbs of Paris;
· beheading schoolgirls in Indonesia;
· blowing up innocent civilians in Israel;
· torching kindergartens in Denmark;
· beating up Africans in Britain;
· committing genocide in Sudan;
· demanding the destruction of Israel and the United States in Iran;
· and beheading teachers in Thailand.
Is it too much to ask that our leaders — even those who pace the lofty carpeted halls of the State Department — refrain from such embarrassing excesses of rhetoric? Couldn’t they make do with the usual after-dinner boilerplate, something like “I am honored to have with me such distinguished guests…”?
One of my unenviable tasks, both online and in the real world, is to defend President Bush’s foreign policy. There are many people to my left and right who believe that the Bush administration is bought and paid for by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
And, thanks to little oratorical flourishes like this, the contrary position gets harder and harder to defend.