I was getting all ready to settle into bed with Stieg Larsson and Sam Adams when I made the mistake of stumbling across Obama's Ramadan message. I knew better than to read that. Really. But I did it anyway.
Now, the whole idea of Obama having a message for Ramadan doesn't drive me crazy; neither does the iftar dinner. George Bush held one every year he was in office. But, oh my goodness, is the message ever different. Consider what George W. Bush said in his final White House iftar in 2008:
"One of the great strengths of our nation is its religious diversity. Americans practice many different faiths. We all share a belief in the right to worship freely. We reject bigotry in all its forms. And over the past eight years, my administration has been proud to work closely with Muslim Americans to promote justice and tolerance of all faiths," he said.
And Obama's message today:
For all of us must remember that the world we want to build – and the changes that we want to make – must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities. These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings. Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality. And here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country.
On the surface, Obama echoes Bush in saying that Muslim Americans have made contributions to our society. But the heart of Obama's message stresses the change that Americans must make in their hearts..
As Americans, he says we should change our hearts and communities to emulate Islam in "promoting justice, progress tolerance and dignity of all human beings." It's like he's saying that as Americans we hold but don't practice those principles.
Maybe I'm over-parsing it.
I probably just missed the "dignity" message in this story, and the justice served in this one. And I'm sure there is progress and tolerance in this story, if I could only find it. I don't know about racial equality but the gender equality can't be found in this story. Or this one.
Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.