It was the most prolific speech of his presidency thus far. Sure, the stakes are high, but Obama has proven, yet again, this week and before that, that he is clearly up to the task.
Following is an excerpt of the speech:
We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings." This is an excerpt from the NY Times report on the speech.
As a woman of great faith, born Episcopal, converted to Mormonism and lived that life for almost a quarter century who has now come full circle and reaffirmed her christian faith in the Episcopal church, I resonate with the words: "justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."
I was for a time affiliated with an amazing group called MESJ - Mormons for Equality and Social Justice. The group seeks to create understanding amongst Mormons and promote equality and social justice for those who are on the fringes of society. Some of you may recall that I have spoken of this group in earlier posts.
The work we have ahead of us is clearly not easy - it will take an effort on all of our parts to see that the Obama administration is successful.
A more perfect union is possible.