EDITORIAL: Obama and the Muslim day of love

Presidential bowing to Islam failed to improve America’s Mideast standing

The results are in: Friday’s “Day of Love” in Pakistan ended with 20 dead and hundreds wounded from anti-American rioting. That’s some tough love.

The White House doggedly maintains the violence sweeping the Islamic crescent over the last two weeks was sparked by the low-budget YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims” and that this has nothing to do with U.S. policies. Even if that were true, the region had long been a powder keg brimming with pent-up radical rage. President Obama believes he can rise above the violence, but the Islamists keep dragging him back down to earth. One protester in Malaysia held a sign that read, “Obama, our patience has its limit. Don’t blame us if your citizens die. Blame yourself. U started it!”

This was not the future Mr. Obama promised or expected. When running for the White House in November 2007, then-Sen. Obama asserted, “The day I’m inaugurated the Muslim world will look at the U.S. differently.” Since the inauguration, that difference has been a negative one. A Pew Global Attitudes Project survey from the spring of 2012 showed U.S. favorability in Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan ranges from 12-19 percent. In Pakistan the number who see the United States as an enemy has risen from 64 percent to 74 percent on Mr. Obama’s watch, unfavorability has risen from 68 percent to 80 percent and confidence in Mr. Obama is down to 7 percent. Pakistan has no days of love for America.

Mr. Obama’s ongoing end-zone dance over the operation that took down Osama bin Laden is also failing to win the hearts and minds in the Islamic world. According to a poll by Gallup International taken in the month after the killing, a third of those surveyed in Pakistan opposed the raid, almost half did not believe bin Laden was actually killed, and 51 percent said they felt more negatively about Mr. Obama. Only 7 percent viewed Mr. Obama more favorably. The demonstrators who assaulted the U.S. Embassy in Cairo chanted, “Obama, Obama, there are a billion more Osamas.” If films cause riots, then American diplomatic posts ought to be on high alert in December when the film “Zero Dark Thirty” drops in theaters to portray bin Laden’s demise.

The Muslim critique of U.S. policy focuses on the scope of counterterrorist operations, drone strikes and their collateral damage, and the belief that the United States plays favorites with Israel. More extreme elements denounce American cultural imperialism, charge the U.S. with “stealing” oil and natural gas resources from the region, and claim that Washington is simply using terrorism as a pretext to mount an assault on Islam. No amount of White House outreach, apology, empathy, special events, holiday observances or other obsequiousness has shaken that belief.

The mad mullahs across the globe continue to incite their followers to engage in demonstrations, riots and attacks on U.S. interests. The hatred in the streets aimed at America is worse now than it was at the height of the war on terrorism under President Bush. If the Muslim world looks at the U.S. differently, it is not with loving eyes.

The Washington Times

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