Bush Hosts Ramadan Dinner
Vol: 25 Issue: 29 Wednesday, October 29, 2003
President Bush welcomed American Islamic leaders to the White House for a dinner marking the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. During the month of Ramadan, observent Muslims don’t eat, drink or smoke until after sundown. The evening meal marking the end of the day’s fast is called the Iftaar meal. Bush hosted Tuesday’s Iftaar meal.
In his welcoming remarks, the president praised American Muslims for making America a better and more compassionate country. He also also lauded the contribution American Muslims have made to the United States – economically, culturally and politically.
Bush didn’t explain how, exactly, just that they do. American Muslims make up a tiny fraction of the population, roughly two percent or a bit less. Maybe that’s why Islam’s economic, cultural and political contributions to America are a bit hard to pinpoint, but they must be there somewhere. The president said so.
Then the president took off his president’s hat and put on his Theologian-in-Chief hat, pronouncing Islam a ‘great religion hijacked by terrorists’ and reminded us (again) that the US war on terror is not against Islam.
He also distanced himself from Lt. General Boykin, who said from a church pulpit last week that it was. At a mid-day press conference Tuesday, Bush said that the controversial Boykin “doesn’t reflect my point of view or the view of this administration. Our war is not against the Muslim faith.”
“Americans think terrorists are evil people who have hijacked a great religion,” Bush said, responding to a reporter’s question.
I suppose there is a strategy to hosting a Ramadan dinner at the White House for American Islam. Since there are about as many Muslims in America as there are people who believe they’ve been abducted by aliens, next month’s dinner guests should all be wearing tinfoil hats to protect them from alien mind-control rays. But we aren’t at war with space aliens.
The strategy appears to be convincing America (and the Islamic world) that we are not at war with Islam, but with terrorists who hijacked a ‘peaceful’ religion. The whole ‘peaceful religion’ thing is a hard sell, given Islam’s record.
Instead, we are only at war with the Islamic ‘fundamentalists’ — which makes the doublespeak that much more confusing.
IF Islam is really a peaceful religion, then how is it that those who practice its fundamentals are the ‘hijackers’? I mean, if those who practice the FUNDAMENTALS of Islam are responsible for terror, how can Islam be fundamentally a peaceful religion?
To tell you the truth, I can see the president’s dilemma. It is not in America’s interests to declare war on Islam. About one sixth of the world is Islamic, and we don’t want to have to fight them all.
And, despite his pronouncements, Bush isn’t really an Islamic theologian. He doesn’t really know the difference. Although I believe he is a born-again Christian, I wouldn’t give you a nickel for Bush’s theological understanding of Christianity, let alone Islam.
But he wasn’t elected to be the nation’s top theologian, he was elected to run the country. And, given the situation, it makes political sense not to antagonize the ‘peaceful’ Muslim world any more that we already are.
It’s a Catch-22 — Bush can’t do much else, really.
So, as Christianity continues to be trashed in the public and hammered by the courts, Islam gets invited to dinner at the White House. The only ones angered are the Christian fundamentalists and the Muslim fundamentalists.
In this generation, to be a fundamentalist is to be a wild-eyed fanatic. It doesn’t matter if you are an Islamic fundmentalist, a Jewish fundamentalist, or a Christian fundamentalist — the ‘wild-eyed fanatic’ label is automatic.
According to the Bible, the antichrist’s power rests on three separate pillars; control of the global economy, the global government and the global religion. The first two are already defined, centralized, and awaiting his arrival to take the helm. The third, the global religion, is a little less well-defined, but beginning to take shape. It appears to draw its defintion more from what it is not.
The acceptable global religion is kinder, gentler and more inclusive. That leaves out fundamentalist Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is not hard to envision the day when all fundamentalist religious groups are outlawed.
John envisioned it, two thousand years ago, from the Island of Patmos.
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” (Revelation 13:11-12)