God bless America, land of ‘no religious tests’
Observers here anticipate that Trump is on the same path of another notorious American demagogue, Joseph McCarthy
There is a lot one could disagree with when it comes to President Obama’s foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. The situation today is far worse than it was when he first assumed office back in 2009.
In contrast, advocates of the so-called ‘Obama Doctrine’ would argue that everything he has done – or more accurately he hasn’t done, particularly in Syria – helped serve US interests and protect American lives.
Yesterday however, even the harshest critics of the Commander-in-Chief couldn’t help but stand by his side as he delivered one of his most powerful and passionate speeches yet, which addressed the very heart of what it means to be an American.
Although he didn’t name him personally, President Obama’s speech served as a heavy-worded response to what many are referring to the appalling and racist election campaign run by the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.
Never failing to exploit any opportunity for political gain, Mr. Trump utilized Sunday’s atrocious Orlando Shooting, which saw a troubled Muslim open fire and kill 49 people at a gay club in Florida, to renew his calls for a US ban on Muslims.
The infamously outspoken candidate also hinted that President Obama – whom he has often mocked as being ‘un-American’ –may even have had a link to the horrific attack, which is the worst act of terrorism the US has seen since 9/11.
Yesterday’s presidential speech is linked to a much wider context, reflecting a general mood which is growing increasingly frustrated with the Trump campaignFaisal J. Abbas
Yesterday however, President Obama displayed traits of a true leader and decided to rise above the personal and petty comments, focusing – instead – on the worrisome, bigger picture.
“That’s not the America we want,” he said describing a nation where citizens face discrimination for their religious or racial profiles. Furthermore, “it won’t make us more safe, it would make us less safe” and it would mean that the “terrorists have won,” he argued.
“We don’t have religious tests here,” added President Obama, in reference to a clause within the constitution which stipulates that no American citizen will ever be required to accept or adhere to a religion or doctrine as a prerequisite to hold a government job.
Trump’s new McCarthyism
Political observers you meet here in Washington believe that yesterday’s presidential speech is linked to a much wider context, reflecting a general mood which is growing increasingly frustrated with the Trump campaign.
In fact, observers here anticipate that Trump is on the same path of another notorious American demagogue, Joseph McCarthy.
This view is backed by the fact that a number of ‘big-wigs’ inside Trump’s own party are distancing themselves from him. This includes both former Presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush, who have opted not to endorse him. And most recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan who said yesterday that a Muslim-ban isn’t in the country’s “best interest.”
For its part, major US newspapers seem to have had enough of Trump’s obscenity, deciding to end what so far has been a free ride for the Republican candidate.
Indeed, this was made clear by both the New York Times and the Washington Post’s most recent Op-Eds. In return, Trump has retaliated by withdrawing the credentials of some of the most prominent US media outlets, hence barring them from the access needed to cover his campaign.
It maybe still possible to win the future cooperation of Arab leaders, but for that to happen, Mr. Trump must abandon his hateful rhetoricFaisal J. Abbas
For me as an observer, such reactions are refreshing; not just because they protect innocent American Arabs and Muslims from discrimination, but because they restore faith in US values and show that – contrary to many might believe – this nation’s conscience is still pretty much at large.
As for Trump, he must realize that if he does become president; he is going to have to deal with many Arab and Muslim countries. Some of these countries are essential US allies, particularly when it comes to its economy and war against terrorism.
It maybe still possible to win the future cooperation of Arab leaders, but for that to happen, Mr. Trump must abandon his hateful rhetoric and drop his exploitation of the politics of fear – once and for all!
Faisal J. Abbas is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya English, he is a renowned blogger and an award-winning journalist. Faisal covered the Middle East extensively working for Future Television of Lebanon and both Al-Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat pan-Arab dailies. He blogs for The Huffington Post since 2008, and is a recipient of many media awards and a member of the British Society of Authors, National Union of Journalists, the John Adams Society as well as an associate member of the Cambridge Union Society. He can be reached on @FaisalJAbbas on Twitter.