Fighting words: Scrutinizing the dust-ups over statements by Giuliani and Obama

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Rudy Giuliani has declined to retract his statement.

Words matter, sometimes for the wrong reason, and often not because of what they actually mean but because of the subliminal baggage that some communications guru think they carry.

Two current cases:

Rudy Giuliani’s ludicrous decision (and it seems clear that this was a decision, not a slip of the tongue) over whether President Obama loves America has set off a brouhaha that will not end until every major Republican figure has been asked whether he or she believes that Obama loves America. I’m not sure this is the best use of everyone’s time or mental energy.

In my humble opinion, there are only a few acceptable answers to that question, including:

  • It’s a stupid question. Ask me something else.

  • President Obama says he does love America and I take him at his word as I would hope he would take me at mine. If we can agree on that, we can move on to the question of how to make America a better country, where our views may differ and the differences might be worth knowing, except for the fact that if I do run for president, I will be running against someone other than Mr. Obama who, if I understand the situation correctly, cannot run for the office again during his current lifetime.

  • To quote Samuel Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Giuliani, who I am explicitly not saying is stupid or evil because I’m no expert on such matters, has declined to retract his statement. But he did clarify that he did not mean to impugn or question Obama’s patriotism because “he’s a patriot, I’m sure.” It’s just that Obama criticizes America so often that it makes him seem more of a “critic” than a “supporter.”

So, to do this gibberish the kindness of taking it seriously, after explicitly saying that he is not retracting his “doesn’t love America” statement, he pretty much retracts it (how do you square “I’m sure he’s a patriot” with “he just doesn’t happen to love his country”?) and then suggests that the essence of loving one’s country is to decline to criticize it, even when it is wrong.

Giuliani, so far as I know, hasn’t actually said that, rather than criticizing America, Obama should adopt the famous approach associated with the maxim: “My country, right or wrong.” But in looking up the origins of that statement, I find that both of those to whom it is usually attributed acknowledged that “my country” might be wrong, but it remains “my country.” The second of the two versions, attributed to  U.S. Sen. Carl Schurz (R-Missouri) in 1872, goes like this: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

That works a lot better does it not?

Obama’s words

The second case (which is closely associated with the first and which Giuliani philosophized about during his non-apology tour) is the question of why Obama refuses to say that the Islamic State group (hereafter ISIS) — or Al Qaeda before it — should be referred to as “Islamic terrorists.”

Obama routinely goes out of his way to separate his denunciations of these murderous groups from references to their Muslim identity or to Islam, the religion in the name of which these groups routinely justify their actions. Obama’s preferred term is “radical extremism,” which, if you look at it closely by itself, is two words that mean practically the same thing and say almost nothing specific.

Republicans have been complaining that he ought to call them “Muslim (or Islamic) terrorists.” They say that’s more accurate. I can’t really disagree, although, like most two-word buzzphrases, it raises more questions than it answers. Still, their objection is not really about accuracy. It’s just another way of calling Obama a politically correct weenie.

The reason Obama prefers a vague term, especially versus one that mentions Islam or Muslims, is obvious. It hurts the feelings of Muslims and makes them feel disrespected and makes them fear that they will become targets.

On the other hand, on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” during a discussion of these word choices, NBC played tape of former President George W. Bush and even the neocon hero Vice President Dick Cheney using almost exactly the same language. As in:

Obama: “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

Obama: “All of us recognize that this great religion in the hands of a few extremists has been distorted to justify violence towards innocent people that is never justified.”

George W. Bush: “All Americans must recognize that the face of terror is not the true face of Islam.”

Bush: “That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.”

Dick Cheney: “This is, by no means, a war against Islam.”

It would be, shall we say, interesting to know whether anyone who is now complaining that Obama shrinks from linking the terror to Islam made the same complaints against Bush and Cheney.

When moderator Chuck Todd turned to columnist Michael Gerson, who worked in the Bush White House, to comment on the high level of rhetorical overlap, Gerson replied:

“You are right. There is a remarkable consistency between the previous administration and this one, and for a certain reason. Because the rhetorical saying we want is free people against violent extremists, not a war of civilizations or a war of religion…. And any future president will do this. I promise. You have Muslim allies in the war on terror. You can’t alienate them, you know, the Jordanians or the Turks or others. These are important allies. And your language matters.”

Well of course that’s true, and of course it is most or all of the reason that Bush, Cheney and Obama said those things. But on another level this is also just another example of how comfortable we have become with the idea that none of these guys say what they mean and that some kind of message marketing logic explains what they do say.

The idea that Obama is going to explain the true message of Islam — not only us but to the Muslim world — and differentiate this message from the errant version of those who have “perverted” or “distorted” it is pretty funny.

But there’s another problem. Over the weekend, I read this really enlightening but scary piece in the Atlantic by Graeme Wood titled “What ISIS Really Wants.”

Wood is steeped in Islamic doctrine. If you read his long, fairly frightening piece, you may conclude that there is a solid basis in Islamic holy writings and tradition for the ISIS idea of seizing territory, appointing a Caliph who comes from the proper holy tribe of Islam, and calling on true followers of the Prophet to flock to the caliphate and fight.

That’s not to say that ISIS stands for the one true interpretation of the prophet’s message. As Wood writes,

“Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment.

“But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, ‘embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion’ that neglects ‘what their religion has historically and legally required.’ Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an ‘interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.’ ”

He also writes that:

“Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, ‘the Prophetic methodology,’ which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.”

Late-breaking additions

Giuliani has an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, which amounts to a non-takeback takeback. (Warning, non-subscribers may not be able to access the full piece.)  It begins:

“There has been no shortage of news coverage—and criticism—regarding comments I made about President Obama at a political gathering last week in New York. My blunt language suggesting that the president doesn’t love America notwithstanding, I didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart.”

It’s a little hard to reconcile that with a blunt statement that Obama doesn’t love America and doesn’t think America is “exceptional,” but Giuliani would like to shift the frame to friendly advice about how Obama needs to speak differently “in a way that draws sharp, clear distinctions between us and those who threaten our way of life.”

Also, after I posted the early version of this piece I found that Washington Post Fact-Checker Glenn Kessler had taken Giuliani’s statements about all the nice things about America that Obama doesn’t say and found a lot of places where Obama said exactly those things, for example specifying on many occasions that he loves America and that he views it as exceptional. He gave Giuliani’s statements “four Pinocchios” which translates as “totally false.”



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Comments (41)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/23/2015 - 09:29 am.

    Is it shocking to say that both Guliani and ISIS represent the loss of a “brake” on restraint? Everything is permissible in the achievement of your goal. Is it a coincidence that a conservative reaction against tolerance is found in many places at this time?

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/23/2015 - 10:07 am.

    Thoughtful piece

    I think the appropriate phrase in an ISIS context is: Know your enemy.

    We know little about them because, after all, terrorist groups are typically fairly secretive about how they operate, as well as publicizing their intellectual foundation. With quite a few centuries of mutual hostility as background, Muslims are inclined, at least in this culture, not to seek out publicity.

    Westerners tend in the opposite direction, with Americans leading the charge by pointing with pride to a relatively open electoral process, the process of something becoming a law (e.g., committee hearings and legislative sessions) routinely broadcast to the public, and continent-sized piles of rhetoric, some sincere, some cynical, about our Founding Fathers, democracy, “freedom” in whatever way best justifies a particular enthusiasm, the importance of God in a vague sort of way, and, of course, the moral and fiscal imperative of the consumer culture.

    Islam is, at its base, a theocratic view of government and society, as are some versions of Christianity and Judaism. Every major religion’s practitioners believe they have the singular, divinely-inspired view of existence – a mind set that accounts for untold numbers of deaths inflicted down through the centuries by people who are certain that God is on their side. A secular society attempts – not always successfully – to sidestep that interpretation of the cosmos to focus attention on matters more contemporary and utilitarian. This is a secular nation on purpose, the people who wrote those founding documents being all too well acquainted with the perniciousness of religious orthodoxy in a governmental setting. That runs counter to the worldview of both ISIS and the fundamentalist branches of Christianity and Judaism.

    Mr Giuliani’s recent statements are examples of intellectual and political cowardice. I remains to be seen whether Governor Walker’s response of “I don’t know” to similar questions is an example of the first of Eric’s three “acceptable answers.”

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/23/2015 - 10:38 am.

    Yeah

    This was just another irrelevant toxic rant by yet another irrelevant toxic republican. There may be some value in broadcasting the rant, but as you correctly observe at the beginning of this article, there is NO point in debating it.

    As for being at war with Islam, that’s a dicier matter.

    Obviously we’re not actually at war with Islam, and it goes without saying why the President of the United States would go to lengths to avoid characterizing out fight against terrorism as a religious war.

    On the other hand I think Obama is toying with ham hands here unnecessarily. Denying the Islamic nature of these terrorist’s strikes me as more than a little dishonest. Who gave Obama, who’s neither Muslim nor an Imam, the authority to decide what is Islam and what is not Islam?

    Instead of steering clear of a scriptural debate within someone else’s religion Obama plants himself in the middle with these declarations that ISIS are not Muslims. By doing so he may be insulting more Muslims than not, and he appears to be in some kind of denial to the rest of us.

    Whether or not or to what extent ISIS represents Islam is a religious matter for Muslims, obviously they disagree. However whether or not ISIS is Islam is not actually OUR problem, nor is it something Obama has to figure out. OUR problem is that these people are attacking us and our allies. We go after the people, the attackers, not the religion anyways, so why is it a problem to acknowledge that these terrorists are Islamic extremists? Obama’s job is to defend the nation, not the Muslim religion per se, so what’s he on about here?

  4. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 02/23/2015 - 11:47 am.

    ISIS is not a religion…call it a cult if one must ; those who

    dare not take responsibility for their sick acts?

    Funny thing how religion Christianity, Islam or Jewish religion have their deviant subcultures…we call them cults.They vary in degrees of religio-bound distortions from the main history of any religion.

    History finds deviations in hard core right wing ideology be it ultra conservative political types to Oklahoma bombers to militia types in Ohio; the backwoods of Montana and Texas etc… that claim their ‘Christian’ roots.

    Entrails of distorted militant groups claim religious roots for various reasons and I suppose it draws simple minds to some sick attitudes on the use and abuse of religion with its authoritarian roots as a drawing card or otherwise; a higher power that sanctifies their terrorist acts….if all religion rests on authoritarianism what better scapegoat for the essentially weak minded who claim some higher power to justify their sick acts?

    ISIL is a cult that draws on the ignorant who need someone to direct them and finds satisfaction in hating another…giving them a form of power over what they dare not understand.

    I would suggest the word CULT is a valid term…another way of separating a terrorist organization from the claim it makes for whatever religion to in some way justify its evil, yes evil distortion whomever they are?

    No certanty here but a thought on when weak groups do vicious acts and claim a higher power moves them, when they have not got the guts to recognize themselves for what evil they do and blame on any religion as scapegoat… essentially makes religion their victim not their icon for whatever reasons?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/23/2015 - 02:01 pm.

      The term “cult” is actually problematic

      Cults are typically held together by a charismatic personality, not a set of ideological or even religious objectives. Furthermore cults are characterized by restricted milieu’s whereas ISIS is spread across a vast region. There are other problems with the cult designation as well, for instance a religious subculture is NOT a cult… it may a sect or denomination, the cult designation is a little more precise.

      I don’t think anyone is calling ISIS a religion, ISIS is a political military movement. Islam is the religion ISIS claims to be organized around. Whatever. Look, the fact that religious extremism can produce violent behavior and movements is well documented. I don’t see the point in trying to re-define religious behavior we don’t like as something other than religious behavior. We can’t just run around calling religious movements we don’t like: “cults”.

      • Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 02/23/2015 - 03:56 pm.

        How do we separate the fallacy-the use /abuse of Islam by ISIS

        You are probably right, “Cult” is a lousy word but…mine is an attempt to separate in our simple minds that ISIS cannot claim Islam as part of their movement…here lies the rub: Islam creeps into the definition of their ever creeping, creepy terrorism even in the minds of a New York political slug who used its use to downsize Obama as if he had said anything to warrant such abuse?

        So what to do? Separate the religion from the acts of terrorists at least by word use…they use it and we continue to subliminally or otherwise respect their abuse by recognizing the word Islam as in the ISIS movement in any form in our minds…. This is not “extreme Islam” but a spreading terrorism madness and to continue to use the term ‘Islam’ attaches a degree of fallacious doublespeak in accepting even part of their mad rhetoric?

        We continue to call the Oklahoma bombers, but not ‘Christian terrorists’…or any other fanatical military group that claims Christian doctrine as its claim using religion in its title?

        Got another label? Then separate but not respect their abuse/use of Islam religion in our use, in our constant word label accepting their use of ‘Islam’ and it may be a possible way of denying their abuse of that religion/

        There must be a way to continue to defend Islam, and rightly so, without constantly saying we don’t mean Islam; we mean the extreme form of Islam?

        Find a better term but don’t honor the ISIS rhetorical game play by still tying religion to their evil acts…that’s what I’m trying to suggest but words that suggest more than they really deserve only abuse the religion in its initial substance…so I tried…so it goes…

  5. Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/23/2015 - 12:23 pm.

    Is love required?

    The first part of this article put me in mind of Paul’s most recent blog entry here:

    http://pudstrand.fatcow.com/blog/?p=879

    wherein he discusses the interesting concept that an essential problem that can arise with the Conservative mindset is that it tends to blur the lines between a religious perspective which requires celebratory aggrandizement of the principles one holds dear v.s. a more secular perspective which often allows for – even encourages – a more critical and thoughtful examination of important ideas and principles.

    From this difference I can well see that a conservative would declare that Obama “does not love America” because anything less than full-throated unequivocal praise of each and every little thing our country does fails to live up to the almost religious awe afforded American exceptionalism.

    Paul wrote a good piece. It’s worth a read.

  6. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/23/2015 - 12:39 pm.

    Obamacare boondoggle; massive NSA domestic spying; the weaponization of the IRS; leaving Iraq in the hands of ISIS.

    Four acts clearly detrimental to the US. Giuliani’s statement may be said to be caustic, and perhaps not helpful, but it is certainly not without warrant.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/23/2015 - 01:55 pm.

      Did you read this article, Mr. Swift?

      How is it that a fact -checker gave Mr. Giuliani’s statements four Pinocchio’s ? (Or totally false, as Mr. Black points out.)

      Obamacare is a “boondoggle”? You have been singing this song on MinnPost comment sections for years. This is only your opinion. Many people insured under Obamacare most certainly disagree with you.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/23/2015 - 03:17 pm.

      Who Really Hated America?

      The war in Iraq, bungled response to Hurricane Katrina, market crash, intelligence failures regarding terrorism, politicization of the Justice Department, No Child Left Behind.

      Six acts clearly detrimental to the US. Giuliani’s statement may be said to be caustic, and perhaps not helpful, but it is certainly a load of rubbish.

  7. Submitted by cory johnson on 02/23/2015 - 12:56 pm.

    The is only a big story to the Left…

    No one who pays attention should be surprised that a man mentored by the likes of Ayers, Alinsky, and Wright would have a less respective for America than President in our history. But I get why the Left needs to feign shock and surprise for someone finally calling him out…..

    • Submitted by jason myron on 02/23/2015 - 02:40 pm.

      It’s been a big story

      to the tin foil hat crowd since before Obama was even elected. Since then, they’ve done everything they possibly could to question the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency.

      “On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.” – Barry Goldwater

      “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”- Barry Goldwater

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/23/2015 - 03:01 pm.

        Perhaps it’s better to wear tin foil on one’s head than stuffed in one’s ears.

        Wright and Ayers are inextricably linked to the Obama’s…sorry, but there it is.

      • Submitted by cory johnson on 02/23/2015 - 03:14 pm.

        you must be responding to a different post…

        I never questioned his legitimacy or his religion. You seem to be ignoring facts in order to make yourself feel better.

    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 02/24/2015 - 08:45 am.

      10

      Barack Obama was 10 years old when Saul Alinsky died.

      If you want to suggest that as a community organizer, Obama was influenced by Alinsky’s teachings, that may be. But, then again, just about every community organizing group uses them in some form — because they work. That’s why Dick Armey handed out “Rules for Radicals” to Tea Party leaders.

  8. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/23/2015 - 01:06 pm.

    Guliani is a very seasoned politician

    Guliani knew exactly what he was doing. That was not a neophyte error. I would not be surprised if it wasn’t a coordinated statement, by someone who is not running, so in conservative eyes no harm no foul. It follows in the footsteps of the litany of false statements conservatives have said about the President and about his policies. War mongers don’t understand someone who takes a different approach to a problem, when the war monger approach has not worked. How many wars do they have to lose before they look for another method to achieve the desired result? Most politicians wanting the US to go to war have not been in the service either by choice or finding a way around the system. Conservatives continue to flail around making rash statements hoping something will stick. This is not leadership they are exhibiting, this is political cowardice. We are still waiting for the conservative leadership to show up. Unfortunately, no conservative leadership is on the horizon.

    • Submitted by Steve Vigoren on 02/23/2015 - 02:01 pm.

      Rudy made a calculated grab

      for his share of the 900 million dollars the Koch brothers recently announced they will be spending next year. This preposterous statement is probably worth at least couple hundred thousand dollars and got him out of the starting gate in the race to collect that money. When you are an irrelevant fading fast politician it is what you do in your attempt to return to relevancy, (=money). Especially for a GOP politician where in this Citizens United era, the money to be made is quite astronomical.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/24/2015 - 08:18 am.

      Guliani’s a has-been

      Guliani’s just trying to regain and retain some relevance with the republican base. Let him. If Obama’s love for his country is going to be their primary issue in the next cycle they’ll ALL slide further into irrelevance.

  9. Submitted by cory johnson on 02/23/2015 - 03:09 pm.

    As an atheist….

    I don’t care one bit what his religion is or isn’t. As an American I do care how he views our country as unjust and unfair and that he needs to take us down a peg because we don’t deserve our standing in the world. It boggles the mind that Democrats think his being mentored by radicals is a nonissue.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/23/2015 - 03:47 pm.

      A bit of

      creative interpretation of the facts.
      (Assuming that you are talking about President Obama, not someone else).
      Having been acquainted with radicals is not the same as being mentored by them; saying that we are good but could be better makes him little different from Lincoln.
      He was also acquainted with conservative economists such as Milton Friedman at Chicago — this doesn’t mean that they mentored him.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/23/2015 - 04:42 pm.

        Obama called Wright a mentor and a “second father” until the footage of his hateful, anti-American rants became public. He said he based his address to the DNC on a Wright sermon.

        “Barack Obama spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., preaches last sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ”

        http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-wright_11feb11-archive-story.html

        • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/23/2015 - 08:05 pm.

          If We Look at the Current Economic Plight

          of the average American, it looks as if Rev. Wright was being accurately prophetic,…

          when he paraphrased the judgment the Hebrew Prophets pronounced against ISRAEL in ancient times,…

          a judgment pronounced because Israel was treating its underclass(es) the same way America has currently been treating our own.

          But then, again, the results for ancient Israel, and for every society since then that has done the same, including our own,…

          are as dependable as the sun coming up each morning.

          What happened to Jerusalem and Judea circa 70 AD may yet arrive on our own doorsteps,…

          but the people with all the money and power in those various societies,…

          who have arranged the conditions which enabled their society’s downfall,…

          are NEVER able to recognize what they are destroying (including themselves),…

          but insist on blaming the “worthless, lazy poor,”…

          and outside enemies for any and all problems that they, themselves, are increasingly creating.

          It fascinates me that, despite ancient warnings from every religion and philosophy, we humans have never yet managed to build any societal nest that we did not,…

          soon after it’s construction,…

          manage to foul beyond it’s ability to support the descendants of those who built it.

          Shorter answer, Rev. Wright was right (and it scares the bejeebus out of us so much that we couldn’t even consider what he was doing in that sermon,…

          although our “conservative” friends seem to delight in such things when their religious gurus make pronouncements about God “damning” America because we’re being sexually naughty,…

          as if sex is all God cares about).

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/24/2015 - 11:09 am.

            Greg, the only thing about Wright’s hate filled, racist screeds that scares the bejeebus out of me is that the President of the United States sat and listened to such as that for 20 years.

            • Submitted by jason myron on 02/24/2015 - 04:24 pm.

              Well, now you know how we feel

              listening to the likes of Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum.

              • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/24/2015 - 04:43 pm.

                Myron, I think the best way to illustrate the folly of your comparison is to point out that none of Cruz or Santorum’s supporters have had to hike up their skirts and run for the hills to distance themselves, as Obama has tried to do with Wright.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/27/2015 - 09:18 am.

                  What the supporters of Cruz and Santorum haven’t done

                  And that speaks volumes about those people, doesn’t it? That they were supporters in the first place, that they continue to be supporters, and that they have not, as you put it, “hike[d] up their skirts and run for the hills to distance themselves . . .”

                  Proof, where none is needed, that some people are beyond hope.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/23/2015 - 09:39 pm.

          If you actually read

          the link that you posted, there is no quote of -Obama- calling Wright his mentor.
          Those were the words of Tribune reporter Margaret Ramirez.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/24/2015 - 08:26 am.

            How about direct quotes from Wright himself given to the former editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine?

            http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Obama-Wright-Ed-Klein/2012/05/15/id/439126/

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/24/2015 - 09:29 am.

              Still a secondary source

              Really an opinion.
              This article quotes opinion statements from someone named Ed Klein (not to be confused with Ezra Klein).
              He in turn quotes Wright.
              Number of direct quotes from Obama:
              Zero.
              At most, indirect evidence that Wright regarded himself as Obama’s mentor. Wouldn’t be the first time that someone exaggerated their importance.

            • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/24/2015 - 09:35 pm.

              NewsMax!

              Get real dude, Newsmax is a dedicated right wing propaganda machine, please do not insult our intelligence by trying to pass them off as a relevant news/fact source.
              PS: Where is Rev. Wright in the article, and what does he have to do with loving America?

              Your continued; Guilt by association is some of the oldest propaganda tricks in the world!
              Guess just about all of us hate America, because we do not find it 100% pure of heart and soul 100% of the time, and evidently you hate it as well because you hate our “Duly and fairly elected president” and how he leads the country, which by the way is within the frame work of our constitution, which you must hate also, because you hate the way he executes his executive power granted by said Constitution.

    • Submitted by Doug Gray on 02/24/2015 - 10:04 am.

      agreed

      As an atheist I agree with you about any politician’s religion. As an American, to the extent that our country is unjust and unfair it does need to be taken down several pegs; and one can acknowledge that the US is powerful without feeling its power is somehow “deserved.”

      Who mentored Giuliani btw, or is that “a nonissue?”

  10. Submitted by Donald Larsson on 02/23/2015 - 10:10 pm.

    Right or Wrong . . .

    Appreciate the Samuel Johnson definition of “patriotism” and the note on “My country, right or wrong . . . ” There’s the further exegesis by G.K. Chesterton: “‘My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.’

  11. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/24/2015 - 07:55 am.

    Giuliani

    It sounds to me like Giuliani is the one who should be choosing his words more carefully. In this exchange it looks to me like the Republicans are the radicals who need to be careful about what they say, not Obama.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/24/2015 - 08:47 am.

    Contrived dilemma’s…

    Beryl John-Knudson writes:

    “You are probably right, “Cult” is a lousy word but…mine is an attempt to separate in our simple minds that ISIS cannot claim Islam as part of their movement…here lies the rub: ”

    Beryl is, I think, expressing the very concern that is driving Obama’s rhetoric regarding Islam. While the impulse may be noble to some extent, it’s a contrived dilemma.

    The fact is ISIS CAN claim Islam as an inspiration. The truth is that violence, intolerance, and oppression have been features of religion for thousands of years. You can’t separate religion from not-religion along lines of extremism or violence. You can’t separate Muslim terrorism from Islam anymore than can separate the Inquisition from Catholicism. In a way attempts to place extremists outside their religions is just adding another form of intolerance to the mix.

    None of this means you can’t condemn religious violence or terrorism without condemning religion. Maybe “simple” minds are a different story but I think most people are sophisticated enough to understand that terrorist don’t speak for everyone. Muslin terrorists don’t speak for all Muslims, it’s not THAT hard to condemn Muslim terrorists without condemning Islam itself. And it’s not up to non-Muslims to figure out who’s a Muslim and who isn’t anyways. Who is or isn’t a good Muslim, or a Muslim, or whether or not one groups scriptural claims are legitimate, is something Muslim’s will have to work out. Obama isn’t going to settle the issue.

    In the meantime, we have to defend and protect ourselves and each other from murderous terror attacks.

    Charlie Rose actually had a really good segment with a group of Muslim and religious scholars shortly after the Paris attacks. It’s well worth a watch for those who’ve been following this thread: http://www.charlierose.com/watch/60501678

  13. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/24/2015 - 03:09 pm.

    Egad

    You know, I wish I had a filter. I would run for President. I would be a good President. Unfortunately, I don’t have a filter. I would get into the debate, and someone would say something similar to what Giuliani said and I’d respond with “Are you effing kidding me? Are you FIVE?” And I would mean it. The American public doesn’t want someone that honest. They want to be able to gripe about the fact that politicians pander and lie and vote for them anyway. Or skip the voting to watch the hottest Tuesday night reality show. Plus, I’m not a millionaire, so I have neither the funds nor the star appeal to run. Nor would anyone fund me because, if there’s anyone that doesn’t like to hear the truth more than the average American (or at least let the truth escape), it’s the average rich political funder.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/26/2015 - 09:33 am.

    Giuliani’s “love” for America

    Actually, few people demonstrate more hatred for America than these self declared “patriots”. Erstwhile patriots like Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachmann, and of course Giuliani spend an inordinate amount of time condemning EVERYTHING American from our music to our Universities. They hate our culture, our movies, our scientists, and especially our diversity.

    There’s a nice little graphic making its way around Facebook: “Hatriots: Spreading Hate While Wrapped in a Flag and Thumping a Bible”

  15. Submitted by Amy Farland on 02/26/2015 - 10:05 am.

    Giuliani

    Someone, and i cannot for the life of me remember who, has suggested in all seriousness, that Giuliani’s remarks are most properly viewed as indicative of early dementia.

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