Sunday, June 28, 2009

Democratic Faiths

Democtratic Faiths

The following article “Democratic faiths” is an excellent piece on roots and sustenance of democracy, however, the author exhibits his inadequacy and bias in his research.

The Muslims around the world are waking up and figuring out the effects of cold wars, the power struggles of nations to control the resources and extricating themselves from these tentacles. It is time for Muslims to wake up and figure out how to bring sustainable democracies in their nations. While the majority of Muslims want the democratic form of governance which is indeed rooted in Islam, they have been unable to speak up against their rules, we Americans also have experienced that since 2001. The Saudi King made a statement that his subjects are not ready for democracy. Is that the faith he has in his people? No one is eternal and immortal, except the continuance of human race and it is our obligation to bring sustainable governance, where people are continually involved in its checks and balances for harmonious co-existence.

Author’s bias comes through when he subtly claims superiority for Hinduism and Christianity and shows his ignorance about Islam or rather Prejudice against Islam.

This is not how you build peaceful societies by creating bias against another faith. One has to find the truth, point the specific errors and not generalize it to suit one’s bias.


Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, Terrorism, India, Islam, Peace and civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and several Blogs listed on his personal website


Friday, June 26, 2009

Obama the all rounder and Urdu

Obama is an all rounder and a Pluralist. He has refrenced all faiths in his talks, and now this is another beautiful part of him. If you recall some of the earlier Presidents and the men and women from the Moore times, they were scientists, mathematicians, poets, philosophers, ambassadors, and doctors all roled in to one. Obama is the one.

Urdu and or Hindi is perhaps the only language in the world with three scripts - Roman, Persian (urdu) and Sanskrit (hindi) and I am blessed to be familiar with all of them. - Mike Ghouse

If you want to make high-brow small talk at one of President Barack Obama’s cocktail parties, don’t bother brushing up your Shakespeare. Try reading Urdu poetry.

As POLITICO’s Ben Smith points out in his blog, Obama showed off his intellectual flair by evoking a standard of Pakistani culture in a recent interview with Dawn, a popular English-language newspaper in Pakistan.

“‘I would love to visit. As you know, I had Pakistani roommates in college who were very close friends of mine. I went to visit them when I was still in college; was in Karachi and went to Hyderabad. Their mothers taught me to cook,’ said Mr Obama.

‘What can you cook?’

‘Oh, keema ... daal ... You name it, I can cook it. And so I have a great affinity for Pakistani culture and the great Urdu poets.’

‘You read Urdu poetry?’

‘Absolutely. So my hope is that I’m going to have an opportunity at some point to visit Pakistan,’ said Mr Obama.”

It may sound somewhat esoteric, but this ancient form of mystical and oft-times philosophical love poetry has been popular in Pakistan and parts of India for centuries. And there are a few things to know before you try to impress the poetry-lover-in-chief.

One of the most popular poets was Mirza Ghalib, whose work dates from the mid-19th century. The still-popular art form usually features the story of a lover scorned by his beloved. And there is almost never a happy ending. “Often the beloved is often a total witch,” says Gwen Kirk, a University of Texas master’s candidate in the subject of Urdu poetry. “She breaks the lover’s heart all the time; she neglects him. It’s all about the process of trying to get closer to the beloved, and it’s got a lot of Sufi and mystical elements as well.”

The ghazal is the most common form of Urdu poetry, and, like sonnets, it follows strict rules of form: four to 12 couplets with a meter and rhyme scheme. But the similarities end there. Couplets in an Urdu poem can sometimes be completely unrelated to each other, each delving into themes that range from unrequited love to the meaning of life.

Fear not if your Urdu — one of two official languages in Pakistan — is a little rusty. Obama likely reads one of the many translated compilations of the texts, according to Kirk. Or if he is a truly savvy Urdu poetry enthusiast, he may choose to listen to the poems recited or sung, as it is commonly performed in the region.

Obama’s admission that he shares an affinity with the “great Urdu poets” may get him further in the region than most think. The language and poetry are commonly associated with Pakistan’s and India’s Muslim population, according to Kirk, and it remains intensely popular in the region — poetry recitals sometimes attract gatherings of thousands of people.

“It does show a willingness to understand that part of the world,” says Kirk.

And in general, it gives Obama further credibility as a supporter of the arts. Not only is he one of three American presidents to have poetry read at their Inaugurations, but he reads the stuff, too!

Want to dig into Urdu poetry? Here’s an example of what awaits you:

To hell with all hindering walls and doors!
Love’s eye sees as feather and wing, walls and doors.
My flooded eyes blur the house
Doors and walls becoming walls and doors.
There is no shelter: my love is on her way,
They’ve gone ahead in greeting, walls and doors.
The wine of your splendor floods
Your street, intoxicating walls and doors.

(Translated by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi and Frances W. Pritchett)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time for a Common Vision?

Islamists and the West: Time for a Common Vision?

If you are a moderate Israeli or Palestinian, Jew or a Muslim, you will find value in this piece by Ahmed Yousef.

The real enemies of Peace in the Middle East are the right wingers on both sides of the issue. They are the ones who believe in annihilation of the other to achieve peace, dialogue is not part of their brain system. Sadly, we the Americans are duped by our media to see only one point of view without questioning it, some of us have lost to see another point of view at all.

The right wingers on either side of the issue may not like this piece as they may never had an opportunity to extricate themselves from the massive doses of propaganda they may have inhaled.

The goal should be peace – Hope for Palestinians to live a normal human life and Security for Israelis who can live a normal daily life.

Two critical things emerge in this commentary;

i) “The Palestinian cause lives in the hearts and minds of 1.5 billion Muslims spread over five continents. It is the pivotal factor in matters of war, peace, as well as other complex problems in the Middle East. Thus, a just resolution of the Palestinian case is vital for achieving stability, security, and prosperity in what is called the Middle East arc of crisis.” Indeed, this issue is the epicenter of a whole lot of problems, the Muslims have been talking about it, writing about it, but American Media had no inclination to pick on this.

ii) “Thus Hamas (both as a movement and as a government) fell victim to the misguided policies of the George W. Bush administration not only toward the Palestinian people and their national cause but also toward the peoples of the Arab and Islamic regions more broadly." And I would add, toward the people of Israel. The Neocons have done more harm to Israel's security than Hamas could ever dream of.

While Hamas Charter calls for annihilation of Israel, the Israeli leaders have called for the elimination of the Palestinians, both are wrong and both really don’t mean it, but use it to dig in their heels and literally impose their thoughts on to the common Israelis and Palestinians.

Full story:

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, Terrorism, India, Islam, Peace and civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and several Blogs listed on his personal website

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Essence of God and Religion

Pluralist Mike Ghouse sees opportunity for faith discussion after Holocaust Museum shooting .

By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News

Carrollton resident Mike Ghouse was horrified when he heard last week that a security guard had been shot to death at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Mike Ghouse discusses interfaith tolerance and under- standing online and on air.

"I thought, 'Why do people have hate?' " said Ghouse, who 15 years ago founded the Foundation for Pluralism. "That was my first response."

The 57-year-old homebuilder and property manager sees the tragedy as a way for people to discuss their separate faiths, to forge understanding and to defuse religious tensions. His foundation's mission is to embrace the ecumenical ways of the world.

"There is not a faith we haven't covered," he says.

Ghouse is a Muslim who originally emigrated from the Bangalore area of India about 30 years ago.

"I will never claim my faith is superior to others," he said. "Every faith is beautiful to me. The inability to accept the differences of others causes conflict."

Ghouse is a frequent-flier in cyberspace, and many of his commentaries on ecumenical respect can be found at , on Facebook and on Twitter. The multilingual Ghouse also started talk shows on the radio geared toward the Diaspora from India and Pakistan. And when weekend worship comes, Ghouse visits services at Muslim mosques, Hindu temples, Jewish synagogues and Catholic churches.

His own daughter was so swept up by her father's pluralism that she became a Baptist.

# # #

Pluralism; the Essence of God and Religion

Mike Ghouse

Thanks to Dallas Morning News for sharing different religious ideas with the public.

Pluralism is not a religion, but a practice of 'living and letting others live'. It is simply an attitude of accepting the otherness of other and respecting the God given uniqueness of each one of us. Pluralism is an attitude of religious co-existence, letting others be who they are and resisting the temptations to look down upon others who believe differently. What is the need and the authority for it?

The fact of the matters is we exist, and we can trace us back to a singular source be it the intelligent design, big bang or the evolution. For the sake of using a common word or a generally acceptable identification we can call that causer, creator and the sustainer, a God.

When the matter and life came into being, each one was designed to seek its own balance. For example, the Planet has been set to circumambulate around the sun precisely for millions of years, it has its own place in the scheme of things, and designed to stay on its course, it respects the other planets and stars and does not collide with others.

Whereas the humans were not put on that trajectory, they were given the freedom to create their own space and balance. The creator is all about love and reached out to each one of the seven billion of us and delivered a beautiful formula (religion) through the spiritual masters to live in peace with oneself and others. God did not sign a deal behind any one's back that he will favor one over the other, or he will privilege one or the other, he just cannot do that, if he did, he would be a sneaky God and that is not what God is all about. Just as we love whatever little we create, God loves us all despite our shortcomings. He blessed us with an opportunity to be his best in creating balanced societies (own family to the world) where one can live without fear of any kind, where justness is the norm of the society.

Each one of us is dear to the creator and it is our individual and collective responsibility to keep that ecological, social, moral or spiritual balance within us and with what surrounds us; life and environment. Those of us who sin, i.e., creating an imbalance in the society through murder, theft, falsities or taking advantage of others, will pay a price for it in terms of un-settling emotions and discomfort within. Those who work for keeping that balance intact rejoice a balanced tranquil life.

To be religious is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill, indeed that is the purpose of all spiritual systems from Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every tradition in between.

Jesus was a Pluralist, he embraced every one and set the example to us that we should not reject any one because they are lepers, prostitutes or whatever we differ from, he was representing God's point of view. Moses was a Pluralist uniting the tribes to live in peace under One God; Muhammad was a Pluralist who brought all the differing tribes and faiths to co-exist and live their own traditions under the Madinah pact and he declared no man is superior to the other and that all are equal (acknowledging the otherness of other) in God's presence. Buddha was a Pluralist and taught the principle of pain (internal hell) and pleasure (paradise), Mahavir taught to accept the different views to find solace within; Krishna the Pluralist said whenever there is immorality on the earth, he will emerge and bring the balance back to the society; Zarathustra taught the concept of what is good and bad some five thousand years ago; Pluralist Nanak said service to mankind with a blind eye amounts to creating beautiful societies, and Bahaullah, the pluralist said we are all one race and one humankind and all religions are beautiful. The Shamans in Cherokee, Mayan, Toltec and all other native traditions in America, Africa, Europe, Australia and Asia taught us to co-exist, live together with our differences. They were all God's men and women and God is all about pluralism; i.e. co-existence.

I am personally blessed to have a pluralistic environment around me, my family members and friends are made of many faiths, races and cultures and I honor each one of them, we are a part of the same (God’s) creation. It is beautiful to feel love towards every human regardless of their make up, try it you may fall in love with the idea and enjoy the serenity of life.

I will be happy to speak to your group be it in a Church or a civic place. A day is coming when you find every faith, race and ethnicities will live in the same neighborhood, same street and the same community. We have to learn to keep that balance and it comes from learning to accept the otherness of other, and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, terrorism, peace, interfaith, Islam, civic issues and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network offering a pluralistic perspectives on issues of the day. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at




Saturday, June 13, 2009

Analyzing Obama Speech - CSID

Analyzing Obama's Speech to the Muslim World

The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) co-hosted a panel discussion on Thursday, June 4, 2009 entitled "Analyzing Obama's Speech to the Muslim World." The panelists were Geneive Abdo of The Century Foundation, Richard Eisendorf of Freedom House and Will Marshall, of the Progressive Policy Institute. Radwan Masmoudi, President of CSID, moderated the panel.

Masmoudi expressed his apprehension that President Obama would not prominently feature democracy and human rights in his speech. He was pleasantly surprised, however, that democracy was among the speech's main themes. He noted that after twenty years of deterioration of US-Muslim relations due to mistrust, misunderstandings and a lack of information and knowledge on both sides, President Obama's speech set a new course. And while Obama's speech opened hearts and minds in the Muslim world, Masmoudi warned that people in the region would expect concrete, policy-based follow up to his words.

Marshall labeled the speech as "masterful;" noting Obama' unique ability to delicately address complicated issues while simultaneously providing clear solutions in his speeches. As a corollary, he contrasted Bush's use of the imperative voice in communicating with the Muslim world with Obama's deft tone imbued with honesty and respect. He argued that this approach had a disarming effect to those who are inherently distrustful of the United States and burdens its detractors to justify their clichéd beliefs.

While his overall assessment was positive, Marshall insisted on including three caveats to his praise. First, he worried that Obama's message of reconciliation conceded too much to the al-Qaeda narrative of victimization. Marshall argued that it was not Obama's role to reinforce Muslim feelings of identity politics; rather, it was his duty to debunk them. Second, he noted that the historical animosity between the US and the Muslim world would not change in one speech. He argued that Obama spoke to a tough-minded audience and that radicalism and extremism would not bend to rhetorical sweet-talking. In this vein insisted that values should guide US policy and that America should reap the consequences of such an endeavor. Third, he argued that for Obama's efforts to be seen as a departure from Bush-era policies ignores the real problem of fifty years of America's short-minded policies of allying with expedient allies against Communism and radical Islamism. This track record only reinforced his belief that the United States must align with ordinary people's aspirations against their governments and not step back from promoting democracy.

Geneive Abdo characterized Obama's approach as "evasive" and devoid of any real policy prescriptions. And while he addressed buzzwords such as colonialism and occupation, she argued Obama's approach was not nearly expansive enough. She continued by noting how Obama's rhetorical brilliance raised expectation so high that Iran and al-Qaeda had preemptively issued statements responding to his speech. She continued by critiquing Obama's use of extremism as a foil in his speech. She argued that the debate was already well beyond this dichotomy and that Obama should have used his speech to address the political, economic and social reasons for extremism's regional constituency.

She also noted the originality of using the affluence and freedom of America's Muslim community as an argument in the US's favor. She did not think this argument would be particularly persuasive given the divergence of circumstances among Muslims in the United States and the Middle East. On the War in Iraq, Abdo criticized the president for not apologizing for the invasion and not offering concrete plans for the country. She did admit, however, that he at least repudiated the Bush notion that Iraq was a war of necessity and not one of choice. Abdo also believed that Obama criticized the Palestinians far more than the Israelis in his speech, but did note how the president's tough rhetoric revealed a burgeoning rift between the US and Israel. In summation, she graded the presentation of his remarks highly but felt the substance of the speech was mediocre and that the conflict between the two sides was rooted in policy and not a lack of respect.

Richard Eisendorf noted the choice of Cairo as the venue for the speech as the center of the Arab world and that the diversity of the crowd represented the full breadth of Egyptian public opinion. He then pointed to the loud applause during sections on democracy and human rights as evidence the crowd was not full of Mubarak loyalists. Acknowledging the concerns of his fellow panelists, he asserted that while policy follow up to the speech will be the most important element of his outreach to the Muslim world, the speech did leave a very strong feeling of respect in the way the United States under Obama intends to reach out to the Muslim world. He also pointed to the three D's the administration has heretofore considered the cornerstones of its foreign policy: diplomacy, development and defense. He argued that in the president's speech he appeared to add the fourth 'D' of democracy to the fold.

Eisendorf also highlighted the shift Obama intended to make from Bush policies and how that would affect public opinion in the region. He specifically mentioned the straightforward manner in which Obama addressed the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He also noted the significance of the president's use of the word 'Palestine' and other key buzzwords. In addition, he believed many in the region would find his rhetoric on this issue insufficient. As a final point, Eisendorf felt Obama finally established his doctrine of 'quiet diplomacy based on mutual respect.'

In his summary statement, Masmoudi noted that while the tone of the speech was largely positive, it only represented the beginning of the administration's engagement with the Muslim world and that implementing the ideas of the speech would be a tremendous challenge. Meeting this challenge, he said, would require the concerted effort both by the domestic American reform constituency as well as positive steps by the Muslim world.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Muslims Condemn display of hate at Holocaust Museum

Muslims Condemn display of hate at Holocaust Museum As Americans and as Muslims, we condemn this expression of hate; killing innocent people at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.



Sunday, June 7, 2009

OBAMA : Uri Avnery on Cairo speech

Uri Avnery

I am pleased to share the article by Mr. Uri Avnery, a shining example of a Jewish man who would stand for justice. He is not alone, the moderate majority of Jews want justice and fairness, but have not been able to speak up against the mighty bulldozer of the extremist Jews.

The time for moderates has come now, the moderates who care about every soul including the extremists, thank God, the moderates are speaking up. The world would be a better place if the Neocons * put their efforts in bettering the world than creating chaos.

I am pleased to share Uri Avnery’s article on Obama’s speech, Uri is another Jewish intellectuals who gets branded “self-hating Jew” by the extremist among Jews. They do that with all who speak justice and long term peace and security for the people of not only Israel, but also the Palestinians. The moderats follow the Jewish tradition of Justice where as our Neocon extremists including the Lobby, the Netanyahu’s, Lieberman, Barak, Pipes and their likes are bent on creating further imbalance in the society and prolonging the fear and insecurity for Jews.

Indeed, this group is really the enemy of Israel and I pray that the moderate majority recognizes this and takes the right step in encouraging actions and words that will eventually bring them peace, not just for them, but for every one in the region.

Israel cannot have sustainable peace when others around her aren't. Time for the moderates in Israel and Palestine to take charge.

Mike Ghouse

# # #

The Tone and the Music

ONE MAN spoke to the world, and the world listened.

He walked onto the stage in Cairo, alone, without hosts and without aides, and delivered a sermon to an audience of billions. Egyptians and Americans, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, Sunnis and Shiites, Copts and Maronites – and they all listened attentively.

He unfolded before them the map of a new world, a different world, whose values and laws he spelled out in simple and clear language - a mixture of idealism and practical politics, vision and pragmatism.

Barack Hussein Obama – as he took pains to call himself – is the most powerful man on earth. Every word he utters is a political fact.

“A HISTORIC SPEECH”, pronounced commentators in a hundred languages. I prefer another adjective:

The speech was right.

Every word was in its place, every sentence precise, and every tone in harmony. The masterpiece of a man bringing a new message to the world.

From the very first word, every listener in the hall and in the world felt the honesty of the man, that his heart and his tongue were in harmony, that this is not a politician of the old familiar sort – hypocritical, sanctimonious, calculating. His body language was speaking, and so were his facial expressions

That’s why the speech was so important. The new moral integrity and the sense of honesty increased the impact of the revolutionary content.

AND A REVOLUTIONARY speech it certainly was.

In 55 minutes, it not only wiped away the eight years of George W. Bush, but also much of the preceding decades, from World War II on.

The American ship has turned – not with the sluggishness everyone would have expected, but with the agility of a speedboat.

That is much more than a political change. It touches the roots of the American national consciousness. The President spoke to hundreds of million US citizens no less than to a billion Muslims.

The American culture is based on the myth of the Wild West, with its Good Guys and Bad Guys, violent justice, dueling under the midday sun. Since the American nation is composed of immigrants from all over the world, its unity seems to require a threatening, world-encompassing evil enemy, like the Nazis and the Japs, or the Commies. After the collapse of the Soviet empire, this role was taken over by Islam.

Cruel, fanatical, bloodthirsty Islam; Islam as the religion of murder and destruction; an Islam lusting for the blood of women and children. This enemy captured the imagination of the masses and supplied material for television and cinema. It provided lecture topics for learned professors and fresh inspiration for popular writers. The White House was occupied by a moron who declared a world-wide “War on Terrorism”.

When Obama is now uprooting this myth, he is revolutionizing American culture. He wipes away the picture of one enemy, without painting another in its place. He preaches against the violent, adversary attitude itself, and starts to work to replace it with a culture of partnership between nations, civilizations and religions.

I see Obama as the first great messenger of the 21st century. He is the son of a new era, where the economy is global and the whole of humanity faces the danger to the very existence of life on the planet Earth. An era where the Internet connects a boy in New Zealand with a girl in Namibia in real time, where a disease in a small Mexican village spreads all over the globe within days.

This world needs a world law, a world order, a world democracy. That’s why this speech really was historic: Obama outlined the basic contours of a world constitution.

WHILE OBAMA proclaims the 21st century, the government of Israel is returning to the 19th.

That was the century when a narrow, egocentric, aggressive nationalism took root in many countries. A century that sanctified the belligerent nation which oppresses minorities and subdues neighbors. The century that gave birth to modern anti-Semitism and to its response – modern Zionism.

Obama’s vision is not anti-national. He spoke with pride about the American nation. But his nationalism is of another sort: an inclusive, multi-cultural and non-sexist nationalism, which includes all the citizens of a country and respects other nations.

This is the nationalism of the 21st century, which is inexorably striving towards supranational, regional and world-wide structures.

Compared to this, how miserable is the mental world of the Israeli Right! How miserable is the violent, fanatical-religious world of the settlers, the chauvinist ghetto of Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak, the racist-fascist closed-in world of their Kahanist allies!

One has to understand this moral and spiritual dimension of Obama’s speech before considering its political implications. Not only in the political sphere are Obama and Netanyahu on a collision course. The underlying collision is between two mental worlds which are as distinct from each other as the sun and the moon.

In Obama’s mental world, there is no place for the Israeli Right or its equivalents elsewhere. Not for their terminology, not for their “values”, and still less for their actions.

IN THE political sphere, too, a huge gap has opened up between the governments of Israel and the USA.

During the last few years, successive Israeli governments have ridden the wave of Islamophobia that has spread throughout the West. The Islamic world was considered the deadly enemy, America was galloping grimly towards the Clash of Civilizations, every Muslim was a potential terrorist.

Israel’s right-wing leaders could rejoice. After all, the Palestinians are Arabs, the Arabs are Muslims, the Muslims are Terrorists – so that Israel was assured a central place in the war of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness.

That was a Garden of Eden for racist demagogues. Avigdor Lieberman could advocate the expulsion of the Arabs from Israel, Ellie Yishai could enact laws for the revocation of the citizenship of non-Jews. Obscure Members of the Knesset could grab headlines with bills that might have been conceived in Nuremberg.

This Garden of Eden is no more. Whether the implications will become clear quickly or slowly - the direction is obvious. If we continue on our path, we will become a leper colony.

THE TONE makes the music – and this applies also to the President’s words on Israel and Palestine. He spoke at length about the Holocaust – honest and courageous words, full of empathy and compassion, which were received by the Egyptians in silence but with respect. He stressed Israel’s right to exist. And without pausing, he spoke about the suffering of the Palestinian refugees, the intolerable situation of the Palestinians in Gaza, Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own.

He spoke respectfully about Hamas. Not anymore as a “terrorist organization”, but as a part of the Palestinian people. He demanded that they recognize Israel and stop violence, but also hinted that he would welcome a Palestinian unity government.

The political message was clear and unequivocal: the Two-State Solution will be put into practice. He himself will see to that. Settlement activity must cease. Unlike his predecessors, he did not stop at speaking about “Palestinians”, but uttered the decisive word: “Palestine” – the name of a state and a territory.

And no less important: the Iran war has been struck from the agenda. The dialogue with Tehran, as a part of the new world, is not limited in time. As from now, no one can even dream about an American OK for an Israeli attack.

HOW DID official Israel respond? The first reaction was denial. “An unimportant speech”. “There was nothing new”. The establishment commentators picked out a few pro-Israeli sentences from the text and ignored all the others. And after all, “these are just words. So he talked. Nothing will come out of it.”

That is nonsense. The words of the President of the United States are more than just words. They are political facts. They change the perceptions of hundreds of millions. The Muslim public listened. The American public listened. It may take some time for the message to sink in. But after this speech, the pro-Israel lobby will never be the same as it was before. The era of “foile shtik” (Yiddish for sneaky tricks) is over. The sly dishonesty of a Shimon Peres, the guileful deceits of an Ehud Olmert, the sweet talking of a Bibi Netanyahu – all these belong to the past.

The Israeli people must now decide: whether to follow the right-wing government towards an inevitable collision with Washington, as the Jews did 1940 years ago when they followed the Zealots into a suicidal war on Rome – or to join Obama’s march towards a new world.

** (extremists in all faiths – who don’t believe in dialogue, who want to see others annihilated and of course promoting hate and chaos is their source of income)

Friday, June 5, 2009

OBAMA : Essence of Cairo speech

President Obama emphasized and built upon the idea of co-existence and challenged fellow humans to think in those terms. It is a change he has talked about, and has now delivered to the world wide audience who is ready to absorb it.

God wants his creation to learn to accept the otherness of other and respect the uniqueness bestowed upon each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge to pave the way for peaceful co-existence. That is indeed God’s will and the message from Zarathustra, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Mahavir, Jesus, Mohammad, Nanak, Bahaullah and many a spiritual masters in Native American, African and other traditions.

It is one of the most powerful speeches in pluralism ever! It brings the world towards justice and balance. No nation or community can have advantages over the other; such benefits are deleterious and are counter productive in making of the peaceful societies.

You simply cannot have peace and security when others around you don’t.

He spoke for the silent moderate majority of the people, regardless of their faith or nationality; he spoke for a very large audience. Perhaps it has happened for the first time in human history.

He did not appease any one nor did he offend any one.
He spoke what was needed to be said and he was frank and fair.
He stressed the need for a dialogue.
He assured the Israelis his support.
He was firm with the Israelis to stop settlements as they are the impediments to peace.
He acknowledged the suffering of the Palestinians
He spoke about the hopes and aspirations of all human beings.
He asked the silent majority to take charge.

Mike Ghouse is a Dallas based Speaker, Writer, Thinker and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and television networks offering pluralistic perspectives on issues of the day including Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, Peace, India and Civic issues. His comments, news analysis and opinions are on the Blogs listed at his personal website Mike is a Dallasite for three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at

OBAMA : Huffington Post

Aaron Zelinsky has done an honest job of researching every critical sentence that the President used in his speech, regardless of whether it was referred in Bible, Qur'aan or Torah.

As a Pluralist thinker and a Muslim, the phrase "hell fire" was interesting to me to study and think about its implications.

Every word starts out with a certain meaning, and over a period of time, it gets narrowed or broadened. Then what the hell the phrase “hell fire” really means? To a lot of people it conjures up the image of real fire which is hot, unbearable and painful. That is how Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Hindu parishioners have put it out for consumption; Hell, Jahannam & Naraka in English, Arabic and Sanskrit respectively. Although the description is not there in Buddhist, Jain and several other scriptures, the belief is out there in the society at large. Did those masters have an experience watching any one burning? Do they relate burning as the ultimate pain?

I wonder if God would have chosen a different language to describe the punishment. (per the Faith they are the words of God) Had God delivered that message in Texas, would he have used "electric chair" instead? Given the rope to hang in Nigeria? Or ordered incarceration in Europe or stoning to death in Afghanistan or something else in other parts of the world? God only knows.
The phrase "hell fire" is looked down upon as primitive, without giving a regard to what it means; punishment for wrong doing. The threat of punishment to the violators of the law of the land is consistent. Without the threat of punishment, the society will become chaotic and no one will feel secure and safe. Imagine a day where our Criminal laws say - "there shall be no punishment for murderers" and the "rapists go free". Think about it, the phrase "hell fire" may simply mean severe punishment and may not be the imaginary fire.

Non-believer and the hell fire; religion is an instrument of peace, following which brings tranquility to individuals and peace and orderliness in the society. Non-believers are not those who do not subscribe to a particular format of God, but those who do not believe in the laws of the society designed to keep law and order leading to justice and peace.

It is a paradigm change for many believers, but we have to start finding means to create societies where all of us can co-exist despite our differences. The societies are not exclusive any more; the day is not far where no neighborhood will have exclusive faith, race or ethnicity. All of God's creation will live in every neighborhood. God's words are larger and we need to expand our brains to embrace that largeness of the creator.

Punishment is indeed a deterrent to a larger extent in any given society, an overwhelming majority of people are law abiding, and for the ones one margin, punishment is a deterrent. However a small fraction of (Less than1/10th of 1% of any group) the population will commit the crimes and nothing deters them.

The hallmark of civil societies is to take the responsibility for creating a better society. We know that physiological and psychological make up of an individual is usually responsible for the crime he or she commits. We need to take some responsibility for that make up, and instead of putting them on electric chair, we need to work on rehabilitating them and bring them back into the society as productive members. Condemning the individual is the last thing we need to do.

Mike Ghouse is a Dallas based Speaker, Writer, Thinker and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and television networks offering pluralistic perspectives on issues of the day including Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, Peace, India and Civic issues. His comments, news analysis and opinions are on the Blogs listed at his personal website Mike is a Dallasite for three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at


Cooperation and Conflict - Cairo speech

In Cairo, President Obama employed a variety of historical, liturgical, and political references to express America's hope for a new beginning with the Islamic world.

Obama also noted that, "The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars." His speech's references embody this tension, containing potential for both cooperation and conflict.

Here are ten critical lines from Obama's Cairo speech and the potential for cooperation and conflict they embody:

1. "I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum."

Obama opens by invoking the customary greeting, "Peace be upon you," and he uses the appropriate plural ending. He also sets the cooperative tone of the speech, in which he hopes for a new beginning of peace.

2. "As the Holy Koran tells us, 'Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.' That is what I will try to do - to speak the truth as best I can[.]"

This line, from Surah al-Ahzaab, illustrates the admirable desire to speak freely and frankly. However, the Al-Ahzaab focuses on the confederacy of the non-believers that the Muslim armies fought. Surrounding passages describe the "Fire" awaiting non-believers and the leaders who have misled their people.

3." I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, 'The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.'"

The history of the Treaty of Tripoli exemplifies the history of cooperation and conflict between America and the Islamic world. On the cooperative front, the Treaty's signature line reads: "Signed and sealed at Algiers, the 4th day of Argill, 1211--corresponding with the 3d day of January, 1797."

However, Obama quoted only the second half of the first sentence of Article 11 of the Treaty, likely because of the contemporary domestic conflict the full sentence would engender. The first sentence of Article 11 reads in full: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Mussulmen." Mindful of the domestic conflict the opening line may bring, Obama avoids its discussion.

Additionally, Obama does not provide the Treaty's complete title: "Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary." There are at least two reasons for Obama's truncation. First, the full title is too cumbersome. Second, and more significantly, the complete title reflects the troubled aftermath of the Treaty: The Barbary War against the Barbary Pirates. In 1801, the Treaty was broken by the Pasha of Tripoli, and Thomas Jefferson responded with war. The conflict lives on in the opening lines of the Marines' Hymn: ""From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli."

4. "We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: 'Out of many, one.'"

These words appear on every coin minted since 1873 and on the Seal of the United States. While the phrase originally referred to the political unification of the thirteen disparate colonies into one nation, Obama employs it to reference the pluralistic and multicultural nature of America. The famous phrase echoes a tension between cooperation and conflict present in both federalism and pluralism: How much must the individual surrender to become part of the collective? How much power should states retain, and what restrictions can society place on individual autonomy?

5. "The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind."

Here, Obama quotes a famous passage from Surah Al-Maidah, This Surah is also cited by extremists, who point to the later verse: "Surely (as for) those who disbelieve, even if they had what is in the earth, all of it, and the like of it with it, that they might ransom themselves with it from the punishment of the day of resurrection, it shall not be accepted from them, and they shall have a painful punishment."

6. "Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: 'I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.'"

The preceding line in Jefferson's letter of June 12, 1815 is more ominous and less multilateral: "Not in our day, but at no distant one, we may shake a rod over the heads of all, which may make the stoutest of them tremble."

7. "All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when . . . when the Holy Land [is] . . . a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer."

The Isra is documented in the Surah Al-Isra, and is more widely explicated in the Hadith, the Islamic oral tradition. The Isra (together with the Mi'raj) is known more widely in English as the Night Journey, when Mohammed's journeyed from Mecca to Jerusalem, ascended to heaven, and returned in a single night. The Surah Al-Isra also contains the more divisive phrase: "And that (as for) those who do not believe in the hereafter, We have prepared for them a painful punishment."

8. "There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples - a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew."

Here, Obama references Luke 6:31: "Do to others as you would have them do to you," which he also referenced at Notre Dame. Luke 6:49 is less supportive: "But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."

9. "The Holy Koran tells us, 'O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.'

"The Talmud tells us: 'The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.'

"The Holy Bible tells us, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.'"

First, Obama quotes the Surah Al-Hujurat, which earlier declares: "He has made hateful to you unbelief and transgression and disobedience." Second, Obama references Talmud Gittin, which, on the proceeding page, refers to Solomon's execution of his teacher, Shimei Ben Gera. Finally, Obama references the Book of Matthew, which contains harsher words later in the chapter: "But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."

10. The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you.

Obama ends the speech with the English translation of his opening "assalaamu alaykum," which is also the traditional departing greeting. Thus, while Obama's speech contains the echoes of cooperation and conflict, he opens and closes with an unambiguous hope for a new beginning of peace, cooperation, and co-existence.

Full disclosure: I have checked all Aramaic, English, Hebrew, and Latin references myself; for the references to the Koran I have used an English translation.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

OBAMA : Cairo speech

President Obama emphasized and built upon the idea of co-existence and challenged fellow humans to think in those terms. It is a change he has talked about, and has now delivered to the world wide audience who is ready to absorb it.

God wants his creation to learn to accept the otherness of other and respect the uniqueness bestowed upon each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge to pave the way for peaceful co-existence. That is indeed God’s will and the message from Zarathustra, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Mahavir, Jesus, Mohammad, Nanak, Bahaullah and many a spiritual masters in Native American, African and other traditions.

Here is the trancript of President Obama's Cairo speech followed
by comments from various writers.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Office of the Press Secretary


Cairo University
Cairo, Egypt

1:10 P.M. (Local)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning; and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. And together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I'm grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. And I'm also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalaamu alaykum. (Applause.)

We meet at a time of great 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 coexistence 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 11, 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. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on 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.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there's been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." (Applause.) That is what I will try to do today -- to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I'm a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam -- at places like Al-Azhar -- that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities -- (applause) -- it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality. (Applause.)

I also know that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President, John Adams, wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they've excelled in our sports arenas, they've won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers -- Thomas Jefferson -- kept in his personal library. (Applause.)

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear. (Applause.)

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. (Applause.) Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words -- within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum -- "Out of many, one."

Now, much has been made of the fact that an African American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. (Applause.) But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores -- and that includes nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and educational levels that are higher than the American average. (Applause.)

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That's why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it. (Applause.)

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations -- to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. (Applause.) That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

And this is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared. (Applause.)

Now, that does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: We must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and as plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. (Applause.) We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security -- because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity. I'm aware that there's still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Now, make no mistake: We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We see no military -- we seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

And that's why we're partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths -- but more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as -- it is as if he has killed all mankind. (Applause.) And the Holy Koran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. (Applause.) The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism -- it is an important part of promoting peace.

Now, we also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who've been displaced. That's why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend on.

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. (Applause.) Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future -- and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. And I have made it clear to the Iraqi people -- (applause) -- I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. And that's why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012. (Applause.) We will help Iraq train its security forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget our principles. Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. (Applause.)

So America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they've endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations -- large and small -- that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. (Applause.)

For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It's easy to point fingers -- for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. (Applause.)

That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires. (Applause.) The obligations -- the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them -- and all of us -- to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That's not how moral authority is claimed; that's how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.) This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. (Applause.)

And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel's legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. (Applause.) We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have been shed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra -- (applause) -- as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer. (Applause.)

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I've made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude, and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It's about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that's why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. (Applause.) And any nation -- including Iran -- should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I'm hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. (Applause.)

I know -- I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere. (Applause.)

Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments -- provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. (Applause.) So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Barack Obama, we love you!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it's being challenged in many different ways.

Among some Muslims, there's a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of somebody else's faith. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld -- whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. (Applause.) And if we are being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims, as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That's why I'm committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.

Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit -- for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.

In fact, faith should bring us together. And that's why we're forging service projects in America to bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That's why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action -- whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.

The sixth issue -- the sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights. (Applause.) I know –- I know -- and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. (Applause.) And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now, let me be clear: Issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, we've seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons. (Applause.) Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity -- men and women -- to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. And that is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams. (Applause.)

Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and change in communities. In all nations -- including America -- this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities -- those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradictions between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies enormously while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf states have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century -- (applause) -- and in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas. I'm emphasizing such investment within my own country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America. (Applause.) At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs. We'll open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops. Today I'm announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world that we seek -- a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

I know there are many -- Muslim and non-Muslim -- who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort -- that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There's so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country -- you, more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort -- a sustained effort -- to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. It's easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There's one rule that lies at the heart of every religion -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Applause.) This truth transcends nations and peoples -- a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us: "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The Holy Bible tells us: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Applause.)

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

2:05 P.M. (Local)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Harsh Turn against Israel

A Rapid and Harsh Turn against Israel
Mike Ghouse comments on the article by Mr. Pipes below

The enemies of Israel are not Palestinians or the Arabs; it is the leadership of Israel and a few American Neocons who are messing it up. Mr. Pipes and his likes have not done much towards reconciliation and mitigating the conflicts, instead they are master aggravators.

The words and actions of Netanyahu and their likes will guarantee the conflict for another decade. Do the Israeli Citizens deserve these rascals?

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, peace, Islam, Israel and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at


Muslims in America not for domination

Muslims are in America to live their American dream, and NOT to dominate or impose Sharia Laws.

$5000 REWARD

The Neocons* are fabricating and propagating the idea that Muslims are invading America to dominate and impose Sharia Laws without any substantiation. Cashing in on fears is Neocon modus operandi. They know how to scare the devil out of those few self proclaimed conservative Americans, and get them to open their check books, and the poor suckers pay the ransom.

Muslims have no ambitions of making Islam a dominant religion or imposing Sharia Laws in the United States. A few individual may say that for a few claps, but for every creep who runs his mouth with a Muslim label, you will find a lot more of them with other faith labels. The good news is that there are thousands of Muslims out there who will speak out against such non-sense and I am one.

Full article:

Mike Ghouse
Sounding off the voices of a majority of Muslims.

Mike presides the World Muslim Congress, a think tank with a mission, what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the World and vice-versa to sustain it. He believes that to be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and mater. Indeed, that is the purpose of religion, any religion.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dumb Republicans

Dumb Republicans

I am a Republican and have voted Republican all along, except the President where I had voted for Kerry and Obama. Not only I voted for Obama, I campaigned and held ralliles for him.

A majority of us Republicans are moderates who want to get along with every one and envision a better world for one and all; a characteristic of all majorities. Unfortunately our party is infested by a few extremists and shamelessly the majority of us are silently enduring the collapse of our party. A few who are confused want to hang on to the Palins, McCains, Gingrichs, Romney’s, Rove’s, Limbaugh’s and others who are the very reason for this wreckage. Their creepy presence will have us lose some more Senate and congressional seats in 2010.

During the election campaign, any three minutes McCain or Romney had on the television they spilled nothing but hate and destruction or bombing others. That is not what we want, hence the Republicans dumped them.

Have you ever heard these guys speak about peace, civility, dialogue and co-existence? How can they? They are obsessed with fear and cannot think of peace for themselves or the Americans. They cloak themselves in Patriotism and Religion, as if others are not. The Limbaughs, Hannity's, Rileys and several others made their money by selling hate and fear, they made their good. We Americans are not dumb to keep buying their stupidities. They got us by our balls by lying to us and frightening the crap out of us after 9/11, but not any more. They have done more harm to our nation than any one else has ever done before, and now they deserve to be dumped.
Listen to them; “With "empathy" reframed in this way, Charles Krauthammer can say, echoing Karl Rove, "Justice is not about empathy." As the author below adds, “People without social emotions like empathy are not objective decision-makers. They are sociopaths who sometimes end up on death row.”

“What about Newt Gingrich calling Sotomayor a racist?” He was the same guy who was fooling around with another woman while accusing Clinton for the very same thing. The dumb Republicans in charge still give him the room to speak?

There is hope for us, if the silent majority of the Republicans have the balls to speak up and start purging the right winger extremists, we have a chance of regaining or perhaps gaining some seats in congress and senate and preserve our system of checks and balances. I would like to see a Republican Senate majority and Democrat Congressional majority, that way no decisions will be made without due deliberations. But we have to get smart and speak up.

Mike Ghouse is a Dallas based Writer, Blogger, Speaker, Thinker and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television networks offering pluralistic perspectives on issues of the day. His comments, news analysis and op-ed columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal site

Empathy, Sotomayor, and Democracy:
The Conservative Stealth Strategy
Sunday 31 May 2009
by: George Lakoff, t r u t h o u t Perspective

The Sotomayor nomination has given radical conservatives new life. They have launched an attack that is nominally aimed at Judge Sotomayor. But it is really a coordinated stealth attack - on President Obama's central vision, on progressive thought itself, and on Republicans who might stray from the conservative hard line.

There are several fronts: empathy, feelings, racism, activist judges. Each one has a hidden dimension. And if progressives think conservative attacks are just about Sotomayor, they may wind up helping conservatives regroup.

Conservatives believe that Sotomayor will be confirmed, and so their attacks may seem irrational to Democrats, a last gasp, a grasping at straws, a sign that the party is breaking up.Actually, something sneakier and possibly dangerous is going on.

Let's start with the attack on empathy. Why empathy? Isn't empathy a good thing? Empathy is at the heart of progressive thought. It is the capacity to put oneself in the shoes of others - not just individuals, but whole categories of people: one's countrymen, those in other countries, other living beings, especially those who are in some way oppressed, threatened, or harmed. Empathy is the capacity to care, to feel what others feel, to understand what others are facing and what their lives are like. Empathy extends well beyond feeling to understanding, and it extends beyond individuals to groups, communities, peoples, even species. Empathy is at the heart of real rationality, because it goes to the heart of our values, which are the basis of our sense of justice.

Progressives care about others as well as themselves. They have a moral obligation to act on their empathy - a social responsibility in addition to personal responsibility, a responsibility to make the world better by making themselves better. This leads to a view of a government that cares about its citizens and has a moral obligation to protect and empower them. Protection includes worker, consumer, and environmental protection as well as safety nets and health care. Empowerment includes what is in the president's stimulus plan: infrastructure, education, communication, energy, the availability of credit from banks, a stock market that works. No one can earn anything at all in this country without protection and empowerment by the government. All progressive legislation is made on this basis.

The president wrote of empathy in The Audacity of Hope, "It is at the heart of my moral code and it is how I understand the Golden Rule - not simply as a call to sympathy or charity, but as something more demanding, a call to stand in somebody else's shoes and see through their eyes."
President Obama has argued that empathy is the basis of our democracy. Why do we promote freedom and fairness for everyone, not just ourselves or the rich and powerful? The answer is empathy. We care about our countrymen and have an obligation to act on that care, and to set up a government for the protection and empowerment of all. That is at the heart of everything he does.

The link between empathy and democracy has been established historically by Professor Lynn Hunt of UCLA in her important book, Inventing Human Rights. To hear her speak, go to

The link between empathy and progressive thought is spelled out in my book Moral Politics and in my new book The Political Mind, just out in paperback (

In describing his ideal Supreme Court justice, President Obama cited empathy as a major desideratum. Why? Because that is what our democracy is about. A justice has to take empathy into account because his or her decisions will affect the lives of others. Before making a decision you have to put yourself in the shoes of those who your decision will affect. Similarly, in judging causation, fairness requires that social causes as well as individual causes be taken into account. Empathy forces you to notice what is crucial in so many Supreme Court cases: systemic and social causes and whom a decision can harm. As such, empathy correctly understood is crucial to judgment. A judge without empathy is a judge unfit for a democracy.

President Obama has described Justice Sotomayor in empathetic terms - a life story that would lead her to understand people who live through oppression and deprivation and what it does to them. In other words, a life story that would allow her to appreciate the consequences of judicial decisions and the causal effects of living in an unequal society.

Empathy in this sense is a threat to conservatism, which features individual, not social, responsibility and a strict, punitive form of "justice." It is no surprise that empathy would be a major conservative target in the Sotomayor evaluation.

But the target is not empathy as it really exists. Instead, the conservatives are reframing empathy to make it attackable. Their "empathy" is idiosyncratic, personal feeling for an individual, presumably the defendant in a legal case. With "empathy" reframed in this way, Charles Krauthammer can say, echoing Karl Rove, "Justice is not about empathy." The argument goes like this: Empathy is a matter of personal feelings. Personal feelings should not be the basis of a judicial decision of the Supreme Court. Therefore, "justice is not about empathy." Reframe the word "empathy" and it not only disqualifies Sotomayor; it delegitimizes Obama's central moral principle, his approach to government, his understanding of the nature of our democracy, and progressive politics in general.

We cannot let conservatives get away with redefining empathy as irrational and idiosyncratic personal feeling. Empathy is the basis of our democracy, and its true meaning must be defended.

But the attack can be sneaky. Take David Brooks' column in The New York Times (May 29, 2009). He frames what he calls "The Empathy Issue" in terms of the use of emotions in decision-making. He is doing a conservative reframing of the issue. What is sneaky is that he starts by saying a number of true things about emotions. As Antonio Damasio pointed out in Descartes' Error, you can't make rational decisions without emotions. If you have a brain injury that wipes out your emotional capacity, you don't know what to want, since like and not-like mean nothing, and you can't tell what others will think of you. Here is Brooks:
People without emotions cannot make sensible decisions because they don't know how much anything is worth. People without social emotions like empathy are not objective decision-makers. They are sociopaths who sometimes end up on death row.

Supreme Court justices, like all of us, are emotional intuitionists. They begin their decision-making processes with certain models in their heads. These are models of how the world works and should work, which have been idiosyncratically ingrained by genes, culture, education, parents and events. These models shape the way judges perceive the world.

Note the mixture of truth and non-truth. Yes, sensible decisions require emotions. Yes, people without empathy are sociopaths. Yes, we all make decisions based on models in our head of how the world works. That's basic cognitive science. Mixed in with it is conservative reframing. No, empathy is a lot more than a "social emotion." No, using models of the world in decision-making need not be a matter of emotion. It's just how real reason works.

Then the conclusion:

But because we're emotional creatures in an idiosyncratic world, it's prudent to have judges who are cautious, incrementalist and minimalist. It's prudent to have judges who decide cases narrowly, who emphasize the specific context of each case, who value gradual change, small steps and modest self-restraint.

Right-leaning thinkers from Edmund Burke to Friedrich Hayek understood that emotion is prone to overshadow reason. They understood that emotion can be a wise guide in some circumstances and a dangerous deceiver in others. It's not whether judges rely on emotion and empathy, it's how they educate their sentiments within the discipline of manners and morals, tradition and practice.

Empathy here has been reframed as emotion that is "idiosyncratic" - personal - a danger to reason. "Sentiments," that is, emotions, must be "disciplined" to fit "manners and morals, tradition and practice"- in short, the existing social and political order. This is perfect radical conservatism in the guise of sweet, moderate reasonableness. Where Rove and Krauthammer have the iron fists, Brooks has the velvet glove.

The attack on empathy becomes an attack on feelings, with feelings as not merely at odds with justice, but at odds with good sense. Where Brooks' tone is sweetly reasonable, G. Gordon Liddy is outrageous:

Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when she's menstruating or something, or just before she's going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then
Liddy is saying what Brooks is saying: Emotion is irrational and dangerous. Only Liddy is not nicely-nicely. The attack on feelings is of a piece with the old attack on "bleeding-heart liberals." And one step away from Cheney's attack on Obama and defense of torture.

What about Newt Gingrich calling Sotomayor a racist? It is linked directly to the personal feeling argument: because of her personal feelings for her own kind - Latinos and women - she will discriminate against white men. It is to support that view that the New Haven firemen case keeps being brought up.

The real target here goes beyond Sotomayor. In the last election, conservative populists moved toward Obama. Conservative populists are working people, mostly white men, who have conservative views of the family, of masculinity, and of the military, and who have bought into the idea of the "liberal elite" as looking down on them. Right now, they are hurting economically, losing their jobs and their homes. Empathy is something they need. The racist card is an attempt to revive their fears of affirmative action, fears of their jobs - and their pride - being taken by minorities and women. The racist attack has a political purpose, holding onto conservative populists. The overt form of the old conservative argument is made regularly these days: liberalism is identity politics.

Incidentally, Democrats are walking into the Gingrich trap. I heard Ed Schultz defending Sotomayor by saying over and over why she was "not a racist," and using the word "racist" next to her name repeatedly. It was like Nixon saying, "I am not a crook." When Democrats make that mistake, I sometimes wonder why I bothered to write Don't Think of an Elephant!
The attack on Sotomayor as an "activist judge" completes the pattern of radical conservative reasoning: Because of her empathy, which is personal feeling, which in turn is a form of racism, she will interpret the constitution not rationally, blindly, and objectively, but to suit her emotions.

It is vital at this point to understand how conservatives get away with the "activist judge" ploy. As any cognitive linguist knows, there is no such thing as "strict construction" of the Constitution. The reason was given by, of all people, David Brooks, as we discussed above.
Supreme Court justices, like all of us,... begin their decision-making processes with certain models in their heads. These are models of how the world works and should work ... These models shape the way judges perceive the world.

These models also shape they way the most "strict constructionist" of judges read the Constitution. Such models are physically part of the brain and typically operate below the level of consciousness. Conservatives are thus as much "judicial activists" as anyone else.
So how do conservative Republicans get away with the "activist judge" ploy? Democrats hand it to them. Why? Because most Democrats grew up with and still believe a view of reason that has been shown in cognitive science and neuroscience to be false. The sciences of mind have shown that real reason is largely unconscious, requires emotion, uses "models" (frames, metaphors, narratives) and so does not fit the world directly.

But Democrats tend to believe that reason is conscious, can fit the world directly, and works by logic, not frames or metaphors. They thus believe that words have fixed literal meanings that fit the world in itself, regardless of models, frames, metaphors, or narratives. If you believe this, then original meaning could make sense. Democrats don't fight it when they should.
Democrats make another move that allows them to keep their view of reason. They adopt the view of the "living constitution," which opens them up to charges of "judicial activism," charges made by conservative judicial activists. The source of the problem lies in the Democrats lack of understanding of their own unconscious reasoning processes. One of many Democrats deepest beliefs contradicts the facts about the brain and the mind and allows conservative judges to be activists while claiming to be strict constructionists.

Taken together, the attacks on Sotomayor work as attacks on Obama and progressive thought. They are also attacks on "moderate" conservatives, who think with progressives on many issues. The attacks activate radical conservative ideas in the brains of those who voted for Bush and the 47 percent of the voters who voted for McCain.

Radical conservatives know that Sotomayor will be confirmed. They also know that their very understanding of the world is being threatened by Obama's success. But they have a major strength. They have their message machine intact, with trained spokespeople booked on TV and radio shows all over the country. Attacking Sotomayor, even when they know she will win, allows them to rally their forces and get swing-voting conservatives thinking their way again.

How should Democrats respond?

Democrats should go on offense. They need to rally behind empathy- real empathy, not empathy reframed as emotion and personal feeling. They need to speak regularly about empathy as being the basis of our democracy. They need to point out that empathy leads one to notice real social and systemic causes of our troubles and to notice when and how judicial decisions and legislation can harm the most vulnerable of our countrymen. And finally that empathy is the reason that we have the principles of freedom and fairness - which are necessary components of justice.

Above all, Democrats should be aware that the attack on Sotomayor is not just about Sotomayor. It is an attack on the basis of our democracy and must be answered.»

George Lakoff is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of "The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st Century Politics With an 18th Century Brain." His latest book, "The Political Mind," appears in paperback on June 2. To contact George Lakoff, email him