Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Reality behind the Koran Burning on 9/11

The 9th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attack was landmarked by Koran burning. It is a protest against President Barack Obama’s decision to give permission to build a mosque close to the ground zero. Certainly, 9-11 attacks aggravated anti-Islamic sentiments among Americans, and I think it is a caustic political error to give such a controversial permission when the public have not shed trauma of a dreadful incident.

However, I think things are beyond anti-Islamic sentiment but distrust to the Obama presidency. As shown in the Tea Party movements, grassroots conservatives criticize President Obama’s economic and health care policy, because they are afraid of “excessive” governmental intervention into their civil life. Conservative momentums are growing stronger even without the Tea Party. According to a recent poll by the USA Today and Gallup, “About 59% of Democrats, 55% of Republicans and 50% of independents said they believed the GOP had become more conservative since Obama took office” (Poll: GOP more conservative but not because of the 'tea party'; Los Angels Times; September 17, 2010). It is ironical that the Obama presidency splits America, as opposed to his famous speech to call for unity beyond race and ideology. Koran burning and the Tea Party movements are just tiny tips of an iceberg to illustrate the “Obama Divide”.

Unlike European welfare states, America is a “Right Nation” as John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge argue in their book. Conservative movements are strong and widespread in the United States. Both British authors compare conservative political bases on both sides of the Atlantic, and they say the American side has more extensive grassroots network and highly esteemed think tanks. Barack Obama is an odd man out in a Right Nation.

The Obama Divide is being intensified in foreign policy as well. While some media regard Obama’s speeches in Prague and Cairo as a breakthrough to depart from Bush’ s cow boy diplomacy, conservative opinion leaders criticize them apologetic to American preeminence. At APEC summit in Singapore, Obama even said that America would welcome the rise of China. Though Obama tries to meddle his liberal thoughts and presidential duty as shown in the speech to commemorate the end of US combat mission in Iraq, it is very tough to soothe conservative and centrist suspicion to his “un-Americanness”. Koran burning reveals such deeply embedded sentiments among the public.

President Obama’s background needs to be examined to explore the reality behind the burning. Had the president come from electoral bases acceptable to conservatives, radical Christians would have stopped burning Koran. Yoshiki Hidaka, Visiting Fellow at the Hudson Institute, mentions Obama’s “dark personal contacts” with left wing extremists in his book “America has chosen a misfortune”. The famous cover page picture of the New Yorker, in which Obama and his wife Michelle wear Taliban clothes, illustrates deeply embedded suspicion to Obama among the American public. Actually savage behavior like burning did not happen during the Bush era.

I shall never support this sort of uncivilized middle age brutalism. Eminent leaders of counterterrorism allies in both the Afghan and the Iraq wars, notably, Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and NATO Secretary General Anders Fough Rasmussen denounced Koran burning. Blair’s Britain was the staunchest contributor to US-led War on Terror. Rasmussen was a leading proponent of the Iraq War as the prime minister of Denmark. Moreover, General David Petraeus who commands the war in Afghanistan denounced the burning. But I have to call an attention to the Obama Divide when we explore the background of fanatic hatred to specific religion.

According to a survey by AFL-CIO, Barack Obama was the most liberal senator. Can a “leftist extremist” Obama govern the Right Nation? The mid term election will be a critical occasion to evaluate the effect of the Obama Divide. Has America chosen a wrong president? That is the vital question.