In a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama acknowledged the “sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith,” and broadly condemned the use of religion to justify barbaric acts of terrorism. So leave it to Fox News to surgically extract a fragment of the speech in order to disparage the President.
The portion of the address that ruffled Fox’s fur was a snippet wherein Obama referenced the Crusades to remind the audience that “people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.” Fox News latched unto that phrase and, for much of the day, used it to distort the President’s meaning in order to denigrate him as anti-Christian. But the President’s remarks were much more inclusive of the evil done by all perpetrators of violence in the name of religion. Here are some more extended excerpts of what he actually had to say:
“From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it. We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism. […] We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion. […]
“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Any reasonable person would have to agree with what was expressed in the whole of the speech. But, as usual, reasonableness was not in attendance at Fox News. As a representative example of the departure from reason and fair discourse, Fox’s Neil Cavuto brought in Catholic League extremist Bill Donohue to rant feverishly about Obama’s alleged insult to the world’s Christians (video below):
Donohue: Had he said just said that, that people have killed in the name of their God and it’s not unique to one religion, who could argue with that? But he didn’t do that, did he? He spoke with specificity. he singled out the Crusades and the Inquisition.
Actually, Obama did not single out anyone. Quite the opposite. He specifically identified numerous religions that have all had issues with violent extremism. But the only thing that Donohue heard was the bit about the Crusades. The same is true for Cavuto who later demonstrated the essence of a loaded question by asking “Do you think [Obama] is dismissive of religion in the aggregate?” Huh? Did Cavuto even bother to listen to the speech which was dripping with piety and deference to God? The ludicrous question gave Donohue the opportunity to further slander Obama’s commitment to faith by excitedly responding that Obama is “a thoroughgoing secularist. I don’t think he believe’s in anything.”
This is typical of the Fox News editorial mission to cherry-pick Obama’s remarks and present them in the most negative way possible. It furthers their criticism of the President for his reluctance to associate the terrorists of ISIL with Islam. In that regard, he got some support today from Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who said that “If there was any doubt that this is an organization that has anything to do with any religion on the face of this planet, that doubt is gone.”
Judeh’s comments are additional proof that the world’s Muslims are united in rejecting the violence of terrorism and the false accusation that it is inherently connected to the Muslim faith. In fact, the only people who are determined to make that link are the terrorists themselves and Fox News, which has the disturbing effect of putting Fox squarely on the side of the terrorists.
To top it off, the following morning Fox’s Gregg Jarrett made the wholly delusional statement that “It struck some people in an odd way that the President was justifying ISIS.” Really? Which people? Jarrett doesn’t say. And how could these imaginary people reach that insane conclusion? Jarrett doesn’t say. But just to keep things fair and balanced, Joe Scarborough on MSNBC also took up the criticism of Obama for telling the truth about religion’s bad actors.