June 10, 2009

"Obama's lack of fervor may be one reason he rejects and perhaps cannot comprehend the religious passions..."

"... that perennially erupt around the globe and that will never be waved away by mere words. By approaching religion with the cool, neutral voice of the American professional elite, Obama was sometimes simplistic and even inadvertently condescending, as in his gift bag of educational perks like 'scholarships,' 'internships,' and 'online learning' — as if any of these could checkmate the seething, hallucinatory obsessions of jihadism."

Camille Paglia on Obama's Cairo speech.

IN THE COMMENTS: Paddy O. writes:
She seems to want some kind of Mullah Obama, who can parse religions in expert ways so as to provide a path in which all religious devotees can, at the same time, be convinced by their own misunderstanding of others and the wrong nature of their own religious awareness that invokes chaos.

She wants a Messiah, a clear figure who dashes aside millennia of religious and cultural conflicts within a single speech. And, the fact is, people don't even want to listen to a messiah on these topics. The issue is religious but it's so much more than religious. It's about ego, and power, and control, using religion as a tool as much as a source.

Obama's lack of fervor is probably the best thing that can be delivered to a region wracked with fervor. Blessed are the peace-makers, after all.

Fervor is not overcome by more fervor, a waged war of passion. Rather, fervor is overcome by refusing to engage in the frenzy, absorbing and deflecting the rage into something constructive. The sins of the world are not addressed by talking them over in excited and rhetorically impressive ways.

She is conflating fervor with belief and frenzied excitement with persistent character. Most fundamentalists aren't acting out of real fervor for their chosen god, most are acting out of insecure egos who are attempting to manipulate the seen world so as to secure their own identity as dominating and secure their meager faith in some kind of obvious sign of their supposed devotion.

The religious passions of so many are not really religious at all, but are expressions of a deep-seated insecurity in the face of a rather dismissive world.

Obama's approach won't really change anything, but America is not the salvation of the middle east, and cannot leap into the frenzy with the same passion. We are the people who can show, in our actions, what it means to live for something greater -- our children, our future, our peace -- and how a steady approach is the way lives are built and rebuilt.

The Middle East does not need more fervor. It needs calm, but a calm that is trustworthy, and listening, and pushes for real changes in substantive ways within the societies themselves, pointing out that the answer is within not by changing someone else.

31 comments:

traditionalguy said...

The floating above it Obama was our racial "we are one" moment, but now he has nothing else to offer us except the economic miracle called Socialism. Sarah Palin's time has come.

John said...

There are people in the world you don't want to meet. Obama and his supporters don't understand that. They suffer from a shocking naivety combined with unrelenting narcissism. On the one hand they believe that everyone is just like them and can be reasoned with. And on the other hand they think that all of the world's problems somehow are caused by or can be solved by their actions (or the actions of previous administrations).

Obama speaks about foreign affairs with all of the sophistication and understanding of a college student who just volunteered for the Peace Corps. He honestly seems to believe that he can solve the world problems. If it wasn't so dangerous it would be pathetic.

Paddy O. said...

She seems to want some kind of Mullah Obama, who can parse religions in expert ways so as to provide a path in which all religious devotees can, at the same time, be convinced by their own misunderstanding of others and the wrong nature of their own religious awareness that invokes chaos.

She wants a Messiah, a clear figure who dashes aside millenia of religious and cultural conflicts within a single speech. And, the fact is, people don't even want to listen to a messiah on these topics. The issue is religious but it's so much more than religious. It's about ego, and power, and control, using religion as a tool as much as a source.

Obama's lack of fervor is probably the best thing that can be delivered to a region wracked with fervor. Blessed are the peace-makers, after all.

Fervor is not overcome by more fervor, a waged war of passion. Rather, fervor is overcome by refusing to engage in the frenzy, absorbing and deflecting the rage into something constructive. The sins of the world are not addressed by talking them over in excited and rhetorically impressive ways.

She is conflating fervor with belief and frenzied excitement with persistent character. Most fundamentalists aren't acting out of real fervor for their chosen god, most are acting out of insecure egos who are attempting to manipulate the seen world so as to secure their own identity as dominating and secure their meager faith in some kind of obvious sign of their supposed devotion.

The religious passions of so many are not really religious at all, but are expressions of a deep-seated insecurity in the face of a rather dismissive world.

Obama's approach won't really change anything, but America is not the salvation of the middle east, and cannot leap into the frenzy with the same passion. We are the people who can show, in our actions, what it means to live for something greater--our children, our future, our peace--and how a steady approach is the way lives are built and rebuilt.

The Middle East does not need more fervor. It needs calm, but a calm that is trustworthy, and listening, and pushes for real changes in substantive ways within the societies themselves, pointing out that the answer is within not by changing someone else.

John said...

"The Middle East does not need more fervor. It needs calm, but a calm that is trustworthy, and listening, and pushes for real changes in substantive ways within the societies themselves, pointing out that the answer is within not by changing someone else."

But there is nothing messianic about that message. No not at all. Obama just needs to go over and calmly explain the situation to everyone. Yeah that will help. Comedy gold man. Just comedy gold.

rocketeer67 said...

The Middle East does not need more fervor.

It most certainly does. I'm beginning to think that ultimately, it will need the fervor we applied to Dresden, Berlin, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Obama speaks about foreign affairs with all of the sophistication and understanding of a college student who just volunteered for the Peace Corps. .

Probably the most accurate assessment of Obama I've seen to date.

Paddy O. said...

I didn't say it would solve the problems. But, neither will showing more fervor.

You don't throw a tantrum to calm down a tantrum-throwing child.

America is a country that has shown in its history that it has both the capability for fervor and calm. At its best its fervor is put to the cause of progress, belief in something more than just limited ego satisfaction.

Of course, Obama is not going to fix everything. But, religious discussions aren't the answer, and bombs aren't really all that politically expedient at this point.

Obama, and any leader, has to show that they do in fact believe in something, but that the strongest sort of belief isn't expressed in fervor but in measured, consistent, persistent devotion to authentic transformation.

The people need to be given something to believe in that goes beyond the abuse of religion illustrated by their corrupt leaders.

Jason said...

Obama, and any leader, has to show that they do in fact believe in something.

I just wish that for once, Obama would show that he believes in America.

NKVD said...

Yep, Obama is a corrupt leader - we agree on that.

John said...

"The people need to be given something to believe in that goes beyond the abuse of religion illustrated by their corrupt leaders."

I have a suggestion. How about democracy, human rights and respect and tolerance? That is a great idea but the Obamasiah says we can't impose our values on other people. Unless you are willing to make a stand and say that (gasp) some things are wrong, all the talk just ends up being pieties and appeals to everyone to just get along. Sadly life is a little harder than that.

rocketeer67 said...

Obama, and any leader, has to show that they do in fact believe in something, but that the strongest sort of belief isn't expressed in fervor but in measured, consistent, persistent devotion to authentic transformation.

I don't think I disgree with your overall point, Pogo, but sometimes - and in world affairs, I may be so bold as to opine more often than not - authentic transformation requires measured, consistent, persistent, and fervent application of force.

rocketeer67 said...

Sorry - I meant Paddy O., not Pogo.

rocketeer67 said...

I didn't say it would solve the problems. But, neither will showing more fervor.

Also, on further reflection, it's clear I do indeed disagree with your overall point.

Lack of results in improved conditions in the ME over the last several years is directly related to our fecklessness - NOT to our "fervor." We have in fact shown very, very little of that, relatively speaking.

Henry said...

I didn't pay much attention to the speech and don't see much to criticize about it. It seems to be one of a series of Big Obama Speeches that don't have any concrete meaning outside of our evaluation of Obama.

The premise always struck me as off, though: A man representing a nation travels to another nation to address a speech to a religion. It was an speech to everyone and no one at the same time, a grand gesture in the vein of Caligula's war on Poseidon.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You don't throw a tantrum to calm down a tantrum-throwing child.
.

You also don't do so by telling them what a wonderful child they are.

Rather then tell Muslims what a fabulous group of folks they are and all the good things they did a millenium ago, perhaps asking them to join the 21st century (hell I'd settle for the 18th century) and spend more time embracing progress rather than chanting death to America and the Jooos. Why do we have to respect a religion that is the most intolerant, mysogynistic and anti-Semetic on the planet? Why do we have to apologize for waterboarding three terrorists when their own countries do far worse for such horrendous offenses as lets see, being gay, having sex out of wedlock, showing more than an ankle in public or letting a woman drive.

Does anyone think for one second that if it were Christians acting like this you'd see the same kind of 'lets embrace each other' attitude from the left?

traditionalguy said...

Paddy O...In the middle east religion is all they have, and they will cling to that to the death. In the USA religion is a freedom we enjoy or not at our choice. The middle eastern leader has no other way to rule a people than using the religious card. How do we change that? Modern Turkey was the best example, and now thanks to that moron Bush, Iraq has become the next best example. The enemy of modern civilisation is the intense hatred of moslems for un-believers who deny that the Prophecies given by an angel to Mohammed are the lastest complete Word to be Obeyed-or-else coming from God to add the final missing ingredients to God's previous revelations to the jews and the jewish sect which calls itself Christ-ian. That hatred will not go away, but a secular government may restrain them from seeking conquests everywhere.

SteveR said...

The effect of the speech was leesened by the fact he was watching the French Open while he spoke. I thought he was in Cairo but apparently he was at Roland-Garros.

EDH said...

Paglia firing on all cylinders: Obama, Sotomayor, Romney, and U-2's Magnificent, except:

But the president missed a huge opportunity to speak with equal force to doubters in his own nation, where suspicion of Muslims has sometimes turned ruthless and paranoid. For example, while driving recently on the New Jersey Turnpike, I was passed by an SUV with a U.S. Marine Corps sticker and a black-and-white decal that said: "What do you feel when you kill a terrorist? RECOIL." For "terrorist," of course, substitute "Muslim" -- a scenario where a person without a military uniform can nevertheless be instantly targeted for slaughter and where the executioner, wrenched far from his native land, has deadened himself to feel nothing but the kick of his own rifle.


Quite wrong on Paglia's part to insinuate that about the soldiers who, at tremendous risk to themselves, live day-to-day with Muslims trying to make their lives better. Most soldiers who draw a bright line between who is and is not a "terrorist" seem to do so based on horrific experiences inflicted on soldiers and Muslim civillians alike.

In fact, the most glaring omission in Obama's speech was the history of the US military comimg to the aid of Muslims across the world during the previous two administration.

Not to mention the Iraqi Muslims who would have been abandoned to chaos.

You can't tell me that in stoking opposition to continued involvement in Iraq, Democrats weren't the ones playing to "doubters in his own nation, where suspicion of Muslims has sometimes turned ruthless and paranoid."

Paddy O. said...

Paddy O...In Europe religion is all they have, and they will cling to that to the death. The European leader has no other way to rule a people than using the religious card.

So was the world for most of the 2nd millenium. From which America, somehow, came into being.

Religion is not all they have. They also have a massive amount of oil, currently the driving commodity for global industry. That means they have massive amounts of wealth... going somewhere. And right now it's going into stoking religious fervor, distracting the people, rather than building a sustainable future. All while filling Swiss bank accounts for the most 'fervored' among them, of which Arafat was a prime example. He loved himself, and despised religion. But he knew how to apply fervor to make stooges out of the devout. Abusing them through their own passions, exciting them, distracting them, undermining them.

And so they suffer still.

Hoosier Daddy said...

where suspicion of Muslims has sometimes turned ruthless and paranoid. .

Did I miss the mass pogroms, deportations and mosque burnings of Muslims in the US?

For "terrorist," of course, substitute "Muslim".

If the shoe fits.

former law student said...

Obama was sometimes simplistic and even inadvertently condescending, as in his gift bag of educational perks like 'scholarships,' 'internships,' and 'online learning' — as if any of these could checkmate the seething, hallucinatory obsessions of jihadism."

Obama is a wise Mestizo. he knows that people with full bellies and a secure future seldom rebel. Only the superprivileged of the Ayers and Dohrn class rebel when they have nothing objective to complain about. And elite rebels seldom get anywhere unless they have a horde of the dispossessed to rally.

Frankly, Paglia is a bit of a hysteric.

now he has nothing else to offer us except the economic miracle called Socialism. Sarah Palin's time has come.

I saw an example of this logic on another discussion group: Chemotherapy kills, so cure your cancer through diet and exercise.

I just wish that for once, Obama would show that he believes in America.

This is the kind of cant that kills creativity. Obama has lived the American dream, and acknowledges it at every point. His story is the classic American story -- anyone can grow up to be President; hard work will be rewarded, etc.

Rather then tell Muslims what a fabulous group of folks they are and all the good things they did a millenium ago, perhaps asking them to join the 21st century (hell I'd settle for the 18th century) and spend more time embracing progress rather than chanting death to America and the Jooos.

Whatever job Hoosier has, I'm pretty sure it doesn't involve salesmanship.

("You don't deserve to own this car! Get out of my showroom!")

Kirk Parker said...

"Barack Obama was elected to do exactly what he did last week at Cairo University -- to open a dialogue with the Muslim world.... But the now widespread stereotyping of Islam as medieval and inherently violent and intolerant ensures eternal war. Visionary leaders are vitally needed on both sides to call for mutual understanding and rational coexistence."

What pathetic, partisan cant. The implication that Bush wasn't already doing this is ordinary Michael Moore fare, of course, but greatly disappointing to see Paglia pushing such drivel.

And then there's this:

"But the gravest omission was that Obama failed to fully articulate the most basic Western concepts of legal process and civil liberties, which have inspired reformers around the world. The president of the U.S. should be an eloquent ambassador of those ideals wherever he goes."

Pardon me if I harbor some concerns that those values aren't necessarily at the top of The One's list.

And note, too, that my frustration with Paglia here is about her disconnect. She clearly demonstrates she gets the overall issue:

"The problem facing international security is that people who believe something will always be stronger and more committed than people who believe nothing -- which unfortunately describes the complacent passivity of most Western intellectuals these days."

... but somehow thinks that last bit isn't describing Obama's ultimate, fatal flaw?

Kirk Parker said...

Hoosier,

"Did I miss the mass pogroms, deportations and mosque burnings of Muslims in the US?"

It was all over so fast...

Hoosier Daddy said...

Whatever job Hoosier has, I'm pretty sure it doesn't involve salesmanship..

You're right it isn't. I believe honesty is the best policy. I think if you're a gigantic lardass and want to lose weight I'm going to tell you to quit stuffing your face with 9000 calories a day and start exercising. If you want platitudes, go somewhere else.

Shortly after 9/11 the first thing Bush did was visit a mosque, invite a bunch of Muslims over for tea and crumpits and talked a lot of the 'religion of peace'. Fat lot of good it did.

Maybe Islam should start demonstrating to me why it deserves my respect rather than tout its achievements from a millenia ago.

Hoosier Daddy said...

But the now widespread stereotyping of Islam as medieval and inherently violent and intolerant ensures eternal war.

Um, what sterotype? Let's see, they're blowing shit up from Caracas to Islamabad including their own mosques, they treat women like chattel, definitely have DADT on pain of death, anti-semetic on a Nazi level, behead innocent civilians, stone women for adultery, etc.

Do any lefties shy away from the sterotype that every Catholic priest is a sexual predator just waiting to molest some little boy? Or that evangelical Christians are all mindless robots? Considering the scorn they receive in the MSM and Hollywood should answer that question.

The whole push that we need to 'respect' Islam sounds a lot more like 'don't upset those excitable young men with the
AK-47s lest they come after us'.

elHombre said...

Obama doesn't misapprehend religious fervor because of his lack of passion, but because of his lack of religion -- regardless of his claim to be a Christian.

His misapprehension of Islam is further compounded by his experience with the benign Islam of Indonesia during his youth, which has since given way to a more militant form.

His choice of venue was disappointing unless his message was intended to encourage Arabs who are hoping he will sell out Israel. On that score, he was successful.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I'm sure the soothing balm of Obama will be every bit as effective on Islam as it was on Jeremiah Wright.

traditionalguy said...

Do not overlook the rewards that Obama has recieved for being elected at the time of an economic crisis. Now if he can stoke a middle-east crisis by tempting the Israeli and Iranian governments to open fire upon each other, just think how much greater rewards he expects to fall into his hands. That war cannot end if we let it go on, and the Israelis will be pushed to accept a UN solution including the Open International City of Jerusalem. That in turn requires a World Administration to police the settlement and that will require the issuance of the World monetary unit that China and Rissia will demand to go along with a UN led world action. Pres. Obama loves the smell of a crisis in the morning.

former law student said...

I believe honesty is the best policy. I think if you're a gigantic lardass and want to lose weight I'm going to tell you to quit stuffing your face with 9000 calories a day and start exercising.

The best policy to accomplish what? Gigantic lardasses know what they are, and they've heard about diet and exercise their whole lives.

Hoosier Daddy said...

The best policy to accomplish what? Gigantic lardasses know what they are, and they've heard about diet and exercise their whole lives..

And the Muslim world is completed insulated from the rest of the planet and don't know that stoning women and hanging homosexuals is so 11th century? Is it really an accident that the Western world is prosperous because we have freedom and equality or is it just dumb luck?

Ralph L said...

There was a patient on a TV medical show (House?) whose phlegmaticity was a symptom of his disease. Let's weaponize it, whatever it was.

We should all thank God that widespread religious fanaticism tends to burn itself out after a generation or so. Maybe our lifestyles will outlive the global warming idiots.