November 10, 2009

Obama at Fort Hood: "It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy."

"But this much we do know — no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor.  For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next."

A fine speech. Read the whole thing. Based on this quote, I'll raise one question. Did Obama purport to know what God thinks?

On first reading, my answer was yes. He was saying that God disapproves of the massacre — which means, implicitly, that Hasan's (apparent) religious beliefs are false — and that God will punish Hasan in the afterlife.

On second reading, I saw the room to deny that Obama purports to know what God thinks. If "no just and loving God looks upon [the massacre] with favor," it is still possible that God is not just and loving. Perhaps Hasan's (apparent) idea about what God likes is correct, in which case Obama is critical of God. And "the killer will be met with justice" in "the next" world, but what is "justice"? Hasan presumably believed that God would be pleased, in which case, God's justice would be a reward.

Now, I am not saying this because I think Obama secretly shares Hasan's evil beliefs about God. I'm saying it because I appreciate the subtle way in which the speech avoids claiming to know the mind of God. That is elegant and beautiful. Good religion.

61 comments:

menley said...

Andy McCarthy blogged about that paragraph in The Corner.

Gabriel Hanna said...

And may God bless the United States of America.

God bless EVERYONE. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Or so read the bumper stickers I see on Priuses parked on my campus.

ricpic said...

The main thing, the only thing, is to...wait for it... Celebrate Diversity!

blake said...

Maybe he's saying God wasn't watching?

wv: undedlet

(A tiny zombie.)

David said...

I missed the subtlety of justice being served in the afterlife either way.

That is a lot of nuance.

MadisonMan said...

Why are Prius owners driving to work? Shouldn't they be biking, walking, or taking public transportation like everyone else?

Tibore said...

"I'm saying it because I appreciate the subtle way in which the speech avoids claiming to know the mind of God. That is elegant and beautiful."

No offense, professor, but one of my fears regarding the Obama presidency was about the public being dazzled by the administration's speechmaking, and in turn placing less emphasis on what this administration's responses are to critical events. I hope that's not the path you're heading down. I can admire a pretty speech too, but as an NFL player said about coaches, it's not their speeches that garner respect, it's how well they demonstrate their competence. That's what I want to see out of this administration in regards to military policy. And so far, nothing's knocked my socks off yet.

fabian said...

It don't matter how anybody puts it. Murderers should be punished in this life and they will be punished in the next. No exception, regardless of religion or belief.

bagoh20 said...

Apparently, the purpose of academia is learn how to see the trees in the great detail.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Winston Churchill also made fine speeches. But he backed them up with actions.

I read the President's speech, but I'm not impressed by it, because the speech is cover for the nothing he intends to do about preventing further occurrences of Islamic pre post traumatic stress violence.

I was Vancouver, British Columbia, this spring. The subways are full of signs--I can't remember the exact wording--encouraging people to report suspicious behavior, but warning them that they shouldn't report the wrong KIND of suspicious behavior. For example, they showed a white guy trying to break into something, vs an vaguely Islamic person just standing around.

Yeah, that's going to encourage people to call stuff in.

I am not convinced the President is going to anything to change that mentality--that screams "why didn't you connect the dots" while at the same time declaring that no unprejudiced person should have connected THOSE particular dots.

menley said...

Aren't you assuming that there is only one god? ; )

I know Obama dismisses Bible verses that he considers to be "obscure"; however, 1 Corinthians 2:16b says, "But we have the mind of Christ." So, Christians believe that they can know some of God's thoughts while they cannot comprehend Him completely.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@MadisonMan:

Why are Prius owners driving to work? Shouldn't they be biking, walking, or taking public transportation like everyone else?

Hey, I just see them in the parking garage, I don't hang around in there waiting for the drivers to show up. There they are, I don't know why.

Me, I drive to work when I'm in a big hurry or I'm going to stay late. A lot of faculty and staff here live out of town.

Almost Ali said...

I'm only surprised that Obama did not dance on the soldier's graves - at least not while the cameras were rolling.

Of course, he did throw a gala party at the White House on the night of Muslim-terrorist's murders - you know, as a big "shout out" to Allah.

So, yes Ann, he does know the mind of God, that is, his God.

ricpic said...

An academic has to justify using a car? Hysterical.

Meade said...

Gabriel Hanna said...

God bless EVERYONE. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Or so read the bumper stickers I see on Priuses parked on my campus.


Ha!

Alt bumper sticker for Priuses:

MY OTHER CAR IS ALSO A PRIUS

Gabriel Hanna said...

Oops, should have said "SkyTrain", not subway. It's the polar opposite of a subway. The SkyTrain is freaking awesome, by the way, if you're an American and don't have to pay the taxes to keep it up.

Here's one of the posters I was talking about. They have different pictures on them, but they all say "Report the suspicious, NOT the strange".

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cabbit/3366186067/

Gabriel Hanna said...

An academic has to justify using a car? Hysterical.

I don't know which academics you are talking about, but I don't see a thing with driving to work. If you pay for the gas, and you pay for the car, and you pay for the parking, and you pay taxes that keep the roads, why SHOULDN'T you drive?

Especially in Pullman. Pullman is a city of twenty thousand, surrounded by 50,000 square miles of wheat. Public transportation exists, but if you live outside of Pullman, you can't use it. I ride the bus almost every day because it stops by my apartment every 15 minutes, but i don't judge people who don't have that convenience and drive.

ricpic said...

I'm only surprised that Obama did not dance on the soldier's graves...

The more terrible the insight into what makes Obama tick the truer it rings.

chickenlittle said...

But this much we do know -- no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts;

How does he explain the faith of Hasan, and of suicide bombers, and presumably the Al Qaeda leadership that justifies their acts with their faith?

Seems to me like he missed an opportunity here to call out and denounce a twisted section of faith.

Perhaps he still doesn't want to jump to conclusions; however, what if those conclusions eventually jump out at us?

A big problem as I see it is that some cannot admit that Islam comprises the twisted murderous sect(s): think Venn diagram. Some insist that the twisted, murderous sect lies somewhere alongside (but outside) the greater faith.

There remains a paucity of words on his part (or his speechwriter's)I'm afraid.

B+

Rialby said...

"Did Obama purport to know what God thinks?"

Yes, because Obama thinks he's God.

Someone had to say it.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@chickenlittle:

There remains a paucity of words on his part (or his speechwriter's)I'm afraid.

I don't WANT more words from Obama, about anything. He is the Chief Executive and I desire him to execute.

I'm sick of hearing his words. He's only ever telling people what he thinks they want to hear.

edutcher said...

Ann said...

"But this much we do know — no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts"

Tell that to Bin Laden, Zawahiri, and the relatives of the dead of 9/11. I don't think they'll buy it.

"I'm saying it because I appreciate the subtle way in which the speech avoids claiming to know the mind of God. That is elegant and beautiful. Good religion."

No, it's lousy religion. Religion, if it is worth anything, is there to tell us right from wrong. That's why they're Commandments, not Suggestions.

Unfortunately, this is why a lot of people are suddenly Wiccans or Druids or something equally outlandish, because they want something that will allow them to do whatever they feel like.

No offense, but what you're trying to praise sounds like the usual left-wing, value-neutral, non-judgmental garbage used to justify all kinds of anti-social (not to mention anti-American) acts for the past forty years.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Unfortunately, this is why a lot of people are suddenly Wiccans or Druids or something equally outlandish, because they want something that will allow them to do whatever they feel like.

Druids, and Aztecs, and Mayans, and Carthaginians, and too many other religions to name had killing people as tenets of their respective faiths.

It's right up there with "no country can or should dominate another"; inane and obviously false.

Big Mike said...

"For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next."

Here's hoping he's helped into the next world by lethal injection. (Or does the military still use hanging?)

Paddy O. said...

If "no just and loving God looks upon [the massacre] with favor," it is still possible that God is not just and loving.

Indeed, turned a different way this is an argument for atheism. There is a massacre. No just and loving God would want this. So either he is not just and loving, or he is not God. The process theologians would say that he's God, but he's still on his way too, so this stuff happens, which everyone finds unfortunate.

This is also well-phrased because it hits on the shared monotheistic priorities of both Islam and Christianity. This is neither justice nor love. This is murder, thus Hasan, despite his religion, did not serve the God of his own religion but rather offered false worship to a false god. He's an idolatrer.

I think it was more of a rhetorical addition than theologically intentional, but it is a good succinct statement of our position as a theologically influenced nation. Because it was simple and succinct we can read into it elegance and beauty, applying our own insights to the words.

Which seems like this was Obama's campaign trait finding a way back to his speeches, giving space for us to invest our own meaning in his apparent contribution. We want to have meaning, so we find deeper meaning. Even if it wasn't intentional.

miller said...

"no religion"?

Umm.

I beg to differ.

There's a religion that's in the news right now that recommends the sword for those who go apostate.

Unless you want to say that that direction isn't part of that religion - but then you'll have to throw out that religion's scriptures.

Of course, I can't say which religion this is, because I might get my own head cut off for pointing out the disconnect between peace and terror.

Donna B. said...

To know the mind of God... how much hubris does that require? Why is Obama given leeway to say such when Pat Robertson is not?

If there is a God, no mere man can plausibly state he knows the mind of God.

And what kind of man would want to believe in a god that ordained the massacre of those beneath you in rank or social privilege?

I understand that Obama is saying the God of Islam does not want that, but he is bucking a lot of Islamic scholars when he says so.

Just as Pat Robertson is bucking a lot of Christian scholars when he says that certain events are God's punishment.

traditionalguy said...

The subtle religious statement contained in that quote is a shout out that God needs to love more and punish less. That has always been humanity's complaint about God and his wrath. Moslems are certainly in that boat along with legalistic Christians and Jews. Jesus was God's long promised answer to that complaint. The Passion of the Christ film by Mel Gibson showed us what Jesus put himself thru to take God's wrath forever and totally out of our relationship with God in Christ. Meanwhile the wrathful and judgemental god of the moslems is dedicated to rejecting Jesus as the Son of God and as Crucified and as resurrected on the third day. Moslems are left trying to impose god's wrath on infidels in hopes that this will let them off the hook; but they remain blind to the fact that Jesus has already finished doing it all as a free gift to all who believe.

MadisonMan said...

My Dad, the professor, walked to work everyday at the huge College he worked at -- and he walked home many days for lunch! So did his Dad, the professor.

I walk to work in winter, but bike in summer. If it's lousy out, I bus in. The mindset of living so far away from work that your only option is to drive -- why limit yourself that way? -- is very foreign to me. But part of that springs from growing up in a place where Dad walked.

Of course, these days, I'm just happy to have a job to walk to, and I think most people who have jobs they can drive to are happy about that too. I wonder if Obama is happy that he can walk to work?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@MadisonManThe mindset of living so far away from work that your only option is to drive -- why limit yourself that way? -- is very foreign to me.

Half this country does not live in the city.

I, for one, value the low crime, the low pollution, the low cost of living, the quiet, and the space. The time and money spent driving to work is very little in comparison, to the value of those things to me.

Not everybody values what you value. Maybe you ought to try to get into someone else's head for a while. I know there are people who have never left Manhattan and pride themselves on it; I think THEY are limited, but it's a big country with room for lots of different lifestyles.

I grew up in the Big Bend Desert; my dear wife grew up in Beijing. We both prefer the country, though we may not get to live there.

My folks lived 45 miles from where the worked, and we were 60 miles from a hospital or a Safeway.

Ralph L said...

In the 20's, my grandfather walked to work (from the house I live in now) 3 miles each way. After his first heart attack in 1940, the doctor told him to stop walking.

MadisonMan said...

That is so cool you live in your grandparents' house! I am envious.

Thomas said...

The word and concept "justice" is used just once, presumably because its requirements will be the same whether in this world or the next. If God's justice will be a reward, then so would the justice meted out here.

vbspurs said...

I'm only surprised that Obama did not dance on the soldier's graves - at least not while the cameras were rolling.

WTH. Maybe I've been gone too long from Althouse, but it seems to me there are more trolls here than ever.

I know Ann has no power to ban, but damn.

Barlycorn, John said...

Ann,
Just do what Charlie Gibson did to Sarah Palin and remove the parts of the quote that inconveniently counter the point you want to make. Then if Obama asks you about it, you say "exact words" like Charlie Gibson did.

That is how the Left plays the game.

Here are a couple suggestions:
The Pelosi bill taxes rape kits.

The insistence that poor blacks have unfettered access to abortion is genocide. After all, what effect will it have on rich white liberals? Not one more rich white liberal baby will die due to the policy, but many more poor black babies will die? By Lefty definition, this is a holocaust.

booger said...

As always, Obama speaks a lot without saying anything.

DADvocate said...

Doesn't seem particularly subtle. I hear such subtlety from ordinary people every day.

Broadsword said...

The remarks of the President(sic.) seem to be the extended version in prose of wretched greeting card passive verb, a pornographic toss of saccharine, sugar, fructose, Splenda and voice drops. Look at this ending(!): " we say goodbye to those who now belong to eternity. We press ahead in pursuit of the peace that guided their service. May God bless the memory of those that we have lost."

God bless the memory of those lost...? Bless their memories? Not their families? Not them? "pursuit of peace that guided their service"...??? By contrast, try this: " You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival." Or this: "I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounded determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God"

Brian Macker said...

"... no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts;"

Wrong, Islam does.

"no just and loving God looks upon them with favor."
Allah isn't just and isn't loving. Allah is the master of the double standard. Allah is a war god.

"For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next."

No we don't. People are already making excuses for him. Failure to recognize his religious motivations will prevent the service of justice in this world, and we have no proof of an afterlife.

paul a'barge said...

[blockquote]God disapproves of the massacre — which means, implicitly, that Hasan's (apparent) religious beliefs are false — and that God will punish Hasan in the afterlife.[/blockquote]

Look inward, baby. You are correct and Obama is correct and you can take that to the bank.

Hasan will get his and it won't be 72 raisins.

lightning bulb said...

Ann, the prior "...no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts..." would seem to close the loophole you suggest.

Charlie said...

Ahh, an interesting instance of the Lt Scheisskopf's Wife Dilemma.

John Galt said...

I actually went to the trouble of registering to say you're off the reservation on this.

I can't speak for "all faiths" but I can speak for Christianity.

If Obama can read the Bible, he can know the mind of God in this particular aspect. Mark 12:30: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

Jesus, whom Christians regard as the human incarnation of God, spoke these words. Anyone with any sense can put two and two together - God does not want us to murder people's parents, children, friends.

Seriously, people, I love a good Obama bash as much as anyone, but there's enough red meat in his policies to despise not to make these petty comments. You just make yourself look silly.

For those trotting out the tired, "sophomore in college" argument argument that tragedy is proof that God does not exist, even GOOD parents occasionally do things that are inexplicable and distressing to their children. At some point in the future, the reasons may become apparent, or perhaps not. Measles vaccinations on a toddler come to mind. It's not apparent to me why this attack happened, perhaps one day it will be. Or not...but because your understanding is incomplete is not proof that God does not exist. You might as well say that because you don't understand calculus, then engineering is impossible.

Almost Ali said...

"Hasan will get his and it won't be 72 raisins."

Hasan already got his; 13 dead, American soldiers. And for this he'll be enshrined in every mosque and revered in every madrasah.

As many goats are being slaughtered in celebration. For it is said:

"Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them. Seize them. Beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them" -Qur'an, Surah 9:5

M. Simon said...

no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts;

I wonder if he has ever heard of Islam?

WV:impsy (a perfect description of the above)

submandave said...

So many before have trashed the "no religion" portion, so I will only add that it pisses me off no end to have the CinC be so apparently arrogant that he feels no shame in trying to push off such an obvious lie while acting as if I'mm at blame for not believeing him (see "I did not have sexual relations..."). I will agree with him all day long if he had said the vast majority of Muslims are good people who are as equally disgusted by the attack as the rest of the country, but this degree of denial is frankly sickeningly scary.

I, too, have to disagree with your assesment of his nebulous statement as "good religion." I agree that using so many words to essentially make no point at all but still leave the impression that he echoed your own thoughts is a fine example of the high (low?) art of politics, but religion it is not.

M. Simon said...

"For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next."

Justice from Allah would be a good thing for Hassan.

Ya gotta read between the lines.

mrhoden said...

you got it all wrong. Obama is a polytheist bent on ruling as top dog (or god) in a polytheocracy!

:nailbiting:

comatus said...

Lincoln uttered 186 words at Gettysburg. With no teleprompter. Perhaps we expect too much of Obama, but in this regard at least I'd like him to be more like Lincoln.

Clioman said...

I say why take any chances. Give the dirtbag all the justice we can muster in THIS life.

elHombre said...

... no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts ....

If the President is speaking in terms of the tenets of faith, he is evidently unaware of or chooses to ignore Wahhabism, the dominant faith of Saudi Arabia and the fastest growing Muslim sect in the world.

Maybe we should be worried.

Quayle said...

How the hell does Obama know what a just and loving God would and would not do?

I can think of a number of situations where Obama's statement might be just plain false.

For example, How about if death isn't the ultimate bad thing to God that it is to us.

If there were an afterlife, wouldn't that certainly be true? We'd be all torn up about death, and God would be like, "What's the big deal."

We're all like "Oh, the humanity!"

And maybe God's like, "Well, how was it? How'd it go down there? Did you see what I was taking about before you went down - how mercy and kindness is really better than anger and hate?"

M. Simon said...

how mercy and kindness is really better than anger and hate

"When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it's the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you'll know what to do!" - A certain infamous American General

M. Simon said...

Mercy for the merciful. Kindness for the kind. All others receive no quarter.

David WL said...

On Priuses:

I own a Prius. I do not walk or bike, since my work places (I have 3) are respectively 20, 25, and 30 miles away, one way. Bus routes do not take me where I need to go.

I do not put bumper stickers on my Prius. If I did, it would say: "I miss W".

Fat Man said...

Prof. Althouse gives to much credit to BO, or his speech writers, for their theological sophistication. Their precedent is Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, one of the greatest, and most profound, of our orations:

“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”"

mbabbitt said...

What I find humorous is that those who think they are so diversity savvy, always project their own values on others and then claiming that it incomprehensible to think someone could be of a religious orientation and yet want to kill others. It's because there is radically divergent difference in the world that you can have such views without being a nutcase. I call it evil not insanity. In this case I am intolerant of such difference and for me not to acknowledge its existence and it's logic would be another way of having my head in the sand. It is not incomprehensible to those who accept evil as a real choice in the world; it is just not imagined by many due to their having a very narrow view of life and thus they are incapable of understanding of what embracing diversity thinking really means.

traditionalguy said...

Just in...Cain has risen up and killed his brother Able over a dispute about who God loves the most. Psychiatrists speculate that Cain snaped from Post Being Thrown Out of The Garden and Working For a Living Traumatic Stress.Religion is not a factor, they say.

John Lynch said...

VDH has the best take so far.

chickenlittle said...

Thank you Fat Man for that Lincoln quote (which would be on point were we talking of some internecine Christian conflict).

Maybe Obama thinks this is just a war between people "of the Book".

I think it's a war between people of different books

JMHO.

Methadras said...

This wasn't a tragedy. It was brutal, premeditated murder by a sociopath who receive(d)(s) kudos from his ideological/religious cohorts. Stop calling it a tragedy.