“The US is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, [if you count….],” President Obama declared to a French television network, June 2nd.
Some falsehoods don’t matter much, others matter a great deal. It all depends on context. I may assert something factually incorrect because I am not thinking, or because I am not thinking about the particular topic at the moment and would have done better keeping my mouth shut. (There is a wonderful French expression: “To have missed a good opportunity to shut up.”)
The President’s false assertion does not get either of these two passes. It was made on the eve of a trip to the Middle-East his White House heralded an act of reconciliation with Muslims. He committed the falsehood two days before he was due to make a speech at prestigious and highly visible Cairo University. He assaulted the simple factual truth under the limelights. Muslims were on his mind, for sure.
Here are the facts:
The US has probably fewer then 3 million Muslims. (Yes, this includes “Black Muslims” and other dubious categories.) Supposing this number conceals an unprecedented undercount, let’s suppose it’s really 6 million. The highest figure ever advanced is 7 million and no one believes it. Let’s keep it anyway, just to show that I am giving the President every benefit of doubt.*
The country ranking number ten for the number of Muslims in its population is Morocco, with 32 million. That’s more than four times the highest possible estimate for American Muslims. You have to reach down to little Tunisia to begin approximating the highest American order of magnitude. For that matter, France probably has more Muslims than the US. (Figures from ReligionFacts, and from Wikipedia – for #2, India. I have made no mistakes that would support my argument)
We are left to believe that when Obama says, “largest” he means anything down to number 30 or, that he is lying or, that he does not know what he is talking about. I don’t see any other possibility. Do you?
Obviously, I don’t think he is lying, especially in front of the millions or billions of interested listeners. I am pretty sure he knows English well enough to not misuse a simple word such as, “largest.”
I believe he does not care. Furthermore, I think his staff does not care.
Here is a man with a regiment of speech-writers and an army of fact- checkers. He does not consult with them and they don’t find it necessary to put him on guard against exaggerations. This is a tribe of people who don’t think they need to be cautious about facts. The underlying attitude is enormous arrogance:
No one will check. They are a bunch of ignorant peasants; or,
The President’s discourse is so captivating that everyone’s critical sense is put to sleep, especially the Muslims’. They are already in love with him anyway.
I resent especially that this particular falsehood undermines our national credibility among alert, attentive, well-informed Muslims. Those are the very people whose esteem Americans must earn and keep. There are plenty of those. They know enormously more about us than we know about them. Many don’t have much more important to do than America-watching.
Besides, the false statement proceeds from another kind of patronizing arrogance that used to be familiar in this country but has almost disappeared. It’s reminiscent of old anti-Semites asserting, “Some of my best friends are Jewish.”
I don’t know about other Muslims but Arabs are often subtle, if they are anything. Arab culture promotes a very refined appreciation of words. Many Arabs will not miss the slight in the affirmation underlying the President’s falsehood: “We are almost one of you.” Pathetic!
I would not buy a used car from this President, or even a new car. Too bad I have no choice but to buy his disastrous economic policies.
Why are Pres. Obama’s grades still locked up? We know both G. W. Bush’s and Senator Kerry’s grades, so, why the secrecy? (Both Bush and Kerry were lousy students, Kerry worse than Bush.)
*Those figures are all from Wikipedia. I don’t give Wikipedia unlimited credibility in general except with items, such as this one, that are sure to have been scrutinized repeatedly by different parties.