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Obama's provocative remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast

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President Obama personally added a reference to the Crusades in his speech this week at the National Prayer Breakfast, hoping to add context and nuance to his condemnation of Islamic terrorists by noting that people also committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ, the New York Times quoted presidential aides as saying on Friday.

The White House has defended President Obama's remarks after he was widely lambasted by conservatives for bringing up acts done in Christianity's name amid a discussion of modern-day terrorist threats, The Hill reported.

Americans should hold themselves "up to our own values and our own standards," deputy press secretary Eric Schultz was quoted as saying aboard the president's flight to Indianapolis, where Obama was speaking at a community college, according to the pool report. Obama believes that "when we fall short of that, we need to be honest with ourselves," Schultz said, noting Obama's "belief in American exceptionalism." "The president believes that America is the greatest country on earth, not only because of our military or economic prowess or because we serve in a unique leadership role amongst the international community," Schultz added.

Speaking of the tension between the compassionate and murderous acts religion can inspire, the President said: "Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history." He went on to say: "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."

The Republican response to President Obama's remarks was predictable

"The president's comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I've ever heard a president make in my lifetime," said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (R). "He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a potential 2016 presidential candidate, also criticized the speech, saying in a statement, "While Christians of today are taught to live their lives as the reflection of Christ's love, the radicals of ISIS use their holy texts as a rationale for violence." He added, "To insinuate modern Christians -- the same Christian faith that led the abolitionist movement, the civil-rights movement, and global charitable efforts fighting disease and poverty -- cannot stand up against the scourge we see in the Middle East is wrong."

The media coverage of his speech was also hostile

Writing under the headline, "Critics pounce after Obama talks Crusades, slavery at prayer breakfast," Juliet Eilperin wrote in Washington Post: As a new president, he dismissed the idea of American exceptionalism, noting that Greeks think their country is special, too. He labeled the Bush-era interrogation practices, euphemistically called "harsh" for years, as torture. America, he has suggested, has much to answer given its history in Latin America and the Middle East.

"Mr. President, the Crusades were 800 years ago and the Inquisition 500 years ago. What's happening right now is not Christians on the march, it is radical Islam," Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News, calling the remarks "astonishing."

Obama's comparison of Crusades to Islamist terror acts misses mark was the title of the Washington Times story by Wesley Pruden. He writes: "But given the widespread and well-founded suspicion that Mr. Obama is soft on those who, as he says, distort Islam to justify jihad, why did he choose a Christian prayer breakfast to equate the faith of most of his constituents to the barbarism of the cult whose proper name he cannot bring himself to say?"

Obama defends Islam, attacks Christianity at prayer breakfast was the title of an article at Frontpage Mag by Daniel Greenfield, who writes: "When it comes to Islam, Obama is like the weather in Seattle. There are no surprises. If there's a national prayer breakfast, then he's going to slam Christianity and defend Islam. While Obama defends Islam, he attacks Christianity. He has to do this because it's the only way to uphold the myth that Islam is peaceful. He can't defend Islam. He can just deny, redirect and attack another religion."

Tea Party Network News headline was: Obama throws Christ and Christians under the bus to prop up Islam at nat'l prayer breakfast. Mathew Burke of the TPNN wrote: "At the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, Obama, who is supposedly a Christian even though his pastor of over 20 years isn't quite sure, attacked Christ and Christianity in a thinly veiled attempt to prop up the religion of his youth, Islam. Don't criticize Islam, Obama seems to be saying at the National Prayer Breakfast, because Christianity, after all, is just as bad -- or something, while of course, using the opportunity to pull the race card as well, killing two birds with one stone." "In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ," Obama outrageously claimed.

The Daily Caller headline was: Obama uses prayer breakfast to call for curbs on Islam criticism. Its White House Correspondent, Neil Munro, wrote: "President Obama used a speech at the annual prayer breakfast Thursday to portray Americans' routine criticism of Islam as 'insults' and 'attacks,' and to repeatedly suggest that Americans should curb their criticism of Islamic ideas."

Obama's Comparison of Christianity to radical Islam defies logic was the headline of Chicago Sun Times, where Jonah Goldberg wrote: "....the Inquisition and the Crusades aren't the indictments Obama thinks they are. For starters, the Crusades -- despite their terrible organized cruelties -- were a defensive war." To support his point he quotes an agenda-driven historian of Islam, Bernard Lewis: "The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineffectual response to the jihad -- a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war."

Not surprisingly, James Taranto writing in the Wall Street Journal quoted Bernard Lewis's 2007 American Enterprise Institute speech in which he argued that the Crusades were not an unwarranted act of aggression against the Muslim world. "But let us have a little sense of proportion. We are now expected to believe that the Crusades were an unwarranted act of aggression against a peaceful Muslim world. Hardly." Headline of the WSJ was, Obama's Crusades: Get off your high horse. The chickens are coming home to roost.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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