Obama's Message of Inclusion to Muslims
If it ain't broke, the saying goes, don't fix it. And so it was that the Muslim world got to hear the 2009 version of Barack Obama's 2004 Democratic convention speech.
In the first rendition before a swarm of fellow party members, though aimed at a national audience, Obama assured Americans that we are not a nation of red states and blue states.
"There's not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America."
Four years later, Obama was elected president of those United States.
At Cairo University on Thursday, Obama delivered essentially the same message on a slightly grander scale, telling the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, as well as the planet at large:
"The interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart."
The nearly hour-long speech, which contained many inspired passages, was essentially a teaching moment. A lecture, if you will.
Here's the lesson: We have to get along, or we're all doomed. Freedom works; oppression doesn't. Your homework: Clear your mind of the past, evict stereotypes and join the global future.
Beyond delivering core messages of partnership and a new beginning based on mutual understanding and respect, Obama made three big scores: He essentially neutralized Osama bin Laden. He managed to call Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a hateful ignoramus without ever mentioning his name.
And he affirmed Western values of democracy, human rights, religious freedom and women's right to self-determination -- all while making Muslims feel complimented, appreciated and understood.
No small feats.
To delegitimize the man whose name rhymes with his, Obama had only to show up and not be George W. Bush. Osama the cave-dweller's latest blurt, timed to preempt Obama's speech, was more pathetic than threatening -- the muffled bleat of an emasculated warrior powerless against an enemy he can no longer demonize.