Why did President Obama choose tolerance as the subject of his speech at the Pentagon ostensibly to commemorate the victims of 9/11? Why is it that he insists on making this the overarching point at such events rather than, say, express our deep regret for the lost lives of the murdered Americans and repeat our national resolve to "bring to justice" those behind the massacre?
Then again, we are talking about President Obama here, the man who also believes the primary lesson we should learn from the Islamists' beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl is that the freedom of press is alive and well. Speechless here.
Obama's the guy who, instead of somberly lamenting the killing of 12 soldiers and a security guard by U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood, began his remarks with a detached "shout-out" to Dr. Joe Medicine Crow, leaving the world to wonder just how warm the blood flowing through his veins is.
But it's not Obama's curiously bloodless behavior and strange disconnectedness (as British journalist Toby Harnden put it) that most concerns me about his Pentagon speech and the others. It's his reflexive instinct to lecture Americans, when they're not the ones who need lecturing.
His first reaction, for example, when Americans protested the building of the ostentatious mosque at ground zero was to assume Americans were being intolerant and bigoted. He came out strongly in favor of the mosque and the importance of religious tolerance. He later pretended he was talking about the Muslims' and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's First Amendment rights, but no one was suggesting they didn't have the right to build.
You will note that when Pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn the Quran, Obama didn't come out stumping for his First Amendment rights, not that I think he should have done so here, either, but it certainly reveals a double standard in his thinking.
He and Defense Secretary Robert Gates thought they had to personally contact Jones to dissuade him from engaging in his gratuitously provocative act, but they didn't similarly feel the need to contact Rauf to dissuade him of his grossly insensitive act.
You would think that if Obama wanted to lecture someone on the need for tolerance, it would be the imam, who can't possibly believe that his plan to build a mosque on the very sacred grounds of 9/11 is a bridge-building overture -- as opposed to the obviously in-your-face statement that it is. But Obama remains silent.
Why does he constantly have to remind the Muslim world that we are not at war with Islam, but only al-Qaida, when we have never indicated otherwise?