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Acknowledging Reality

During his address to the Turkish parliament, President Obama said:

I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds us has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not at war with Islam.

Naturally, this acknowledgment of what some of us call reality proves to Matt Lewis that Obama is “apologizing” to Turks and Muslims the world over, and more than this he is supposedly “breaking the tradition of not criticizing your own country abroad.” If anyone can locate anywhere in this statement where Obama has actually criticized the United States, he should consult a doctor, because it means he can see things that do not exist. Unless Lewis would like to argue that relations with Turkey and the Islamic world as a whole have not been strained, which would be a rather unique interpretation of the last decade, he should target some other part of the speech to criticize. Unless Lewis thinks that we are at war with Islam and would actually like to stand behind this claim, perhaps he should just not speak about these matters.

This is all par for the course for Lewis, a TownHall blogger for whom there is no lame cliche or movement conservative trope that he will not happily repeat. As a good example of this, take his unusually unimaginative attack on Ross Douthat in this bloggingheads segment. Ross, you see, is “what conservatism is if you live in New York City,” the sort favored by those who attend New York cocktail parties (!), and “not part of the conservative movement.” Worst of all, he is someone whom liberals do not automatically dismiss as an idiot. Lewis’ entire criticism is an exercise in the sort of mindless pseudo-sociological analysis that now passes for a lot of intra-conservative argument, according to which anyone whose writings are of interest to people outside the confines of the movement is inherently suspect and untrustworthy. No doubt in years to come Ross will be accused by such towering giants as Lewis of “criticizing his own movement” in so-called “foreign territory” when he acknowledges other realities that movement conservatives find unpleasant, and it will make just as much sense then as his useless attack on the President’s speech in Ankara has made today.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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