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Did you hear the speech President Obama delivered in Cairo week before last? I don’t mean just the words but the sound, the tone, the delivery – the way he actually articulated his sentences, the cadences, the pauses and the breaks for applause.
I did. But I did not hear it quite the way so many pundits did. There is no question the president is a great orator. He has the ability to use words to gain attention and focus concentration on important components of his beliefs. He has a basic, even innate, psychological insight into how to use words and he does it very well.
Three things about the Cairo speech, though, disturbed me. The first relates not directly to Obama but to his audience. They were polite and did a great deal of applauding. That’s good. As president of the United States, Obama merits that basic respect and more.
But there was absolutely no applause whenever he mentioned Israel. I wonder if he or anyone in his entourage noticed. And if they did, how they interpreted it.
Obama made two statements about Israel that repeatedly echo in my mind. The first sounded like little more then a nod to fanatic Islam’s denials and lies about the Holocaust: “America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.”
I would suggest that Obama read the history of the Jewish people and perhaps Ruth Wisse’s Jews and Power in order to understand that it is not just a tragic history that affords Jews the right to a homeland, but a strong history of faith and determination.
The president also stated, “many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away.” The tone shift to this sentence indicated a fear, an emotional glitch of sorts, in Obama’s voice. The slight inflection, the shift of his shoulders, suggested he was not being completely honest about this point.
It is hard to know just where Obama was leading. Still, the confident orator did not stand firm on this point when he delivered it. The real question is whether Obama is trying to reestablish that old bugaboo of moral equivalence for acts of violence versus acts of self-defense.
Howard Fineman pointed out in Newsweek that Obama’s skills as an orator allowed him to convince the great majority of American citizens to overlook the fact that the Obamas sat in Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church for so many years listening to Wright spew hate about America and Jews without so much as uttering a word in response.
In a speech Obama gave in Philadelphia during the presidential campaign he eloquently expounded on what it meant to be a black man in America. But in doing so he distracted voters from the main issue of the moment – his affiliation with Wright. Had he not done so, many believe Obama might not have been elected.
As someone who has lived through race riots and possesses an understanding of and appreciation for issues of human equality, I think America made a wonderful step forward by electing a black man as president. But in listening to Obama speak I have developed a concern not unlike that expressed by Newsweek’s Fineman.
I wonder whether Obama is not just a great orator but also a sophist – someone with an enhanced ability to manipulate rhetoric. He can debate all sides of a point with grace and ease but he may not have a fixed opinion or understanding of the broader issues – or worse, he is manipulating them toward a different end.
Obama was raised in a strong academic tradition of liberal discourse. The Ivy League education he received is second to none and better than many. Steeped in that tradition is the use of words: communication is viewed as the tool to heal all rifts.
As a professional who strongly believes communication is necessary for success, I admire his great abilities. But I also know that one must be honest in approaching those with whom you wish to communicate. Obama says he is doing so, but his audience, his shifting tonality, and his apparent leanings toward moral equivalence – along with his sophistry – leave me concerned.
About the Author: Dr. Michael J. Salamon is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the author of numerous articles and books, most recently “Abuse in the Jewish Community” (Urim Publications).
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Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.
Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.
Despite strong pressure to throw the book at the accused, Mr. Thompson allowed him to plead guilty to assault.
A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!
We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.
Obama’s comments calling Israeli settlements “unhelpful”are harsher than prior US administrations’
He ruthlessly crushed the revolt, and, despite lacking official Roman sanction, ordered the rebel leaders put to death without trial.
Hamas recently stated publicly that a new explosion of violence against Israel is imminent.
We can never allow Israel in the name of democracy to turn herself into an Arab or bi-nationalstate
The Jordanian public is a fertile ground of anger that could be easily exploited by ISIS.
Let us become modern day Maccabees and seize the day. Embrace the challenge. Fight for Hashem.
Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.
Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.
The recent conviction of an unlicensed therapist in one of our communities has led to serious soul searching on the part of some and confusion for many others. The most strident argument of his supporters is that he was convicted without proof; that the accuser made up the story to get back at her community and directed her anger at this amateur counselor.
Mental health specialists tend to speak about their patients according to a classification referred to as the DSM, which stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This classification system was first published in 1952 by the American Psychiatric Association as a method to classify mental disorders and develop a statistical baseline through which disorders can be understood, studied and treated. It is not the only classification system available.
The New York Times got it right. In an editorial published on Thursday May 19, the Times castigated the Vatican for issuing “flimsy guidelines” for combating the sexual abuse of children by the clerical hierarchy.
We may not want to accept it, but abuse occurs everywhere, even in our own communities. The effects of abuse are devastating and long lasting – not only on those individuals who are abused but on their families as well. Even one act of abuse against a person, regardless of age, can have a significantly negative impact that may last a lifetime.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/listening-to-the-great-orator/2009/06/17/
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