Posts Tagged ‘Susan Jacoby’

WaPo’s Patel on Obama, Presidential Prayer Service

February 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Fellow Duke Islamic Studies Center denizen Jonathan¬† Cross called my attention to this item by Eboo Patel. It’s from On Faith, a site jointly run by the Washington Post and Newsweek, which is generally a great resource for thougthful and occasionally provocative stories on religion.

Patel writes about the excitement of American Muslims for the new presidency:

Many prominent Muslims were present for the prayer service at the National Cathedral, all of them elated about the promise of this new President. One of them – Ingrid Mattson, the President of the Islamic Society of North America – was on stage offering a prayer for the nation with a dozen other diverse American religious leaders. The preacher – hand-picked by Obama – spoke of the importance of building interfaith cooperation with the Muslim world, and cited a letter called “A Common Word Between Us and You” sent by Muslim scholars to the Christian community.

It was all of one piece with the theme of Obama’s inaugural address: America being America again, to its own citizens, and the rest of the world.

Perhaps we should expect that American Muslims would be more confident about President Obama than Muslims elsewhere. After all, there are fewer domestic policy questions that affect Muslims as such, and Obama’s power to change the rhetoric within the U.S. seems considerable.

But the real test, for Muslims, for me and for this blog, is what he actually does in the arena of foreign policy. It is there that Obama will face real challenges if seeks to really change the conditions of engagement between Americans and Muslims: he will face internal opposition, wary potential partners, the inability to act unilaterally, and the burden of history–particularly historical U.S. policy.

Check out this rather more pessimistic Susan Jacoby essay also.

–David Graham, Trinity ’09 and editor