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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Posted April 14, 2009 | 12:31 PM (EST)

President Obama Did Not Bow Far Enough


The conservative fanatics, the haters and the racists in many corners of American society are making much of the fact that when he visited the King of Saudi Arabia recently, President Barack Obama bowed during the greeting.

Adding to the controversy, Obama's top aides, who seem more sensitive to the clamoring and chatter of the haters and bigots in conservative Republican circles and the right wing "news media," insisted Obama did not bow when greeting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Why is this a controversy? For the very reasons American soldiers are fighting an unjust war in Iraq. For the very reasons why Americans face terrorism from the Middle East. For the very reasons why over the past eight years, the United States has watched as its standing in the world has sunk like the Stock Market in the wake of eight years of conservative policies that undermined our nation.

It is a controversy because King Abdullah is Arab and Muslim, two words that excite the conservative fanatics, the media potentates whose careers are built on demagoguery and on a Republican party that continues to show that it is in disarray, led not by reason but rather by extremist ideologues who pander to the mob mentality in the public.

The fact is Saudi Arabia has been one of our strongest allies not only in the so-called "War on Terror." (Which was of course really a strategic plan to build up the profits of former Vice President Dick Cheney's company Halliburton, which recently moved its headquarters to Dubai.)

But Saudi Arabia has also been a strong ally in the war on oil prices, holding down prices to help American consumers who have guzzled gasoline at outrageously cheap prices for generations and are now complaining that the price of a world commodity is higher than what they would expect.

In fact, if oil were an American commodity, you can be sure that the industry greed driven by the mainly American and Western oil barons would be selling oil at prices that would force the gallon of gasoline to exceed not just $4 a gallon, but $20 a gallon.

That's the way fanatics in America are. They live by a double standard, embracing morality and principle for themselves, while denying it to the rest of the world.

None of the American fanatics and demagogues would be screaming if Obama bowed, as he did and other American officials including Republicans and conservatives did, before the Queen of England. Or in meetings with the Japanese.

It's just the Arabs that have rankled the conservative demagogues in America. The tragedy is that Obama felt the need to answer to the extremists in American society. Instead, he should simply stand up straight and tell the right wing extremists in America to "love it or leave it!"

Get out and take your vicious bigotry with you. You may not have noticed, but since Nov. 4, 2008, America has wiped the scum from the mirror, stripped away the hypocrisy and started to see all human beings through a lens of one principle, one morality and one measure of freedom and justice.

Finally, America is righting its keel. Respecting the world in the same way that we often demand respect from the world.

We will soon learn that this is not a world of hatred and bigotry created when President Bush and Cheney divided the world on the basis of the demagoguery of "you are either with us or against us."

There are shades of gray on all issues. Not everyone we fight hates us. Not everyone we fight opposes our Democracy. In many cases, those fighting us are simply defending themselves from our former Bush-era American tyranny.

Thank God that is changing. And thank God the screamers are now the victims of the hypocrisy they helped sew.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, American Arab standup comedian and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com or rayhanania@comcast.net.)