Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An event of modest importance

Dear Citizens of the United States of America,

I would like to congratulate you on the inauguration of your new president. Seeing the crowds in Washington on my TV set, and knowing that so many of you intend to continue celebrating late into the night, I can understand and empathize with your hope and desire for a new beginning, given the turmoil that you have seen and are currently seeing over the last 8 years.

Listening, however, to your television reporters drone on, filling air time with incrementally increasing inanity (seriously, they are running down the medical complaints of the other VIPs on CNN right now), I am dismayed to find that so many of you actually believe that the rest of the world is somehow counting on you, or that we are for some reason impressed at your accomplishment.

Not to say that it isn't a great accomplishment. For those of you whose families have been in the country long enough, your grandmother's grandmother would have lived through a time when one half of your people fought a war against the other half for the right to own black people as slaves. Land of freedom indeed.

Still, "Look world, our leader isn't an old white man anymore," is a bit unimpressive. The most backwards amongst us are far past that milestone already. Even Pakistan had a woman running the government decades ago.

Not to be a downer, but we aren't actually holding our breath, for two reasons. Firstly, your President, if he does the job you elected him to do, is supposed to look after your interests. Sometimes, if not most of the time, those interests run exactly opposite to ours. And sometimes, you don't know what's good for you. Hence, the very intelligent Mr. Obama knew that many of you wouldn't vote for him unless he a) promised to kill a sufficiently large number of people overseas, and b) cozied up to the most fashionable pro-apartheid movement in the Western world.

No, we are happy for you today, but our hopes must lie elsewhere. From Canada to Cambodia, the people who will help us are ourselves. As Shakespeares's Cassius said "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Not that we are intent on slaying Caesar. We are, however, certain that sometimes "doing the right thing" in the world is not going to sit well with you or your new President. In the end, it doesn't matter to us who he is, but what he does. That is what we will remember him for, and what we will respond to.

As he himself famously said, "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

So enjoy your milestone, America. For you, it is of tremendous value and symbolism. Just don't delude yourself into thinking that it is of the same importance for the rest of us.

The Proud Islamist

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