Barack Obama said many important and interesting things in his Cairo speech today, and here is one comment I especially appreciated:
... it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
This is exactly right. Attempts to prohibit women from freely choosing to wear head scarves or other clothing that expresses their religious beliefs is, under the guise of defending women's right to choose or keeping religion out of public places such as schools, an act of hostility towards their religion and their liberties. In France, for example, many liberals and even leftists have managed to convince themselves that this is a wise policy, when it is not only oppressive but provocative and likely to backfire. Moreover, it is the height of hypocrisy because in France Christian students are allowed to wear crosses around their necks as long as they are "discreet."
Freedom of religion is just as important as freedom from religion.
And I hope I don't need to apologize for using a photo of a beautiful woman to illustrate this post.
Interfering in Israel's "internal affairs"? Glenn Greenwald has a good post today on the reaction to Obama's putting the squeeze on Israel over its settlements in Palestine. Apparently the Israelis think Obama is meddling in their private business. Excuse me? An occupation, like that of the West Bank, is an international issue subject to international law. Now if Obama said that Jews and Arabs should be allowed to marry in Israel, which they currently are not, that might be meddling in Israel's internal affairs... or, on the other hand, perhaps it would be championing human rights. I guess there is no such thing as "internal affairs" in today's world.
Even American Jews are realizing the jig is up for Israeli settlements. See this editorial in the Jewish Daily Forward for evidence (with thanks to Talking Points Memo.)
Empathy on the Supreme Court? A superb column by Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times about how a little empathy in 1927 might have spared thousands of people from being sterilized against their will by eugenicists.