During an interview with Al Jazeera last month, NASA administrator Charles Bolden noted that President Obama wants to improve U.S. relations with Muslim countries throughout the world and asked Bolden to “find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.”
Media Matters’ Julie Millican noted the right-wing freak out that ensued, adding that none mentioned “a single reason why working with Muslim countries to ‘get more people to contribute’ to advancements in science and technology is a bad thing.” And last night on Fox News, host Sean Hannity joined the fray, wondering why Muslims don’t express more gratitude towards America:
HANNITY: I have a hard time with the President’s, quote, “outreach” to the Muslim community in this way. When he spoke to the Muslim world, he didn’t talk about America’s contributions to Kuwait. He didn’t talk about America’s contributions to Kosovo. He didn’t talk about America’s contributions to Indonesia or Iraq. … I don’t hear America being praised enough by the Muslim world. Does the Muslim world give America the credit it’s due?
It isn’t difficult to understand why Muslims around the world aren’t more appreciative of the United States, especially those in Iraq, where President Bush’s 2003 invasion led to the deaths of an estimated 100,000 Iraqis, a bloody two year sectarian civil war, and caused millions more to flee the country or become internally displaced — not to mention the costs of infrastructure damage due to the war.
And apparently to people like Hannity, it’s unclear why Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan aren’t thanking U.S.-led NATO forces for such things as predator drone strikes that routinely kill innocent civilians.
Or maybe Muslims around the world don’t appreciate it when American conservatives regularly berate and vilify Islam. Whether it’s such things as wanting a war with their religion, calling them “psychotics,” linking the entire religion to extremism, or advocating the destruction of mosques, it isn’t all that surprising that Muslims around the world don’t praise America more often. In fact, Hannity himself has participated in Muslim-bashing, once likening the Quran to the “Nazi bible” Mein Kempf.
Bush failed to grasp this simple concept as well, saying in 2007, “We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude.”