As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.
As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.
The idea that Islamic culture was once a beacon of learning and enlightenment is a commonly held myth. In fact, much of this has been exaggerated, often for quite transparent apologetic motives. The astrolabe was developed, if not perfected, long before Muhammad was born. The zero, which is often attributed to Muslims, and what we know today as “Arabic numerals” did not originate in Arabia, but in pre-Islamic India. Aristotle’s work was preserved in Arabic not initially by Muslims at all, but by Christians such as the fifth century priest Probus of Antioch, who introduced Aristotle to the Arabic-speaking world. Another Christian, Huneyn ibn-Ishaq (809-873), translated many works by Aristotle, Galen, Plato and Hippocrates into Syriac. His son then translated them into Arabic. The Syrian Christian Yahya ibn ‘Adi (893-974) also translated works of philosophy into Arabic, and wrote one of his own, The Reformation of Morals. His student, another Christian named Abu ‘Ali ‘Isa ibn Zur’a (943-1008), also translated Aristotle and others from Syriac into Arabic. The first Arabic-language medical treatise was written by a Christian priest and translated into Arabic by a Jewish doctor in 683. The first hospital was founded in Baghdad during the Abbasid caliphate -- not by a Muslim, but a Nestorian Christian. A pioneering medical school was founded at Gundeshapur in Persia — by Assyrian Christians.
In sum, there was a time when it was indeed true that Islamic culture was more advanced than that of Europeans, but that superiority corresponds exactly to the period when Muslims were able to draw on and advance the achievements of Byzantine and other civilizations. But when the Muslim overlords had taken what they could from their subject peoples, and the Jewish and Christian communities had been stripped of their material and intellectual wealth and thoroughly subdued, Islam went into a period of intellectual decline from which it has not yet recovered.
I'll add, on the 'religious equality and racial tolerance' bit, Jews and Christians, from what I've read, were dhimmi; restricted in their worship, in what house/type they could own, what kind of livestock they could own, and had to pay a tax to be allowed to live this way. And Mohammed didn't like non-arabs; said it quite plainly that 'Islam is a religion for Arabs'. Not exactly what the President was pushing. Ok, further down he notes this:
"The dhimmi, as these covenanted peoples were called, were granted religious freedom, not forced to convert to Islam. They could continue to be Jews and Christians, and, as it turned out, they could share in much of Muslim social and economic life. In return for this freedom of religious conscience the Peoples of the Book (pagans had no such privilege) were required to pay a special tax — no Muslims paid taxes — and to observe a number of restrictive regulations: Christians and Jews were prohibited from attempting to proselytize Muslims, from building new places of worship, from displaying crosses or ringing bells. In sum, they were forbidden most public displays of their religious rituals."
Things like that, basically sucking up to other countries, and all the apologies for the US... about what you'd expect from Obama. He did point out that the US has done many good things for the world, but always he throws in "We're not so good, we need to advance", always he has to have something to denigrate the US. And this line:
Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.
WHAT 'world order'? What 'order' has elevated one nation over another? Just how does he mean this? I strongly suspect he's speaking of having a 'proper' world order(UN) making sure no country is, in his terms, better off than another. Yeah, that'd be a wonderful situation, wouldn't it?
I suspect that what American Thinker put forward was right; he didn't have the integrity or balls to say anything sooner- tried to avoid it altogether- about the murder of Private William Long and wounding of Private Quinton Ezeagwula, because he didn't want it to somehow cause him trouble in sucking up to the 'muslim world'. Got news for you, Mr. President; if calling a muslim a murderer and dirtbag, even indirectly, for this crime would cause problems with them, then they need to change their damned attitude. And you need to stand up for our guys, not filter everything through "We must not give offense to muslims."
And, to borrow from someone, STOP APOLIGIZING FOR THIS COUNTRY! I'm sick of it.