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In a particularly shameless attempt to stir up the right wing, RealClearPolitics.com has a story up, complete with video of the President's commencement speech at West Point, with the banner headline, "'They Lead No Religion': Obama Defends Islam, Muslim Fanatics At Commencement".

WOW, you might say -- the President of the United States actually went to West Point and delivered a commencement speech in which he defended "Muslim fanatics."  Well no, not actually.  He actually CONDEMNED Muslim fanatics as the small, warped individuals that they (along with the fanatics in other religions who presume to kill innocents in the name of their religion) in fact are.

There wasn't a single word in the speech defending Muslim fanatics.  In fact, the linked video and the excerpt from the speech that constitutes the entire content of the article demonstrate quite conclusively that the headline is a complete lie.  Here is the entire content of the article headlined with the claim that the President defended "Muslim fanatics" in his commencement speech (which I'm quoting in full because it's not -- and can't be -- copyrighted):

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Our campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and to defeat al Qaeda is part of an international effort that is necessary and just. But this is a different kind of war. There will be no simple moment of surrender to mark the journey’s end – no armistice or banner headline. Though we have had more success in eliminating al Qaeda leaders in recent months than in recent years, they will continue to recruit, plot, and exploit our open society. We see that in bombs that go off in Kabul and Karachi. We see it in attempts to blow up an airliner over Detroit or a SUV in Times Square, even as these failed attacks show that pressure on networks like al Qaeda is forcing them to rely on terrorists with less time and space to train. We see it in al Qaeda’s gross distortion of Islam, their disrespect for human life, and their attempts to prey upon fear, and hatred, and prejudice.

So the threat will not go away soon, but let’s be clear: al Qaeda and its affiliates are small men on the wrong side of history. They lead no nation. They lead no religion. We need not give in to fear every time a terrorist tries to scare us. We should not discard our freedoms because extremists try to exploit them. We cannot succumb to division because others try to drive us apart. We are the United States of America. We’ve repaired our union, faced down fascism, and outlasted communism. We have gone through turmoil and come out stronger, and we will do so once more.

I know this to be true because I see the strength and resilience of the American people. Terrorists want to scare us, but New Yorkers go about their lives unafraid. Extremists want a war between America and Islam, but Muslims are a part of our national life, including those who serve in our Army. Adversaries want to divide us, but we are united by our support for you – soldiers who send a clear message that this country is both the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Whatever one thinks of this President, that's a speech that ANY U.S. President could have given.  In fact, President Bush (the second) gave speeches saying similar things.  The difference is that I don't recall any media outlet claiming that President Bush, by giving speeches saying very similar things, was "defending Muslim fanatics."

Predictably enough, the right-wing mob has descended upon this totally false headline.  The FREEPers are running with it, and as I type this, if you Google "Obama defends Islam, Muslim fanatics" you already get 196 hits.  These take you to screeds claiming that this proves that this President is a Muslim out to destroy America, and similar crap.

I respect anyone's right to disagree with this President, from either the left or the right.  That right is the essence of being an American.  But the essence of being an American is NOT telling outright, bare-faced LIES about what the President has said, in the blissful confidence that most of your sheep won't bother to click on the video link or read his actual words to verify that you're lying to them.  Doing that is taking the path to totalitarianism.

If you want to tell Real Clear Politics what you think of these lies, there's a link at the end of the article.  I emailed them, and I'd urge others to do the same.

Originally posted to leevank on Sat May 22, 2010 at 08:34 PM PDT.

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