Obamateurism of the Day

posted at 8:05 am on June 9, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

I wrote last week that Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo last week provided a cornucopia of Obamateurisms, and this is yet another example.  In his haste to butter up the Egyptians and the wider Muslim audience, Obama gave the Islamic world credit for an invention for which they don’t even get runner-up status:

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.

I’ll skip the vacuous but ambiguous credit Obama gives Al-Azhar for the Renaissance and Enlightment; the Irish will have some complaints about the former, and the rest of Europe over the latter.  Specifically, though, Muslims didn’t invent the magnetic compass.  Credit for that usually goes to the Chinese, who experimented with needles and lodestones as far back as the second century BC.  They built a complete compass by the early 12th century, and eventually Marco Polo would bring one back on his travels.

In fact, the Muslims didn’t even come in second.  Europe developed the magnetic compass at the end of the 12th century, while the Arabic compass would come decades later.

Doesn’t the White House do research and fact-checking on Obama’s speeches?  No, of course not.  If they don’t do it for their economic policies, why bother to do it for foreign panderfests?

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at obamaisms@edmorrissey.com with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!


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I’ve yet to see a case where historians didn’t quibble over who invented what when.

Petty stuff, really.

Obviously, the speech was intended to communicate respect for the culture and used specificity to do so.

What’s wrong with that? Not a darn thing.

Sorry, but the speech was a good one. I will find the GOP more credible when the rhetoric tones down and the criticisms are finely honed, relevant, and pointed in the right direction.

AnninCA on June 9, 2009 at 11:39 AM

He speaks the truth of the teleprompter. I’m waiting for some hacker to hijack that thing during his next prime time infomercial and feed him some zingers.

wonk-a-donk on June 9, 2009 at 11:15 AM

That still wouldn’t be funnier than when he started reading the speech of his guest!

highhopes on June 9, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Sorry, but the speech was a good one. I will find the GOP more credible when the rhetoric tones down and the criticisms are finely honed, relevant, and pointed in the right direction.

AnninCA on June 9, 2009 at 11:39 AM

Who are you Helen Keller? The GOP has been right out there with valid criticisms, concerns, and counter arguements from the beginning.

Perhaps you should concentrate on that if you see nothing wrong with the filthy liar’s pandering to the terrorist-loving peoples of the world (you know, the ones rejoiced with their extremists killed over 3,000 Americans in one day and remained silent when another 4,000 American troops in the subsequent combat operations).

highhopes on June 9, 2009 at 11:45 AM

The White House doesn’t need to do research. Whatever Obama says automatically “is”. It’s hard being a god.

GarandFan on June 9, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Why let facts get in the way of a perfectly good suck-up to one’s Muslim masters?

SKYFOX on June 9, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Sorry, but the speech was a good one. I will find the GOP more credible when the rhetoric tones down and the criticisms are finely honed, relevant, and pointed in the right direction.
AnninCA on June 9, 2009 at 11:39 AM

Who are you Helen Keller? The GOP has been right out there with valid criticisms, concerns, and counter arguements from the beginning.
highhopes on June 9, 2009 at 11:45 AM

When a liberal says attacks must be “pointed in the right direction,” he always means they must be pointed at conservatives.”

These same moonbats were giggling like brain-dead children every time Bush made the verbal equivalent of a typographical error.

logis on June 9, 2009 at 12:15 PM

What’s wrong with that? Not a darn thing.

Hehe, I’ll bite.

What’s wrong with that? The Renaissance rescued Europe from the Dark Ages. Islam had almost nothing to do with The Renaissance. In fact, if Islam had it’s way, it would have conquered Europe and it would still be in the Dark Ages to this day.

The United States of America would not exist.

I expect a lot more from the POTUS.

reaganaut on June 9, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Ed. “Surprisingly Good”, still?

In the future, remember that just because it doesn’t make your blood curdle doesn’t mean Obama’s speeches aren’t BS distortions and outright fabrications.

He’s just a man.

bluelightbrigade on June 9, 2009 at 12:51 PM

The Renaissance rescued Europe from the Dark Ages. Islam had almost nothing to do with The Renaissance. In fact, if Islam had it’s way, it would have conquered Europe and it would still be in the Dark Ages to this day.
reaganaut on June 9, 2009 at 12:32 PM

I’d love to hear some “scholar” actually try to explain any part of the fraudulent history lesson The Smartest Man in the World just gave us.

But this has to be one of the low points. As Winston Churchill said, back near the turn of the last century: the main practical difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christianity lost its war against science and reason, while Islam won.

logis on June 9, 2009 at 12:52 PM

The Renaissance rescued Europe from the Dark Ages. Islam had almost nothing to do with The Renaissance. In fact, if Islam had it’s way, it would have conquered Europe and it would still be in the Dark Ages to this day.
reaganaut on June 9, 2009 at 12:32 PM

The Renaissance was the rapid acceleration of advancement Europe was already making since around AD 1000. It accelerated in a large degree due to the re-acquisition of classical knowledge, art, scholarly works, literature, etc that had been preserved by Byzantium and carried to Italy by Greeks fleeing the fall of Constantinople in AD 1453…

Ironically the classic definition of “Middle Ages” is given from AD 476 (Fall of the Western Roman Empire) to AD 1453 (Fall of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire…

Back to the point… Byzantium had been stagnating for centuries, but they preserved the knowledge of the ancient world. Islam also had access to this knowledge, actually as long as the Byzantines had, but had done little with it after their early centuries. The West took full advantage of the Byzantine legacy and took off, beginning a rapid expansion of learning, advance of technology, etc that continues to this day.

From the Renaissance forward, the West would lead the world in knowledge, learning, and technology which led to it’s dominance of the world from the 16th to 20th centuries.

That could have been Islam, from the 7th Century onward, had it been a structure that allowed for learning and innovation. It wasn’t, so it didn’t.

wildcat84 on June 9, 2009 at 1:12 PM

Doesn’t the White House do research and fact-checking on Obama’s speeches? No, of course not. If they don’t do it for their economic policies, why bother to do it for foreign panderfests?

The cipher in chief, in charge of little ciphers. It’s all love. No need for facts.

Schadenfreude on June 9, 2009 at 1:34 PM

Islam should be credited with inventing Jihad. Other than that, it seems to me during those Jihad conquests to spread submission(Islam) that they indeed stole the ideas from those conquest. If the religion of Islam is so free as to create or further human progress…..they wouldn’t be living in the darkage that is the middle east. You figure with all that sand they’d invented the glass bottle at the very least.
Obama has in his tenure as TOTUS spread over and over again falsehoods about the world as it was and as it is.

America, bless God.

chartersmaclean on June 9, 2009 at 1:37 PM

I’ve yet to see a case where historians didn’t quibble over who invented what when.

Petty stuff, really.

Obviously, the speech was intended to communicate respect for the culture and used specificity to do so.

What’s wrong with that? Not a darn thing.

Sorry, but the speech was a good one. I will find the GOP more credible when the rhetoric tones down and the criticisms are finely honed, relevant, and pointed in the right direction.

AnninCA on June 9, 2009 at 11:39 AM

Petty stuff??? The President of the United States making up history while giving a speech in a foreign country? Respect for the culture? What about respect for our culture, our country? He never does that!!!
Geez, if Bush or Cheney or Gingrich or Palin or any other Conservative had of said this, the media and lefties would be howling. This man just makes it up as he goes, and gives credit for whatever to any person or people that he is trying to smooze, (except American people or culture). What is so amazing is that his speech writers don’t research it before they finalize his speeches. It’s like, “oh The One wrote it, so it must be true”.

Susanboo on June 9, 2009 at 1:45 PM

Islam should be credited with inventing Jihad.
chartersmaclean on June 9, 2009 at 1:37 PM

Interesting point. If you’re going to recount the history of Islam, how can any thinking person leave that out? It’s not like it’s just a tiny little offshoot – like the Crusades and snake dancing are to the whole of Christianity. Jihadic conquest of territory was the fundamental basis of Islam for hundreds of years; it’s what created the Islamic world in the first place; and it’s what radical Islamic terrorism is entirely predicated on today.

So how can you give a “world-changing” speech to the Islamic world without ever once even mentioning THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM?

logis on June 9, 2009 at 2:17 PM

…paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.

If by “paving the way” he means “overrunning portions of”, then, sure, Islam paved the way.

forest on June 9, 2009 at 2:39 PM

I’ve yet to see a case where historians didn’t quibble over who invented what when.
Petty stuff, really.
Obviously, the speech was intended to communicate respect for the culture and used specificity to do so.
What’s wrong with that? Not a darn thing.
AnninCA on June 9,

Not a darn thing unless those who are being pandered to actually know real history causing them to interpret the pandering to be,

“Obama thinks were too stupid to know the real history.”

“Obama thinks were too lazy to look it up”

When you pander like that, you insult the intelligence of those your pandering too.

Other interpretations could be,

“This guy Obama is an idiot”

“This idiot Obama is considered smart in America?”

“Wow Americans are dumb, they actually elected this intellectual poseur”

And I’m sure there are dozens more ways this sort of pandering can be interpreted as “bad”.

DSchoen on June 9, 2009 at 2:55 PM

As Winston Churchill said, back near the turn of the last century: the main practical difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christianity lost its war against science and reason, while Islam won.
logis on June 9

Was that before, after or during the time when Churchill saved or created 6.2 million jobs?

DSchoen on June 9, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Aren’t we missing a big error here? He credits Islam with inventing algebra. Algebra goes back to the Babylonians. Islam didn’t even begin until 800 years after the fall of Babylon.

SD on June 9, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Aren’t we missing a big error here? He credits Islam with inventing algebra. Algebra goes back to the Babylonians. Islam didn’t even begin until 800 years after the fall of Babylon.

SD on June 9, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Actually longer than that. The last Babylonian Empire, the Chaldean one, fell to Cyrus The Great (of Persia) in about 530 BC.

Given that Mohammed lived in the late 6th Century AD that puts this at over 1,000 years since the fall of Babylon to the Persians.

Babylon was controlled by the Persians from 530 BC to about 330 BC when Alexander took it from them, and it was taken from them (Selucids) around 130 BC by the Parthians (Persians) and held until the Arabs destroyed the Persian Empire in the AD 630′s.

wildcat84 on June 9, 2009 at 3:50 PM

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