Click to Sign

A Crisis Looms

See The Truth!

Who should be Gore's running mate?
Evan Bayh
Joe Biden
Barbara Boxer
Wesley Clark
Hillary Clinton
John Conyers
Howard Dean
Dick Durbin
John Edwards
Russ Feingold
Rush Holt
John Kerry
Dennis Kucinich
Barack Obama
Jack Reed
Harry Reid
Bill Richardson
Mark Warner
Someone else
Not sure
Hosted at

Grassroots for Gore is a team blog of volunteer bloggers. The blog is neither authorized by Mr. Gore nor is affiliated with any of the organizations that he is a part of. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual authors and commenters.

Saturday, February 18

Gore's Jeddah Speech: A challenge to Tom Bevan of RCP

Part 1:

Tom Bevan of RCP claims in this Chicago Suntimes critique of the reported Jeddah speech by Al Gore that:

``Gore is against eavesdropping on potential terrorist communications and he's against tighter screens for visitors originating from Islamic countries''.

Mr. Bevan:

  • I challenge you to point out to us exactly where in his MLK-Day speech Gore said that he was against all surveillance? FYI, in that speech, Gore opposed illegal Warrantless wiretapping, and Bush breaking the written law in the process of doing so, and resoundingly indicted the broader powergrab by the administration. Therefore, this claim by you is a mere prevarication.

  • then, have you yet seen the full transcript of the Jeddah speech that you talk about? Can overreaching assertions be made without presenting the full context in which those remarks were made? Isn't it entirely possible that Gore made his case addressing all sides of the isssue? If you indeed have access to the full-transcript, isn't it incumbent upon you to post either the full text or a link to it before you pass your judgements? Until you do so, your credibility doesn't stand much taller than that of Ann Coulter, whom you aptly excoriate in your other writings.

Part 2:

In his post Al Gore's Jeddah Speech and Conservative Cluelessness, The Anonymous Liberal has this to say:

Al Gore's Jeddah Speech and Conservative Cluelessness

The other day Al Gore gave a speech to a largely Arab audience at the Jeddah Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia. At one point in the speech, Gore observed that, following 9/11, Arabs in the United States had been "indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable." He assured the audience that most Americans do not support such treatment.

Conservatives seized upon Gore's remarks and went into a spasm of hyperbolic and misplaced rage. Michelle Malkin hammered out a quick post entitled "Al Gore Slanders America" in which she linked to a bunch of other right-wing bloggers who said pretty much the same thing. Scott of Powerline accused Gore of "defame[ing] his country before a foreign audience for fun and profit." Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters asked : "We held mass roundups of Arabs? When? Where?"  And my personal favorite was a post at RealClearPolitics which framed the issue this way: "Now ask yourself: between the asinine comments of Gore and Coulter, who's done more harm to the cause of the United States?" RCP's answer: clearly Al Gore (For those of you who've been under a rock for the last week, Ann Coulter--while speaking at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)--commented "I think our motto should be post-9-11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences'").

In the face of cluelessness of this magnitude, it's always hard to know where to begin. But I guess a good place to start is by pointing out that everything Al Gore said in his speech was true. I'm sure this will come as a surprise to well-informed people like Captain Ed, but following 9/11, people of Arab descent were indeed rounded up for minor visa violations and held in limbo for months, most of them eventually deported. This was well documented. Here's an excerpt from an NBC News article from May 2002 entitled "Caught in the Dragnet":

Across the nation, the Sept. 11 sparked detentions of scores of Arab and Muslim

immigrants on technical violations of visa regulations. These immigrants, many of

whom do not speak English and have little family in the country, are left in jail for

months on end, some without legal representation or even the knowledge that they can demand it. . . .

Exact numbers of detainees since Sept. 11 are nearly impossible to come by. Figures

released by the INS show that 537 individuals were detained between Sept. 11 and Nov. 27. Of those, only 5 percent were from countries outside of the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.

But legal aid organizations estimate that thousands have been detained since Sept. 11.

Second, every one of these knee-jerk Gore-bashing posts seems to assume that Al Gore was informing his audience of something they didn't already know, and thereby needlessly stirring up anti-American sentiment. Quite the opposite is true. Gore was simply addressing a widely-held greivance. Stories of such treatment have been chronicled in the Arab media for years. Not surprisingly, those who were mistreated and/or deported told their stories to friends, to family, and to various Arab and Muslim media outlets. Nothing Al Gore said was news to anyone in the Muslim world.

Far from fanning the flames of anti-Americanism, Gore was actually doing damage control. He was trying to de-fuse a source of strong anti-American sentiment by making it clear to his audience that the actions at issue were not condoned by most Americans. It's hard to understate just how important it is to make it clear to the Muslim world that American policy almost never represents the views of all Americans. The Osama bin Ladens of the world--who depend on strong anti-American sentiment for their political support--do their best to blur the distinction between American policy and the views of everyday Americans; it's much easier to get people to hate a monolithic, undifferentiated mass. When we allow the Muslim world to see our diversity of viewpoints and our internal political dissent, it humanizes us; it breaks down stereotypes and misconceptions. And that is exactly what we have to do if we are going to win over the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. The Michelle Malkins of the world seem to think we would be better off if we always presented a unified front to the rest of the world, if we never admitted error, and simply refused to address any legitimate grievances people might have with any U.S. policy. That is exactly the wrong approach to take.

Conservatives (at least the ones worked into a frenzy over this speech) seem to think that any criticism of U.S. policy directed at a foreign audience amounts to "slandering America." How childish. First, in the age of the internet and global telecommunications, it's ridiculous to think that political dissent directed at a purely domestic audience goes unnoticed by the rest of the world. So, on a practical level, why would Gore's speech be any more damaging to American interests simply because it was made on foreign soil to a largely foreign audience?

More importantly, though, how in the world does Gore's speech harm American interests? Are people really more likely to hate America because Al Gore mentioned something they already knew and then apologized for it? Hardly. If his speech has any effect at all, it will be to reduce anti-American sentiment.

Compare that to Ann Coulter's crude slurring of every Muslim in the world at an event attended by the top leaders of our ruling party, a remark which apparently prompted a "boisterous ovation" from the Republican crowd. It's hard to imagine a single remark with more potential to engender hatred of America.

Conservatives need to understand that it's going to take more than just tough talk and military muscle to win the fight against Islamic extremism. It's also going to take occasional humility and a willingness to at least address legitimate greivances. We have to sell America to the world, and that means making it clear that Americans do not all speak with one voice and acknowledging that American policy, while guided by good faith, is not beyond error. Al Gore understands this. Many conservatives do not.

Remember me (?)

All personal information that you provide here will be governed by the Privacy Policy of More...

Comments on "Gore's Jeddah Speech: A challenge to Tom Bevan of RCP"


Post a comment