(Update: Mo Elleithee has some thoughts. – promoted by lowkell)
The full transcript of this speech is here. To me, the key lines are: “This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.” Also, “Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam — it’s a gross distortion of Islam” and “the reason that we will win this fight is not simply the strength of our arms — it is the strength of our values.” Clearly, President Obama understands who attacked us on 9/11 and what they stand for (nihilism, destruction, death, antipathy to our entire way of life, a wildly reactionary version of Islam, etc.). Obama also clearly understands what makes America the great nation that it is; first and foremost, the rights contained in our constitution and Bill of Rights. That latter document, I’ll remind everyone, begins with the words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” You can’t get much more definitive than that.
P.S. It almost goes without saying that it takes guts to stand up against the forces of bigotry and intolerance, when it’s so much easier not to say anything, or even to pander to those forces. Thank you, President Obama, for having the courage to stand up for American values and against those who would tear our nation apart because of their own bigotry and fear.