Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Acting White: Why Did Obama Bow to King Saud?

For all the press that Michelle Obama and the Queen of England received at the touching of each other’s backs, President Obama’s bow to Kind Saud, at their introduction at the G-20 meeting, certainly deserves scrutiny.

For the record, no American President should ever present our country, by his or her actions, as subservient to anyone, period. We can be wrong, yes, but subservient, hell no. Upon inspection, Obama forgoes the head nod or kiss on the cheek, each an acceptable show of respect, but rather he bows deeply at the waist, signaling, in the king’s culture, a lower stature. This is completely unacceptable, for the man, or for the country he leads.

It may be the case that Obama the POTUS was overtaken by Obama the man, familiar with Muslim culture and temporarily blinded by royalty. However, this did not happen when he met the Queen of England, so there is no excuse for it happening with King Saud. Had he behaved in such a manner with the Queen, he would have undoubtedly needed to sneak back into the US in disguise. I am not sure why he seems to get a pass with the King.

So what to do? Obama needs to acknowledge his mistake and apologize to the American people. And with this, we should all move on to the more important issues at hand, that of digging this country out of its myriad of messes. However, the people that don’t like this showing have every right to complain until he makes amends. And complaining about this incident is not a show of racism.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

WTF, is this really relevant when Americans are losing there homes and jobs?

James C. Collier said...

Anon 1:12, the base confidence our leader displays ripples around the world and at home in numerous ways, including economic - and should never be taken lightly.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea about the "bow" until reading it in your blog. I do disagree however that a bow is a show of subervience. I guess I kinda look at it this way... it's not always what you call me, it's what you mean. One shows honor in different ways depending on the culture. Certainly I know nothing of the culture you speak of here with the king. I don't think Obama is taking something away from himself or his nation by the way he greets a person short of kissing a ring or licking some boots. It's all about what he meant unless there is some president law i don't know about.. you know like a man law. (men don't feed each other french fries while driving in the car for instance)

Otherwise man it's all about the policies and procedures of the country. A person can "show" respect all day in different ways and not respect you. Certainly with what we have going on I am not tripping. He is in no way putting us in danger. As an American I don't feel embarrassed or anything like that.

Just an opinion... I am not sure if that should offend you as much. It would be cool to discuss further if you like.

James C. Collier said...

bbgcmac: protocols of behavior among leaders, contentious or not, not only have defined meanings but have have been the catalyst to both war and peace through the ages. To bow at the waist to a Muslim is to show obediance to the recepient's presumed higher stature (importance). To apply any US cultural standards or opinions to how Muslims world-wide will interpret Obama's behavior makes no sense. Muslims can only interpret Obamas bow as being subservient - as this protocol is uniform in their world.

Anonymous said...

Well my Muslim brothers and sisters would definitely be getting it twisted if they thought they had something on Obama in terms of authority as it pertains to his presidency or the US of A if they walked away with that impression.

With that said if it was not proper protocol per political expedience then hopefully someone put the bug in his ear for the next time.

Still I wouldn't require an apology personally as an American. It would probably do more harm than good by the time the tabloid news channels get through with it ala Fox News.

Ju said...

Obama, the President of the United States and leader of the free world, bows to a Saudi King who represents a despotic regime noted for its’ human rights violations, a birthplace of terrorists, a symbol of everything that is an antithesis to our system of government, and it’s no big deal?

I consider myself fortunate to have been born in a republic. I appreciate that as a citizen of a republic, I need not bow to any man or woman. We are all created equal, and blood lines do not make one person superior. This gesture by Obama should rankle every citizen for when Obama bowed as President of the United States, we all bowed.

He did bow, see the video from the latest angle:

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Obama, but I really hate the apology-frenzy of modern public life. No, he will not and should not apologize, but he should take note and start carrying himself more like the leader of the United States and less like a starstruck tourist.

Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira, aka Ochyming said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira, aka Ochyming said...

How funny!

If europeans showed the same respect Obama showed to this monarch to native americans (civilized people as guests behave accordingly), where would you have been (writing this today)?

But, i guess THAT is the point.
America = John Wayne!

According to your logic (if you let me make some gymnastic), any USA citizen should pay for the crimes of any USA administration, is that so?

Nationalism is stupidity (ignorance, which is self-inflicted blindness + arrogance).
No disrespect.

USA is leader of the world?

Your values ARE yours only, allow others to express theirs, maybe that is what Obama did.

If we breath this everyday WE may live in peace, true peace and NOT in illusion of safety.

Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira, aka Ochyming said...


I am from Guinea-Bissau not Nigeria.

… And say that to Lula da silva.

Conservative Black Woman said...

"So what to do? Obama needs to acknowledge his mistake and apologize to the American people. And with this, we should all move on to the more important issues at hand, that of digging this country out of its myriad of messes. However, the people that don’t like this showing have every right to complain until he makes amends. And complaining about this incident is not a show of racism"

And yet what does his administration do? Lie and say that he did not bow. I posted the picture of the bow on my blog as a joke just to annoy one a particularly annoying Obama supporter that reads my blog but I certainly didn't take it seriously. I just thought of it as a glitch in protocal. But rather than just admit that "The One" had a lapse in judgement, was jetlagged or any old excuse would have sufficed. Robert Gibbs lied and said that Mr. Obama was bending over to extend both hands to the diminutive King.

Anonymous said...

Were you as condemnatory of President Bush when he kissed the guy's face and held his hand?

Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira, aka Ochyming said...


This is ALL about the cheap Nationalism that is after all proving a thing.
If you love yr country DO you really need to say it loud?

What we "peasants" know of the corridors of power?
People who know each other (i am sure they have exchanged words) do give a fuck to protocol from time to time.

Obama has done more damage by extending hands to those who want him to fail (as if his failing means nothing to the USA economy), as Paul Krugman @ The New York Times wrote, the republicans - but can you blame him o that, he promised to, didn't he?

The article poorly is a excuse to prove a thing!
Be very afraid of those who want to prove a thing!

For an academic person he sees everything as black and white.

James C. Collier said...

deltalitprof: the sole arbiter of my response is how Muslims will comprehend the gesture. I'm no fan of Bush, but neither your 'kiss on the face', or hand-holding between men, signals obeisance (inferiority) in Muslim culture, unlike a bow from the waist. And since bowing is not part of US culture, for us to do so is a pure outward gesture for the interpretation of the receiver (Saud). What is your point?

Matt Conway said...

Right again, James.

It's hard for Americans to understand what all the hoopla is surrounding this, but in Muslim culture, gestures like bowing carry extreme importance.

Who walks in the room last, for instance, tells everyone else who the most important man in that room is. Bowing is the same - it shows subservience, and it should not have ever happened.

After seeing this footage (which, will no doubt be played on a loop in Saudi Arabia), The average Saudi will interpret the bow as a sign of inferiority.