On August 1, President Obama issued a statement “on the occasion of Ramadan,” in which he and the First Lady extended their “best wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world.” On August 2, Fox & Friends co-hosts reacted with predictable outrage, falsely declaring that he issued a “proclamation” in honor of the holiday. Reviving their bogus attack on Obama for not issuing an Easter proclamation, the co-hosts whined that Obama did “nothing big” for “Christianity's holiest, most sacred holiday,” but for Ramadan he “issued an absolutely lovely statement regarding Ramadan” and “will also host a -- an Iftar, which is the breaking of the fast that occurs after sunset.” Of course, their attack falls flat for multiple reasons.
While the co-hosts acknowledged that Obama hosted the White House's annual Easter Egg Roll, they suggested that the rest of Obama's official recognition of the holiday was limited to a brief “mention ... in his weekend address.” In fact, in addition to the Easter Egg Roll and his weekly address, Obama hosted an entire Easter Prayer Breakfast in which he discussed how the “resurrection of” his “savior, Jesus Christ ... puts everything else in perspective.” In his very personal speech, Obama quoted the Scripture and said of Jesus' “slow march up that hill” and “the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross” Jesus was subjected to:
[W]e're reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world -- past, present and future -- and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.
In the words of the book Isaiah: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this “Amazing Grace” calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I've not shown grace to others, those times that I've fallen short. It calls me to praise God for the gift of our son -- his Son and our Savior.
Which brings me to this: Fox & Friends' claim that Obama issued a “proclamation” for Ramadan is false. He issued a statement in honor of the holiday, but he did not issue a proclamation.
As the American Presidency Project notes:
A presidential proclamation is “an instrument that states a condition, declares a law and requires obedience, recognizes an event or triggers the implementation of a law (by recognizing that the circumstances in law have been realized)” (Cooper 2002, 116). In short, presidents “define” situations or conditions on situations that become legal or economic truth. These orders carry the same force of law as executive orders - the difference between the two is that executive orders are aimed at those inside government while proclamations are aimed at those outside government. The administrative weight of these proclamations is upheld because they are often specifically authorized by congressional statute, making them “delegated unilateral powers.” Presidential proclamations are often dismissed as a practical presidential tool for policy making because of the perception of proclamations as largely ceremonial or symbolic in nature. However, the legal weight of presidential proclamations suggests their importance to presidential governance.
The last presidential proclamation Obama issued was on July 27, in which he issued a proclamation regarding World Hepatitis Day.
During their Easter freakout this spring, some -- myself included -- speculated that Fox News' obsession with this story may have been linked to advancing the false narrative that Obama is secretly a Muslim. After all, Fox & Friends reported on the story by, in part, hosting a race-baiting Dallas pastor to repeatedly suggest exactly that. Is that what Fox is up to today? Who knows.
I do know this: Former President George W. Bush issued a statement honoring Ramadan in 2008, and Fox didn't have a problem with it. Fox also spent the past spring fanning the flames of a newly resurgent round of birtherism, repeatedly suggesting that Obama isn't actually a U.S. citizen. Fox News has aired reports which asked of Obama, “Islam or Isn't He?” Former Fox host Glenn Beck repeatedly questioned Obama's Christianity. And it was on Fox & Friends where Fox first floated the utterly false and race-baiting claim that Obama attended a madrassa as a child. Indeed, Fox rarely misses an opportunity to attack or question Obama's religion.
Judge for yourself if that's what they were doing today: