Here is the full text of Obama's Cairo speech. I want to look at a few falsehoods in this speech, and ask the question if perhaps they may be useful.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

"Mutual respect." Islam (meaning here the Q'uran and the sayings of Mohammad) does not teach mutual respect between Muslims and non-Muslims. Instead, Muslims are to make no friends from among those on the outside, and are to view those on the outside as being in the Realm of War, adversaries to be converted or conquered.

"progress" Islam, by its nature tends to be backward looking. The life of Mohammad, and the first Muslim society created during Mohammad's lifetime, are regarded as the exemplars of human life for all time. Historically, Islamic societies have not been at the forefront of modern science and technology.

"tolerance and the dignity of all human beings." No, Islam does not teach this. Muslims and Muslim society is held to be superior. Christians and Jews are "People of the Book," but within Islamic society are to have a circumscribed existence as dhimmis--second-class citizens with fewer privileges and a special tax. Others, pagans or Hindus, have roles as either converts or slaves (or dead). Although during Islamic rule in India Hindus were given a dhimmi status. Also, Islam, from the Q'uran forward, stresses male-superiority and female inferiority.

Are these useful falsehoods? Maybe. But only to Muslim audiences, if and only if, they can be persuasive to Muslims who wish to remake their religion. For Westeners these falsehoods are dangerous since they confuse our view of the historical reality.

"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. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality."

"The light of learning" was taken over from the Greeks as Islamic forces conquered the Greek and Christian Byzantine Empire, not generated by Muslims. We also should give credit to the refugee scholars from conquered areas who migrated to the West, especially after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

"Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality." No it has not. See above on the relation taught, and practiced between Muslims and non-Muslims. Regarding race, Muslim societies normally have looked to black Africa for their slaves. Arabs today tend to look down upon blacks.

"I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers - Thomas Jefferson - kept in his personal library."

"Treaty of Tripoli in 1796" was negotiated after the siezures of American ships in the Mediterranean by the Barbary States. The treaty was broken by these states which led to the armed conflict between the U.S. and these piratical regimes. When John Adams wrote, the U.S. had no hostile designes on any powers in the Old World that would leave us alone.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

See above. Indonesia in the days Obama was there was a different sort of place. The Islam of Indonesia was fairly tolerant not because it was true to its Islamic roots, but because it ignored them. Syncretism and coexistence are a departure from traditional Islam, and the Islamic revival today in Indonesia in returning to the roots of Islam is resulting in far less syncretism and tolerance.

I second Farmer in noting that there is much in this speech that is very good. But, I also believe that truth is the only way forward.