My piece on the Obama “apostasy” campaign

I have an article on the apostasy controversy at Religion Dispatches entitled "Who's smearing Obama?"

Here's the first paragraph:

It started when the Grey Lady ran an Op-Ed entitled “President Apostate?” on the 12th of May. The instantaneously controversial opinion piece by military historian and security analyst Edward N. Luttwak argued that, due to a technicality of Shari'a, Democratic nominee Barack Obama would be automatically and inexorably viewed as an infidel by Muslims everywhere, and thus targeted for elimination. President Obama’s ability to promote American interests abroad would, argued Luttwak, create a security nightmare in Muslim countries. The simplest response to this simplistic thesis (was the substance of the charge at all credible), as even radical conservative Daniel Pipes admitted six months ago, is that a nation has already been led by an ex-Muslim without any attendant diplomatic headaches or security problems to speak of.

Please let me know what you think.

  • http://turkofile.wordpress.com Turkofile

    I can’t imagine Muslims around the world will hate Obama because he’s an “apostate.” On the contrary, Obama has been well received in Muslim countries. Thomas Friedman just came out with an editorial saying he’s met a number of ordinary Egyptians who are thrilled by the historic nature of Obama’s candidacy.
    I can certainly imagine Al Qedia labeling Obama an apostate, though. Of course, Al Qeida already has a number of very bad reasons for carrying out its murderous activities. I’m sure an Obama presidency won’t jolt it into action.

  • http://turkofile.wordpress.com Turkofile

    I can’t imagine Muslims around the world will hate Obama because he’s an “apostate.” On the contrary, Obama has been well received in Muslim countries. Thomas Friedman just came out with an editorial saying he’s met a number of ordinary Egyptians who are thrilled by the historic nature of Obama’s candidacy.
    I can certainly imagine Al Qedia labeling Obama an apostate, though. Of course, Al Qeida already has a number of very bad reasons for carrying out its murderous activities. I’m sure an Obama presidency won’t jolt it into action.

  • http://turkofile.wordpress.com Turkofile

    I can’t imagine Muslims around the world will hate Obama because he’s an “apostate.” On the contrary, Obama has been well received in Muslim countries. Thomas Friedman just came out with an editorial saying he’s met a number of ordinary Egyptians who are thrilled by the historic nature of Obama’s candidacy.
    I can certainly imagine Al Qedia labeling Obama an apostate, though. Of course, Al Qeida already has a number of very bad reasons for carrying out its murderous activities. I’m sure an Obama presidency won’t jolt it into action.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com Svend

    Excellent example, ToF. I find Friedmann pretty shallow 99% of the time, but the anecdote speaks for itself. Thanks for sharing it. The third time’s the charm. :)

  • http://profile.typekey.com/dbrutus/ TM Lutas

    You’re looking at the security problem from the wrong lens. The security nightmare for the Secret Service is not that a billion muslims all think that Obama’s an apostate and will try to kill him. The nightmare is that a person with the right tools, will, and skills is going to be in the right position to take him out in a fit of religious fervor. The Secret Service really doesn’t care whether the religious interpretation is from this school or that or whether it is entirely out of mainstream tradition. Their only interest in questions like that is to triage out as many people as possible out of the likely suspect pool in order to concentrate their resources and nail people early enough so nobody dies.
    What is of most concern regarding mainstream Islam is its poor recent record of reigning in its own nutballs and processing them into harmlessness as fringe kooks who do not deserve emulation. You guys seem to be working on Osama and achieving a measure of success but that progress is so slow…

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com Svend

    Hi TM
    Nice to “see” you again.
    As others have noted, whatever theology one believes applicable to Obama’s case, the assumption that he’s the target in Islamic societies of significantly more animosity from the fringe than any other Western leader is not only counterintuitive but seems disproven by all available evidence.
    If anyone’s at increased risk by this dubious measurement, it’s probably McCain. Obama’s not the one singing ditties like “Bomb Iran”, nor is he the one with history of strident and openly Islamophobic spritual advisors (first Parsley and then Hagee) that are cheerily predicting Armageddon and declaring Islam and Muslims to be in league with the Devil.
    But even that’s a stretch. The extremists who might swing this way aren’t going single out McCain merely for these reasons, much less Obama’s supposed apostasy.
    As for the Muslim world not discrediting extremists fast enough for your liking, that process doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and is unlikely to succeed at all while we pour oil on the fire in all sorts of ways (not only supporting to the hilt Israel’s dismemberment of southern Lebanon, but literally rushing new bombs to the front was a particularly smart move in that department).
    Political reforms don’t happen anywhere when bombs are falling. So long as the Muslim world is wracked by instability and conflict and so long as we eagerly fuel those conflicts in various ways, it’s simply the height of naivete to expect these animosities to disappear entirely. Such extremists deserve condemnation and must be contained through whatever means is necessary, yes, but that doesn’t make our destablizing policies and war mongering any less immoral and counterproductive.
    We’re like a person who sleeps around and then complains about their trampy reputation.


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