Edward Luttwak, one of Ronald Reagan’s original Cold Warriors, has channeled Daniel Pipes in the N.Y. Times Op-Ed section today, claiming preposterously that a President Obama will be in danger because Islamists will view his as a Muslim apostate and try to kill him.
I’ve already written about this stupid line of argument when Pipes advanced it in that august journal of Islamic thought, Frontpagemagazine. It gave me a good laugh then. Now that it’s been bruited in the pages of the N.Y. Times it’s no laughing matter. How an editor judges this to be of interest to the readers of the Times is beyond me. This is an example of editorial lunacy. Why would you take a trashy rumor published in a David Horowitz shmate and transfer it to the N.Y. Times? I feel dirty just reading it there.
Of course, no Islamist has ever uttered a word about Obama’s alleged apostasy let alone advocated killing him nor does Luttwak claim as such. In fact, the McCain campaign has pounced on an endorsement from a Hamas spokesperson (so much for Islamists wanting to kill Obama). So the only morons propounding this line of reasoning are neocons who seek to plant the idea in Americans’ minds that Obama is a Muslim. And they kill two birds with one stone because while they’re making such an outrageous claim they can reinforce in readers’ minds the bloodlust that supposedly characterizes Islam.
Luttwak once again refers to Obama’s so-called “Muslim heritage,” which is non-existent. The author’s justification? No matter how Obama defines himself, Muslims define him as Muslim:
As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood.
So “universally understood” in fact, that I have never heard a genuine Muslim advance this concept. Another distortion of Islam inherent in this statement is that there is a unitary “universal standard” of Muslim belief. Besides, this notion that Obama is Muslim despite the fact that he is a believing Christian flies in the face of a sacred American tradition–that in this land of freedom and self-expression we define our own identity and refuse to allow others to do this for us.
Here is more smarmy innuendo:
…As most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian…
This should read “as all Americans understand it except Islamophobic columnists publishing their narischkeit in the pages of the N.Y. Times.” Note that Obama “chose to become a Christian” as if he wasn’t one before he did. Insinuating once again that he was Muslim. He no more “chose” to become a Christian than I chose to become a Jew. The only faith he has ever known is Christianity as he himself says:
My mother was a Christian from Kansas, and they [his parents] married and then divorced. I was raised by my mother. So, I’ve always been a Christian.
And the smears go on:
I would challenge Luttwak to produce evidence that Obama was ever “converted” to Chrisitianity.
I find it ironic that those excellent imams Pipes and Luttwak (I wonder where they could’ve earned those advanced degrees in Islamic theology?) have been telling Americans how Muslims will view Obama, while no Muslim has ever advanced the views they espouse. Could it be that their knowledge of modern Islam is deficient or that in their need to smear both Islam and Obama they have gone off the deep end?
Why would Obama’s alleged apostasy be specially dangerous?
[It] would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards.
As if the Secret Service during foreign trips relies on local security to protect the president. I’d prefer to believe that our own security will keep a President Obama safe and sound. Beyond that, the idea that Muslim security guards would assassinate Obama solely because he is an apostate is yet another far-fetched notion.
And more far-fetchedness:
…Most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.
I’d prefer to believe that most citizens of the Islamic world won’t give a crap about what Luttwak is saying. Note a second reference to Obama’s imaginary “conversion” to Christianity. In Luttwak’s cloud-cuckoo land version of the Muslim world, these nations would refuse to cooperate with the U.S. in fighting terror. As if they’re running to us to do so now with the current Luttwak-supported Muslim-haters in the White House.
Whatever else we know about Luttwak from this column we can also add that he’s a very poor liar:
That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be.
Liar, liar pants on fire! The only true thing stated above is that the columnist’s ravings will have precisely no impact on American voters who could care less about such malarkey. There is a narrow cross section of Americans who will care about this: the author’s fellow neocons, Islamophobes, militant pro-Israel Jews, etc. This group would never have supported Obama to begin with.
In fact, I believe precisely the opposite of Luttwak. Just as Ahmed Yousef of Hamas said he looked forward to an Obama presidency for the fresh new perspective it might bring to U.S. policy in the Mideast, many other Muslim nations and leaders will have similar hopes and expectations. Contrary to the neocon perspective, the vast majority of Muslims do not want to hate the U.S. And while no president realizes all the hopes that accompany him into office, Obama has more ability and willingness to breathe fresh air into U.S. foreign policy than any president since Bill Clinton.
Last December, Politico’s Ben Smith wrote presciently about Pipes’ assault on Obama:
Keep an eye on this one, because if Obama’s the nominee, this FrontPagemagazine piece by the conservative writer Daniel Pipes is likely to be the template for a faux-legitimate assault on Obama’s religion. But the political impact of the piece isn’t the tortured argument. It’s branding Obama a Muslim, by a subtler means.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.