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NYT Op-Ed labels Obama "muslim apostate"
June 2, 2008 6:33 AM   Subscribe

An opinion piece by Edward N. Luttwak in the May 12 Sunday New York Times declares that Obama is an apostate under Islamic law (Sharia), and thus that an Obama Presidency would compromise US relations with the Middle East. This Sunday, Clark Hoyt, the NYT ombudsman, was sorry.
posted by flotson (56 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I think a McCain presidency would also compromise US relations with the Middle East.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:36 AM on June 2, 2008 [9 favorites]


The current US relation with the Middle East is 3 pronged:

1) We send you money, you send us as much oil as you want.
2) We kill some of you.
3) We support Israel unconditionally.

Under Obama, the plan is to eliminate at least #2. How that makes relations with the M.E. worse is left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by DU at 6:39 AM on June 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


The stink of their desperation is getting too strong to ignore.
posted by briank at 6:47 AM on June 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


The ombudsman gets this out of the author of the original article (from the last link):

Luttwak said the scholars with whom I spoke were guilty of “gross misrepresentation” of Islam, which he said they portrayed as “a tolerant religion of peace;” he called it “intolerant.”

Which is what in poker I believe they call a "tell."
posted by hackly_fracture at 6:49 AM on June 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hey, do you know what else compromised U.S. relations with the Middle East?

Invading Iraq.

Last I checked, a bunch of right-wing Jews and Evangelical Christians spearheaded that.
posted by mkultra at 6:59 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The anti-obama people are getting desperate. Aside from the gay sex/murder allegations coming out of No Quarter, they're now claiming that Obama was paying Nation of Islam operatives for GOTV efforts in Chicago and that there's a tape of Michelle Obama on a panel with Louis Farrakhan screaming about 'whitey'.

It's all kind of ridiculous, really.
posted by empath at 7:01 AM on June 2, 2008


Obama's success is really flushing out a lot of previously-unsuspected racists (as well as even more suspected ones). Of course, if Clinton had won there'd be just as much talk about how relations with the Middle East were going to be killed because she doesn't wear a veil.

Conservatives more interested in power and control than truth, Film At 11.
posted by DU at 7:06 AM on June 2, 2008


Is there anybody that a Western democracy could float as a potential leader that wouldn't be offensive to the middle east?
posted by wabbittwax at 7:22 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is especially funny because these same arch conservatives keep telling me they're terrified that in the future the US with be beholden to Sharia. Hey guys that's what you're encouraging.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:32 AM on June 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wait. If he's an apostate, is that good or bad? I vote good.
posted by BrooklynCouch at 7:34 AM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think the people in the middle east are just bitter, and so they cling to their religion and their weapons.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:38 AM on June 2, 2008 [7 favorites]


...in the future the US with be beholden to Sharia.

Not to mention radical black separation Christianity. What a marvelously fluid religion Obama has!
posted by DU at 7:39 AM on June 2, 2008


From Hoyt's response:

When writers purport to educate readers about complex matters, and they are arguably wrong, I think The Times cannot label it opinion and let it go at that.

Amen. That's something news organizations seem to have forgotten. Facts are facts, no matter which page they're printed on.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:55 AM on June 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


wabbittwax:LOL.
posted by BrooklynCouch at 7:56 AM on June 2, 2008


We need the money quote here:

"David Shipley, the editor of the Op-Ed page, said Luttwak’s article was vetted by editors who consulted the Koran, associated text, newspaper articles and authoritative histories of Islam. No scholars of Islam were consulted because “we do not customarily call experts to invite them to weigh in on the work of our contributors,” he said."

The NYT Editorial Board consulted themselves. "Asking Luttwak (Jewish neocon) about Islam is like asking Pat Buchanan about Jewish dietary laws."
posted by psyche7 at 8:02 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Don't vote for Obama!"

"What? Why not?"

"Because he's a MUSLIM!"

"No he's not."

"Oh. Er, I mean. . .because he's NOT a Muslim!"
posted by EarBucket at 8:02 AM on June 2, 2008 [10 favorites]


Not to mention radical black separation Christianity. What a marvelously fluid religion Obama has!

That is totaly a cover for the fundamentalist Islam. Which is a cover for the flamboyant gayness. Which is a cover for being a babykilling mutant alien from Neptune. Which is a cover for his deepest, darkest secret: he is actually a white man from Iowa. Don't be fooled! He seems so sensible, he must be deeply evil and hiding many dark secrets.
posted by Tehanu at 8:10 AM on June 2, 2008


It should also be noted that at various points in his life, Barak Obama may have inhaled molecules of oxygen which had been previously breathed by the likes of Caligula, Atilla the Hun, Vlad the Impaler, John Wilkes Booth, Jack the Ripper, the Ayatollah Kohmeni and the Dixie Chicks.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:12 AM on June 2, 2008 [3 favorites]



i thought Barack HUSSEIN Obama was a terrierist and now i hear that he is a terrierist traitor and so now the terriers want to kill him... amirite?

god hates a terrier.
posted by geos at 8:13 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Last time: "Don't vote for Kerry, you'll be giving the terrorists just what they want!"

This time: "Don't vote for Obama, it might make the terrorists mad!"
posted by straight at 8:16 AM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Look, I may have gotten the message a little garbled and non-factual. The bottom line I want to leave you with is: If you don't vote for a Republican WE'REALLGONNADIE!!!11eleven
posted by DU at 8:26 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


He could cure this and all of his other alleged electoral problems by picking a strong, woman VP who is popular with hard-working, white Americans (the "dunkin' donuts set", not the "Starbucks set") and who ALSO happens to be a terrorist sympathizer.

You heard it here first: Barack Obama/Rachel Ray '08!
posted by The Bellman at 8:27 AM on June 2, 2008 [11 favorites]


Luttwak is a loony, and probably a bigot. He's Jewish, not Muslim. Does not seem to fully understand Islam and I would wager wrote this bit of tripe out of hatred for Muslims (although that is just my gut talking.) Bad on him for such garbage. Worse on the Times for such carelessness in publishing it.
posted by caddis at 8:30 AM on June 2, 2008


I find the equivocation in the refutations a bit disturbing. I come away from it all without a clue whether he is or is not considered an apostate, whether or not that has any implications, and for who and where. They seem to emphatically disagree in the most vague way possible.

I guess the overall point is that Islam is a decentralized religion with no authoritative interpretation so any time somebody talks about "throughout the Islamic world" they are talking as much crap as people who say "throughout the western world"
posted by srboisvert at 9:00 AM on June 2, 2008


NYT: All the truthiness that's fit to print.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:01 AM on June 2, 2008


no, god loves a terrier!
posted by troybob at 9:34 AM on June 2, 2008


The Gray Lady cannot say 'no' even to a Neocon as diseased and perverted as Luttwak.

I'd say she is their whore, but they don't bother to pay her except with contempt for how easy she is.
posted by jamjam at 9:35 AM on June 2, 2008


Well, we know for sure that Luttwak will be published in the NYT again. If there's anything that papers and news programs do consistently, it is that they invite back opinion makers who get it wrong way more often than those who get it right.
posted by troybob at 9:46 AM on June 2, 2008


What the fuck does Sharia law have to do with selecting a president in the United States?
posted by odinsdream at 9:50 AM on June 2, 2008


I'm not saying Luttwak is correct (I'm sure he's not) but statements like this, from the ombud's response, are just astonishingly ignorant:

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, a professor of law at Emory University, said that Sharia, or Islamic law, including the law of apostasy, does not apply to an American or anyone outside the Muslim world.

Maybe not to Muslim "scholars" (and if a law professor is a Muslim scholar, then I suppose as a sociology professor who was raised Catholic, I qualify as a Papal historian), but does this mean it's okay for me to, say, draw and display a portrait of Muhammad?

To a "scholar," yes, I'm not subject to Sharia. To millions and millions of zealots, not so much. The fact that Obama might have problems being SEEN as an apostate by those same masses is possible.

Sorry for shitting in the punchbowl, but arguing against bad research with good Koranic exegesis when it's really the views of unwashed (and very, very angry) masses that matters is pretty stupid.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:23 AM on June 2, 2008


You know, fuck the New York Times.
posted by Nelson at 10:34 AM on June 2, 2008


isbarackobamamuslim.com
posted by Afroblanco at 10:40 AM on June 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


What's the deal with being affiliated with a Christian church that LOVES (non-Christian) Louis F?
posted by BrooklynCouch at 10:50 AM on June 2, 2008


Ethnomethodologist, I partly agree with you. Whenever I hear Muslim scholars explaining that "Islam is not really like that," I can't help thinking of the apologists for communism explaining that *real* communists don't do the nasty stuff that was clearly happening in the Soviet Union, or Cuba, or Cambodia, or China, or...

But! There actually is a wide diversity on the ground in Muslim countries. What we really need are not theologians explaining what, in theory, the ideal Islam is like. What we need are sociologists who can explain that while there obviously are Muslims who will get upset at stuff like this, how many are there, in which countries, and how influential are they?

Of course no matter what the answer is, it would be stupid and cowardly to avoid choosing a president because his religious background would be offensive to these people.
posted by straight at 11:09 AM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


BrooklynCouch - I would expect such a statement from you.

Let's put this one to bed for once and for all - this is AMERICA. We do not do guilt by association here. If you do not like Obama's ex-pastor or ex-church, it is not only fallacious but anti-American to hold that against Obama, or to assume that he agrees with them.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:14 AM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Are you serious? You don't think it's a devasting indictment of judgment that for 20 years, you associate yourself with, and bring your kids to a "house of worship" with that parade of characters? G-d, I hope most people disagree with you.
posted by BrooklynCouch at 11:22 AM on June 2, 2008


A better example of what ethnomethodologist is objecting to is to imagine denying the possibility that the USA would invade Iraq by quoting five Methodist pastors who say that Christians are commanded to love their enemies. Christianity is a religion of peace!
posted by straight at 11:26 AM on June 2, 2008


You don't think it's a devasting indictment of judgment that for 20 years, you associate yourself with, and bring your kids to a "house of worship" with that parade of characters?

Nope, not really.
posted by aqhong at 11:32 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


You don't think it's a devasting indictment of judgment that for 20 years, you associate yourself with, and bring your kids to a "house of worship" with that parade of characters? G-d, I hope most people disagree with you.

Actually, millions of people DO agree with me. We're called "people who voted for Obama, and who will make him our President come November."
posted by Afroblanco at 11:33 AM on June 2, 2008


Goddamn it, I'm feeding the troll. I can't believe I fell for that again.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:34 AM on June 2, 2008


imagine denying the possibility that the USA would invade Iraq by quoting five Methodist pastors who say that Christians are commanded to love their enemies. Christianity is a religion of peace!
No, it's more like the crazy Islamic folks who claim the Iraq War proves that (American) Christians are just out to take over Islam. Ands the sad part is, a few MF's are trying to prove 'em right.

A crazy mofo's gonna find a reason to do anything, if he's crazy enough. Religion, "love", race-hate, whatever. The point of all this is that some crazy mofo here decided to mis-read the Qu'ran to "prove" some crazy mofo there might do the same misreading. How's that helping the discussion? How's deliberately mis-reading the Qu'ran helping to give us insight into crazy? And, like the previous commentary said, what does this have to do with choosing a President?

Are we so scared of the "Evil Arab Terrorists" now, that we decide to not vote for someone out of that fear? That we think there's a point to diatribes like that Op-Ed, full of lies and innuendo? What kind of weak-assed reaction to Terrorism is that? Patton is turning over in his grave at the thought.
posted by Asim at 11:50 AM on June 2, 2008


The NYT should have this apology on their front page. That Luttwak article was blatant bullshit and another attempt to derail Obama in favor of their candidate. Furthermore, all their future editorials should carry a giant asterisk, with the qualification "These editorials are for entertainment purposes only, and carry absolutely no usable information."

They should send all the NYT peeps who have been carrying water for Clinton to China, where they can drain some of those eathquake lakes. Make them do something useful for a change.
posted by mullingitover at 12:05 PM on June 2, 2008


BrooklynCouch writes "What's the deal with being affiliated with a Christian church that LOVES (non-Christian) Louis F?"

Wow, ParisParamus, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I was not aware. You are a competent and tireless researcher and we all appreciate your contributions.
posted by mullingitover at 12:13 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, the Washington Post has been providing a platform for bigots who rant that Obama is not a "full-blooded American" and he's too girly.
posted by homunculus at 12:29 PM on June 2, 2008


Not the First Time Luttwak Gets His Factual Premises All Wrong
posted by moonbiter at 12:54 PM on June 2, 2008


What's the deal with being affiliated with a Christian church that LOVES (non-Christian) Louis F?

There are certain obscure branches of Christianity that, based on some kind of misguided reliance upon the teachings of Jesus, actually do LOVE people despite the fact that they may be non-Christian. I wouldn't worry about them too much though, they are vastly outnumbered in this country.
posted by ND¢ at 1:51 PM on June 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


How do you solve a problem like Sharia?
posted by kirkaracha at 2:35 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Asking Luttwak (Jewish neocon) about Islam is like asking Pat Buchanan about Jewish dietary laws."

Avoid kosher cheese dogs.
posted by y2karl at 3:07 PM on June 2, 2008


So ... does anyone know whether or not this could be an actual issue? (Not that it would affect my voting either way.) I had, actually, heard some people worry about this long before Luttwak's article -- essentially, that for the muslim-on-the-street, having a muslim father but not being one yourself is considered Bad.

I doubt it would actually affect world politics if it were true, in the same way that I was dubious about the claims that merely having a president named Barack Obama would automatically increase our standing in the Middle East, but does anyone here actually know if there's any truth to it?
posted by kyrademon at 3:29 PM on June 2, 2008


but does anyone here actually know if there's any truth to it?

I think it's most instructive to examine human nature rather than religious doctrine. People who hate America and the American President will continue to hate America and the American President, whether s/he's Muslim, Christian, apostate, or Jedi. They will find excuses, some justified, many not. Many billions more will not give a shit.
posted by Jimbob at 3:38 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I might be going out on a limb, but I predict that the average muslim would be happy that a US President has some muslim family members. The haters will be much more upset about his unconditional allegiance to Israel than some dubious issue with Islamic law.
posted by mullingitover at 6:22 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Prominent Right Wing Coward Smears Obama for Not Considering Military Service
posted by homunculus at 8:01 PM on June 2, 2008


I have a pretty good idea about this. Turkey has been in love with him. The newspapers fawn over his every move, even the right-wing papers give him adoring coverage.

In talking with my friends in Lebanon, most people don't give a shit about the apostate bullshit, they want someone who has a sane foreign policy.

As far as I can tell, this is a total non-issue amongst most people.
posted by OldReliable at 8:39 PM on June 2, 2008


What role did race play with white Democrats?
posted by homunculus at 10:17 PM on June 2, 2008


MeTa
posted by homunculus at 8:04 PM on June 3, 2008


As far as I can tell, this is a total non-issue amongst most people.

Yeah, but "most people" aren't voting - only "some people" vote, and those folks will believe anything told to them. That's the scary part.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:19 PM on June 3, 2008


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