The Danger of False Assumptions


Today’s edition of the New York Times includes a column from its Public Editor Clark Hoyt regarding a recent Op-Ed published in the Times written by Edward Luttwak and titled "President Apostate?" In his original piece, Mr. Luttwak argued that under Islamic Shariah law "as it is universally understood,a€A were Barack Obama to be elected president, he would be spurned by countries in the Muslim world as an "apostate" who had converted to Christianity. Luttwak went as far as to argue that Obama’s act of apostasy would be considered by Muslims to be "the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit." He might, according to Luttwak, even face possible capital punishment were he to visit the Muslim world. In his reply, I believe the NYT’s Mr. Hoyt adroitly responded to the arguments raised by Luttwak. Hoyt interviewed at least five Islamic scholars before issuing his response, though I sincerely doubt that it takes an expert in Islam to realize Luttwak’s arguments are offensive and ridiculous.

Nor are Luttwak and the Times alone in wading into this regrettable issue. On May 19, the Christian Science Monitor posted a remarkably similar editorial by Shireen Burki. To her credit, Burki went even farther than Luttwak, rather grotesquely asserting that "Osama bin Laden must be chuckling in his safe house" because American voters were poised to "give Al Qaeda the ultimate propaganda tool: President Barack Hussein Obama, Muslim apostate… Obama is bin Laden’s dream candidate." In her piece, Burki failed to quote a single contemporary Muslim scholar, terrorist organization, or any other factual source. Perhaps that is because no-one of any consequence in the Muslim world would tend to agree with her.

Indeed, what is probably most depressing about those who are advancing these arguments is that they don’t appear to have ever bothered to speak with anyone in or associated with Al-Qaida-or any similar movement. They don’t seem to have conducted any form of original research to poll opinions or discussions in the Muslim world, or more narrowly in the extremist community. They are simply trumpeting their own misconceptions about the Islamic world, which reflect a very dim understanding of Islam and Muslims, nevermind Barack Obama. Those who are actually paying close attention to terrorist organizations know all too well that what Al-Qaida sympathizers are most angered at is not the prospect of an "apostate Muslim" being elected as the U.S. President. To the contrary, they are being re-energized by the hateful and Islamophobic attacks on Obama that they have seen broadcast in Western media and the blogosphere. Ironically, they could care less whether these attacks are about Obama or not-in their mind, they see them as thinly-veiled bigoted attacks on Islam and Muslims. On May 15, a user on the notorious Al-Hesbah extremist forum traded one such narrative, bitterly describing to other Islamic militants how other American politicians "stupidly" could not tell the difference between "Obama" and "Osama."

Thus, the real terrorism-related problem here is how to deal with the long-term political fallout stemming from the ignorant and highly-polarized American portrayals of Islam unleashed during the context of the U.S. election, which are now inevitably being manipulated by Al-Qaida as propaganda fodder to recruit new sympathizers and terrorists. Even setting aside its obvious partisan bias, this form of reckless and irresponsible "scholarship" has no rightful place in the Christian Science Monitor nor, as Clark Hoyt rightly noted, on the New York Times Op-Ed page. counterterrorismblog


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Posted: June 8th, 2008
at 12:05am by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: myninjaplease,life,mnp is for the children,politricks,real life news

Comments: 1 comment


One Response to 'The Danger of False Assumptions'

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  1. Just when you think stupidity masquerading as literacy has peaked, another spike of paranoia infused rhethoric tops the charts.

    Jill The Shill

    12 Jun 08 at 9:49 am



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