A Response to Edward Luttwack's "President Apostate?"

My diary refers to the article on the NY Times entitled, “President Apostate?” by Edward Luttwack.  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/12/opinion/12luttwak.html

 I am no Muslim scholar, but I was appalled to read this article on the NY Times website.  So, I shall respond with some criticism.

Basically, the whole premise of this guy's argument is that Muslims will hate Obama just as much as they hate George Bush and the main reason, or actually only reason he gives, is that Obama converted to Christianity. So, my response to this guy is, project your fear-mongering elsewhere. Such a pessimistic view does no good, in my opinion. It's possible the author's ideas are not well-defined and that could be why I disagree so deeply with his opinion, but my impression is that he is over-generalizing Islam. His fundamental rational is that Islam is intolerant and so he mistakingly applies a conception of radical Muslims to all Muslims. I don't buy it. Obama will have transformative power in the world more than Hillary or any other potential President. It's not zero-sum, there will be roadblocks to improving US relations, especially with ANY group that is radically different in its society's conventions, so focusing solely on radical Islam and passing radical Islam's practices onto all of Islam is misleading and makes his argument weak.

On the author's use of words, I'm not sure that Muslims view it as a crime to convert to Christianity, but rather that it is not possible for a true Muslim to convert to Christianity because that would be going backward. Jesus is only a prophet to Muslims and Muhammad is the true messenger of God (Muhammad came after Jesus and produced the Qur'an after speaking with God, whereas Jesus was just an important prophet – not THE messenger of God). Muslims don't believe in the resurrection, but only that Jesus was a very good and important prophet – his importance is superseded by Mohammad.

The author also says that converting to Christianity is worse than murder, but fails to mention it is not necessarily deserving of the same punishment as murder. Converting away from Islam is worse than murder because it's abandoning the religion, not that you've committed a social crime (or a crime against humanity). Only radical Muslims think that abandoning Islam deserves the same or worse punishment as murder.

The author goes on to say the conventional anti-Islamic lines that persist in today's society. There's some serious bias here in this author (e.g., see Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington) and it's clear that this person approximates all Muslims as radicals that are out to get America (e.g., see Fox News O'Reilly Factor or people like Tom Tancredo). Then the author goes on to imply that Muslim clerics will tacitly consent assassination attempts if President Obama were to visit their countries. Give me a break. There always has to be an enemy, but it's downright fallacious, if not entirely misleading, to imply the entire Muslim world being the enemy of Barack Obama, or that Obama doesn't have transformative power for US relations with the Muslim world because the Muslim world is intolerant. And, if the author actually doesn't think this, then he forgot to be clear, because it seems to me he deciphers the difference between radicals and moderates.

  • Welcome back, DrinksGreenTea!

    Hope all is well with you.

    I saw that piece but didn’t bother reading past the first couple of sentences. Isn’t Luttwack a Republican anyway?

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