For a long while, presidential contender Barack Obama had to contend with a whispering campaign that suggested he might be some sort of Islamic fanatic. You know! It was all a part of his parents' master plan to destroy America by giving their son a middle name that would come to be shared by an Iraqi dictator that no one had even heard of at the time of Barack's birth! After a while, Obama got shot of that mess and was accepted as a Christian. But then! It turned out that his preacher had said three or four things that people found objectionable, and it turned out that said preacher enjoyed all the attention he got more than he did serving his faith, so Obama had to labor to get shot of that controversy. Well, it's been a few weeks since the nation has pointedly moved on from that matter, so I guess it's time for the pendulum to swing back to the Obama-as-secret-Muslim argument.
Stepping up to fill that void is Edward Luttwak, a military strategist who apparently feels like he's got the background to start expounding on religious doctrines he's not familiar with in the New York Times. According to Luttwak, Obama's a Muslim and there's nothing he or anyone can do about it:
As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother's Christian background is irrelevant.
Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.
In other words, nuts to Obama's professed personal choice in faith! The only thing that keeps Obama from being a Muslim is the peculiar semantic trickery of "most Americans'" understanding.
Luttwak takes pains to say, "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." And that would be sufficient, I suppose, were it not for the great lengths he goes to in presenting these "complications" as things that sound like they might be a "major factor with American voters."
At the very least, that 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. More broadly, 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.
Allow me to translate from the original Luttwak: "I only have a faint idea what I'm talking about. But you voters should be really, really concerned. Just don't tell anyone it was me who suggested this!"
Of course, Luttwak's chiefest concern is also the most inane one:
With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings.
So there you have it. If Obama is elected, we will have to break with tradition and undertake the unprecedented step of ensuring he is not beheaded, stoned, or hanged by Islamic clerics.