NYT has second thoughts about “Sharia smear” on Obama

June 2, 2008

New York Times front page, 1 June 2008Thank you, Clark Hoyt. The public editor (ombudsman) of the New York Times has torn apart Edward Luttwak’s op-ed piece on Barack Obama supposedly being a Muslim apostate, right in the Grey Lady’s pages. In his Public Editor column on Sunday, Hoyt called it “a single, extreme point of view” and said the NYT should not simply publish opinion pieces based on patently false facts. We blogged about this last week when a leading Muslim scholar refuted Luttwak’s article. Luttwak is a military historian and  conservative analyst of strategic issues who has advised the U.S. military, National Security Council and State Department. He lists his fields of expertise as “geoeconomics, strategy and national strategies and military policies” but not Islam.

“The Times Op-Ed page, quite properly, is home to a lot of provocative opinions,” Hoyt wrote. “But all are supposed to be grounded on the bedrock of fact. Op-Ed writers are entitled to emphasize facts that support their arguments and minimize others that don’t. But they are not entitled to get the facts wrong or to so mangle them that they present a false picture.”

Hoyt said he consulted five Islamic scholars at U.S. universities and “all of them said that Luttwak’s interpretation of Islamic law was wrong.” When the Times asked Luttwak to defend his view, he sent them an analysis of it by an unnamed scholar of Muslim law. He disagreed with Luttwak so strongly that he wrote to him: “You seem to be describing some anarcho-utopian version of Islamic legalism, which has never existed, and after the birth of the modern nation state will never exist.”

The public editor also noted that the Muslim world, far from being “horrified” by Obama’s supposed apostasy as Luttwak predicted, has shown no interest in this argument. That jibes with what we found. After Luttwak’s article appeared, Reuters correspondents looked around for public reactions in the Arabic-language media and found nothing. We decided not to actively seek out responses from experts there because that would only highlight an opinion we thought was wrong anyway.

Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix at the U.N. Security Council at the U.N. in New York, 25 November 2002/Chip EastOne other point stood out. When Hoyt told him what the five different Muslim scholars had said, Luttwak retorted by accusing them of presenting a “gross misrepresentation” of Islam. Doesn’t this sound like the way the neo-cons disputed pre-Iraq war intelligence reports, dismissed U.N. inspectors (like Hans Blix at left) who found no weapons of mass destruction and argued the war would be a push-over? It turned out that was mostly opinion not based on facts too — and the Times had to issue what Slate’s media critic Jack Shafer called its “mini-culpa” for presenting some of these WMD opinions as fact in its news reporting.

As Hoyt concluded, “with a subject this charged, readers would have been far better served with more than a single, extreme point of view. 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.”

We got some comments to our original post on this issue that defended Luttwak’s point of view. One said that an article challenging his thesis was “completely off base, misses the point entirely and is a waste of time to read.” Any rethinking going on out there after reading Hoyt’s critique?


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Jeff Weber, you say “Muslims bomb and kill and behead apostates all the time in Sharia law countries.” So there must be a lot of proof of that in news reports around the world in recent years. It’s not clear how often “all the time” is, but how about saying several times a month over the past year? Document that and your comment can be taken as fact and not a Luttwak-like opinion.

As for “please understand taqiyya,” that term gets thrown around so much that it’s become a crutch for anyone trying to bolster weak arguments. If you can’t disprove the statements of the scholars Hoyt consulted with serious counter-arguments, reaching for this last straw is not very credible.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

The problem with Clark Hoyt’s criticism of Edward Luttwak’s op ed piece is that he is blind to the fact that one can find an ‘Islamic scholar’ for every point of view. He found ‘five’ Islamic Scholars and Luttwak found one who disagrees with them. And all swear that they are following the teachings of the Koran and Mohammad. There are as many ‘Islamic scholars’ as there are mosques.

A huge difference between Christian and Islamic ‘scholarship’ is that one can find justification of every point of view somewhere in the Koran while Biblical interpretation is far more narrow and consistent in its interpretation of what behavior is acceptable under Christianity and what is not – such as the ten Commandments one of which is ‘thou shalt not kill.’ And inside the Catholic church there is only one top ‘authority’ – the Pope. Who is the Islamic counterpart to the Pope? There is none. There is no central authority in Islam. Apparently almost any Imam can declare a ‘fatwah’ and order killing, all justified of course by the ‘Koran.’ It’s a far more ‘do it your way’ religion than Christianity ever was.

While one can find justification in the Koran for killing ‘infidels’ – i.e. Christians, you can as well find instructions for being kind and hospitable to strangers. So, depending on which ‘Islamic scholar’ you talk to Islam is really a benign, moderate, religion, or it is a religion of perpetual war against all non-Muslims. Find me anywhere in the Bible or by its ‘scholars’ justification for killing others for their religious views. The Koran abounds with such ‘permissions’ and exhortations. That’s why there are so many ‘Islamic scholars.’

Osama Bin Laden justifies his war on the west on Islam. So do those Muslims who reject him. The only consistent ‘commandment’ I can find in the Koran is ‘either convert Infidels – i.e. Christians and Jews – to Islam or kill them.’

I think the point is that there is a difference between an opinion and a lie

Posted by Ralph | Report as abusive

“It’s an opinion piece for crying out loud. The author should be able to state it as he sees fit. ”

That is ridiculous. A respectable newspaper would not publish an Op-Ed with glaring inaccuracies. What if someone wrote an Op-Ed denying the Holocaust and citing all kinds of bogus facts to support their claims? Should that get published, just because it is an Op-Ed?

Real journalism requires integrity and respect for the principles of journalism. Anything less, like the poster above describes, is just “blogging”.

Posted by BlueState | Report as abusive

No Newspaper has a right, whether is satisfy it’s reader’s bade, or appeals to the Editor’s personal belief or agenda, to purposely put out information that has the capability to destroy, or cause in any way harm to a person’s or organization’s reputation. Slander, Libel are just two charges that can be made, especially if it is proven that the newspaper purpose;t suppressed information that refuted any facts published! The first poster feels ok with this type of treatment of an individual, as no doubt he’s not a big fan of the individual being smeared in question. But, if this same individual was to wakeup one morning and find misleading or infactual information about himself in the newspaper, would he not be rightfully upset? Would any of you be upset? If the New York Times wishes to wrap itself around the tabloid format, fine, it’s board of directors may see this as a means of raising revenue or increasing exposure. It does not allow this newspaper to purport itself as a bearer of a standard of responsibility journalism if this is the means to sensationalize information to increase readership, or mold public opinion to their agenda.

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

Every “scholar” is entitled to their “theory” (The study of G’d or Creation). What is obvious after thousands of years of human thought is that there are no two things alike. For instance there are no two snowflakes alike, or sunrises or sunsets. Scripture reflects that G’d is One. The G’d of the Jews, Christians and Muslim in Scripture is the same G’d. Scripture is a comfort to the Believer and a Mercy (Warning) to All. The sun shines on the Saint and Sinner alike. However one is at Peace and the other in confusion. Science is Revelation (Scripture) revealed. Any attempt at Scholarship must supported by the Scientific Method to be accepted (Reality). Reality is the best explanation of what is. The Reality of Edward Luttwak’s Op-Ed piece on Barack Obama being Muslim is a political hatchet job, not a Paper on Religion. Case in Point everything in Creation is “Muslim”. Muslim is simply defined as submission to the Creator. A tree is Muslim, a bird, a rock… including people. We all submit to our Creator; because, we only have “Limited Free Will”. When we live and die, eat and sleep, love and hate, laugh and cry we are submitting to the way were Created (Muslim). Being Muslim is no big or little deal. Recognizing and being Great full to our Creator is Human, Intelligent being a Believer in the Oneness of G’d and the Oneness of the Soul that binds us to all of Creation.

Posted by Fareed | Report as abusive

It would appear that neo-cons such as Luttwack have a clearly focused agenda of marshalling their troops in propaganda wars based on factually incorrect, shrewdly worded bold assertions that further dis-inform and reinforce the spoon-fed and illogical notions of their faithful warriors. These “me too” high fiving zealots(ditto-heads for want of a bettor word) are prime targets for cynical manipulation. Hoyt’s efforts must be applauded but I am not sure how the NY Times might best handle intentionally propagandizing opinions that appear to be factually incorrect in open forums. Too bad MS Word doesn’t have a “malicious filter”. Just kidding!

Posted by George Papadi | Report as abusive

Islam is a religion that is passed patrilineally, through the male line. There are several ways to become Muslim, but the most binding is to be born to a Muslim father, as Obama was.

Now Obama’s dad may have been a poor example of a Muslim, but it is undeniable that he was one. And that makes Obama a Muslim in the eyes of the global umma, or community of Islam, whether or not he wants it that way or not. When you are born into Islam, you are considered a Muslim for life.

Islam does not tolerate apostasy, renunciation of the faith. It is well-established in states implementing Shariah law that the penalty for apostasy is death. This is clearly called for in Islamic jurisprudence as well as the Qu’ran itself.

In Western eyes, Obama was never a Muslim because he did not voluntarily choose it. This is a key tenet of Christianity and even humanism, that a man must have free will. However, Islam does not view Obama in this way. Because he has voluntarily rejected his Muslim birthright, he is not only an apostate, but the very worst kind of apostate. And that calls for death.

5 or 500 Muslim scholars could contradict this for the benefit of a Western audience, but there are literalists and fundamentalists throughout the Muslim world who would say it is so, and say further that killing Obama would be a good and worthy act for a Muslim.

I have been to both Iraq and Afghanistan and seen that even “moderate” Muslims do view and punish apostasy harshly. Seemingly rational Muslims agree that the penalty for leaving Islam is clear: death.

Western liberals attempting to defend the encroachment of Islam into Western lands may obfuscate, call names, attempt censorship, and otherwise refuse to see it, but Islam is not a tolerant faith, and brooks no competitors.

Posted by J Cline | Report as abusive

Just as there is a difference between rumor and libel/slander. There needs to be criminal consequences for libel.

Posted by Carolyn A | Report as abusive

I am the person quoted in this article saying the piece was a ‘waste of time to read’. Want to know why?

The basic reason for this statement was that that article references one point of view where the interprtations of Muslim Law are varied and the people making siad interpretations use their view to forward their cause i.e. Al Queda interprets Muslim Law to their own ends and regardless of this single unnamed sources interpretation used in that poorly written argument, other sects of Islam can use whatever interpretation they wish – as they have been doing for a long time now.

Obama can, and will be, regarded as an apostate by some followers of Islam. Period. Like it or not this interpretation can, and most likely will, be used as a rallying call against the United States.

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive

I am always amazed and disappointed in my fellow man’s ability to get hung up on a tiny little detail and completely miss the point of an article.

This article was highlighting the condemnation of an Op-Ed written by Edward Luttwak. In short this article accuses Mr. Luttwak of stretching the truth to the point of lying and praises NYT Editor Clark Hoyt for doing his job and publicly pointing out the poorly written article.

Anyone who got something else needs to read it again!

Posted by DaveP | Report as abusive

No interpretation of any religious law can be “incorrect” because all religions are made-up anyhow? Is the catholic church wrong about the trinity? Was Martin Luther wrong about selling indulgence? Is a rabbi or minister who “marries” two people of the same sex “wrong”. My answer is that all religions are only myths anyhow and equally wron in any interpretation.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

Flat out lying, and then calling your malicious lie an “opinion” is not defensible.

There lack of understanding of Islam, both on this board and America at large, is astounding.

There are no such things as “secret muslims”, and there are as many crazies in Islam as in Xianity. It just so happens their crazies reside in the 3rd world and ours (America) live comfortable, Wal-Mart sponsored lives.

Don’t let “opinions” muddy facts. These are the same people pushing intelligent design pseudo-science on the rest of us.

Posted by Al | Report as abusive

Robert NYC, I commented on my earlier post that I’d agree if Luttwak had only said that some Muslims like Al Qaeda would consider Obama an apostate. So what else is new, you could ask. But Luttwak said this was “Muslim law as it is universally understood.” This is quite different from narrowing it down to Al Qaeda.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

As a Catholic, I know that young children of this faith are indoctrinating into the Catholic religion, and this is at an early age. I have no argument with this as it helped make me a much better person and I learned right from wrong.

My point: Obama spent quite a bit of his youth in a country which is almost all Muslim; he went to a Muslim school (also a Catholic one but I don’t think that one caught on with Obama). He has been very much influenced by his father (a Muslim, esp. when Obama was in his company at an early age). His book “Dreams From My Father” … he writes about his father and that side of the family most often. His father had an awful lot of influence on young Obama. All of this has been in his brain. I would not be surprised if he were a sleeper.

Posted by Clyde | Report as abusive

To NYMARTY @ 2:02: “Obama is so closely associated with terrorists and anti-American such as Ayers, Wright, Farrakhan and Pfleger”

Wright he had a relationship with. But “closely associated with terrorists and anti-American such as Ayers, Farrakhan and Pfleger??

“Only in your sick, hateful fantasies.

To really see politicians who are too closely associated with hate-mongering liars posing as religious leaders, you have to go to the GOP. That’s where you find true anti-American bigots blaming Americans for everything, including 9/11, in order to keep the donations coming as they relentlessly try to impose their so-called Christian religious extremism on us all.

Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Hagee, Donohoe, Frankiln Graham. The list of right-wing hate-mongering bigots using religion and fear to try and impose their views onto our government and create a Christian Taliban in this country is long – and right there with them, every step of the way, are GOP politicians, shamelessly pandering to them for the votes of sheep-like evangelicals.

Don’t talk about Islamic hatefulness, and don’t question Obama’s patriotism, if you aren’t willing to confront the so-called “Christian” monster here at home and the right-wing politicians who hypocritically enflame hate and bigotry to get votes.

No religion, not even Islam at it most intolerent, can hold a candle to the death and destruction that has been inflicted around the world in the name of Christianity. What they call Chritianity is far removed from the teachings of Christ, and I doubt if He would recognize it as coming from anything He ever taught.

But He did warn us to beware of those who make a show of their faith.

And, really – Michelle and Barack Obama showed their displeasure with the National Anthem? When? Where? Are you one of those who measures patriotism by a cheasy “made in China” lapel pin? Pathetic.

I am so sick of liars trying to ruin my country. Especially the ones who think they have the Right to do it because they have The One True Religion and we just need to give in to them and let them impose their Chritstian version of Sharia Law on us, even to putting it into the Constitution.


Posted by ral | Report as abusive

@J Cline

IN AMERICA people are free to choose their own lifestyle. Thats the “liberty” part of the constitution. The fact that you read about “sharia” and “islam” on WIKIPEDIA does not make you and expert. Your are not making an argument, you are spouting spurious, un-American bullshit. Please stop sending me those damn emails.

Posted by Al | Report as abusive

DaveP — thanks!

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

The NY Times Op-Ed page prints Bill Kristol’s fact-free bile every week. Kristol’s factual claims are routinely directly contradicted by the Times’ own news staff. If the Op-Ed editors don’t bother to fact check their regular fact-free columnists, why would they bother to fact-check a guess columnist?

Posted by owenz | Report as abusive

Some humble corrections to the comments posted here:
1. The Koran urges a Muslim to kill only when his/her own life, own being is under threat. This is what happened before the battle of Badr, and the revelation which says “fight and kill the infidels where you find them” is from that period. Look up battle of Badr.
2. Obama was never a Muslim, so he cannot possibly be an apostate. What Muslim would want to attend church for 20 years, get married in a church, and baptize his two children? I mean which is it guys, is he a blind follower of a Christian Reverend Wright, or is a Muslim?
3. Suppose someone holds a gun to a Muslim’s head and says “If you’re a Muslim, I’m going to kill you now.” And the guy, says that he is not. That would be an example of al-taqiyya, and whether that is wrong or right is open to interpretation, and ultimately decided by God. I would urge people to do some research :).
4. As Clark Hoyt’s research makes clear, the punishment for apostasy is open to debate. Honestly, there are billions of Muslims around the world, and if one of them says “hey, i’m not Muslim anymore” the people around him are far too busy leading their own lives to worry about it overmuch. ESPECIALLY since the jurists themselves do not agree on what to do.

Before accepting someone’s view of Islam as fact, it’s a good idea to check if that someone is interested in truth, or obfuscation. I am a Muslim :).

Posted by Headphones | Report as abusive

Readers comments are very interesting. I wish to make only two points. First, Jesus was not a “prophet” of peace; He is the Son of God. He lived a perfect life and died on the cross for every person in this world. He did this to bridge the gap between humans and God; a gap created by sin. Second, I agree that there are no “good” choices for president this year, however, we need not fear that our country is not “doomed” as God is in control. Jesus told Pilate, “you would have no power over me, if it were not given to you from above.” John 19:11. I am sure it did not seem that God was in control when Jesus was crucified and died but as Christians know, He was. If Jesus had not died and rose from the dead 3 days later, we would really be doomed.

Posted by Anita | Report as abusive

If Obama was a Muslim, why would he be pro-choice? Why would he be pro-secularism?

Ugh, for God’s sake. Does nobody in the world understand the meaning of opinion anymore?

If I write that it is my opinion that the Earth is flat and the sky is orange, should someone feel free to stick it on a Op-Ed page because hey, it’s just an opinion? No! Opinions can be valid or invalid – not every opinion is equally correct. The validity of an opinion is determined by the reasoning used to support it. If that reasoning is unsound, nonexistant, or based upon fault premises, then it follows that the opinion derived from it is invalid!

The New York Times was right to condemn this nonsense.

Posted by Tristechan | Report as abusive

It’s terribly sad that there are still so many Americans who are this ignorant. Even if Obama were a Muslim, who cares. America is headed down the tubes on the backs of fools like you.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

Because it is an opinion doesn’t mean it is ok to write in a newspaper. Opinions should stay in blobs but not in newspaper where people assume it is true facts. And no. Americans are not smart to know the difference. For example, some people still associate Obama with Osama.

Posted by yes4me | Report as abusive

Neocon Christian extremists should not be given space on the NYTimes editorial page. They have distorted fact after fact over the last twenty years, and their ideal of a new American century has proven to be extremely misguided. Attacks on Presidential candidates by “scholars” using academia to hide their propgandistic polirtical agenda of hate, should be confined to the backwaters, not the backpages, of our history.

Posted by Condemn Islamophobia | Report as abusive

Lol with all the liberal left wingers responding obviously the article struck a nerve. I love how liberals denounce something like this at the top of their lungs yet sit there and entertain these radical conspiracy theories when it’s the “right wing”. FYI the “right wing” has rights to their views just like your nutty left wing idealist eutopia naive nightmare.

Posted by Cryos | Report as abusive

Talk talk and blah, blah blah…. Here we are seven years after the catistrophic mistake of GW Bush. The only discussion should be about the fact that the supreme court was wrong to place that man in office, and he should be indicted for his crimes against democracy, deriliction of duty,and the long list of lies and offences he has committed in office. This issue is far more important than any other. For if we are to proceed in some semblence of decency this elephant needs to be escorted from the room.

Posted by Eileen Frances | Report as abusive

Well Headphones, here are a few choice quotations from the Koran

9.5-6: “Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them.”

4.76: “Those who believe fight in the cause of God…”

8.12: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the Infidels, strike off their heads then, and strike off from them every fingertip.”

8.39-42: “Say to the Infidels: If they desist from their unbelief, what is now past shall be forgiven them; but if they return to it, they have already before them the doom of the ancients! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it

8.15, 16: “Believers, when you meet the unbelievers preparing for battle do not turn your backs to them. [ Anyone who does ] shall incur the wrath of God and hell shall be his home: an evil dwelling indeed “.

9.39: “If you do not fight, He will punish you severely, and put others in your place.”

One summer doth not a swallow make, and correcting one piece of journalism in the NY Times does not a reliable newspaper make.
The NY Times is sloppy, inaccurate, and rather without a solid informed point of view. The Gray Lady gets used like an old hooker, and it appears she and the powers that be like it that way: “25 cents? they all gave me 25 cents” although the price has gone up since the old days.

To Toms Response…

No narrowing it down to Al Queda? Last time I checked, their interpretation of Muslim Law IS one of the main problems these days, yes?

If Al Queda is actually causing a whole lot of deaths, terrorist attacks, anti-American rhetoric (and just maybe you agree with me here – if not – read any newspaper for the last 7 years for evidence) then their iterpretation IS EXTREMELY RELEVANT AND IMPORTANT TO THIS MATTER OF OBAMA BEING LABELED AN APOSTATE.

Hopefully you can understand this very basic point.

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive

Anita @3:23 “Jesus was not a “prophet” of peace; He is the Son of God. He lived a perfect life”

I look at statements like that and shudder. Not because you have faith, but because your blanket statement implies that you believe that you are the possessor of the only Truth and any who do not agree with you are just plain Wrong. And that is the first step down a very dangerous path.

The Inquisition is made of such blind certitude, because along with that certitude is a complete misunderstanding, a wilful disregard, of what Jesus affimed and reaffirmed throughout His short life.

Jesus NEVER claimed perfection. And, when asked if He was the Messiah, He put the question back to His accusers, “That’s what you say I am.”

He did claim that we all had the potential to attain perfection. That we all are equally beloved of God. And that we ALL are the children of God.

It was a power-mad Christian church that sought to attribute divinity to Christ and to claim for themselves the power to intercede between men and God, solely as a means to attain unlimited earthly wealth and power for themselves – all of which is a desecration of the teachings of Christ – and the root of all the violence done in the name of the church over the centuries.

Your statement is a complete misunderstanding of the teachings of Christ. It is a misunderstanding that allows us to stay less than Christ, to commit all kinds of sins beacuse it assumes that we cannot be as Christ, since He was perfect and we cannot be.

That is not what Christ taught at all, in fact, it is in direct contradiction to what He taught. He never said it would be easy, but His whole life was a How-To guide – for those who have eye to see and ears to hear.

Christ taught that just as He was the son of God, so are we all the children of God, no less than He was. No less special, no less beloved, no less perfect, and no less capable of performing miracles. When He was asked about the miracles He performed, He said, “Greater things than this shall you do.”

When we attribute Perfection to Christ, when we deny for ourselves the Power He told us we should claim for ourselves, and when we believe that He is more beloved of God than us, then we are denying the very Heart of His teachings.

It’s nothing more than an excuse to stay flawed and sinful. It’s the curse of low expectations. And He certainly warned about that too.

Posted by ral | Report as abusive

Robert NYC – I never said Al Qaeda would not label Osama an apostate. I agree with you that they would see him as one. I agree with Luttwak on that point, too. But that is not the only point that Luttwak made or the point that made his op-ed piece so wrong. The core of his argument was that all rpt all Muslims would see him as an apostate, would be horrified by the news and therefore Al Qaeda could rally support among them against him. That turns his thesis from a careful analysis of Al Qaeda’s likely reaction to Obama into another of these sweeping generalisations about Islam and all Muslims that is flat wrong. As someone who has lived in the Muslim world and covered Muslim issues for around 25 years, I find it worrying that such wrongheaded judgments can get printed in a major newspaper as a serious analysis and am pleased to see that Hoyt dealt with the issue so well. This is what I’ve been talking about and hopefully you can understand this very basic point.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Dave @ 3:44

I won’t list them all, but, really, you do know that the Bible is equally bloodthirsty and vengeful, don’t you?

If you don’t, you need to educate yourself behore using quotes from the Koran as indications of the bloodthirsty inclinations of Muslims.

If we were following the Bible literally, most of Congress and a few ex-presidents should have been stoned as adulterers, including John McCain.

Teenage boys who mouth off to their parents would be taken to the edge of town and stoned to death.

I could go on, but it would take all day. The Bible is full of vengeance, retribution, violence, war, and incest, all sanctioned by God. Plagues, rape, horrible atrocities, all for God.

C’mon, Lot was told to give his virgin daughters to be raped by a mob rather than allow the mob to rape His angels. If God’s omnipotent, why did He need two young girls to be raped to death in order to protect His angels. And if He could have protected them but was just testing Lot’s faith, what kind of sicko diety is that?

The Bible is full of this kind of sick violence masquerading as Holy Writ, the Koran does not have a corner on it, and Muslims do not have a corner on terrorism. Christians have been committing genocide for God for centuries, which is precisely why the Founding Fathers were so adamant about keeping religion out of government. They knew the inherent danger of combining earthly and religous power.

Thomas jefferson went so far as to separate the Words of Christ from the rest of the Bible, which he considered a lot of violent superstition.

For some odd reason, evangelicals today have chosen to make the teachings of Christ subordinate to the violent retribution of the Old Testament.

Before you obsess over violent teachings in the Koran, I suggest you remove the mote from your own eye.

Posted by ral | Report as abusive

“…opinion pieces based on patently false facts” should never be published.

How often have we read in the newspaper, “misstatements of fact“ under the guise of, “… a high ranking Administration official says…” as a news item; then to be followed by an Administration official stating, “… it has been reported…” implying as if fact and now true.

Posted by Frank Venice | Report as abusive

Tom –

Regardless of what ‘all’ or the ‘majority’ of Muslims think, the foundation or initial reason to be able to consider Obama and apostate is real, is history and is there. Therefore, this can be used by Al Queda to recruit more terrosists against the United States and futher their cause. Period.

It does not matter that Al Queda is a very small minority or that other prominent mullahs may interpret Obama not to be an apostate, in a world of 1 billion plus muslims Al Queda will hit sympathetic ears from Palestine to Tehran with its apostate label and gain support.

In this way, Obama strengthens our enemy. This fact is unavoidable. Very simple, very basic and very easily understood.

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive


I believe we are arguing different points. The original article was myopic and seemed more to be a poltically motivated piece meant to spin the matter in favor of Obama being elected President. Were Obama to get into the White House, and an Islamic country such as Iran to decide they wanted to oppose any policy, speach (and as we all know that is what Obama is best at), U.S. sponsored move at the U.N. (i.e. Iran’s nuclear policy) or anything and justify their opposition, they could simply say ‘He is an Apostate, our religion dictates we cannot do business with him’, ‘he is an apostate and means only to destroy us’, etc…

In this way Obama would be an extremely weak President in the Middle East as any opposite party has the nuclear apostate fallback option.

Think abouot it this hypothetical situation – Michael Bloomberg runs for and is elected President. If this happened what would be a Jewish President’s credibility in the Middle East? I would say half the countries would not even pick up the phone if he called lest their Islamic leaders publicy castigate them shortly thereafter. Any agreements a leader in an Islamic country made with a jew would be criticized from any opposition at the top of their lungs. I believe (but I could be wrong) it is against Saudi Law for a jew to step foot in their land. No Presidential trip there. And the Saudi’s are less extreme than many other Middle Eastern nations.

So what is worse? A Jew or an Apostate in the eyes of Muslims? I think an Apostate is as that is related to that of a traitor and a betrayal.

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive

Muslim or not it should not matter since a persons religion in America is their right. The very idea of denying somebody a job because of their religion is a violation of our US constitution, against the law & un-American.

America is not a Christian only country it’s a collective of religions (something many of you seem to have forgotten) it’s “really” the only thing that makes America a beautiful place to live. Without that single right America would essentially be no better than China and allot worse than many other countries.

Remember that politics and religion don’t mix. Were looking for a president not a Rev But If a Rev. is what you are seeking I suggest you try a church.

Posted by Eric | Report as abusive

RobertNYC @ 3:57

“If Al Queda is actually causing a whole lot of deaths, terrorist attacks, anti-American rhetoric (and just maybe you agree with me here – if not – read any newspaper for the last 7 years for evidence) then their iterpretation IS EXTREMELY RELEVANT AND IMPORTANT TO THIS MATTER OF OBAMA BEING LABELED AN APOSTATE.

Hopefully you can understand this very basic point.”

My son is in the Marines. He has been shocked at the right-wing extreme evangelical Christianity being shoved down the throats of the troops. Make no mistake, our troops are being indoctrinated that this is a Crusade against unchristian evil-doers. Our theocracy against theirs. And God is on our side, of course.

The war-profiteers running the military love to sell the “Obama is a Muslim” smear. They want more war, not less.

If you find the idea of Muslims forcing Sharia Law on us, how can you wonder that they might not respond well to Christianity being forced on them through attacks on their countries?

And are you really blind to the death and destruction Americans have been fomenting and spreading in the Arab world for far longer than 7 yrs? Do you think they are blind to the rabid anti-Muslim rhetoric that comes out of this country?

I’m no more pro-Muslim terrorism than I am pro-Christian terrorism, they are all abominations. And really stupid. How long are we going to ruin this world over what is essentially a family fight between Jews, Muslims & Christians; three branches of a Stone Age desert tribal family?

What I am vehemently against is Americans preaching hate for Muslims, or anyone else, while pretending 9/11 happened in a vacuum, and that this country is some innocent victim that has had nothing to do with conditions in the Middle East today.

When we tried in the 1950s to keep a Shah in Iran, and we stopped the Iranians from doing what we do – choose the leader they wanted – how hypocritical was that? Why are we always preaching Democracy and always stopping other countries from choosing their own leaders?

We armed Saddam to help fight Iran. We sold him the gas that he used to kill the Kurds who didn’t want to live under his dictatorship.

We sold arms to Iranian terrorists AFTER the hostage crisis. What do you think they used them for? To kill Iraqis, their own people, or us? Reagan needed the cash to start wars in South America. And you wonder why we get attacked?????

We’ve been merchants of death in the Middle East for decades, most of the 20th century, and yet most Americans want to be deeply enraged about 9/11 without ever acknowledging the death and destruction we caused for decades before that. Turn a blind eye if you want, it doesn’t change the facts.

Hell, the CIA even trained Osama Bin Laden to help us stop the Russians in Afghanistan. Not because we liked the Afghanis, or wanted to spread freedom to them, but because we didn’t want the Russians to have an oil line to a warm water port to ship oil out of the USSR.

How many people have died because of what we have done in the Middle East? How many children orphaned? How many parents have buried their children because of us?

Are you starting to get the point? The last 7 years did not happen in a vacuum and we can’t begin to fix it until we own up to our part in it.

Posted by ral | Report as abusive

bush is directly related to people who illegally sold the nazis war materials, even after we declared war on germany. his family fortune is based partly on that business. that’s common knowledge, but was never ever considered an issue for bush when he was running. why is obama’s apostasy an issue, even if it is true, which it isn’t? why do people care about his father?why do people care that his middle name is hussein? i can’t expect the largely euro, afro and latino american populace to know that hussein is one of the most common of all names any where you find muslims in the world. but i can expect people to find more important issues to care about than ‘scary names’. are we really that childish? is the NYT trying to compete with murdoch? those who think obama’s connection with islam is dangerous are the american’s who are really dangerous. they’re destroying our country.

Posted by garcho | Report as abusive


I agree with what you are saying, but if a persons race or religion becomes an issue which does not allow him or her to do their job effectively when dealing with other nations and cultures it should be considered.

Internally our more just policies are one of the core beliefs that makes our society and culture what it is.

We are looking for a leader not religious figure, but we are also looking for someone that can do business with and relate with the rest of the world as the world is becoming more integrated everyday and our 300 million people is a small number compared to 6 billion. We are also looking for a leader that does not offend, or give political capital to other political leaders. Believe it or not – the world is not a friendly place between cultures these days, and leveraging all factors play out on the international stage.

Would you like the head of the KKK negotiating mineral rights and oil supply deals with Nigeria?

How about the leader of the Falun Gong or the Dalai Lama as our ambassadors to negotiate with the Chinese? Think they would get anything done?

There are just some things that offend other people and do not work.

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive


I pretty much agree with you on all points. I am trying to figure out what this all has to do with Obama being an apostate though. I thought that was what we were discussing.

Obama can be labeled an apostate which will make him less effective as a President in solving any issue involving Muslims.

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive

Robert NYC – I’d like to know how many Muslim countries Henry Kissinger has visited and how many Muslim leaders he has spoken to despite your view that many wouldn’t even pick up the phone for a Jew. Possibly so many that even he hasn’t kept count (although one never knows with him!). If Bloomberg were elected president, he would have the ultimate say over many huge military and economic aid packages and arms deals that Muslim countries wouldn’t jeopardise just because he’s Jewish. No matter what their mullahs might say, Muslim leaders are not that short-sighted. Just like I can’t buy this argument for a Jew, I can’t buy it for someone declared a Muslim apostate by a conservative American military strategist with no expertise in Islam (to a collective yawn in the Middle East).

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Tom –

You underestimate the power or the public opinion in the Middle East. Why do you think Abominablenojob declares the end of Israel every three days? His economic policies are failing but these ridiculous proclamations of his are PR pieces to deflect the public eye.

Should one more extreme leader in the Middle East be elected or selected as a result of that candidates villifying Obama as an apostate, a detrimental effect is caused to the United States. This is just one example and it might be a bad one or over simplified.

Answer this – was Kissinger the PRESIDENT?

Ok – try this one – Would it be easier to do ANY business with a Middle Easten country if you were a) an apostate, b) a jew or c) none of the above?

Answer the second question correctly and you pretty much get the point.

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive

Robert NYC – I think by now we both know each other’s views and won’t change no matter how many more comments we post. Thanks for the exchange — it’s always interesting to lock horns with readers on issues like this. But let’s agree to disagree. You’re free to keep sending comments and we’ll post them, but I have to take care of other work that this avalanche of comments is keeping me from finishing.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Hey Tom –

Come on now. You said ‘Just like I can’t buy this argument for a Jew, I can’t buy it for someone declared a Muslim apostate by a conservative American military strategist with no expertise in Islam’.

It makes no difference who the source was or whether it is an conservative American military strategist or the mullah from here or there. What we are talking about is the ability of any splinter of Islam, radical or not, or any public opinion or public offical being able to label Obama an apostate and to then use this label to further their anti-american agendas.

Thats it – thats the central point here. If this can be done Obama is less desirable as a President.

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive


ounds like you answered the question correctly, found yourself logic trapped and gave up. Probably the correct response.

Have a nice day.

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive

Kudos to Tom H,

Tom – just realized you are the author of the article. My bad and my apologies for not being more diligent on your credentials.

I did find your follow up to the original article far superior and comprehensive and corrcet as far as what an authors responsibilities are. My posts here are of course purely my own opinion and hopefully our back and forth for any readers has been enlightening.

Have a great day!

Posted by Robert NYC | Report as abusive

Robert NYC – You’re trying hard to get the last word here, but your comment suggests I have agreed that no Jew should become president, which is implied in your question. I cannot let that stand here. And I now withdraw my offer to continue posting your comments because I have no idea what else will come.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive


I was in total agreement with you until the anti american venom spewed forth. I’ll evn further my agreement by saying that personal gain and personal agenda seem to be at the top of every politician’s list of things to do.

I am pretty sure that the basic Muslim religion is not far off of basic Christian religion.(Christian meaning follower of Jesus) That said, I don’t think that every single follower of either religion are blind. Just as every democrat does not have extreme leftist views nor every republican neo conservative views.

What makes this country great is the freedom we have to shout about the wrong doings of the country and it’s leaders. Try saying the things that you said about America, about Iran in Iran. That is a sure fire way to have ugly warts removed from your neck.

Posted by Kelly | Report as abusive