May 12, 2008
Of the amazing, wonderful things that Obama would do if elected, I think we can safely chalk up ?making Muslims love us? in the ?ain?t gonna happen? ledger.
Edward Luttwak talks some sense in the Times:
One danger of such charisma, however, is that it can evoke unrealistic hopes of what a candidate could actually accomplish in office regardless of his own personal abilities. Case in point is the oft-made claim that an Obama presidency would be welcomed by the Muslim world.
This idea often goes hand in hand with the altogether more plausible argument that Mr. Obama?s election would raise America?s esteem in Africa ? indeed, he already arouses much enthusiasm in his father?s native Kenya and to a degree elsewhere on the continent.
But it is a mistake to conflate his African identity with his Muslim heritage. Senator Obama is half African by birth and Africans can understandably identify with him. In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith.
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.
This is certainly true, but I think that Luttwak might be giving a bit too much credit to the Obamaniacs (not the undeceived Obamacons, like myself). They don?t so much confuse the potential reactions of East Africans with Muslims to an Obama presidency as conflate most all Third World people into one big happy ?they?re not white or Asian? soup.
Take for instance, Andrew Sullivan?s definitive articulation of the ?Obama will make them love us? fantasy.
Consider this hypothetical. It?s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man?Barack Hussein Obama?is the new face of America. In one simple image, America?s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama?s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.
Of course, if one mentions Obama?s middle name or his attending a Manassas as a child in other contexts, then it?s ?coded? racist talk, but when you?re speaking of how Obama can magically ?reach out,? then it?s A-okay.
I?d be curious to learn exactly what a Pakistani young person thinks of someone like Obama. Being that our hypothetical Haazig?s idea of a black American is probably some composite image of Colin Powell, Flavor Flav, Tiger Woods, Terrell Owens, and Barrack Obama that?s been piped into Waziristan through the Internet and Satellite TV, I?d imagine he?d probably look upon a President Obama with a combination of curiosity, fear, fascination, and disgust. I?m not sure though. I am positive, however, that Barrack?s brown skin and his salad days in a Manassas won?t help us in slightest to win over the Muslims. I think there?s something about invasions and military bases in their holy lands that kind of overrides that pan-Third World solidarity thing.
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