Stay Classy, Dan Pipes

Everyone’s favorite Muslim-hating Islam specialist, who manages to make someone as hardline as his father seem moderate in comparison, has hitched his wagon to the “Obama’s a Muslim” meme (via Ben Smith). But wait – there’s a twist! Pipes doesn’t claim that Obama is currently a Muslim. He’s subtler than that. He, instead, charges that Obama used to be a Muslim as a child, and that this makes him a Muslim apostate, subject to punishment under Muslim law. Never mind for a second that this is, um, not at all true. Such “apostasy”, Pipes says, would hurt Obama’s ability to deal with the Muslim world as President. Because Pipes cares, first and foremost, about how the Muslim world views America; he, lest we forget, has championed such Muslim-pleasing policies as a permanent Israeli annexation of Palestine. And, after all, apostasy sure made life difficult for Argentine President Carlos Saúl Menem, who actually was a Muslim until he converted to Catholicism as an adult. Except, well, here’s what Pipes says:

The only precedent to judge by is that of Carlos Saúl Menem, the president of Argentina from 1989 to 1999. The son of two Muslim Syrian immigrants and husband of another Syrian-Argentine, Zulema Fátima Yoma, Menem converted to Roman Catholicism. His wife said publicly that Menem left Islam for political reasons—because Argentinean law until 1994 required the president of the country to be a member of the Church. From a Muslim point of view, Menem’s conversion is worse than Obama’s, having been done as an adult. Nonetheless, Menem was not threatened or otherwise made to pay a price for his change of religion, even during his trips to majority-Muslim countries, Syria in particular.

Yeah, real negative impact there. In short, Pipes’ piece is premised on the notion that he knows more about Obama’s past religious affiliations than Obama himself, and that Obama would be treated as a traitor by Muslims worldwide even though a world leader who actually was a convert from Islam wasn’t treated that way in the slightest. It’s the kind of rigorous logic I’ve come to expect from Pipes. Good thing he doesn’t have any influence or anything. Oh, wait, he’s a major advisor to the Giuliani campaign. Awesome.

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