Nonsense Detector: Obama and Islam; Orthodoxy of the Apostate; Hagee and Riskin

Gershom Gorenberg


Last month, military historian Edward Luttwack used the pulpit of the New York Times op-ed page to offer a solution to the American right’s burning problem: How can Barack Obama be attacked as both a dangerous Muslim and as the follower of a dangerous black pastor? (As I wrote , this is difficult even for those used to believing six impossible things before breakfast.) Luttwack argued that Obama is really an apostate Muslim, subject to the death penalty in Islam.

The Times public editor, Clark Hoyt, has now reached the judgment that the article should never have appeared. Here’s his basic standard:

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 interviewed five scholars of Islam;

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Thanks to Our Readers

Readers’ notes in the last few days include these tidbits:

  • Moshe Feiglin, head of the Manhigut Yehudit (“Jewish Leadership”) faction in the Likud, has been touring the U.S., speaking at synagogues such as Congregation B’nai Yeshurun in Teaneck. Manhigut Yehudit’s website includes a draft constitution in Hebrew with such features as a rabbinical council that could overturn all laws. In an interview with the fawning Jewish Press, Feiglin said that “There is no such thing as innocent civilians” and said that as prime minister he would have responded to the Merkaz Harav terror attack last month by acting against the attacker’s entire village. Feiglin’s support in the Likud comes entirely from the far-right activists he has signed up as party members, to the embarrassment of the rest of the party. But what are American congregations doing hosting someone who can be called, with understatement, a fascist?
  • Thank God for the farm lobby:

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