Washington Times op-ed: "first Muslim president"

Just when you thought it was safe to believe that Barack Obama isn't a Muslim ...

Published June 9, 2009 3:01PM (EDT)

Sometimes, if you're making a careful, reasoned argument, you need to include a caveat or two. For example, "This is not to say, necessarily, that Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim." That's the kind of caution that makes Frank Gaffney's latest op-ed for the Washington Times the restrained, thoughtful piece it is.

Yes, the Washington Times really did publish an op-ed titled "America's First Muslim president?" in which Gaffney writes:

During his White House years, William Jefferson Clinton -- someone Judge Sonia Sotomayor might call a "white male" -- was dubbed "America's first black president" by a black admirer. Applying the standard of identity politics and pandering to a special interest that earned Mr. Clinton that distinction, Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America's first Muslim president ...

After his five months in office, and most especially after his just-concluded visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, however, a stunning conclusion seems increasingly plausible: The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich ...

With Mr. Obama's unbelievably ballyhooed address in Cairo Thursday to what he calls "the Muslim world" (hereafter known as "the Speech"), there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself.

It goes on like that; as Ben Smith says, it's "the Muslim attack ... roaring back from the political fringe." And though Gaffney occasionally concedes that Obama might really be telling the truth about his religious beliefs, he also seems to say that doesn't really matter, writing, "In the final analysis, it may be beside the point whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim. In the speech and elsewhere, he has aligned himself with adherents to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah -- notably, the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood -- to a degree that makes Mr. Clinton's fabled affinity for blacks pale by comparison."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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