Last month, neocon Daniel Pipes published an essay titled “Was Barack Obama a Muslim.” Pipes, an adviser to Rudy Giuliani, posited that there is “a real possibility” that “some Islamists would renounce” Obama as an apostate “and would try to execute him” because of his limited contact with Islam as a child. Politico’s Ben Smith referred to it as “the Muslim smear, version 2.0.”
At a recent Washington Institute forum, U.S. News and World Report columnist Michael Barone quoted Pipes’ specious argument, calling it “a chilling thought,” but concluding that it’s “naive” to “expect the hearts of Muslims around the world are going to be warmed” by the prospect of an Obama presidency.
Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Peter Beinart rebutted Barone and Pipes’ argument, calling it “absurd” and “reprehensible”:
First of all, we should take it as a given that al Qaeda would presumably be very happy to assassinate any American president elected in 2009 and as for the idea that this is somehow a widespread view amongst Muslims as a whole, I don’t know where someone would have gotten that impression.
Beinart is on point when he calls Barone and Pipes’ thinking “absurd.” As Politico’s Smith notes, Pipes’ hypothesis is based on “quibbling with inconsistencies in aides’ accounts of exactly how little contact with Islam Obama had as a child in Indonesia” that “range from very little to none.”
As Beinart notes, “al Qaeda would presumably be very happy to assassinate any American president elected in 2009,” so by pushing the “apostate” line, Pipes and Barone are doing nothing but “branding Obama a Muslim, by a subtler means.”