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Reader comment on item: Was Barack Obama a Muslim?
in response to reader comment: Do you know anything about muslims?

Submitted by Pierce Randall (United States), Nov 30, 2009 at 16:46

This article repeatedly states what Muslims do or believe. This could mean: "All Muslims" "Some Muslims" "Most Muslims" "A statistically-significant number of Muslims" I'm tempted to say that, logically, an ambiguous statement has negative truth-value, because it could also be false. But that's really pedantic (statements like, "Muslims do not eat pork" would be false, because I don't clarify which set of Muslims to which I'm referring), so I'll avoid that line of argument. All Muslims clearly do not consider someone born in Obama's circumstances to be a Muslim, or an apostate. Some Muslims might, but for the same reason I wouldn't hold Pipes' statement to the vagueness standard, that seems fruitless: if "Muslims" means "Some Muslims," then almost any counter-intuitive statement about Muslims would be true: "Muslims eat pork," etc.

I can't really say whether most Muslims believe that Obama is an apostate Muslim because of his family, but I could consider it very unlikely for the same reason I can say definitively that a significant number of Muslims do not think Obama is an apostate Muslim: I've never heard that crazy-talk from anyone other than Daniel Pipes, which rolled out in greater detail in the National Review about the same time as, oh, other classics of the 2008 election, like Obama Nation. This belief would have to manifest itself in some way to be significant.

It has not been in the first year of Obama's Presidency, even from Muslim politicians--extremist ones at that--who might take advantage of that line of reasoning. In no sense, then, is a sentence like "For them, that he was born to a line of Muslim males makes him born a Muslim" true: you can't replace "them" with all, most, or a significant number of Muslims and it be true, and if it means, "more than zero" Muslims, it means very little as a statement. Perhaps Pipes means to say that Muslims have all of the pieces of the puzzle to conclude that Obama is a Muslim and an apostate, and that something could trigger a shift in perception that affects Muslim views of the President. With numerous opportunities to clarify his statement, he doesn't take his readers up on that opportunity.

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