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His Muslim Identity

Reader comment on item: Islam in Obama's Cairo Speech

Submitted by John in Michigan, USA (United States), Jul 7, 2009 at 11:10

Dr. Pipes,

On Dec. 24, 2007, you wrote, " 'If I were a Muslim I would let you know,' Barack Obama has said, and I believe him. In fact, he is a practicing Christian..." As far as I can tell, Obama's declaration (of Nov, 2007) is still operational; recent news reports have him visiting various Christian churches in the DC area with a view towards formally joining one of them.

To avoid any misunderstanding, I would encourage you to clarify what you mean by phrases like "his being a Muslim" and "his Muslim identity". Do you believe President Obama's declaration of Nov, 2007 to still be operational? Or are you suggesting that Obama is "letting us know" that he will soon convert (or already has converted) back to Islam?

My personal belief is that Obama remains a Christian, but first and foremost he is and will always be a charismatic politician and orator. One of his core tactics as an orator is to create ambiguities of language into which his audience can read whatever they want. He skillfully includes enough qualifiers to permit himself a fallback position, that he was only empathizing with his audience, not actually agreeing with his audience. And yet, for those who care to ignore the qualifiers, his message is there for the taking.

In short, he is speaking in code.

I don't think the coded message is "I am a (secret) Muslim". Rather, the coded message is something more like "I am whatever you want me to be".

These sorts of cynical, chameleon tactics are tremendously useful on the campaign trail, but could easily backfire, now that it is time to be a statesman.

Submitting....

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