Too Muslim? Or not Muslim enough?

Obama detractors on Left and Right have both taken pains to paint him as a closet Muslim. The willing mix up of “Obama” with “Osama” is just the most egregious example of a pattern that’s emerged over and over in this campaign – point out Obama’s differences in an effort to marginalize him and divide the electorate.

An essay in the NYT today shows the opposite side of the argument – turns out Obama isn’t nearly Muslim enough to keep many [most?] of the Islamic faithful happy.

One danger of [Obama’s] charisma, however, is that it can evoke unrealistic hopes of what a candidate could actually accomplish in office regardless of his own personal abilities. Case in point is the oft-made claim that an Obama presidency would be welcomed by the Muslim world.

This idea often goes hand in hand with the altogether more plausible argument that Mr. Obama’s election would raise America’s esteem in Africa — indeed, he already arouses much enthusiasm in his father’s native Kenya and to a degree elsewhere on the continent.

But it is a mistake to conflate his African identity with his Muslim heritage. Senator Obama is half African by birth and Africans can understandably identify with him. In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith …

At the very least, [the fact of Obama’s conversion] would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.

That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be. But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.

So there you have it folks.  The Muslim world would clearly prefer a Christian-by-birth old white guy with a “guns a’blazin'” foreign policy to an African-descended man born into a Muslim family because, well, you know, those Muslims are weird like that.

Let the smear campaign against Obama continue!