6/1/08

Times: Mea Culpa on Luttwack v. the Facts

How did the Times make such a mistake? They published an alarmist opinion that was factually absurd. Op-Ed Contributor: President Apostate? (May 12, 2008) Military historian Luttwack claimed that Muslims consider Obama to be an apostate, one who converted out of Islam, and thus will be in danger in a Muslim country because he is worthy of the death penalty. Luttwack checked with the Quran. The Times fact checked the opinion. Only problem -reality! Military historians and journalists simply do not have the expertise to interpret religion....

From the Public Editor, Clark Hoyt:
...Did Luttwak cross the line from fair argument to falsehood? Did Times editors fail to adequately check his facts before publishing his article? Did The Times owe readers a contrasting point of view?

I interviewed five Islamic scholars, at five American universities, recommended by a variety of sources as experts in the field. All of them said that Luttwak’s interpretation of Islamic law was wrong...

When writers purport to educate readers about complex matters, and they are arguably wrong, I think The Times cannot label it opinion and let it go at that.

2 comments:

bryce said...

"Military historian Luttwack claimed that Muslims consider Obama to be an apostate, one who converted out of Islam, and thus will be in danger in a Muslim country because he is worthy of the death penalty."

Perhaps Luttwack is correct with respect to a /minority/ of Muslim scholars?

But, given that a /minority/ of Muslims is still a very considerable # of people, Obama might still indeed face that risk.

John D. Enright said...

I'm not sure of this matter, one way or the other. I'm mindful of the Shia concept of taqiyyah which dispenses the faithful to lie about their allegiance to Islam where necessary. By extension, that concept has been employed by jihadists to lie about anything - and everything - to advance Islam among us infidels. I understand the difference between the application of the doctrine, and in the first instance, i.e. to protect one's self from persecution, is understandable. However, the second application is apparent in Radical Islamic factions (even though it may well be a perversion of the doctrine)simply by viewing their propaganda pieces.

Since I have no reasonable basis to decide how the Islamic scholars cited view this concept, how can I arrive at an informed opinion regarding their thoughts?

In any event, I hope and pray for the safety of Sen. Obama since some radicals may not read the Times' Public Editor works, and thus, be unaware that Obama isn't an Islamic apostate.