Jonathan Chait

Man Already Knows Everything He Needs To Know About Muslims

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The Onion has a story today entitled, "Local Man Knows Everything He Needs To Know About Muslims":

Local man Scott Gentries told reporters Wednesday that his deliberately limited grasp of Islamic history and culture was still more than sufficient to shape his views of the entire Muslim world.

Gentries, 48, said he had absolutely no interest in exposing himself to further knowledge of Islamic civilization or putting his sweeping opinions into a broader context of any kind, and confirmed he was "perfectly happy" to make a handful of emotionally charged words the basis of his mistrust toward all members of the world's second-largest religion.

"I learned all that really matters about the Muslim faith on 9/11," Gentries said in reference to the terrorist attacks on the United States undertaken by 19 of Islam's approximately 1.6 billion practitioners. "What more do I need to know to stigmatize Muslims everywhere as inherently violent radicals?"

This made me think of Wall Street Journal blogger James Taranto, with whom I've been enjoying a running debate. It started about a week ago, when I pointed out how sneaky it was for Mitch McConnell to say, "the president says he's a Christian, I take him at his word," which suggests that Obama's word is the only evidence we have to guess his religion, and therefore that McConnell is bending over backwards to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on a question whose answer is uncertain.

Taranto replied that there is no other information to go on besides Obama's word. Then I noted that Obama's religious affiliation is well-documented, from his conversion to Christianity to many years of church attendance. Somehow I missed Taranto's hilarious rejoinder:

Does Chait really want to talk about the church Obama left 2½ years ago for reasons of political expediency? The one whose pastor blamed America for 9/11 and thundered, "God damn America!"? The one that published Hamas propaganda in its newsletter? No wonder some people thought the president was Muslim. This sounds more like the kind of thing you'd hear in an extremist mosque than in anything most Americans would recognize as a church.

Taranto's argument seems to be this: Obama's church had a left-wing minister who said anti-American things. Muslims also believe left-wing, anti-American things. So maybe Obama belongs to a Muslim, uh, church. The Onion really needs to interview this guy.

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