Not Going There

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In one sense, Barack Obama’s trip to the Middle East could give him a chance to strut his religious stuff. His life experience has afforded him a certain personal insight into religion and society abroad: He spent a couple of years of his childhood living in largely Muslim Indonesia, and is acquainted with Kenya, a predominantly Christian country with a significant Muslim minority that includes some of his relatives. But Islam is a touchier than ever subject in the Obama camp, as witness the campaign’s inability to find a place on the plane for Ryan Lizza, who works for the notorious-cover-producing New Yorker. And then there’s the odd instruction to the Obama entourage not to don green apparel, for this might suggest an identification with the Islamist organization Hamas. (That is the more or less official color of Islam, but there doesn’t seem to be any Muslim equivalent to the Hibernian Wearin’ o’ the Green.) And so, I suppose, it should come as no surprise that there have been no reported meetings between Obama and Shiite or Sunni religious leaders in Afghanistan or Iraq. Color this trip secular.