Responding to the astonishing Pew poll that found 18% of Americans believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, Kanazawa wrote "If Barack Obama Is Christian, Michael Jackson Was White". This is such a mind-bogglingly stupid article that I suspect any summary from me will come off as a straw man, so I'll just quote Kanazawa at length:
Anybody who believes Barack Obama is Christian must also believe that Michael Jackson was white. Like other world religions, Islam not only is a religion but also comprises largely endogamous ethnic groups. When a group of individuals remain largely or entirely endogamous (marry only other members of the group and not outsiders), forming what geneticists call a deme, they become genetically distinct over time. A long history of endogamy, usually but not always necessitated by geographic or social isolation, is how genetically distinct racial and ethnic groups emerge. Muslims, both in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, are a largely endogamous ethnic group... It’s not only about who you worship; it’s also about who you marry.
One’s genome is entirely determined at the moment of conception, and absolutely nothing that individuals do during their lifetimes can alter the composition of their genes. For most of his adult life, Michael Jackson (apparently) believed he was white and (obviously) wanted to be white. He thus underwent numerous plastic surgeries to look white, and mostly looked and acted white. But his genes were still the same genes that he inherited from his black parents at the moment he was conceived, and no amount of plastic surgery could alter his genes. No matter how white his skin was, underneath he was still just as black as the day he was born.
Similarly, the fact that Barack Obama’s father was a Muslim Kenyan, descended from a long line of Muslims, will remain true until the day he dies, and nothing he ever does in his life can change half of his genes that he inherited from his father. His genes are for keeps. The fact that he has attended Christian church for the past 20 years is not going to change that. Michael Jackson looked white much longer than Barack Obama sat in the pews of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church. Obama is still as (half) Muslim as the day he was born.Erm... right. So, firstly, Michael Jackson suffered from the skin condition vitiligo and the auto-immune disease lupus, which combined to significantly whiten his skin. Suggesting that he "wanted to be white" is mere speculation, and I'm not sure what the hell it even means to "act white".
Second and more importantly, Kanazawa apparently just doesn't know what the word Muslim means. Communicated meaning is determined by usage and convention, and in the English language the word Muslim refers to someone who believes there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad was his prophet. Someone who converted to Islam yesterday is as much a Muslim as someone who, like all their ancestors stretching back to the 7th century, was indoctrinated into Islam as a child. (I blush to have to point this out, but, as Richard Dawkins has been repeating for years, no one is born a Muslim or a Christian. We are all born atheists). Now, granted, an author is free to use stipulative definitions - giving a new or specific meaning to a term for the purposes of some discussion - but it is obvious equivocation to defend the 18% of Americans who understand "Muslim" conventionally by invoking an entirely different, stipulative, definition.
It gets worse. Much. Worse. Remember the claim that Obama is "descended from a long line of Muslims"? Rather embarrassingly for someone making an argument like Kanazawa's, that's... erm... not true. His father, Barrack Obama Sr., was raised Muslim, was non-practicing and later became an atheist. His step-father was also "non-practicing" Muslim. His mother, Ann Dunham, was either an atheist or an agnostic. His grandfather, Hussein Obama, first converted to Catholicism, and later to Islam. His grandmother, Habiba Obama also converted to Islam later in life. Yes, that's right: Obama's grandparents converted to Islam. In other words... Kanazawa's argument is so mind-bendingly stupid that it's not only invalid, misguided, misleading, and has false supporting premises, it actually has a false major premise. Such sloppiness deserves nothing but contempt and ridicule.
Hat Tip: Jeff Martin.