The Scientific Fundamentalist

A look at the hard truths about human nature.

If Barack Obama Is Christian, Michael Jackson Was White

It’s not only about who you worship; it’s also about who you marry

According to the recent report by the Pew Research Center, 18% of the American population state that President Barack Obama is a Muslim (up from 11% in March 2009).  In contrast, 34% state he is a Christian (down from 48% in March 2009).  It is disheartening to know that 34% of the population has a dim understanding of human genetics.  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, just as Catholics and Jews are throughout most of the world.  It’s not only about who you worship; it’s also about who you marry.

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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.

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong for our President to be Muslim.  The only thing that’s wrong with it is denying it.

Satoshi Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist at LSE and the coauthor (with the late Alan S. Miller) of Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters.

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