Barack Obama will wisely flee the country and its many newly elected Republican officials immediately after election day, for Asia. During the India portion, however, he may not visit a historic Sikh temple because of its head-covering requirement.
The New York Times reports today that President Obama's advance team has been to check out the city of Amritsar's Golden Temple, this cool-lookin' gold thing that just so happens to be the holiest shrine in Sikhism. All the heads of state go to it when they visit India! But not all of them are so terrified of being photographed in something that would look vaguely (and incorrectly) Islamic to the suspicious folk back home.
But the United States has ruled out a Golden Temple visit, according to an American official involved in planning. Temple officials said that American advance teams had gone to Amritsar, the holy city where the temple is located, to discuss a possible visit. But the plan appears to have foundered on the thorny question of how Mr. Obama would cover his head, as Sikh tradition requires, while visiting the temple.
"To come to golden temple he needs to cover his head," said Dalmegh Singh, secretary of the committee that runs the temple. "That is our tradition. It is their problem to cover the head with a Christian hat or a Muslim cap."
The Times story says that baseball caps or something similar would not be considered appropriate. But after this report came out, both White House officials and Indian officials appear to have freaked out. Now they're in heated negotiations to ensure Obama finds any old shit to put on his head and make the visit, resulting in the great new term "modified baseball cap" entering our political lexicon.
Obama's aides finally came up with the idea of a "modified" baseball cap. It would have to be modified because the Golden Temple does not permit a baseball cap instead of a headscarf. In fact, the temple authorities have no problems with skull caps.
As Giani Gurbachan Singh, head priest of the Golden Temple, puts it: "We have no problems if he wears a skull cap, the kind that Muslims wear to the mosque - or any other cap that is modified to something similar. But we don't allow baseball caps or Army hats."
Get a big hamburger-shaped hat with a picture of Jesus lounging on an American flag or something. Or just stop caring about how the right-wing Internet would respond!