March 16, 2008

New York Times blows Obama's half-brother Mark's cover

In an asinine op-ed in the New York Times, "Obama's Brother in China," Roger Cohen reveals the location of Barack Obama's half-brother Mark, bragging:

So there I was, a couple of weeks back, sitting under a mango tree in western Kenya, when Senator Barack Obama’s half-sister Auma says to me:

“My daughter’s father is British. My mom’s brother is married to a Russian. I have a brother in China engaged to a Chinese woman.”

My understanding is that this half brother living in China is Mark. He’s the son of Obama’s father and an American woman named Ruth, whom Obama Sr. met while at Harvard in the 1960s and brought back to Kenya.

As you'll recall, I announced here on January 8, 2008 "I've discovered Obama's estranged half-brother Mark," but I refused to say where Mark lived, mentioning only: "He lives and works abroad, neither in America nor in Africa." My reason for not violating Mark's privacy was simple:
"There's no evidence on the Internet that Mark has ever attempted to boost his career by calling attention to the fact that he's the half-brother of a potential President of the United States. This is in sharp contrast to Billy Carter (Billy Beer and a dubious loan from Col. Gadaffi) and Donald Nixon (Nixonburger and a dubious loan from Howard Hughes). So, I'm not going to drag him into the madness of the campaign."

I guess Cohen would claim that he hasn't violated the man's privacy because China is practically full of half-black guys named Mark with Stanford physics degrees, so he can just blend in with the crowd...

Cohen burbles on:

If nominated, Obama’s family baggage will get pored over. Four years ago, Bush’s people cast Kerry as un-American for speaking French. A Republican camp campaigning at the sorry nadir of Bush’s handiwork will try to portray the war hero John McCain as more American and patriotic than his opponent.

But things are different. Less fearful, Americans are less willing to be manipulated. They’ve backed Obama this far in part because they’re sick of the narrow American exceptionalism of Bush’s divisive rule.

Never before have U.S. fortunes been so tied to the world’s. ... Isolationism is not merely wrong, it’s impossible.

If elected, Obama would be the first genuinely 21st-century leader. The China-Indonesia-Kenya-Britain-Hawaii web mirrors a world in flux. In Kenya, his uncle Sayid, a Muslim, told me: “My Islam is a hybrid, a mix of elements, including my Christian schooling and even some African ways. Many values have dissolved in me.”

Obama’s bridge-building instincts come from somewhere. They are rooted and proven. For an expectant and often alienated world, they are of central significance.

Swell, but Cohen completely misses the point of Obama's poignant passage about his 1988 meeting with Mark, who is also half-Luo and half-white. I apologize to longtime readers, but since almost nobody in the press seems to have paid serious attention to the Democratic frontrunner's 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, I'll have to quote from it at length again.

Unlike Obama, who long dreamed of Kenya but knew little about it, Mark spent his summers off from his American studies in Kenya at his mother and step-father's pleasant Nairobi home, where Obama met him on his first trip to Africa in 1988, when Obama was 27. Here's what Obama wrote about him (pp. 341-345):

"'So, Mark,' I said, turning to my brother, 'I hear you're at Berkeley.'

"'Stanford,' he corrected. His voice was deep, his accent perfectly American. 'I'm in my last year of the physics program there.'"

They meet once more, for lunch:

"I asked him how it felt being back for the summer.

"'Fine,' he said. 'It's nice to see my mom and dad, of course. … As for the rest of Kenya, I don't feel much of an attachment. Just another poor African country.'

"'You don't ever think about settling here?'

"Mark took a sip from his Coke. 'No,' he said. 'I mean, there's not much work for a physicist, is there, in a country where the average person doesn't have a telephone.'


"I should have stopped then, but something -- the certainty in this brother's voice, maybe, or our rough resemblance, like looking into a foggy mirror -- made me want to push harder. I asked, "Don't you ever feel like you might be losing something?'

"Mark put down his knife and fork, and for the first time that afternoon his eyes looked straight into mine.

"'I understand what you're getting at,' he said flatly. 'You think that somehow I'm cut off from my roots, that sort of thing.' He wiped his mouth and dropped the napkin onto his plate. 'Well, you're right. At a certain point, I made a decision not think about who my real father was. He was dead to me even when he was still alive. I knew that he was a drunk and showed no concern for his wife or children. That was enough.'

"'It made you mad.'

"'Not mad. Just numb.'

"'And that doesn't bother you? Being numb, I mean?'

"'Towards him, no. Other things move me. Beethoven's symphonies. Shakespeare's sonnets. I know -- it's not what an African is supposed to care about. But who's to tell me what I should and shouldn't care about? Understand, I'm not ashamed of being half Kenyan. I just don't ask myself a lot of questions about what it all means. About who I really am.' He shrugged. 'I don't know. Maybe I should. I can acknowledge the possibility that if I looked more carefully at myself, I would …'

"For the briefest moment I sensed Mark hesitate, like a rock climber losing his footing. Then, almost immediately, he regained his composure and waved for the check.

"'Who knows?' he said. 'What's certain is that I don't need the stress. Life's hard enough without all that excess baggage.'

"… Outside we exchanged addresses and promised to write, with a dishonesty that made my heart ache."


Notice that it's Obama's own dishonesty that is (supposedly) making his heart ache -- he can't know what's in Mark's heart as they exchange addresses, but Obama knows that he will not write to his own half-brother. The physics student is Obama's intellectual equal, but his realism about Kenya, his lack of an identity crisis, lack of black ethnocentrism, and lack of illusions about their mutual father leave Obama so uncomfortable that he doesn't want to hear from Mark anymore.


I hope the two half-brothers have patched up their relationship in the years since 1995, as the Presidential candidate has matured. (He has matured, hasn't he?)


By the way, if Cohen has actually read Dreams with any care, he would have known that Obama's half-sister Auma, Barack Sr.'s daughter by his first wife, Keiza, isn't entitled to speak for Mark's side of the family.


Obama Sr. and his third wife Ruth, a white American, had two sons, Mark and David, before their bitter divorce. Ruth then married an affluent and genial man who had moved to Kenya from a different African country. They had sons of their own, and all the boys were educated at a prestigious international school in Nairobi.

Mark absorbed his mother's values, but the younger boy, David, rebelled as a teenager against his mother's Western ways. Obama wrote: "He told her he was an African, and started calling himself Obama." David, who was Mark's full brother, ran away from home. Months later, the Senator's hard-drinking half-brother Roy (Auma's brother and Obama Sr.'s first son by Keiza -- Roy later took up the name Abongo when he became an Afrocentric teetotaling Muslim) happened to see David begging on the streets. Roy took him in.

One night, not long before Obama's 1987 visit to Kenya, Roy and young David went out drinking on Roy's motorcycle. Roy got into a drunken brawl and was jailed, so he lent the boy the key to his motorcycle. David crashed it and died.

Roy/Abongo's complicity in the death of Mark's full brother David left relations between Keiza's family and Ruth's family even frostier than before. Upon his visit in 1987, Obama spent almost all his time with Keiza's relations, such as his half-siblings Roy/Obongo and Auma.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

18 comments:

divinryan said...

Spot on Analysis Mate.

Anonymous said...

Buried in the stupid journo's writings is the assumptions that:

America is better represented by non-whites who are hostile to the white majority.

America must bow and bend to the third world, and do what THEY dictate instead of being the leading culture that influences and bends other cultures.

THAT assumption, and the other (hostility to the white majority) is not going to be popular. To put it mildly.

headache said...

"America must bow and bend to the third world, and do what THEY dictate instead of being the leading culture that influences and bends other cultures."

I've come to the point where I say its OK if America and Europe just go their own way and leave the Thrid World ALONE (now more invasions and invites). It would be nice if they took care of their leftovers, i.e. those whites stranded in Africa and other places by the collapse of colonialism.

James Kabala said...

You repeatedly make the claim that Obama is being deceptive when he says he and Mark both knew that neither would never write the other, but I'm skeptical.

Obviously Obama can't know for sure what was in Mark's mind at that particular moment, but since Mark never did write him subsequently, isn't it a reasonable inference that Obama is right and Mark never intended to write? (Unless Obama is REALLY lying and Mark wrote him letters that he threw away and never opened.) If you overplay this point, it gives people an excuse to dismiss the rest of your thoughts.

rast said...

I got confused. Anyone have a link to a picture of Obama's extended family tree?

Anonymous said...

The physics student is Obama's intellectual equal

Equal? Superior, more likely. Barack's mother was some leftist shrew at the University of Hawaii. Mark's mother, whatever her politics, went to Harvard. Barack may have gotten the political gene, and may be far more famous than his half brother, but I know who I'd wager on in an IQ test, and it's obvious which half-brother has actually managed to successfully make his way in a variety of different cultures - Kenya, America, and China.

kurt said...

The fact that Mark Obama has not drawn any attention to himself should make it obvious to any half-wit that he values his privacy and autonomy. Steve did the right thing in not divulging his identity or where he lives. This Cohen guy makes it clear that most mainstream media journalists are arseholes and could care less about the propriety and feelings of others if there is a good story to be found.

Not only is the Pajamas media more accurate that the mainstream media. It shows more respect for people as well.

Shame on Cohen and the NYTimes.

I guess I have forgotten that the liberal-left media does not believe in the concept of shame.

headache said...

"This Cohen guy makes it clear that most mainstream media journalists are arseholes and could care less about the propriety and feelings of others if there is a good story to be found."

Its not only that they are shameless. But they are incredibly slow to catch on. And then when they do, they act as if they were the first to figure it out, when in fact they are a few months or years late. But all the time they think they are something special. These people are so disgusting.

Anonymous said...


I've come to the point where I say its OK if America and Europe just go their own way and leave the Thrid World ALONE (now more invasions and invites). It would be nice if they took care of their leftovers, i.e. those whites stranded in Africa and other places by the collapse of colonialism.


Sure, if you're ok with China being the next superpower and becoming a thorn in our sovereignty.

Half Sigma said...

Mark seems like a decent fellow. Maybe we should be voting for him instead of Barack.

Anonymous said...

"Sure, if you're ok with China being the next superpower and becoming a thorn in our sovereignty."

It is a little late for that concern, since China does not follow US policy of printing money and gratuitously pouring it down Third World ratholes while asking other countries to mop up their inflation-soaked government bonds and currency.

Your conclusion implies you think US policy actually enhances US power and sovereignty. I'm wondering how you ever got that idea.

dearieme said...

Now we see why you are not a journalist on a Big Paper, Steve: too decent on the matter of privacy.

Paul K. said...

The more I hear about Mark Obama the more I wish he were the member of the family who was running for president. He sounds more intelligent and balanced than anyone else in the field.

Anonymous said...

iSteve:

My thanks for reading DFMF so that I don't need to. Gotta disagree with Jimmy Kabala when he sez: Obviously Obama can't know for sure what was in Mark's mind at that particular moment, but since Mark never did write him subsequently, isn't it a reasonable inference that Obama is right and Mark never intended to write? True BHO did subsequently find out that Marky never wrote but he didn't know it then did he? Enough to break his heart? Too novelistic in his technique there -- my bullshit detector (see: The Clash "Garageland") goes off. Just one man's opinion. Though the fact BHO slung it tells me alot.

Bill said...

China?

My guess was Singapore, right?

Not too far off. I could tell from the shirt collar. If he's in China, it's the south.

TGGP said...

Though Mark is likely a liberal (the GOP hasn't exactly done a good job of wooing scientists), I would agree that he would seem like a better President than Barack. I do not know if they are intellectual equals, but Barack has been quite successful both in politics and law/academics so I will not assume he's not as smart. The thing is that what seems likable about Mark is that he is concerned with physics and the good-life (or do I repeat myself, physicists?) and avoids attention while Barack has some idealistic plan to redeem America and thrives in the spotlight. Our political system will ALWAYS select the latter type over the former. This is not simply an issue of one candidate being an unusual character we'd like to keep away from power, there is a systemic fault in democracy. The founders themselves had a low opinion of democracy, but we are taught that it is near-synonymous with goodness and the most backward autocratic places can be healed with some of its magic. But that sadly isn't the case. Democracy is not what it is cracked up to be, it will always disappoint and then the pundits will bemoan how cynical we all are about politics.

Sideways said...

I kind of wish I could vote for Mark for president. I see Half Sigma beat me to it.

Sad that the personality that makes him seem a better candidate makes him less likely to run/get party sponsorship

merl_md said...

I found a picture of Mark...he does not carry the Obama surname but his stepfather's which is probably good because it will keep him away from the public eye. Mark doesn't look like his brother at all. Sen. Obama looks more like his mother than his father.