April 18, 2007

Washington Monthly denounces my Obama article

Washington Monthly denounces my Obama article: As I mentioned a couple of months ago, there was an attempt going around D.C. to kill my American Conservative article "Obama's Identity Crisis" before I'd even finished it. Now, the would-be censor, some guy named Alexander Konetzki, recounts in the Washington Monthly his heroic effort to silence my questioning of the Presidential candidate's media image:

Ever since Barack Obama burst onto the political stage in 2004, pundits have taken to calling the junior senator from Illinois a rock star. He inspires, they say, with his youth, intelligence, and soaring oratory. He transcends race.

This flattering picture, which makes even the senator blush, has seldom been challenged by political commentators or the public. And as of mid-March 2007, no one had tried in earnest to subvert the idea that, as president, Obama could help ease America’s racial tensions because his mother was white and his father was black.

But that’s exactly what Steve Sailer, a columnist for the anti-immigration site VDARE.com, tried to do in a piece he submitted to the American Conservative magazine, where, at the time, I was assistant editor. Using quotes from Obama’s 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My Father, Sailer portrayed the senator not as a unifying figure, but as an angry black nationalist who completely rejected his white racial heritage as a young man and might do the same as president.

Well, we can't have people going around reading and even quoting a potential President's autobiography, now can we? Some things, such as Obama's image, are just too sacred to "subvert."

Now, much as I would like to take credit for being the only journalist to notice the blatant contradictions between Obama's campaign spiel and his autobiography, quite a few others have noticed it too. I quote three of them here. Further, Obama's account of his Hawaiian upbringing has since been exploded by the many reporters during the late winter who made the supreme sacrifice of taking an expense account trip to Hawaii to interview Obama's schoolmates.

The Washington Monthly doesn't even bother providing a link to my article, which might allow readers to judge it for themselves.

Jim Antle
comments in the American Spectator blog:

This kind of groundbreaking investigative reporting is why I read the Washington Monthly. I confess: When I went to work for the American Conservative, I was shocked to discover it was a conservative magazine. Then I came to The American Spectator and quickly learned that by some strange coincidence, it too was a conservative magazine!

With all this conservatism being published in conservative magazines, I don't know what critics of the liberal media are talking about. Fortunately, we can read informative articles about this shocking experience. (Hat tip: The Corner, the blog of yet another conservative magazine.)

Konetzki claims Obama's book "flatly contradicts" my article, but, predictably, he can't document that lie. As for what little that is even allegedly substantive in Konetzki's piece, he disputes my contention:

The happy ending to Dreams is that Obama’s hard-drinking half-brother Roy—“Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage”—converts to teetotaling Islam.

Allow me to suggest opening up Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race an Inheritance and reading the last page and a half of the book (pp. 441-442 in the paperback), beginning with the sentences:

"The person who made me proudest of all, though, was Roy. Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage.”

Of course, reading Obama's book is not something many of my critics, such as Matt Yglesias (whose attack on me Konetzki approvingly cites), have actually gotten around to doing.

Back in 2000, we elected President a pig in a poke. How'd that work out for us? This time, with Obama, we at least have a non-ghost written autobiography of some literary merit, so we don't have the excuse we had with Bush that he's too boring to think about. But, when it comes to Obama, lots of people just want to hope, not read or think.

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


Anonymous said...

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, there was an attempt going around D.C. to kill my American Conservative article "Obama's Identity Crisis" before I'd even finished it.

Was Konetzki a lone gunman or are you suggesting he was part of a conspiracy to kill your piece?

Steve Sailer said...

He sent out emails and rallied support for himself in his attempt to kill my piece.

Anonymous said...

"There was an attempt going around D.C. to kill my article" turns out to be one low-level editor who received zero support from his supervisors. How did you ever survive this vast conspiracy?

Anonymous said...

Seems he ended up shooting himself in the foot. Can't think many prospective employers would think much of his spilling the beans over something so trifling. Still, he did provide an insight into the workings of the magazine. This Kara Hopkins sounds like my kind of woman. Is she hot?

Unknown said...

Being a non reader myself, I just want to confirm that the wedding does not happen in the last 2 pages, right?

Further, how many pages are spent on each? If the wedding takes up a chapter and the conversion a page, then I think that Konetzki's interpretation (that the book ends with the wedding) is at least supportable. It may or not be my interpretation, but I could see how a "progressive" might think it. So, it would not be a "lie".

Anonymous said...

How does a guy lie Konetzki get a job at AmConMag? What are his credentials and bonafides?

Anonymous said...

_soaring oratory_

Insert substance into pipe. Apply fire to substance. Breathe in.

Soaring oratory? Excuse me? Something about gay friends in the red states? Very soaring indeed. Soaring like a cinder block's first swimmming lesson. Oh, but, wait...we're just going along with the received wisdom.

_could help ease America’s racial tensions because his mother was white and his father was black_

Ah, yes, that will do it. The people who are presently "tense" will definitely un-tensify because of that and the facts surrounding it. The cinder block has landed.

Anonymous said...


While I disagreed with most of the conclusions in your Obama piece, I nonetheless found it thought-provoking and interesting, and it got me to actually go and read Obama's book, which I found to be enjoyable and illuminating. And I hadn't realized until I read it that Obama's Luo people are Nilotic in origin-- tall, lean relatives of the Tutsi, Hima, and Dinka peoples. Interesting that Obama shares a lot of the stereotypical Nilotic traits-- intelligent, hardworking, but ascetic and humorless-- rather than ones more associated with West Africans and their American descendants.

Anonymous said...

He inspires, they say, with his youth, intelligence, and soaring oratory. He transcends race.

Transcends race my ass. The guy is stuck on race. His latest cheap attempt at tying Imus' comments to the Virginia Tech incident only confirms it.

Anonymous said...

...the notorious Taki Theodoracopulos, a high-society columnist for London’s Spectator and heir to a large Greek shipping fortune.(In late March, millionaire California software developer and pro-immigration activist Ron Unz took over as publisher.)

Does this mean Taki is no longer connected with American Conservative? And anyone have an idea how large this fortune he inherited was/is worth?

Garland said...

Taki has started yet another magazine, Takimag.com (online only). Sailer has written for it.

Anonymous said...

Konetzki wrote:

At this point, I should mention that I’m a progressive. I didn’t even know [The American Conservative] existed until a former colleague encouraged me to apply for an assistant editor position at the magazine last November, suggesting that it might be a good first step toward a career in journalism.

The guy is hilarious.

Jeff Burton said...

Konetzki had another specific charge - that you misrepresented an incident involving his grandmother and a black panhandler. I'd be interested to hear you response to that.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't noticed the part about the new publisher of American Conservative being pro-immigration the first time through, so I am glad someone called attention to this. This is a bit troubling. If they start printing pro-immigration articles I will probably not renew my subscription.

Anonymous said...

Liberals don't want to think. They'd rather feel. Another sad result of over-feminizing America.

Anonymous said...

I had always scoffed when those dominant in the right nowadays said that paleos or AmConMag weren't "real conservatives", but maybe that rubbed off on Konetzki enough to confuse him into thinking it wasn't a conservative magazine. I don't think I'd apply at "The American Progressive" or something like that even if I was trying my make my way in the publishing world.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can blame Konetski for the fact that my issue often arrives later or not at all.

Anonymous said...

I liked Barack Obama before I read this stuff. He's definitely hamming it up with the old school (tired) rhetoric.

He teaches his daughter to look up to those rough looking Rutger's basketball players? I believe that for about, hmm, less than half a second.

Anonymous said...

I will never vote for OBAMA as long as affirmative action/quotas are enforced in schools and business. If you lived in a large city like Chicago you probably know what I mean. For the rest of you please move in to a large city and find out what diversity means. No wonder people are running fro the suburbs and beyond.