January 20, 2008

At least 90% new material!

From my new VDARE.com column, in which I conclude with a quite reasonable suggestion for dealing with the serious questions that a close reading of Obama's autobiography raises:

So, what is Obama, religiously?


No, Obama is not a Black Muslim

…despite his pastor's long association with Farrakhan going back to their 1984 trip to Libya together to visit Col. Qadaffi at the peak of the dictator's terrorism campaign.

Obama was intrigued enough by the Black Muslims to recount respectfully in Dreams (pp. 179-181, 195-200) long conversations in Chicago in the 1980s with an ex-gang leader renamed Rafiq al Shabazz, with whom Obama formed "an uneasy alliance" (p. 196) in their mutual business of extracting money for blacks from the taxpayers, an alliance that didn't go over well with Obama's church lady colleagues.

And Obama occasionally bought Farrakhan's newspaper The Final Call. Reading it, he understood the logic behind the Black Muslims cultivating hatred of whites: to unite blacks. Their racism is morally acceptable to him, in theory:

"If [black] nationalism could create a strong and effective insularity, deliver on its promise of self-respect, then the hurt it might cause well-meaning whites, or the inner turmoil it caused people like me, would be of little consequence." (p. 200).

But, in his book, Obama dispassionately rejects Black Nationalism as economically and politically impractical.

In the final analysis, the Black Muslims are losers, and Obama, with his two Ivy League degrees and boundless ambition, is a winner.

What's striking about the bemused pages devoted to Farrakhan (pp. 201-204) is the lack of moral outrage at the chief beneficiary of the assassination of Obama's hero, Malcolm X, who was the (nominal) author of his favorite book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Ben Wallace-Wells wrote in Rolling Stone that Obama has "as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr."

Malcolm X broke with the Black Muslims and their belief that whites are intrinsically evil following his pilgrimage to Mecca, where he saw orthodox Muslims of all colors worshipping together. Farrakhan responded: "The die is set, and Malcolm shall not escape, especially after such evil foolish talk about his benefactor, Elijah Muhammad. Such a man as Malcolm is worthy of death…"

Not surprisingly, Nation of Islam gunmen soon rid Farrakhan and Muhammad of this turbulent priest. After Elijah's death, his moderate son Wallace Muhammad led most of Elijah's followers into orthodox Sunni Islam, leaving Farrakhan as Elijah's heir, leader of the racist rump of the movement. (In an ironic postscript, in 1998 Farrakhan appointed one of Malcolm's three convicted assassins, Norman 3X Butler, now out of prison, to head the mosque that Malcolm had once led.)


And, no, Obama's definitely not an orthodox Muslim

…although he spent two years as a small boy at a Muslim public school in Indonesia. This highly intelligent man's personality is complex, but anyone familiar with his memoirs would realize there is little in him that would incline him toward mainstream Islam. That faith is too racially universalist to fill the hole in Obama's soul, his hunger for "race and inheritance" left by his father abandoning him when he was two.

Obama says in Dreams that he was proud that his late Kenyan grandfather had converted to Islam because he saw it as evidence that he was anti-white. Sadly, during his visit to Kenya in 1988, he discovered, to his distress, that Onyango had worked for many years as a domestic servant to British colonialists, and that he had gotten rich by introducing white ways on his farms. As Obama listens to the third wife of his polygamous grandfather tell the old man's story, he writes (p. 406 of Dreams):

"… I, too, had felt betrayed. … I had also imagined him an independent man, a man of his people, opposed to white rule. There was no real basis for this image, I now realized—only the letter he had written to Gramps saying that he didn't want his one son marrying white. That, and his Muslim faith, which in my mind had become linked with the Nation of Islam back in the States. What Granny had told us scrambled that image completely, causing ugly words to flash across my mind. Uncle Tom. Collaborator. House n*****."


So, is Obama a believing Christian, as he claims on the campaign trail?

Eh, not so much ... Prominent British essayist Jonathan Raban writes in The Church of Obama:

"Obama is cagey, in a lawyerly way, about the supernatural claims of religion. Recounting a conversation about death that he had with one of his two young daughters, he wrote, 'I wondered whether I should have told her the truth, that I wasn't sure what happens when we die, any more than I was sure of where the soul resides or what existed before the Big Bang.' So I think we can take it that he doesn't believe—or at least doesn't exactly believe—in the afterlife or the creation."

The underlying reality, Raban surmises, isn't very exciting. Obama believes, more or less, in nothing. He is, argues Raban, a "scrupulous agnostic."

Indeed, while Obama's 1988 "conversion" in Rev. Wright's church is dramatically described on p. 295 of Dreams, I can't find it, or Christianity in general, coming up again in the last 147 pages of his autobiography, most of which takes place later that year in Kenya. Apparently, his conversion didn't make much of an impression on him.

Fine, but then what has Obama been doing at 11am Sunday morning for the last two decades at Rev. Wright's church? And why, out of all the churches on the South Side of Chicago (and Obama met dozens of ministers during his race organizing years), did Obama choose Rev. Wright? [More]

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

15 comments:

William said...

Magnificent, Steve.

Somehow I suspect that at least a few journalists will be using your work when looking for something to write about Obama. Don't expect to be getting cited much, though.

Anonymous said...

Interesting but a sideshow. Obama is the last gasp of relevancy for the status-obsessed elite going on about racism. To the inner-city black community struggling with the appalling death toll that their own and Latino gangs create, and the desire to embrace Farrakhanism separatism, Obama means nothing.

Meanwhile Latinos ethnically/economically as you say Blacks out of neighborhoods. Black voting power and the hold on the nation's imagination is basically irrelevant. In the tide of Mexican immigration.

Henry Canaday said...

It is interesting that Obama was most eager to find his blackness after he spent 20 years in the bosom of privileged white institutions, from his prep school through an elite university and Harvard Law School. Then, after consorting with black fellow activists, constituents and congregation members for a decade, he apparently became desperate to rediscover his trans-racial side and middle class values. Maybe, like most intelligent people, Obama reacts against the insular cronyism of whatever culture he has been most recently and deeply exposed to.

George Will may feel he understands this side of Obama. Nurtured, prospering in and beginning his adult life in universities, Will fled these for the candid crassness of contemporary politics and the necessary imperfections of tight deadlines. I recall that whenever a college football scandal made the news, Will would write a column saying, in effect, if you think college sports are corrupt, you ought to see college academics.

none of the above said...

The quoted section about Obama and his daughters sure doesn't call his Christianity into question to me. How many adult Christians don't have some doubts? Ever read anything by Madeline L'Engle?

I have to guess that Obama doesn't have a hell of a lot in common with most of any ethnic group. Haven't most of us had the experience of trying to fit in with normal people, despite being a lot smarter than they were? It sure seems like Obama would face this problem much more seriously than most of us, since he's very smart, and he's doing political organization in a community with a seriously low average IQ, lousy schools, not much cultural support for education or intelligence, etc.

Based on intelligence and interest, he wouldn't fit anywhere but a narrow academic/high IQ enclave. And yet he needs to fit with the larger black community in the US, as part of his identity. This has just got to suck.

fwood1 said...

Anon wrote:

"Obama is the last gasp of relevancy for the status-obsessed elite going on about racism."

I hope so, but I doubt it.

David said...

henry and none of the above,

I think you're reading your own virtues and personalities into Obama.

Objectively we can establish that the man is a black racist who never held a real job in his life.

But being a serial skeptic and being persecuted by the black community seem either like traits held more by the beholder than by the beheld - or like wishful thinking intended to make excuses for the man.

He's not a guy whose spiritual adviser has always been a black nationalist. No, he's a serial skeptic. That's it.

He's not enthusiastic about the black community and its claims. Instead, he suffers - and deeply - on account of it. Poor Obama. If it sucks to be the preppie from paradise, think how horrible it will be to be President.

We're always making excuses for blacks - putting on them the best possible interpretation we can think of - instead of simply looking at them objectively.

Anonymous said...

The thing that's so fascinating about Steve's Obama obsession is that at the end of the day, it's clear that he actually likes the guy, even while thinking that his intellect and ambition have led him in some seriously wrong directions.

Svigor said...

"His love for Africa and African American people has made him an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose."

Wright was a bit unkind to Farrakhan - I've never heard a mainstream white politician tell whites they might want to think about securing their own interests, as whites, but Louis did just that on CSPAN some years back.

Svigor said...

Somehow I suspect that at least a few journalists will be using your work when looking for something to write about Obama. Don't expect to be getting cited much, though.

I think it might've started already. A talk radio stand-in was just referring to Wright as a "loose cannon" a couple of days ago (actually, I think it was the Jewish guy who'd written Obama's biography who said that, whilst trying to soft-pedal Obama's racialism, but I digress)

Svigor said...

The thing that's so fascinating about Steve's Obama obsession is that at the end of the day, it's clear that he actually likes the guy, even while thinking that his intellect and ambition have led him in some seriously wrong directions.

What's interesting about this post is not the (common) assertion that doing something (or violating some taboo) other people don't, more than once, constitutes an "obsession," but the assumption that it'll fly here.

Anonymous said...

Obama is a media creation. And like Britney, Paris, Lindsay, Anna Nicole, and a gazillion overhyped films that flop, will flop as well.

If all it took was media people working themselves into a lather, Kevin Federline would be the top-earning movie star today. And the Golden Compass wouldn't have flopped.

Oprah's website is already filled with comments calling her a traitor for backing Obama over Hillary. Hahahaha!

langalibalele said...

david sed:

"We're always making excuses for blacks - putting on them the best possible interpretation we can think of - instead of simply looking at them objectively."

Well sed. As an Afrikaner I can only agree with you. Most Afrikaner folks, who work with blacks on a daily basis, know what you are talking about. Only people who work superficially with blacks, or live far away, would start swooning over them. If you look at them the way they are, things become very sober indeed.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said...
"Obama is a media creation. And like Britney, Paris, Lindsay, Anna Nicole, and a gazillion overhyped films that flop, will flop as well."

You can add Mandela, Mbeki, Njoma and Mugabe to that list as well. The real question is why on earth the media invest such an enormous amount of time and money propping up people that they would not touch with a barge pole if they had a white skin?

Henry Canaday said...

David

I could be quite critical of Obama in other areas, particularly the vapidity of his foreign policy views and the fact that I do not even know what he would do in most areas of domestic policy. He seems like a man who, before he began to run for president, had not thought seriously for three minutes about many of the issues a president will actually confront.

But on the issue of race in American society, which he has spent the majority of his life thinking seriously about, Obama seems, at least now, to be both sane and sincere. Maybe it is just boredom with the conventions of black angst, but a capacity for boredom can be useful in any politician.

We have had now in Washington DC two pre-Obama 'men of color,' mayors of mixed racial ancestry, Anthony Wilson and now Adrian Fenty. Wilson was a nerd in a bow tie, and Fenty is a kind of post-Civil Rights high achiever. Wilson governed and Fenty is governing from the center of the city's racial divides, concentrating on competence rather than grievances. The city was much better off after Wilson's two terms, although heaven knows it had a huge hole to climb out of. And mayors only have to operate the machinery of government honestly, not make difficult philosophical decisions about what government does, both at home and abroad.

Fred said...

"But on the issue of race in American society, which he has spent the majority of his life thinking seriously about, Obama seems, at least now, to be both sane and sincere. Maybe it is just boredom with the conventions of black angst, but a capacity for boredom can be useful in any politician."

I think the zeal with which many whites have embraced Obama represents not the audacity of hope, but the triumph of hope over experience. The idea that electing a black man will magically propel the black community beyond its grievances and dysfunctions is not a new one; in fact, this was largely the reason why many New Yorkers voted for David Dinkins as the city's first black mayor. Four years later they elected Giuliani to clean up the mess.

The success of Obama's campaign so far shows the power of a truly gifted and charismatic orator. That, along with the Dinkins illusion of transformation, are the only reasons why he has so much support. On matters of policy -- from his left-liberal economic proposals to his early and consistent opposition to the Iraq War -- Obama is no different than Kucinich, who (as a former mayor) happens to have more executive experience than him.