Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Personal Asides: After All the Protesting, the Obama Muslim Story Insofar as We Can Know It.
The Washington Examiner, a new daily in D. C. which, along with the Washington Times is breaking the almost monopolistic stranglehold of the liberal Washington Post on the printed news, has as complete a background on Barack Hussein Obamas Muslim orientation as can be told without the wholehearted cooperation of the Obama office or the slavishly sycophantic pro-Obama press corps. The Examiner has a story by Bill Sammon (formerly of the Times) which relies on his reading of Obama memoirs, statements from the Senators office and some logical deductions. Obamas office was so tight-lipped during the foray, so unforthcoming, so reliant on CNN that it led to suspicions of seeking to rely on deniability.
First, as his first autobiography had said, Obamas office has confirmed that the school he went to in Indonesia was Muslim and did teach the Koran to him when he was nine and ten. Obamas book, Dreams from My Father had the cute little observation that the teacher complained to his mother that he made faces during Koranic studiesfrom which we are supposed to deduce, I guess, that he was unsympathetic.
Second, the office says it was not a madrassa or radical Islamic school. Wonderful; if they had done so originally, it would have been much easier.
Third, his father, stepfather, brother and grandfather were Muslims. His own first name, Barack, means Blessed in Arabic.
Fourth, in his second memoir, The Audacity of Hope, Obama says when his father met his mother he was a confirmed atheist.
Fifth, it is noteworthy that a statement issued by Obamas office last week listed his father as an atheist but made no mention of his Muslim upbringing.
Sixth, when his father, a black Kenyan named Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. died in 1982 the family wanted a Muslim burial, Obama quoted his brother Roy as saying in Dreams.
Seventh, Sammon quotes civil rights author Juan Williams of National Public Radio as saying, He comes from a father who was a Muslim. I mean, I think that given were at war with Muslim extremists, that presents a problem.
Eighth, Obamas grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama for whom it is said the Senator was given his middle name, Hussein, was fiercely devoted to Islam according to the book Dreams. His grandmother was quoted as telling him What your grandfather respected was strength. Discipline. This is also why he rejected the Christian religion, I think. For a brief time he converted, and even changed his name to Johnson. But he could not understand such ideas as mercy towards your enemies, or that this man Jesus could wash away a mans sins. To your grandfather, this was a foolish sentiment, something to comfort women. And so he converted to Islamhe thought its practices conformed more closely to his beliefs.
Ninth, when Obama was 2 his parents divorced and his father moved away from the familys home in Hawaii. Four years later his mother married an Indonesian man, Lolo Soetoro, a practicing Muslim and they moved to Jakarta. During that time, Obama says in his memoir, he was first sent to a neighborhood Catholic school and then to a predominately Muslim school. In the household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita [a book sacred to Hindus] sat on the shelf Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate. One day soon, he promised, he would a piece of tiger meat for us to share. It was to Lolo that I turned to for guidance and instruction. He introduced me as his son.
Tenth, Obama was not raised a Muslim, the Senators office said. Nor as a Christian by his mother, a white American named Ann Dunham who according to Sammon was deeply skeptical of religion. NOTE: To my knowledge there has not been a photo released of his mother nor has there been information disseminated as to where shes living. Her memories of the Christians who populated her youth were not fond ones, Obama wrote. For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness. As a result, he wrote, I was not raised in a religious household.
Eleventh, later in life Obama says he was influenced by the writings of a famous U. S. Muslim, the spokesman for the militant Nation of Islam, Malcolm X: Malcolm Xs autobiography seemed to offer something different, Obama wrote. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me, the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in its discipline, forged through sheer force of will Malcolms discovery toward the end of his life that some whites might live beside him as brothers in Islam, seemed to offer some hope of eventual reconciliation.
Twelfth, while working as a community organizer for a group of churches in Chicago, Obama says he was frequently invited to join Christian congregations but declined: I remained a reluctant skeptic, doubtful of my own motives, wary of expedient conversion, having too many quarrels with God to accept a salvation too easily won.
Thirteenth, he was eventually baptized at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago: It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt Gods spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.
Fourteenth, Obamas family connections to Islam would continue; his brother Roy chose to be a Muslim over Christianity. Writing of him, Obama says, The person who made me proudest of all was Roy. Actually , now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage. He converted to Islam and h as sworn off pork and tobacco and alcohol.
Fifteenth, Obama is sharply critical of what he calls the religious absolutism of the Christian right. The Democratic party has a core segment of our constituency [that] remains stubbornly secular in orientation and fearsrightly no doubtthat the agenda of an assertively Christian nation may not make room for them or their life choices.
Sixteenth, he does not believe any one religion should define the United States. We are no longer just a Christian nation, he wrote in Audacity. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation and a nation of unbelievers.
Thats about as definitive a statement of his religious views as can be found. How much easier it would have been if Obamas office had provided such a compilation rather than remaining silent while such authorities as CNN attempted to respond. Nor is it racism or particular-ism that centers on Obama. Just as John Kennedys religious beliefs depended on his going before the Houston ministers, George Romneys Mormon faith necessitated his delineation of religious views as it is now required for his son.