Thursday, January 4, 2007
A Thorny Question of Religion for Obama.
DID HE BECOME A MUSLIM WHILE ATTENDING A RELIGIOUS SCHOOL AS A KID? IF SO, HES GOT A PROBLEM-- NO MATTER HIS CHRISTIAN FAITH NOW.
If He Became One Even Temporarily as a Child, it Could Immensely Complicate His Presidential Candidacy. Fathers Likely Affiliation Basis the Hussein Middle Name, Mothers Remarriage to Indonesian in Heavily Muslim Country Points to Strong Possibility.
Two Pronged Political Headache: Americans May Not Want a former Muslim President and, As if You Didnt know, Muslims Vow Vengeance on all who leave the Faith. Is This a Hillary-Fomented Backlash? Just Asking.
Media Not Going Out of Their Way to Confront Senator with Religious Question
Unlike the Tack They Used in 1960 Against Catholic John F. Kennedy.
Senators Office Insists Question is Bigoted Attack!
By Thomas F. Roeser
[Updated Story from The Wanderer, the oldest national Catholic weekly.]
CHICAGOA Barack Obama Democratic intra-party backlash has started, with a blog item from the Sun-Times astute political writer Lynn Sweet, significant in this birth-state of Hillary Clinton where the regnant Democratic party would have endorsed her for president except for its favorite son, born in Hawaii, who has become a national phenomenon of sorts: Barack Hussein Obama. Sweet is an Obama enthusiast but beyond this is an excellent reporter. The backlash smacks of Hillary Clinton, showing that the little lady wont take this Obama phenomenon stuff lying down.
Most of the malicious attacks, leaked to the media, dont come from Republicans but from Hillary Clinton allies. Obama craze not withstanding, the New York Senator commands significant elements of support in her home state. Before we get to the mischievous leaks, take a look at whos for whom in this prairie state which owns most of the significant action for the Democratic nomination.
The most powerful Democrat, Mayor Richard M. Daley, who has announced his own candidacy for reelection in Spring of 2007, has announced that he supports Obama. This is mandatory because of the clout blacks have in the Democratic party. Also, there is little doubt that Illinois reelected Democratic governor, Rod Blagojevich, who will head the delegation to the national convention, will do the same. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) is in a particularly tight spot: owing his soul to Daley who supports Obama but whose rise after Daley first hired him came from patronage by the Clintonsalthough Hillary Clinton caused him to be demoted in White House hierarchy but Bill, who rescued him and plopped him back front-and-center, is heavily involved for Hillary. Look for Rahm to remember that he doesnt need the Clintons animosity. He will most certainly finesse it and come down on the side of a Hillary-Obama ticket.
Intriguingly, Daley has caused to be leakedin order to placate Hillary supportershis own private misgiving that Obama is too liberal, scoring 100% on the ADA scale thus far in his Senatorial voting record, six points more than even Sen. Ted Kennedy. Daley, father of a serviceman, worries that Obamas dovishness on national security could make him vulnerable to Republican charges in 2008 and thereby hurt the Democratic ticket. Nor is the mayor alone in his misgiving. Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, chairman of the Democratic party here, is one of the very few Democrats who has tiffed seriously with Obama, calling him derogatorily the Messiah, after Obamas state treasurer with mob ties, Alexi Gianoullias, candidate defeated Madigans. So for now while the Obama rock-star fad is hitting a national high, only Madigan has had the guts to low-ball the incipient presidential candidate. But behind the scenes, all Illinois media know the Hillary leak-brigade is hard at work.
Thus far only one Obama backlash news story has done some scuffing of the Obama image: but not much. And it was not a Hillary leak but from a Republican source: the one from the Chicago Tribune that details how Obama profited personally thanks to the solicitude of an indicted fixers wife. Tony Rezko was indicted by the feds for siphoning kickbacks from firms doing business with the state of Illinois. When Obama bought a Chicago mansion in 2005 for $300,000 less than the asking price a stunning coincidence occurred when, the same day, Rezkos wife bought an adjoining lot for the full $625,000 asking price, which caused the Tribune to speculate that Mrs. Rezko subsidized Obamas $1 million plus house in addition to providing a park-like preserve with no access to a public street. That was serious enough to draw a public admission of fault from Bambi. Other news leaks bear a shadowy imprint of the Hillary forces. Most are inconsequential. Obamas path to glory is not going to be blocked by a Tony Rezko indiscretion.
Ah, but one has the potential to do serious damage.
Thats the rumor, reported by Sweet that began with blogster Debbie Schlussel, a conservative talking-head on MSNBC, now carried widely by word of mouth by some political cognoscenti in Chicago bars. Right now the tale is in a decidedly phase 3 cyclonic stage as a key rumor in the bars. The rumor goes: While Barack Hussein Obama is affiliated with the Unitarian-like United Church of Christ in Chicago, he may have, at one time, been a Muslimor at the very least was accepted as one in his early years: which, if verified, could truly be explosive and possibly disqualifying politically for the presidential nomination of a major political party in a nation at war with extreme elements of the religion. There has been no formal answer to that charge by the Obama people but the rumor gains currency.
First, his Kenyan father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., killed in an automobile accident, was apparently a Muslim. No big stuff so far as it goes although its interesting to note that Hussein, given to both father and son, is a distinctively Muslim namederived from that of Husayn ibn Ali [626-680], grandson of the prophet Muhammad. He was killed in the battle of Karbala in A. D. 680 and is a day of mourning and religious observance for Shia Muslims. Lets say if you got a kid running around named Hussein, it means something.
Second, according to best-selling lawyer-novelist, Chicago native and fervent liberal Democrat, Scott Turow in the Internet publication Salon, young Obama went to a Muslim school for two years in Indonesia. Third, his mother, Anna, re-married an Indonesian man (most likely a Muslim as Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world).
Fourth, while Juniors affinity is for Kenya which is largely Christian, it has a fast-growing Muslim population which has engaged in a good deal of religious violence and riots against Christians. Kenyan courts apply Sharia (or Muslim) law when the participants are Muslim. Fifth, in Juniors book Dreams from My Father, after his father died in Nairobi in 1982, Obama was working in Chicago. He met his Kenyan sister, Auma, a linguist educated in Germany who was visiting in the United States. When she returned to Kenya in 11986 to teach for a year at the University of Nairobi, Obama finally made a trip to his fathers homeland. There he fully embraced the heritage and family hed never known and came to terms with his father whom he had mistakenly believed was a foreign prince but who now realized was a human being burdened by his own illusions and vulnerabilities: this from his best-seller autobiography.
Schlussel puts it out this way: Even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah), Obama is a man whom Muslims think is a Muslim and who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father and who is now moving in the direction of his fathers heritage. She asks: Is this a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where would his loyalties be? She goes further: Is [he] even the man wed want to be a heartbeat away from the presidency if Hillary Clinton offers him the vice presidential candidacy on her ticket (which he certainly wouldnt turn down)?
Or, put another way: A president thought to have been a Muslim as a child and who left the faith for Christianity is the last person to healwhich is Obamas favorite word applied to foreign affairs. Even a third way: a president trying to disabuse a suspicious world that hes soft on the Muslim religion may want to use replete examples to get tough. Finally a fourth: how would a president once viewed as a Muslim who became a backslider do in the concert of world politics?
Now there has been no substantiation or denial by the Obama people of the rumor that Ms. Schussel has put forward other than for Obama people to claim it is (a) racist, (b) vindictive and (c) full of suppositions. Very well, then let them answer it. Racist? It has nothing to do with Obamas half caste black-white heritage. Vindictive? Not any more so than the theory put forward against John F. Kennedy, when he was the Democratic nominee in 1960. Full of suppositions? Sure: so the best way to clear the air is for Obama or his staff to give out all the facts.
Kennedy was called an inappropriate candidate for the presidency by none other than Norman Vincent Peale who cited Catholic theology on the absolute nature of the Pope in spiritual governance. Peale said that if the Catholic Kennedy were elected president he would not be beholden to the electorate but to the Pope. This writer remembers well the controversy spawned by Peale and others who asked: does separation of church and state mean what it says or does it mean subordination of state to the church or the other way around? Then they linked many interesting questions: the dominant role of the Pope as head of the church and infallible, or immunity from all error, when promulgating a doctrine on faith or morals. Protestant critics confused the doctrine of infallibility with that of impeccability.
It got to the point in 1960 that Peale found some quotations from St. Paul which he used to assume that Kennedy would be subservient to the papacy in a number of secular actions. Peales affirmations went on to specify numberless questions until none other than Adlai Stevenson, a wordsmith, was asked on a Chicago street by a television reporter to comment while the TV camera rolled. Here was an example of brilliant political answering almost unrivaled. The reporter asked Stevenson: Dr. Norman Vincent Peale has questioned John Kennedys loyalty to the country by citing an epistle from St. Paul. Would you comment, sir?
Stevenson said: Yes. You can say that I find Paul appealing but Peale appalling!
That quip got the country chuckling and gained Kennedy time until he could make a definitive statement to the Greater Houston, Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960. Kennedy specified that if elected president he would follow an independent course and if there ever came a time when he could not in conscience he would resign the presidency. The key sentence was: If the time should ever comeand I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possiblewhen my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office, and I hope any other conscientious public servant would do likewise.
That answer satisfied. Interestingly enough, the man who wrote the speech for Kennedy was John Cogley, a radicalized Catholic, a writer for Commonweal who later became religion editor of The New York Times whose difficulties with the Church later led to his leaving it over the issue of Humane Vitae and dying as an Episcopalian.
Schlussels article is the latest example of the bigoted conservative attacks against Senator Obama, said Karl Frisch, a spokesman for the Senator. But, come on: thats wont satisfy. On the December 5 edition of Fox News Special Report with Brit Hume, senior political correspondent Carl Cameron told viewers: Though hes written two books about himself already, most people know very little about Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.s uncommonly privileged life. They know nothing about whether Obama was ever a practicing Muslim or if the school he attended required adherence to that belief.
If he had professed as a Muslim even as a kid and backslid, Obama would likely have more to worry about than merely losing a presidential election. His life could be in danger from Muslim sources. As an expert in Islam, Robert Spencer, has written in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), [I]n traditional Islamic law, when a Muslim converts to another faith, it can bring a death sentence. This is not, mind you, `extremist Islam. It is the Islamic mainstream, based on a statement of Muhammad: `Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him. It is also based on a statement of the Quran: `But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever, his works shall come to nothing in this world and the next and they are companions of the fire forever [Quran 2:217]. Spencer writes, This has been widely interpreted by traditional Muslim commentators as giving sanction to the death penalty for apostateswhich they derive from the verses assertion that the apostates work will come to nothing in this world as well as the next.
Questions concerning whether or not he ever embraced the Muslim religion will be front and center before Barack Obama gets very far along in the presidential campaign. They arent questions Hillary Clinton is asking but assuredly are ones some of her supporters are spreading in rumor form before the mainstream mediaenthusiastic Obama sycophantswill be pressed to ultimately ask. As eager as Lynn Sweet is to see Obama win, her better naturethat of an outstanding reporterwon out. Good for her.