Many wild rumors have circulated about Barack Obama, such as
And finally, the most popular and yet most self-evidently implausible rumor of all, assiduously promoted by Obama's media handler David Axelrod:
that Obama refuses to be defined by his race, that he transcends race, that he's not interested in race, blah blah.
What do all these assertions have in common?
First, they betray a lack of awareness of the facts of Obama's life.
Second, they tend to reflect the widespread desire among whites of all political stripes to not think about race anymore, and to imagine that Obama doesn't either.
In truth, the big secret about Obama is that there's no secret: as Obama explains at vast length in his memoir, what he himself calls his "racial obsessions" have dominated his life.
I document in my new book America's Half-Blood Prince (which you can purchase here) how the President-Elect spelled out exactly what he considered the central mandates of his existence in the subtitle of Dreams From My Father. To Obama, his autobiography is most definitely not a postracial parable. Instead, it is (as he helpfully says in his subtitle) A Story of Race and Inheritance .
You probably got an email or two asserting that Obama's father was Arab, not black.
Actually, he was black. Here's a picture of Barack Obama Sr., with Obama's mother Stanley Ann Dunham.
Obama Sr. might have had a tiny bit of ancestry from an Arab slave trader or two to whom his African ancestors sold captured black slaves, but he sure wasn't 7/8ths Arab. In his memoir, Obama rightly calls his father "black as pitch" and refers to his father's tribe as "as ink-black Luo". Here's a picture comparing father and son:
Nor is there evidence that Obama, who displays almost no spiritual side whatsoever in Dreams from My Father, is a secret Muslim.
The fact is that Obama would have been much more likely to become a Black Muslim (a Scientology-like religion made up in the early 1930s out of sci-fi elements and hatred of whites) than a genuine Muslim. For instance, the young Obama adored The Autobiography of Malcolm X—except for the part about Malcolm's conversion near the end of his life from the anti-white Nation of Islam to Islam.
The notion that Obama is really the biological son of African-American Communist Frank Marshall Davis—an aged propagandist for the Communist Party USA who chased loose women with Obama's maternal grandfather in Honolulu's red light district—and therefore is a Communist through some sort of Lamarckian inheritance is equally silly. The President-Elect is clearly part East African. (Just look at him.)
There couldn't have been more than a handful of East Africans in <st1:place w:st="on">Honolulu when Obama was conceived in early November 1960, a few weeks before Ann Dunham's 18th birthday November 29, 1960. Certainly, Barack Sr. was the only East African in Ann's Russian language course at the University of Hawaii.
As for Barack Sr.'s ideology, we know quite well how it was passed on to his son: through Obama's leftist mother. As part of her passive-aggressive war with her unsatisfactory Indonesian second husband for influence over her son, she taught the boy to idolize his father as a great black leader and to strive to emulate him by winning personal political power to serve his race.
As a black activist in Chicago, the adult Obama still believed whole-heartedly in the image of his father as the noble leader of the black race concocted by his mother. The son imagined his father demanding of him:
"You must help in your people's struggle. Wake up, black man!"
And we know almost exactly what political views Barack Sr. passed on to Ann Obama during their brief marriage. That's because Greg Ransom of PrestoPundit has dug up the long article "Problems Facing Our Socialism XE "Problems Facing Our Socialism by Barack Obama Sr." " that Obama Sr. published in the East African Journal in July 1965, attacking Kenya's centrist economic policies from the left.
It's not quite accurate to call Obama Sr. a doctrinaire Communist. His concern was less with socialism v. capitalism v. whites . (Like Uganda's Idi Amin, Obama Sr. was deeply displeased by the large role Indians played in East Africa's economy.) The young Obama Sr. criticized Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta's public advocacy of colorblind law and governance:
"One need not to be Kenyan to note that when one goes to a good restaurant are run by Asians and Europeans."
Like a proto-Robert Mugabe, Obama Sr. demanded in his characteristic peremptory tone:
"It is mainly in this country one finds almost everything owned by non-indigenous populace. The government must do something about this and soon."
Obama Sr. XE "Obama, Barack, Sr." , especially to blacks of Obama Sr. XE "Obama, Barack, Sr." of foreign-educated black intellectuals.
Thus, it might be more accurate to describe Obama Sr. XE "Obama, Barack, Sr." ". Like the more famous "national" variety of socialism , Obama Sr. XE "Obama, Barack, Sr." 's version of socialism was less interested in ideology than in Lenin's old questions of Who? Whom?
As for the Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers, Obama was clearly disingenuous in downplaying the extent of their relationship.
Yet it's also evident that the McCain campaign overemphasized the white radical Ayers, relative to its utter self-gagging about Obama's deep relationships with various black radicals, most notably Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Until the mainstream media finally noticed who Wright was last February—after 42 states had already voted in the nominating process—Obama had repeatedly boasted of his closeness with Wright.
I would hardly be surprised if it turned out that Ayers had, say, copy-edited a draft of Obama's memoir in early 1995. Yet, once again, Obama's critics—in their fussing over whether Obama would have used the word "ballast" in Dreams without Ayers' help—are missing the forest for the trees: Obama's rhetorical debt to Rev. Wright.
Last January, the outstanding British essayist Jonathan Raban wrote in The Guardian:
"… one sees immediately how much Obama has learned from him. The title of Obama's book The Audacity of Hope is an explicit salute to a sermon by Wright XE "Wright, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A., Jr."
called 'The Audacity to Hope XE "Audacity to Hope by Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr." ,' and his speeches are peppered with Wrightisms, … but his debt to the preacher goes much deeper. … Obama, when on form, can entrance largely white audiences with the same essential story, told in secular terms and stripped of its references to specifically black experience. When Wright XE "Wright, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A., Jr." lobbyists'; when Wright XE "Wright, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A., Jr."
, Obama says 'hard-working Americans,' or 'Americans without health care' …"[The Church of Obama: How He Recast the Language of Black Liberation Theology into a Winning Creed for Middle-of-the-Road White Voters, January 9, 2008]
And what about the theory that Obama was actually born in Kenya, on a putative trip that his two parents took there to meet his family?
Ever since Dan Rather tried to pawn off on the public hoax documents purportedly about George W. Bush's National Guard service, it's hard to take on faith pictures of pieces of paper. But let's take a step back away from the minutia of the birth certificate controversy and just think for a moment about whether the idea that Obama was born in Kenya makes any sense.
Has anybody advocating this actually looked at a globe and thought about what a trip from >Honolulu to Nairobi would have been like on a first-generation jetliner in 1961?
Hawaii and Kenya are on almost exact opposite sides of the world. The Boeing 707 had a range of only 3700 miles, so the outbound portion of their supposed trip would have looked something like this:
(The Great Circle distance going the other way around the world is slightly less, but there would have been even fewer flights available.)
They would have been in transit for, say, 100 hours each way.
It would then have taken a day or two on buses to get to the Obama family farm near Lake Victoria.
Two round trip tickets for this ambitious expedition would have been prohibitively expensive for anyone, let alone two young students.
Barack Sr. only got from Kenya to Hawaii in the first place due to the famous Tom Mboya Airlift, an expensive Cold War project funded by Americans to woo the next generation of Kenya's elites away from Soviet influence.
Not surprisingly, there's little evidence that Obama Sr. ever went home to Kenya during his four years in America. It was just too expensive.
It's especially unlikely that he would have taken his heavily pregnant bride on such a grueling trip to Kenya.
Besides the difficulties of travel for a pregnant woman, Obama Sr. had a little problem that would have dissuaded him from taking his new wife to see the folks. See, back in Kenya, he already had a wife—Keiza, and two kids, Roy and Auma.
His bigamous marriage to Obama's mother was a criminal act in Hawaii. Fortunately, for Barack Sr., the state of Hawaii didn't know about his other wife.
Granted, polygamy is legal (indeed, is fashionable) in Kenya. But it seems highly unlikely that Obama Sr. would have been in any hurry to open the can of worms that his bigamy entailed while he was still living in America.
Also, Obama Sr.'s father, Onyango Obama, a wealthy, politically influential landowner, had opposed his son's marriage to a white woman on racial grounds. So, why would the young man go looking for face-to-face trouble with his famously strong-willed father?
It's not as if he was terribly serious about this latest marriage. He abruptly abandoned Ann and Barack Jr. two years later because his scholarship offer from the highbrow New School of Social Research that would have paid for the whole family to move to Manhattan was, while prestigious, not as prestigious as the scholarship offer from Harvard that paid just his own living expenses.
Still, these anti-Obama rumors aren't any more improbable than the one that Axelrod and Obama have promoted in the mainstream media about how Obama rises above race. It takes a lot of cheek to try that one out after you've written a 460 page book about your ultimately successful 25-year struggle to prove that you are black enough to be a black leader.
The big difference between the anti-Obama rumors and Axelrod's pro-Obama rumor is that the latter one worked.
The country had plenty of time to study Obama's own first book and challenge him on whether he still felt the same way as when he wrote it. (In 2004, he said he did.) But, almost nobody did. Obama critics instead went off on wild goose chases to avoid dealing with the "deepest commitments" of Obama's life, which all have to do with race, while his white supporters just imagined that somebody so charismatic just must feel the way they do about race.
Fortunately, politics never ends. An informed public can still restrain President Obama from working the worst mischief.
To help the American people understand better the man they just elected President, I've written a reader's guide to Obama's autobiography: America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance."
Order it for Christmas presents![Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, <st1:place w:st="on">AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]