Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Of all of the closet-totalitarians on the left, there is none greater than President Barack Hussein Obama.

A couple of centuries ago, Goethe said: “Tell me with whom thou art found, and I will tell thee who thou art.”  Over 100 years later, John Ruskin made a virtually identical point: “Tell me what you like, and I’ll tell you what you are.”  When we want to know more about what motivates terrorists and criminals, we cling to this pearl of wisdom by looking at their relationships and the ideas that they’ve imbibed.  Yet when we want to know what motivates our President, many of us, those in the media particularly, ignore this time-honored wisdom.

That Obama is perhaps the greatest of contemporary closet-totalitarians is borne out by the following considerations.

First, Obama spent a considerable portion of his childhood in the Islamic society of Indonesia.  There, he was educated as a Muslim at a madrasa, an Islamic school.  That his paternal family in Kenya, a land to which Obama is no stranger, is Muslim, only strengthens his connection with Islam.

All of this is important.  Obama is no Muslim. But his ideology, centering as it does on the “fundamental transformation” of America, reflects the same sort of comprehensiveness and rigor found in Islam.  It is not at all unreasonable to suspect that his exposure to Islam played at least some role in informing it.

Second, as its subtitle makes clear, Obama’s first memoir, Dreams From My Father, is “a story of race and inheritance.”Dreams relays Obama’s odyssey, his quest for racial authenticity—i.e. authentic blackness.  We must realize that Obama is no different from any other leftist, black or white, in viewing blackness not so much biologically or even culturally, but ideologically.

Academic and one-time Obama confidante and backer, Cornell West, summarizes this approach as succinctly and clearly as anyone.  “‘Black enough,’” he writes, “always means ‘bold enough.’”  For instance, Clarence Thomas is “phenotypically [biologically], beautifully black.”  But as “a right-wing conservative who sides with the strong against the weak,” Thomas is “not bold enough.”  Conversely, Adam Clayton Powell and Thurgood Marshall, though light-complexioned, were “bold enough” and, thus, “black enough.”  Both “sided with the weak.”

Read: black leftists are authentically black while blacks who aren’t leftists are not.

Third, Obama’s desire to be “black enough” lead him to seek out Reverend Jeremiah Wright, pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ.  The relevance of this decision on Obama’s part couldn’t be more germane to unlocking his true identity, for Obama spent over 20 years at Wright’s church, and didn’t distance himself from it until it became politically necessary to do so.  Throughout most of his adult life, that is, Obama was under the tutelage of Wright, a man of whom he thought enough to describe as his “spiritual mentor,” the one “who brought me to Christ.”

But Wright’s church was saturated in “Black Liberation Theology,” a racialized version of Marxism founded by James Hal Cone. The latter equates God with “blackness.”  Cone thinks that black theologians “must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples.”  God must be “identified with the oppressed to the point that their experience becomes God’s experience….”  If not, we are left with a deity who “is a God of racism [.]”

Reinforcing the ideologically-centered conception of blackness discussed above, Cone writes: “Being black in America has little to do with skin color.  Being black means that yourheart, your soul, your mind, and your body are where the dispossessed are.”

Only a suspension of disbelief of Herculean proportions could lead one to think that Obama’s exposure to these ideas for decades didn’t shapehis worldview.

Fourth, Obama became a “community organizer” while in Chicago.  That he looked for inspiration in the Godfather of all self-styled progressive activists, Saul Alinsky, is itself telling.  More disturbing, however, is that Obama’s craft of choice supplies the paradigm—the community in need of organizing—by which he governs as President of the country.

The members of a community are linked together by a shared vision of the good life, a purpose to which they are devoted.  But in America, a country with over 300 million people with varying interests and ends, there is no such shared purpose.  America is a civil association; it is not a community. Totreat it as a community is to impose upon citizens those ends that the government arbitrarily privileges.

In other words, to treat America as a community is to undermine the liberty and individuality that its Constitution has always guaranteed.

Finally, consider how Obama has in fact governed over the last five years.  In light of the forgoing points, isn’t this precisely what we would expect?

Whether taking over General Motors or one-sixth of the nation’s economy via the ominous “Obamacare;”  whether endorsing “gay marriage,” refusing to enforce immigration laws, or exploiting national tragedies to further erode the Second Amendment—Obama has spared no occasion to fulfill his pledge to “fundamentally transform” the country.

Inside every leftist there is a totalitarian waiting to get out.

Obama is and has always been a man of the hard left.  Given that he is the only leftist in the world to have the power of the American presidency at his disposal, and considering that he will never again have to face reelection, there is no closet totalitarian from whom we have more to fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As multiple scandals besiege his administration, President Obama made time to address the students of Morehouse College, a “historically black” institution of higher learning.   According to Front Page Magazine’s Daniel Greenfield, Obama is simply resorting to the race card, the Rosetta stone for escaping political travails of leftists everywhere.

Greenfield is correct as far as he goes.  The problem is that he doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Obama’s entire career is a race card.

To put it another way, while many of the labels that his opponents have ascribed to him fit to some extent or other, none of them fit like the proverbial glove.  The reason for this is that “socialist,” “Alinskyite,” “radical leftist,” “anti-colonialist” and the rest fail to capture the essence of that which fundamentally drives Obama: race.  

More specifically, none of these characterizations does justice to the fact that it is his lifelong quest to secure for himself “authentic” blackness that animates Obama.

To put it simply, while he most certainly does subscribe to leftism and all that this entails, Obama’s ideology of choice is “blackism.”  By affirming this ideology, authentic blackness is achieved.

Like all ideologies, blackism is a creed or doctrine. It consists of the following tenets.

First, history is to be understood as an epic interracial melodrama.  Historical actors, though, are not flesh and blood individuals but abstract categories, namely the categories of “white oppression” and “non-white suffering.”

Second, white racism is alone the thread that unites the past with the present.  White racism remains endemic—even if it is not as “overt” as it once was.

It is this belief that accounts for why, despite having been elected twice to the American presidency, Obama and his surrogates can still talk about America’s “racism” and that of his rivals.

Third, “social justice” is society’s cardinal virtue.

The federal government must become an instrument for compensating blacks for historical injustices.  Only a powerful, activist government can rectify racial inequalities, inequities that are the legacy of centuries of white racism.

Finally, “racial authenticity” is both possible and desirable.  And racial authenticity can be achieved by simply affirming blackism!

The words of Professor Cornel West are instructive here.  According to West, since “’black enough’ always means ‘bold enough,’” Clarence Thomas, a “phenotypically, beautifully black” person is nevertheless not black enough.  Thomas is “a right-wing conservative who sides with the strong against the weak” and, thus, is “not bold enough.”  On the other hand, Thurgood Marshall, “a beautifully high-yellow black,” most definitely was “black enough because he was bold enough.  He didn’t side with the strong, he sided with the weak.”

A blackist must be black by birth, it is true, but his biology alone is not sufficient. And it is neither necessary nor sufficient that the blackist be fluent in black culture.

An ideology comprises the cliff notes, the Reader’s Digest version, so to speak, of an older, vastly more complex cultural tradition.

In religion, ideology assumes the form of theology.  For example, the Christian religion had already been a way of life for hundreds of years before the Nicene Creed—a quintessential expression of its theology—was formulated.  The latter is an abridgment of the former, a relatively few simple propositions that, in theory, can be affirmed by anyone and at any time.

There is a complex of cultural traditions that is peculiar to many, but not all, black Americans.  Blackism is a distillation of these traditions, “the black experience” in America boiled down to a handful of propositions easily affirmed by all biologically black persons—whether they are personally familiar with these traditions or not.

In other words, blackism is the ideology for the Barack Obamas of the world.

Obama’s first memoir, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, is nothing more or less than one man’s odyssey in search, not so much of a father, but of racial identity.  Separated by eons from “the black experience,” Obama has spent the better part of his natural existence, and all of his adult life, aching to be seen, and to see himself, as “authentically” black.

It is this aching that accounts for Dreams. It is this aching that explains Obama’s pursuit of Jeremiah Wright and his insistence upon sitting for some 20 years in Wright’s church, a church saturated in Black Liberation Theology.  It is Obama’s desire to secure racial authenticity that motivated him to become a “community activist,” attend Louis Farrakhan’s “Million Man March,” and once claim that he opposed the idea of reparations because he didn’t think that it went far enough. 

But the cultural traditions of black Americans have always been as alien to Obama as they are alien to any of the thousands of privileged whites with whom he attended The University of Chicago and Harvard.   The ideology of blackism, however, permits him to surmount this. Simply affirm its tenets and presto!—instant racial authenticity!

Make no mistakes about it, whatever else may be said of Obama’s allegiances, he is first and always a true believer in the ideology of blackism.

 

 

 

 

Radio talk show host Mike Gallagher is the latest “conservative” media personality to endorse amnesty.  Since he revealed his Road to Damascus conversion on this topic a few days ago, Gallagher has been skewered by one-time fans.

Perhaps they should cease the skewering by ceasing to listen to Gallagher—or any other talk radio figure who favors amnesty.

More so than the substance of their position, it is the bad faith and condescension with which these “conservative” hosts argue for their position that justifies this move.

Those of us who affirm American sovereignty and the rule of law have long recognized that a government that wouldn’t lift a finger to prevent millions of immigrants from flooding into the country illegally certainly isn’t going to now round up and deport them all.  So those who insist that this is the only alternative to amnesty set up what logicians call a false dichotomy—one of the logical fallacies identified by Aristotle.

Gallagher and his ilk attribute to their opponents a position that the latter do not hold.  Worse, their enemies assign to respecters of the rule of law a position that is a species of wishful thinking, and one that the resisters of amnesty have always known, and known better than anyone, is wishful thinking.

Those who ache for America to remain a sovereign nation of laws have always maintained that it is primarily through self-deportation that the illegal immigration issue can be mitigated, though never solved.

This brings us to another point.

Pro-amnesty “conservative” personalities and politicians—along with such accomplices as Barack Obama, Janet Napolitano, and La Raza—talk about the need for a “solution” to this problem of our “broken” system.  But genuinely conservative (and, for that matter, Christian) thinkers have always known that in life, there are no solutions.  As Thomas Sowell has said, there are only “trade-offs.”

Amnesty, regardless of how it is packaged, is no more a solution to our problems than is the status quo.  It isn’t even a more effective response to our situation.  However, even if it was, this would not make it a solution, for it will give way to still more problems in the future—like an increase in illegal immigration, something that, according to border agents, is happening now as a result of all of the talk of amnesty!

For amnesty’s apologists to accuse their opponents of “doing nothing” is more dishonesty, more bad faith, on their part.

First, even if it was true that those who resist amnesty favored letting things be entirely as they are, this is still not a matter of doing nothing. It just could be the case—it undoubtedly is the case—that here, the problem is less of a problem than is the proposed “solution.”

Second, no one wants for things to remain as they are. Those who resist amnesty want for illegal immigrants to be denied all welfare entitlements, social services, employment opportunities, and voting and driving privileges.  This way, they will deport themselves.  Also, they want for the government to satisfy its job description and secure the country’s borders—an obligation that has never been subject to conditions.

Gallagher and his colleagues obviously believe that their listeners are stupid. Why else would they expect them to believe that although in the past the government has not managed to secure the borders and deprive illegal immigrants of all the benefits of citizenship—i.e. enforce its own laws–it will do so now?

And it is hard not to think that Gallagher and company aren’t themselves a bit dense.  They won’t endorse any bill, they insist, unless it promises to secure the border.  Even in the midst of all of these government scandals, and despite all of their “limited government” rhetoric, they are still going to accept the government’s “promise” to fulfill its constitutional duty—though it hasn’t done this in nearly half-a-century.

On second’s thought, maybe it is the substance of their position favoring amnesty that calls for turning off these “conservative” media personalities—at least until they wise up some.  

In the May 21st edition of Investor’s Business Daily self-avowed “conservative” talk radio host Michael Medved writes that “it’s a healthy development if people toiling in this country want to become full participants in our national life and express their willingness to go through considerable effort and expense to legalize their status as Americans” (emphasis mine).

Immediately, there are a couple of things to note here.

First, of all of the millions of illegal aliens for whom Medved wants amnesty, some indeed spend much of their time “toiling.”  Many others, however, do not.  In fact, many illegal immigrants receive all manner of welfare and social services courtesy of the American taxpayer.

Second, saying that illegal immigrants will have to do this or that in order to achieve legal status doesn’t make it so.  Resistance to amnesty stems precisely from the fact that there persists pervasive distrust of the government’s word on pretty much everything.  This is particularly the case among conservative-minded voters.  After all, this is why they are conservative.

More specifically, though, many opponents of amnesty have heard this tune before, some 27 years ago, when the country’s then 3 million “toiling” illegal immigrants were supplied with “a pathway to citizenship.”  The amnesty of 1986 only exacerbated the immigration issue.  The amnesty of 2013, opponents know, promises to do the same.

Next, through a disingenuous act of sheer sophistry, Medved contends that opposition to amnesty is one and the same as opposition to all legal immigration.  Obliterating the distinction between the lawful and the lawless, he states: “No one who truly supports legal immigration would stand in the way of millions who seek nothing more than to become legal immigrants” by paying penalties, “avoiding” welfare benefits, enduring background checks, and satisfying a number of other conditions contained in the Gang of Eight’s bill.

With all due respect to the author, this argument is silly to the point of being offensive. It is akin to the argument that no one who truly supports traditional marriage would stand in the way of millions of homosexuals who seek nothing more than to become married, or no one who truly supports medicine would stand in the way of millions who want the right to self-medicate with heroin and cocaine.

Furthermore, on Medved’s own terms, that illegal immigrants will supposedly have to satisfy a variety of conditions in order to become legal is logically irrelevant.  If one “who truly supports legal immigration” has no option but to endorse amnesty, then it shouldn’t matter whether this “pathway to citizenship” consists of a thousand qualifications or none at all.  According to Medved’s logic, all that matters is that there exists a “pathway to citizenship.”

Medved admits that “the biggest challenge to implementing” amnesty is “sorting through” the millions and millions of “human beings to distinguish those who deserve to stay from those who ought to go home.”

Reread this slowly and then reread it again.  For decades the federal government has been either unwilling or unable to adhere to its complex of immigration laws.  This amnesty bill takes a relatively complex set of laws and renders it vastly more complex.  So, the government either won’t or can’t do its job when its yoke is lighter.  When, however, it is more burdensome, then—then!—it will act efficiently and dutifully.

This is preposterous.

No less preposterous is Medved’s claim that “stubborn opposition to a path to legal status ruins the best argument that conservatives could otherwise employ in efforts to win support from Latino, Asian, and African-American voters.”

Pace Medved, amnesty is not a priority for voters of any racial background.  And it is most certainly not a priority for black voters! If anything, poll after poll shows that the majority of the country, irrespective of race or ethnicity, rejects Medved’s and Rubio’s “pathway to citizenship.”

But even if the members of these non-white groups did want amnesty, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to think that by granting it Republicans would win them over.  And there is every reason—namely, voting patterns from the years immediately preceding the amnesty of ’86 to the present—for judging the amnesty of 2013 to be the death knell of GOP dominance.