Middle East studies in the News
The Company He Keeps: Meet Obama's circle: The Same Old America-hating Left
Why is Barack Obama so comfortable around people who so despise America and its allies? Maybe it's because they're so comfortable around him.
He presents as the transcendent agent of "change." Sounds platitudinous, but it's really quite strategically vaporous. Sen. Obama is loath to get into the details of how we should change, and, as the media's Chosen One, he hasn't had to.
But he's not, as some hopefully dismiss him, a charismatic lightweight with a gift for sparkling the same old vapid cant. Judging from the company he chooses to keep, Obama's change would radically alter this country. He eschews detail because most Americans don't believe we're a racist, heartless, imperialist cesspool of exploitation. The details would be disqualifying.
So, instead, we get glimpses. The most profound influence in his life, his wife Michelle, is notoriously less circumspect than her careful husband about where she's coming from. Her college thesis, which Princeton tried to keep under lock and key, testifies to a race-obsessed worldview. She may have refined it, but she's never grown out of it.
After four years at one of America's most esteemed academic institutions, Michelle recoiled at the thought of "further integration and/or assimilation into a white cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant." That the sky has been the limit for her, that she has managed to ride the "periphery" from Princeton to Harvard Law School, to one of the country's top law firms, and to a plethora of prestigious institutional positions, has not much altered her perspective. Through the windows of her mansion on Chicago's south side, American society still appears as a caste system.
The United States, says she, is "just downright mean." Never, prior to her husband's presidential run, had she had a reason to feel proud of it, she told a campaign throng. But by last November, with Barack's pursuit of the brass ring catching momentum, she suddenly got plenty proud. And confident: so much so that she was moved to tell MSNBC, "Black America will wake up and get it" — unite and carry him over the finish line.
THE REV. WRIGHT
Years earlier, the Obamas had gravitated to the baleful Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an unapologetic racist and hard Left firebrand. They were comfortable with him — and he with them.
By the senator's own account, Wright is the inspiration for his memoir, The Audacity of Hope — the title is cribbed from a Wright sermon ("The Audacity to Hope"). For Michelle, who had written that a racial "separationist" would have a better understanding of American blacks than "an integrationist who is ignorant to their plight," Wright's Trinity Church mission statement had to resonate, right from its opening declaration:
We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian… Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain ‘true to our native land,' the mother continent, the cradle of civilization.
Rev. Wright inspired his congregation — of which the Obamas were 20-year members — with "black liberation theology." The doctrine is itself the inspiration of James Hal Cone, a professor of "Systematic Theology" at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Cone is also the author of several books, which a tendentious Wright urged Sean Hannity to read during a recent interview.
It's a useful suggestion. For example, there is Cone's 1969 opus, Black Theology and Black Power, in which he helpfully explains:
Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community.... Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.
Black liberation theology, as Wright has elaborated, is closely aligned with the "liberation theology" of Nicaragua during the seventies and eighties: i.e., the doctrine that catalyzed Marxist revolutionaries. It spurred an unabashedly Leftist movement that emphasized, you guessed it, the crying need for "change" — as George Russell aptly described it in a 2001 Time magazine analysis, "social change in the process of spiritual improvement."
It is this same drive for upheaval, for supplanting a political order which purportedly treats blacks as "less than human," that impelled Wright's plea for God to "damn America." In the oppression narrative, the murder of 3000 Americans on 9/11 isn't terrorism but social justice. America, after all, had it coming. For Wright, it was "chickens coming home to roost." Indeed, Wright sometimes prefers to call our country "the U.S. of KKK A" — a grotesque sentiment which, we shall see, is shared by others with whom the Obamas choose to associate themselves.
For their part, the Obamas couldn't get enough of Wright. Barack and Michelle had him marry them. They chose him to baptize their children, who were routinely exposed to Wright's race-baiting bombast.
Obama and his supporters brusquely dismiss the drawing of sensible inferences from these gestures of admiration as "guilt by association." In point of fact, though, the Obamas didn't just associate with Wright. They subsidized him to the tune of over $20,000 — not exactly chump change from a couple without great means or any history of philanthropy to speak of. And until recent public attention to the pastor's noxious rants threatened to derail his White House bid, Sen. Obama kept Wright officially on board as part of his campaign's "African American Religious Leadership Committee."
BILL AYERS AND BERNADINE DOHRN
With this as background, is it really all that startling that Sen. Obama enjoys a friendly relationship with Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, a pair of terrorists?
I want to be clear here: Not terrorist sympathizers. Terrorists.
The mainstream media, in their zeal to elect a Democrat, are assiduously airbrushing Ayers: "an aging lefty with a foolish past," as the Chicago Sun-Times has so delicately put it. In fact, it is the press that is rife with foolish, aging lefties. Ayers, by contrast, is an unapologetic terrorist with a savage past — one who beat the system he so reviles when, after his years of fugitivity, terrorism charges were dropped due to government surveillance violations. He's "guilty as sin," by his own concession, but "free as a bird."
Ayers didn't just carry a sign outside the Pentagon on May 19, 1972. He bombed it. As his memoir gleefully recalled, "Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them."
Whether Pentagon bombing day was more or less ideal than other days, when he, Dohrn and their Weathermen comrades bombed the U.S. Capitol, the State Department, and sundry banks, police stations and courthouses, Ayers does not say. But on each occasion, there was surely optimism that the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.
There were lots of bombs. There is no remorse. "I don't regret setting bombs," he told the New York Times in 2001, sorry only that he and the others "didn't do enough." Like what? We can't be sure, though National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg recounts Ayers's sentiments back in the day: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at."
Ayers and Dohrn have done the actual dirty work of terror, while Jeremiah Wright draws the line at waving pom-poms. But the prism through which they assay the dirty work is precisely the same: America has it coming.
For them, that makes all the difference. It's not terror, just chickens coming home to roost. "Terrorists destroy randomly," Ayers rationalizes with nauseating arrogance, "while our actions bore ... the precise stamp of a cut diamond. Terrorists intimidate, while we aimed only to educate." Right. As her companion Discover the Networks profile illustrates, Dohrn now goes even further: insisting their bombings weren't terrorist acts at all: "We rejected terrorism. We were careful not to hurt anybody."
Maybe she's forgotten the "bastards getting what was coming to them" part. Or maybe she's just lying. She was, we can be confident, something less than a model of compassion back then — like at the Weathermen "War Council" meeting in 1969, when she famously gushed over the barbaric Manson Family murders of the pregnant actress Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and three others: "Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim's stomach! Wild!"
Charming. The "War Council," it should be noted, concluded by first condemning the United States for — what else? — its pervasive racism, then formally declaring war against what the Weathermen called "AmeriKKKa." Rev. Wright would have understood.
It was at the Chicago home of Ayers and Dohrn that Obama, then an up-and-coming "community organizer," had his political coming out party in 1995. Not content with this rite of passage in Lefty World — where unrepentant terrorists are regarded as progressive luminaries, still working "only to educate" — both Obamas tended to the relationship with the Ayers.
Barack Obama made a joint appearance with Bill Ayers in 1997 at a University of Chicago panel on the outrage of treating juvenile criminals as if they were, well, criminals. Obama apologists say, "So what? People appear with other people all the time." Nice try. This panel was orchestrated by none other than Michelle Obama, then an Associate Dean of Student Services. Ayers didn't happen to be there — he was invited by the Obamas to educate students on the question before the house: "Should a Child Ever Be Called a ‘Super Predator?'"
And here's how the University's press release chose to describe this would-be super predator:
William Ayers, author of A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court (Beacon Press, 1997), says "We should call a child a child. A 13-year-old who picks up a gun isn't suddenly an adult. We have to ask other questions: How did he get the gun? Where did it come from?"
Ayers, who spent a year observing the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago, is one of four panelists who will speak on juvenile justice[.]
The other panelists included "Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama … who is working to block proposed legislation that would throw more juvenile offenders into the adult system." The goal was to promote change, to actuate the vision of "Chicago reformer" Jane Addams, who'd sought "the establishment of a separate court system for children which would act like a ‘kind and just parent' for children in crisis." Never mind the crises they'd caused the victims of their wanton murders and mayhem — the fault for those, surely, was our downright mean society.
The Ayers and Obama, meantime, kept up. There was yet another panel in 2002, Obama and Ayers waxing on "Intellectuals in Times of Crisis." Dohrn, too, was asked to weigh in, on a panel addressing the question, "Why Do Ideas Matter?" I'm sure it was, er, wild.
In the interim, Ayers and Obama had teamed up for three years on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago charitable organization. Together, they voted to donate $75,000 of the largesse they controlled to the Arab American Action Network. The AAAN was co-founded by Rashid Khalidi, a longtime supporter of Palestinian "resistance" attacks against Israel, which he openly regards as a racist, apartheid state. Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, Khalidi peremptorily denies having been a PLO operative or having directed its official press agency for six years (from 1976 to 1982). There can be no gainsaying, though, that he was an influential apologist for Yasser Arafat, the terror master who spawned two Intifadas and ordered the murder of American diplomats.
In the mean, besotted United States, of course, being a terrorist, a terror apologist, or simply raging at the machine qualifies one for a cushy academic soapbox. Thus did Khalidi eventually land on his feet at the University of Chicago, where he ran in the same circles as Associate Dean Michelle Obama, Law Professor Barack Obama, University of Illinois-Chicago Education Professor Bill Ayers, and Northwestern Law Professor Bernadine Dohrn (who prepared for a career in instructing future officers of the court with a stint in federal prison for flouting a judge's order that she testify in a grand jury investigation into the Weathermen's infamous Brinks robbery-murders).
For Khalidi, though, greener pastures called: the opportunity to become a professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. There, he now directs Edward Said's legacy: Columbia's notoriously Israel-bashing Middle East Institute — though, much to the University's chagrin, he was scratched in 2005 from a program designed educate teachers on instructing their young students about the Middle East. New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein concluded Khalidi's splenetic meanderings mightn't be the best model.
They didn't faze Barack Obama, though. He was front and center with Ayers and Dohrn at a farewell bash when Khalidi left Chicago for New York. It was only right. Khalidi, after all, had hosted a fundraiser for Obama in 2000, when the latter launched an unsuccessful campaign for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. And so it goes. A few weeks ago, Khalidi told worldnetdaily.com he supports Obama's presidential run "because he is the only candidate who has expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause," and because Obama has promised negotiations with Iran.
Ayres, too, provided a minor ($200) contribution to Obama, in 2001. That was the year of September 11, just a few days before the Times published its excerpt of Ayres's remembrances of bombings past. Read the short interview and ask yourself: Could anyone, let alone someone as sophisticated as Barack Obama, chat with Bill Ayers for about 30 seconds and not know exactly where is coming from?
Could they really have been friends? Well, Ayers is virtually channeling Michelle Obama and Jeremiah Wright when he wails that American "society is not a just and fair and decent place."
"God, what a great country," he scoffed to the Times. "It makes me want to puke."
Hey, right back at you there, Professor. At least that's how most of us are likely to feel. But not Sen. Obama. And that's why Ayers — like Khalidi and Wright and Michelle Obama, and others who know the senator well while we've been told precious little — sees in Barack Obama the change he's been waiting for.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is author of Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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