Does Obama know America?

When I hear liberals talk about this country I don't recognize the place. It's just as if they never talk to their own neighbors or go to their local market. The Left seems to constantly misunderstand normal people in a really paranoid fashion.

Jeremiah Wright is not the only rage-and-fear-peddler on that side of the political fence. Liberals apparently believe they can read minds, spotting racism and evil where nobody else can find it. That's what they keep telling us, after all.

I just don't recognize  "Ameri-KKK-a," in the Rev. Wright's witty little phrase. In the real America of the last half century you have to turn over a lot of rocks to find the evil racist, sexist, homophobic meanies. Instead, I see a country that is desperately working to do good in the world.

Now this is the big, unanswered question about Barack Obama --- does he really understand America as it is? Or does he fall for the paranoid narrative of the Left? That is crucial. If he has internalized the Left's view of America, he will try to make the country pay and pay for all the wrongs, real or imagined, of the distant past. The country will be permanently guilt-tripped.

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and a white mother, went to school in Indonesia, then Hawaii again --- with its own racial divisions between native Hawaiians, whites, blacks, and people with Japanese ancestry. Hawaii is our loveliest state, but it has a record of racial divisions. Since Obama was born, native Hawaiian have reasserted their original ownership of the islands very vigorously. There's no way you can miss that, growing up in Honolulu.

After high school Obama spent a few years at Occidental College in California, then Columbia, then worked in New York, then attended Harvard Law, and finally settled down in Jeremiah Wright's part of Chicago.

None of those places resembles normal, middle-class America. All of them are steeped in racial tensions, as viewed from the Left.  Even Princeton is obsessed with race, as Michelle Obama wrote in her college thesis.

We know that Rev. Wright's church teaches people to avoid "middleclassness." You have to keep people on the boil, enraged at white America, so they must not get too comfortable with their lives.

That seems to be Barack's idea of America. It is certainly a part of America, but it is the angriest, most depressed, violent, and troubled part. So our likely Democrat candidate has never lived an ordinary life in a normal, middle class neighborhood. Add in Jeremiah Wright as a political mentor for 20 years, and you have to ask: Does Senator Obama really know this country?

As Mark Steyn hinted at the other day, Obama's autobiography reads like a work of fiction.  He is making up his own identity the way a novelist would make up a fictional character. Teenagers often do that, and people who come from very different cultures. I know an Eastern European who travels around America constantly interpreting everything out loud, like an anthropologist from Mars.  As others have pointed out, Obama seems to have adopted his mother's role as an anthropologist.

He writes about himself:

"Only Malcolm X's autobiography seemed to offer something different. 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. All the other stuff, the talk of blue-eyed devils and apocalypse, was incidental to that program, I decided. ...

nd yet, even as I imagine myself following Malcolm's call, one line in the book stayed with me. He spoke of a wish he'd once had, the wish that the white blood that ran through him, there by an act of violence, might somehow be expunged." (italics added)  

There's something to be said for a president who understands other cultures, but not to the point of misunderstanding his own. Truman didn't live abroad, and neither did Lincoln or Reagan. Yet  Truman began the integration of the armed forces and Lincoln led the deadliest war in US history and freed the slaves. Reagan won the Cold War. None of them were the blood-thirsty maniacs of liberal nightmares.

Obama's expatriate mother, who raised him until age ten, was apparently a zealous anti-American. His father was absent, an African Prince out of a boyhood fantasy. All his life Obama moved from one little subculture to the next, all the way to Columbia, Harvard Law and Trinity UCC. Everywhere he went  he encounted zealous anti-Americans, beginning with his mother.  Just think about that. 

No wonder it's hard to recognize his notion of this country. Barack Obama could profit from ten years away from the Senate, away from the elites, away from the self-destructive paranoia of the inner cities. Maybe he could try to run a business, like George McGovern Maybe he should try teaching --- at a neighborhood school, not a law school.

Get to know the real America, then maybe run for president.

James Lewis blogs at