One of the most striking aspects of this presidential campaign is the enthusiasm the candidacy of Barack Obama has engendered among Muslims both at home and abroad.
On April 13 of this year, Ahmed Yousef, a public relations man for the terrorist organization Hamas, said in an interview: "We like Mr. Obama and we hope he will win the election." He then gave the reason for Hamas' support: "He has a vision to change America." Earlier this month, Libya's strongman Muammar Khadafi gave an endorsement speech in which he called Barack Obama a "brother" and expressed his hope that he will "change America from evil to good and that America will establish relations that will serve it well with other people, especially the Arabs." He also said:
[A]ll the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man. They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American Presidency.
The Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan gushed "this young man [Obama] is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better." He went on to say that Obama "could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall." In another appearance, Farrakhan stated that he "represents hope that the United States will change for the better." Prominent Egyptian journalist Yasser Khalil wrote recently "Barack Obama represents a phenomenon that has drawn global attention and captivated the minds of Muslims around the world." He noted that "this level of support for an American presidential candidate is unprecedented in the Muslim world" and observed that "large segments of the Muslim population here remain fascinated with the election and have become big fans of Senator Obama."
The possibility of an Obama presidency fills Muslims world over with great hope as evidenced by the accolades and glowing endorsements they heap upon him. More remarkably still, their enthusiasm seems to be correlated with piety. The most radical Muslims tend to be among his strongest supporters.
The question is what accounts for this phenomenon. What is it about Barack Obama that so excites the Islamist psyche?
Some have suggested that Obama must be a secret practitioner and that Muslims are somehow able to discern this. There is, however, no proof of that. From everything we know, Barack Obama is no clandestine Muslim, and until there is some credible evidence to show otherwise such insinuations are counterproductive at best.
What attracts Islamists to Obama is not that they necessarily see him as a covert co-religionist, but their sense that his worldview -- and especially his view of America -- corresponds with their own.
To see why they feel this way, we must go back to the early days of Obama's candidacy. Many will recall that from the day he launched his presidential bid until March of this year Obama portrayed himself as a deeply religious man. Early on in the campaign, Obama's faith was in fact one of his main selling points. The objective was twofold: to dispel any suspicions that he may be a Muslim and to appeal to value voters. This was why Obama spoke about his Christian faith openly, often and with enthusiasm. By keeping it at the forefront, Obama also hoped to do what no modern Democrat since Carter has done -- claim a sizeable portion of the evangelical vote.
He felt confident he could do well because he had a story that he knew would appeal to that electoral demographic. It was a story of an aimless young man who underwent a "born again" experience and then embarked on a spirit-led personal journey through his involvement with a local church.
Central to that story was the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr., the man Obama called his father figure. It was Wright who led Obama through the conversion experience and oversaw his personal and spiritual growth in the twenty years that followed. In his books Obama identifies Wright as the person who had the greatest influence on his life and refers to him as his mentor, guide, and confidant. It was from the name of one of Wright's sermons that Obama took the title of his second book -- The Audacity of Hope -- a phrase that was later to become a signature slogan of his presidential campaign.
But then on March 11, 2008 in the midst of a heated Democratic primary disturbing video footage surfaced of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Standing in the pulpit of his church, he spoke of his country and what he said shocked almost everyone who saw it. Wright described America as a nation where racism and exploitation run rampant. He claimed that ours is a ruthless, corrupt regime that oppresses at home and terrorizes abroad. Sermonizing just five days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Jeremiah Wright said:
We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and The Pentagon, and we never batted an eye... and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost.
In a sermon two years later, Wright said that our "government lied in its founding documents and the government is still lying today." He then concluded:
God damn America! -- that's in the Bible -- for killing innocent people! God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human! God damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme!
The videos sent shockwaves not only throughout this country, but also around the world that was closely watching America's historic election. And even though most clear-thinking people were revolted, one group reacted with glee. That group was the Islamists, particularly those of radical stripe, for in Wright's invective they heard a view of America that was their own.
Like Obama's role model, radical Islamists also believe that America is an unjust, murderous and oppressive regime that exploits at home and murders abroad. They also agree with Wright that the attacks of 9/11 were a deserved punishment for all the evils the United States has perpetrated around the globe. And what could better sum up their feelings toward this country than Wright's booming "God damn America!"
Islamists must have greatly relished the fervor and eloquence with which the mentor of a major presidential candidate denounced the United States. The whole spectacle no doubt struck a familiar chord, for Wright's preaching -- with his virulent invective against the United States -- was closer in content and tenor to what they hear in a Saudi mosque than what is usually on offer in an average church in America's Bible belt.
But even as radical Islamists rejoiced, Obama had a major crisis on his hands. It turned out to be the most serious crisis of his political career and one that nearly sank his presidential hopes. Initially Obama argued that Wright's statements were taken out of context and played in a loop for heightened effect. But when it was discovered that there was more, Obama took a different line. He claimed that he had personally never heard Wright speak like this and that he knew nothing of his father figure's virulent anti-Americanism.
This is obviously a lie and an egregious one at that. Whatever can be said about Barack Obama, he is not stupid. A Harvard-educated lawyer, he has repeatedly shown intelligence and shrewdness during his meteoric rise to national prominence. It is completely unbelievable he would not know about the belief system of the person who was his confidant for nearly 20 years. After all, Wright did not even try to conceal his views, but propounded them openly from the pulpit of his church. Yet Obama wants us to believe that he was the only one in that congregation who knew nothing of Wright's disdain for his country.
Obama's assertion that the two never discussed politics is another bald-faced lie. We can be fairly certain that politics was a frequent subject of their discussions, since both Obama and Wright are consummately political creatures. Barack Obama is, of course, a professional politician. Jeremiah Wright is a political activist in a religious garb.
The real question is not whether Obama knew about his pastor's anti-Americanism, but to what extent he shares it. And there is every reason to believe that he shared most if not all of it.
To see why, you only need to ask yourself a few questions: Would you hold up a man as your father figure if you did not also identify with his worldview? Would you pinpoint him as the person who had the greatest influence on your life? Would you keep him on a role model and mentor?
If we take statements made by these two men in their moments of undoubted candor -- Wright's pulpit tirades against America and Obama's admiration of his pastor as expressed in his writings -- we can safely conclude that Obama not only knew of Wright's attitudes toward America, but that he is of one mind with him. In other words, the facts lead to the inescapable conclusion that Obama disdains America just as his father figure does.
Obama has understandably denied this. Wright, however, exposed him in his speech to the National Press Club in April of this year when said that Obama's denials were merely a ploy of political expediency:
Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls. Preachers say what they say because they're pastors. . . . I do what pastors do; he does what politicians do.
This was truly a peculiar moment, since Wright had been given the speaking slot with the implied understanding that he would explain himself to the nation. But the reverend apparently felt so wounded by Obama's betrayal that he refused to play along.
If any other candidate were caught in a similar situation, he or she would have been forced out of politics in disgrace. The same media that hounded Sarah Palin's old pastors deliberately overlooked a cleric who told them that his protégé shared his hatred of America. This failure to expose a major presidential candidate for the anti-American radical he is will surely go down in history as one of the most egregious cases of media malpractice. Had it not been for the media-led cover up, Barack Obama would have been by now only an embarrassing footnote in the annals of American presidential politics.
This brings us back to the Islamists. Unlike the willfully blind media, they can see very well what Barack Obama is all about, which is why they are so excited about the prospect of his presidency. Their enthusiasm is easy to understand, since nothing could advance their cause more than a man at the top of the American government whose views of America correspond with their own. To Islamists, Obama's victory would truly seem like a godsend.
We often refuse to say or even think truth, because truth can be ugly and disturbing. But the facts in this case speak for themselves, and we must face them squarely. If we fail, sooner or later there will be a price to pay. That price could be very steep, for Barack Obama and his associates would inflict -- if given the opportunity -- serious harm on the country they disdain. Islamists and all those who hate America see this clearly and rejoice at the prospect.
We will leave those who are still hesitant with one last question. Can you find a single instance outside the campaign trail in which Barack Obama or any of his closest associates have said anything good or complimentary about their country?
In their moments of frankness, those closest to Barack Obama -- from his role model Jeremiah Wright through unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers to his own wife -- articulate contempt for America far more than love and appreciation for its virtues.
Think about that as you listen to Wright's blistering denunciations of the United States and the cheering of Islamic extremists as they contemplate the prospect of a President Barack Obama, a man they call their brother and friend.