Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Almost Certainly"

From the end of an overall weak Forward editorial on Barack Obama:
Is Barack Obama a Muslim? Almost certainly not. Was he ever a Muslim? Almost certainly yes.

Barack Obama is "almost certainly" not a Muslim? No, he's not a Muslim, period. This isn't controversial.

Was he ever a Muslim? Again, no, he wasn't, unless we define it by birthright, in which case it switches from being utterly false to meaningless. Almost certainly, at no point did Barack Obama consciously identify as being Muslim (and if showing up in temple a few times is enough to make you part of a religion, anyone who ever grew up in Bethesda is Jewish through Bar Mitzvah ceremonies alone).

5 comments:

PG said...

I wish I hadn't read that. Now I need a shower.

What disturbed me the most was the equating of "Muslim" with "anti-Semite." Do even "Jewish conservatives and pro-settler hawks" assume that all Muslims hate Jews?

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

No numbers in that piece. Not even any names besides Obama's. Anonymous quotes and anecdotes. Will the "Obama is a Muslim" meme insinuate itself into voters' minds? Possibly, but is it too much to ask for some statistical proof? At times that piece seemed to be suggesting the lack of proof itself was evidence.

(edited slightly after I read the editorial a second time)

Cycle Cyril said...

One problem with politicians these days is that they are always on and to a large extent taped. And as with everyone they can make slips of the tongue. It happens to everyone and to some more than others. If however they just talk in platitudes they have less to worry about. But I digress from my point.

Early in his campaign Obama stated that he was always a Christian. But he was and is to a large extent vague as to his early years and the influence of his father's and stepfather's religion on him and the environment (religiously) while in Indonesia.

Of note is the fact that Obama was registered as a Muslim while he was in Catholic school for two years and in a public school for one year. During this time, as per Indonesian law, he attended religious classes several hours a week. One can only presume that he attended the Islamic sessions since he was a registered Muslim.

Further he was reported by friends as irregularly attending a Mosque.

What does this all mean?

Unlike you I have no idea if Obama ever did or did not CONSCIOUSLY identify himself as a Muslim, especially as a young boy. Certainly if he ever did, even briefly, he would hide it better than LBJ hid his "landslide" victory against Coke Stevenson in 1948 for the Senate. But again I digress.

Over the years I have always thought why did the founding fathers insert in the constitution the requirement that only the president is required to be born in America.

The Federalist Papers are of no use since Hamilton, who was foreign born, wanted to be president and had inserted his personal inclusion clause "...or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution...".

The records of the Constitutional convention does not shed light on this either.

But it is clear from several letters, particularly one from John Jay to Geo. Washington that this clause was to limit foreign influence.

And I would say that that influence includes foreign cultural influences that one picks up as a child.

The fact that Obama spent formative years aboard, learning and breathing a foreign culture, should make anyone wonder what his gut responses would be if faced with a choice between an American cultural response and a Islamically tainted cultural response.

PG said...

But it is clear from several letters, particularly one from John Jay to Geo. Washington that this clause was to limit foreign influence.

And I would say that that influence includes foreign cultural influences that one picks up as a child.


The actual requirement in Art. II Sec. 1 is "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

If the Founders were so afraid of "foreign cultural influences that one picks up as a child," why would they require that one have been only fourteen Years a Resident? Why not require that the President have been born in the U.S., instead of merely a "natural born Citizen" (which includes overseas births like John McCain's)? Why allow persons who had been born outside the American colonies (like Alexander Hamilton) to have been eligible by dint of naturalized citizenship at the time of the Constitution?

Moreover, although What Did the Founders Think is a tricky game, the "foreign influence" they feared was mostly that someone would recruit a foreign prince to rule the U.S. and thus they would fall back into monarchy. It was a July 25, 1787 letter from Jay to Washington, which stated in relevant part: "Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen."

If there had been fear of "foreign cultural influences that one picks up as a child," it would have been very odd for John Adams to have brought his son and the future sixth president with him while serving as envoy to France and the Netherlands (when John Quincy Adams was ages 11-15). There JQA was, being educated at the University of Leiden, going to Russia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, mastering French and Dutch.

I doubt that the Founders thought that knowing more than squat about foreign countries was a bad quality in a president.