Barack Obama has captured the imagination of the nation. He’s so wholesome, so sincere, so charismatic and charming, he almost comes off as naive. But underneath his ultra-smooth exterior, he’s obviously a very complex, and very conflicted, man.
The Chicago Tribune article, The Not-So-Simple Story of Barack Obama’s Youth tells the following story about his reinterpretation of a difficult period in his life, when he was attending a private boarding school in Hawaii.
In his best-selling autobiography, “Dreams from My Father,” Obama describes having heated conversations about racism with another black student, “Ray.” The real Ray, Keith Kakugawa, is half black and half Japanese. In an interview with the Tribune on Saturday, Kakugawa said he always considered himself mixed race, like so many of his friends in Hawaii, and was not an angry young black man.
He said he does recall long, soulful talks with the young Obama and that his friend confided his longing and loneliness. But those talks, Kakugawa said, were not about race. “Not even close,” he said, adding that Obama was dealing with “some inner turmoil” in those days.
So, Obama sometimes reinterprets real life to better to suit the myth. He seems to see his life as a sort of parable, in which the message is more important than the actual facts. Don’t all politicians do that, though? Perhaps so. But Obama is supposed to be different. The very thing that appeals to his loyal following is that he represents a whole new breed of politician. — In short, a politician you can trust.
Another example of reinterpretation of reality is his reaction to the recent publicity about his pastor and spiritual advisor. Obama claims to have attended church every Sunday for the last 20+ years. Yet, he claims to have never heard his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, make any militant remarks about the evils of America, or of white people, or how we deserved 9/11. The videos of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and the reactions of the congregation, would seem to indicate that these are familiar themes to his parishioners. Was Obama just not listening to the parts he didn’t want to hear? For over 20 years?
Barack Obama was raised without any religious affiliation. His mother had exposed him to a number of religions, including Christianity, when he was growing up, but she did not subscribe to any of them. Obama himself never felt drawn to any particular religion until he encountered the Trinity United Church of Christ in the 1980s. It was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright who inspired him to embrace the Church and become immersed in that particular brand of Christianity.
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright preaches that Jesus was a poor black man, living under an oppressive white regime (the Romans). Much of the teachings of his church are about the oppression of the blacks, and the evil of the rich white people who run this country. He has a close personal relationship with the militant, anti-Semitic, black separatist leader, Louis Farakkhan. The angry, militant message of racial separatism spewed by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright seems antithetical to Obama’s message of unity and his calm insistence that his candidacy has nothing to do with race. If Obama is so race-agnostic, one can’t help but wonder why, of all the churches in the country, he would be exculsively drawn to one that’s so focused on such a racially charged message.
When I first heard some of the things Michelle Obama said about her feelings toward this country, they struck me as very peculiar. But now that we have some insight into the Obama family’s spiritual life, it all starts to make sense. Obama has tried to distance himself from the dire imprecations of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright against America and against white people, but how could he immerse himself and his family in this racially charged atmosphere every Sunday for over 20 years, and fail to notice it? Why would someone who feels race is not relevant want to expose his young daughters to such radical hate speech as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright habitually preaches? It just isn’t credible — unless he has one of those personality disorders that cause the sufferer to dissociate from experiences too disturbing to acknowledge, resulting in a bifurcated personality.
Obama is clearly a far more complex person than his public persona reveals. The glimpses we’re starting to see into the personal life of the man behind the public persona have vaguely disturbing undertones, like in a movie where you get subtle hints that the almost-too-perfect protagonist isn’t what he seems to be… It isn’t just a question of the indisputably poor judgment of someone in Obama’s position making someone so politically incorrect his spiritual advisor. The more ominous question is what are the deep undercurrents in Obama’s character that draw him to people like Wright and, for that matter, his wife, who are so outspoken in their distrust and seeming hatred for the very country of which Obama desires to become president.