The Nation of Islam Factor

Explaining the Islamic intransigence of the outgoing president.

In his January 10 farewell speech, President Obama cited “violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam.” That was the only mention of Islam in the speech, and the outgoing president kept his record intact.

For the past eight years, the most powerful man in the world has refused to connect Islam with any act of terrorism against the West in general or the United States in particular. The terrorists themselves do everything but take out an ad on the Super Bowl to trumpet Islam as their motive, but that has no effect on the president.

In early 2015 the Islamic State mounted a surge in torture, beheading and enslaving, with Christians a primary target, including women and children. At the national prayer breakfast, the president responded: “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

The Crusades reference is the default defense of the Islamists themselves. Yet, the President of the United States, who claims to be a Christian, takes it up during a tide of Islamic State atrocities. At the UN in 2012, the president also went on record that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

These and other statements have many observers puzzled, but one explanation can be found in the president’s 2006 The Audacity of Hope. “Although my father had been raised a Muslim,” he explains, “by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition, like the mumbo-jumbo of witch doctors that he had witnessed in the Kenyan villages of his youth.”

Even so, during the five years the author lived with his stepfather Lolo Soetoro in Indonesia, he writes, “I was first sent to a neighborhood Catholic school, and then to a predominantly Muslim school.” The Audacity of Hope names neither but the “predominantly Muslim” school is likely Besuki, run by the Indonesian government, complete with a mosque.

In his massive 2015 Believer, the president’s narrator David Axelrod deals with the charge that the president “as a child in Indonesia, had been educated in a madrassa, which, to many Americans, meant a radical Islamic school in which anti-Western values are routinely taught.” This was “fodder for the right-wing commentators eager to portray the Obamas as outside the American mainstream.”

Axelrod explains that he, Bob Gibbs and his research team campaign “were able to beat back that calumny,” though Axelrod cites no facts about the school he previously described as “predominantly Muslim.” That school doubtless plays a major role in the president’s Islamic intransigence, but another possible explanation remains largely unexplored.

The author of Dreams from My Father claims that the Kenyan Barack H. Obama “bequeathed his name” to the son he bore with his American wife Ann Dunham. Once on his own, he shows little interest in Africa in general and Kenya in particular. After law school he moves to Chicago, the city where “Frank,” the happy-drunk poet in Dreams from My Father, made a name for himself.

As the president acknowledged on television in 1995, “Frank” is Frank Marshall Davis, an African-American Stalinist who spent much of his life defending all-white Communist dictatorships. In The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor, professor Paul Kengor found “remarkable similarities” between the president’s policies and the writings of Davis, a security risk with an FBI file 600 pages long. Davis was also a pornographer and sexual omnivore who details his activities in Sex Rebel: Black under the pseudonym Bob Greene.  

Chicago also hosts the headquarters of the Nation of Islam and anybody on the rise in the black community has to reckon with the group and Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. True to form, in Dreams from My Father the author meets a tall, gaunt man named Malik, “who mentioned that he was a follower of the Nation of Islam.” The narrative portrays the NOI uncritically and as a positive force.

“If it wasn’t for Islam, man, I’d be dead,” one character explains. Doubters are caricatured in comic fashion.

“Gotta have them ribs. And pussy, too,” another unnamed character says. “Don’t Malcolm talk about no pussy? Now you know that ain’t gonna work.”

Readers get no clue that, as Stanley Crouch explained in the Village Voice in 1985, in the view of the NOI and Louis Farrakhan, “the white man was a devil ‘grafted’ from black people in an evil genetic experiment by a mad, pumpkin-headed scientist named Yacub. That experiment took place 6000 years ago. Now the white man was doomed, sentenced to destruction by Allah.”

So the author of Dreams from My Father, then launching his political career, is uncritical of this racist belief. He does not tell readers if he believes that Nikola Tesla, Harper Lee, Einstein, and Meryl Streep are the result of Yacub’s experiment. Louis Farrakhan backed Obama for president, hailing him as “the Messiah,” and he duly gained election 2008.

As president he placed Islam off limits to criticism and the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet if Islam. It is entirely possible that this was an homage to Farrakhan, who knew the truth about Frank, whom many believe to be the president’s true biological father.

If the president had dared to fault Islam for anything, Farrakhan could have outed him. A story like that in The Final Call would be hard to ignore, even for the old-line establishment media. Add the president’s “predominantly Muslim” school and his refusal to link Islam with terrorism becomes more understandable.

In 2009, when “Soldier of Allah” Nidal Hasan gunned down 13 at Fort Hood, the president called it “workplace violence.” In 2015, radical Islamic terrorists Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik gunned down 14 in San Bernardino. In his first public response, the president said the attack could be “workplace-related” and a case of “gun violence.”

In eight years, right through his farewell address, the outgoing president never linked Islam with terrorism. That is how he should be remembered.

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