The 15 Best Books for Understanding Barack Obama’s Mysterious Political Theology
Which intellectual cult leaders and secular religions have most influenced the 44th president's ideology?
November 4, 2012 - 9:20 am
5. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
6. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
7. Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
8. Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss
Why do so many Democrats insist on giving Islam the benefit of the doubt? Even amongst many Republicans, the establishment narrative, set by George W. Bush, endures: Islam is “a religion of peace,” Al Qaeda is a fringe group of misinterpreters, Allah is the same god worshiped by Jews and Christians, and the Koran is just the Bible in Arabic, teaching universal love and compassion.
I bought this Big Lie about Islam for years. And looking back I wonder how much of it had to do with how my progressivism led to an unquestioning embrace of the mythology of Malcolm. In high school I loved The Autobiography of Malcolm X and watched Spike Lee’s film adaptation multiple times. Recall the ending: Malcolm doesn’t fully reject racism and become complete as a human being until he escapes the Nation of Islam, takes his hajj to Mecca, and renames himself El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Once outside of the evil, racist America Malcolm can see that within Islam whites could gain their humanity and become his brothers. Islam really could bring peace. Just look at Malcolm.
But multiple authors have debunked The Autobiography as fictional. (See my friend David Forsmark’s review of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention and Bruce Perry’s Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America.)
Once one learns the truth about who Malcolm X really was, what the Nation of Islam preached then (and still does today), and the contents of the orthodox Islam Malcolm believed at death, then the only moral response is shame. And that’s what I feel today as I reflect back on the fact that for years a poster of an antisemitic conspiracy theorist hung tacked to my walls like a religious icon.
But Barack Obama never felt that embarrassing epiphany of realizing he’d based his life on a lie. According to Dreams from my Father, Obama discovered The Autobiography as a teenager. He then used the myth of Malcolm during his community organizer days as a symbol:
“Power! X Register to Vote Here”
“It’s a POWER thing! X Vote Tues Nov. 3″
That’s what the symbol of Malcolm X means and Obama knew how to use it: the misunderstood, oppressed proletariat can take power away from the corrupt conspiracy at the top that’s enslaved everyone. It’s a message that appeals to both the impoverished in the ghettos, and the spoiled, angsty, idealistic, upper-middle class high schooler growing up in white suburbia. And it too was a Big Lie. Power doesn’t come through voting in politicians who will give you healthcare and other free stuff.
Even Malcolm X’s admirers admit that The Autobiography is a lie. That’s why I picked Manning Marable’s more apologetic biography instead of Perry’s warts-and-all. And it’s why I insist every Barack Obama supporter really dig into the sympathetic Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss. Even the president’s admirers admit that Dreams from my Father bears little resemblance of Obama’s actual life.
What kind of man does that? Who writes an autobiography that’s not true in order to further their career? (Reminder: Benghazi.) What does that say about the man’s grasp of right and wrong that he would publish a book-length smashing of the 9th commandment to launch his Chicago political career?
It says that just like the pathological liar Malcolm X he rejects ethical monotheism, the foundation of Western civilization. As defined by Dennis Prager:
Ethical monotheism means two things:
1. There is one God from whom emanates one morality for all humanity.
2. God’s primary demand of people is that they act decently toward one another.
If all people subscribed to this simple belief—which does not entail leaving, or joining, any specific religion, or giving up any national identity—the world would experience far less evil.