What Trump Should Have Said
How ironic that, with all the offensive things Donald Trump says, something he did not say is breaking the outrage bank.
Trump is under fire for failing, at one of his campaign events, to refute an overheated audience member who asserted that President Obama is a Muslim and was not born in the United States. Trump did not make these claims or concur in them. He simply decided it was not his job to defend Barack Obama from claims that Obama himself has played no small part in provoking. Trump, instead, ignored the allegations and went on with what he wanted to say: blather about how he was looking into the possibility that radical Muslims are training inside the United States to conduct terrorist attacks here (something that is not merely possible, but has been proved in terrorism prosecutions about a zillion times since I first did it 20 years ago).
As one would expect, our Islamophilic political establishment is in high dudgeon: demands for Trump to apologize have come from Trump competitors with troubling records of cuddling up to Islamists -- e.g., Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham -- and from Obama’s slavish media, which has never judged worthy of examination either the president’s misrepresentations about his background or his extensive personal ties to Islam, notwithstanding his seven-year record of lies about policy objectives and extensive appeasement of Islamic supremacists.
We should thus be under no illusions about the charge against Trump. His offense is not that he failed to correct the record. It is that he failed to parrot, with due indignation, the Obama-decreed, political class-certified response, to wit: "These allegations are completely baseless and anyone who utters them should be exiled from polite society."
I believe it would have been better had Trump tried to correct the record. Because the record is complicated and Obama is not going to be on the ballot, it is unlikely a candidate would devote the time needed to sort it out during a campaign event. But something along the following lines would be a lot more accurate than what Trump’s rivals and the media are suggesting...
Sir, your anger and confusion are understandable. After all, when four American officials are brutally killed by violent jihadists, you’d expect the commander-in-chief to condemn radical Islam, not proclaim from a United Nations podium that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
And when America’s most openly committed enemy is the jihadist regime in Iran, you’d expect our president to confront that regime and its Islamic supremacist ideology with steely resolve, not concede it a right to enrich uranium, drop sanctions against its weapons programs, and give it over $100 billion that we know it will use to underwrite jihadist terror.
Barack Obama’s place of birth has been the subject of controversy. Much of this was unnecessary, but some confusion is understandable. Not only was Obama’s father a Kenyan national; it turns out that it was Obama’s own literary agent who first peddled the claim that the president was born in Kenya. That claim is part of a pattern of Obama’s distortion of the truth when it suits his purposes -- the purpose back in 1991, when he was unknown, was to portray him as an intriguing, exotic figure as he sought a contract for an autobiographical book.
Later, this same claim that Obama was born in Kenya was circulated by the failed 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign, and it has since been pursued by some of Obama’s political opponents.
You should know, though, that a Hawaiian birth record and several credible contemporaneous accounts indicate that the president was born in Honolulu on August 4, 1961. He is an American citizen by birthright.
Questions about Obama’s citizenship also fester -- understandably but, again, unnecessarily -- because Obama spent much of his early childhood in Indonesia. There is significant evidence that, at least by operation of Indonesian law, he may have become an Indonesian national. But even if this were true, it would have no effect on Obama’s status as an American citizen. U.S. law does not force people with multiple nationalities to choose one, nor does it penalize American children with the loss of their citizenship just because the law of another country qualifies them for citizenship in that country.
The president is not a Muslim, but, again, it is understandable that you might think otherwise.
See, President Obama often lectures Americans about what he sees as the greatness of Islam and its legal code, sharia.
Many Americans see sharia as a totalitarian system that has disturbing elements of supremacism, aggression, misogyny, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and hostility to liberties we cherish -- like freedom of speech and of conscience.
But President Obama maintains that it is a venerable system deserving of our highest respect.
What’s sharia got to do with this? Well, under a mainstream interpretation of Islamic law, President Obama would be considered to be a Muslim.
Islamic law holds that a child’s faith is deemed to be Islam if his father is a Muslim, regardless of the faith of his mother. The president’s father and stepfather were Muslims. This is why some Muslims, especially outside the United States, consider the president to be a Muslim. It is why, for example, the late Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator who was a Muslim, publicly referred to Obama as a Muslim.
Some guy named McCarthy wrote a book a few years ago called The Grand Jihad that traced Obama’s background and deep ties to Islam. You can also learn about it from a very thorough article, “Obama’s Muslim Childhood,” written by the highly regarded scholar Daniel Pipes.
The president’s paternal grandfather, Onyango Obama, a respected tribal elder in Kenya, converted to Islam from Christianity. In fact, he explained to people in his family that Christianity was filled with “foolish sentiment, something to comfort women.” To his mind, it compared poorly to the “strength” and “discipline” he found in Islam. To emphasize his conversion to Islam, Onyango Obama took the distinctively Muslim name, Hussein -- the name of the prophet Mohammed’s grandson, a very significant figure in Islamic history. Onyango raised his children as Muslims, including his son, Barack Obama, Sr., the president’s father. Barack Sr. and, later, Barack Jr. were given the same Muslim middle name, Hussein.
Barack Sr. was a minor Kenyan government official who was educated in the U.S. While studying in Hawaii, he met the president’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.
The president insists that his father, whom he barely knew, was an atheist. Yet, Barack Sr. was born a Muslim and died a Muslim -- in 1982, the family members in Kenya who knew him best made sure that he was given Islamic burial rites.
When Barack Jr. was still a toddler, his mother and Barack Sr. divorced. Soon after, his mother married Lolo Soetoro Mangunharjo, another Muslim foreign student studying in the U.S. Lolo Soetoro was an Indonesian oil company executive and liaison to the Suharto government. The marriage is the reason our future president moved to Indonesia when he was five. He lived there until he was about ten with his mother, Soetoro, and eventually his stepsister Maya Soetoro-Ng (who was born in 1970, shortly before Obama returned to Hawaii to live with their maternal grandparents).
Under Indonesian law at the time, if a child was adopted before the age of six by an Indonesian male, he qualified for Indonesian citizenship. The evidence suggests that Lolo Soetoro adopted Barack Jr. The child became known as Barry Soetoro, and when Soetoro and Ann Dunham divorced in 1980, they referred to our future president (who was then 19) as their child in a court filing.
Suharto’s Indonesia was a police state. The public schools, which Barry Soetoro attended, were generally reserved for Indonesians. Students were required to carry identity cards that matched their student registration information. School records identified Barry Soetoro as an Indonesian.
The also identify him as a Muslim. Obama/Soetoro took Koranic study classes in school, and the custom was that Muslim students were assigned to Koranic studies while Christian students were assigned to Christian studies. Obama/Soetoro also attended a Catholic school, the records of which identify him as both an Indonesian and a Muslim, in addition to acknowledging his birth in Honolulu.
Lolo Soetoro was a practicing Muslim. It must be noted in this regard that the practice of Islam in much of Indonesia (especially in the 1960s) has tended to be more moderate than in the Middle East. Soetoro often attended mosque on Fridays, the Muslim Sabbath, and young Barry occasionally accompanied him. Media accounts based on interviews with childhood acquaintances indicate that Barry was observant and wore a sarong (only worn by Muslims in Indonesian culture). One former teacher claimed that Barry took part in advanced Islamic religious classes, studying “mengaji” -- i.e., the effort to recite the Koran in Arabic.
Of course, even if these accounts are true -- and we are not in a position to verify them -- we must remember that Obama was not even a teenager yet at the time. Again, when he was about ten, he left Indonesia to live with maternal grandparents, who were Unitarian Christians and skeptical about organized religion.
We do know that when the New York Times reported on Obama’s background during the 2008 campaign, his stepsister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, recalled, “My whole family was Muslim, and most of the people I knew were Muslim.”
We also know that in 2007, then-Senator Obama told the Times’ Nicholas Kristof that the muezzin’s Arabic call to prayer was “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset.” Kristof marveled at the “first-rate accent” with which Obama was able to repeat its opening lines.
The evidence of Barack Obama’s personal ties to Islam are so extensive that his first presidential campaign felt compelled to change its story about them. In early 2007, Obama’s then-political director Robert Gibbs (who later became White House press secretary) asserted, “Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago.” But within just a few weeks, Gibbs backtracked, changing his formulation to “Obama has never been a practicing Muslim.”
This implicit concession that Obama may have been a non-observant Muslim was overstated: As we’ve seen, there is evidence that Obama was an observant Muslim -- although, it must be stressed, the evidence comes from when he was a child; there is no evidence of observance in an adult capacity that anyone could credibly call a choice. Gibbs’ concession was also arguably beside the point: At least as far as classical Islam is concerned, it is not practice that makes one a Muslim; it is a status question involving whether one has been born into Islam or has ever affirmed its fundamental tenets that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.
Sharia forbids the renunciation of Islam, so the lack of practice, while sinful, is not disqualifying.
It is ironic that, while President Obama is effusive in his praise for Islam and its legal system, it is sharia’s detractors who emphatically reject the claim that Obama is a Muslim.
They point out that, here in America, we cherish freedom of religion -- we reject sharia’s harsh dictate that apostasy from Islam is a grievous sin worthy of the death penalty. It thus makes no difference, these sharia critics say, that Islamic law may consider Obama a Muslim by birth, or that he may have been raised as a Muslim for a few years in his childhood. There is no indication that Obama has ever affirmed Islam as an adult, and he says that he is a Christian. Therefore he is a Christian. Period.
It is a shame that the media and the political class cannot allow this background to be discussed without slandering those who believe the president’s extensive and complex personal ties to Islam are worthy of our consideration.
President Obama’s policies have been excessively deferential to anti-American Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and hostile regimes like Iran. He has pressured the executive branch, including the intelligence community and law enforcement, to whitewash the connection between Islamic scripture, Islamic supremacist ideology, and violent jihadism.
He has falsely blamed anti-Islamic bigotry for terrorist atrocities against the United States, and he has joined Islamist governments in trying to make it illegal to engage in speech critical of Islam -- notwithstanding that, as president, it is his duty to uphold First Amendment free expression.
Obviously, it is important that we try to understand what motivates our president to take these harmful positions. It defies common sense to believe his undeniable ties to Islam have nothing to do with it.