Let's step back. I watched Obama's breathtaking speech at the '04 National Democratic Convention, and like any of the millions of patriotic Americans who watched with me, I was enthralled by the combination of words, the force of delivery, the charm and charisma of this man from Illinois. But one cannot help but wonder, how far this packaged idealism will fly in a world of hidden bombs and brutal treachery, particularly since this article doesn't answer any of the tough questions it only hints at asking. Is it possible that Obama can stride into the White House and become the new Lincoln? It's possible, but so far I haven't seen or heard much since that speech at the Convention to warrant such sketch of wishful thinking.
This article answers none of the questions that have been floating about, including the one about the racist attitudes of the Chicago-based church of which he is a prominent member. The Chicago Sun-Times reports on this matter here. Are Obama's ties to Islam equally entrenched in shadows and undergirded by secrets? It is easy to doubt that these things can be true. But surely, it is better to know that they are false.
In his speeches and often on the Internet, the part of Sen. Barack Obama's biography that gets the most attention is not his race but his connections to the Muslim world. Since declaring his candidacy for president in February, Obama, a member of a congregation of the United Church of Christ in Chicago, has had to address assertions that he is a Muslim or that he had received training in Islam in Indonesia, where he lived from ages 6 to 10. While his father was an atheist and his mother did not practice religion, Obama's stepfather did occasionally attend services at a mosque there.
Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.
In campaign appearances, Obama regularly mentions his time living and attending school in Indonesia, and the fact that his paternal grandfather, a Kenyan farmer, was a Muslim. Obama invokes these facts as part of his case that he is prepared to handle foreign policy, despite having been in the Senate for only three years, and that he would literally bring a new face to parts of the world where the United States is not popular.
The son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, Obama was born and spent much of his childhood in Hawaii, and he talks more about his multicultural background than he does about the possibility of being the first African American president, in marked contrast to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who mentions in most of her stump speeches the prospect of her becoming the first woman to serve as president.
"A lot of my knowledge about foreign affairs is not what I just studied in school. It's actually having the knowledge of how ordinary people in these other countries live," he said earlier this month in Clarion, Iowa.
"The day I'm inaugurated, I think this country looks at itself differently, but the world also looks at America differently," he told another Iowa crowd. "Because I've got a grandmother who lives in a little village in Africa without running water or electricity; because I grew up for part of my formative years in Southeast Asia in the largest Muslim country on Earth."
Read it all here.