Move over, Pastor Terry Jones. Conservative stalwarts Newt Gingrich and Dinesh D’Souza have knocked you out of the headlines with a stunning new assault on the president’s beliefs. Oh, the media blitz that followed! The angry White House reaction, the publicity!
In case you hadn’t heard, D’Souza wrote a piece about the president in Forbes magazine. “Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s,” he wrote. “This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son.”
Gingrich swooned. “Stunning,” he said. “The most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.” And “what if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]? That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”
Kenyan behavior? With that barely disguised racist allusion, they are painting Obama as “the other,” not like you and me.
These two Republican stalwarts just can’t allow Barack Obama to be a real Christian.
Twice before, conservatives have alluded to Obama’s religion in making attacks with racial overtones. D’Souza and Gingrich have done it this time too.
Remember how Obama’s opponents pounced on the Reverend Jeremiah Wright for being anti-American? If Wright was, then so must be his parishioner. Not only that, but he was a liberation theologian. (As if most people knew what that meant.) Horrors! How could you be a “normal” Christian if you were a liberation theologian?
The constant drumbeat of the president being “the other” has only gotten louder. Maybe he wasn’t a Christian after all, they said. Maybe he was a Muslim. They latched onto that one until they had 20% of the country believing he was. It reached a crescendo over the Ground Zero mosque debate. When Obama proclaimed that this was a country founded on the basis of religious freedom and that those who wanted to build a church, a synagogue or a mosque should have the right to do so, that did it. He was branded a Muslim, and yes, sadly, there were many Americans who did think there was something wrong with that.
The president finds himself time and time again in the unacceptable situation of trying to prove that he is a Christian without making it look as if he thinks there is something wrong with not being one.
But the attacks on Obama weren’t sticking enough: Glenn Beck tried the liberation theology smear on Obama around the time of his rally a few weeks ago and nobody really got it. The president’s detractors had to come up with something better than that. And they did.
Luo tribesman! That could work. First Obama wasn’t a “normal” Christian, then he was a liberation theologian, then a Muslim. What’s even worse than those? An animist.
Among Luo animists religion is extremely powerful. They believe in witches, sorcerers, medicine men and diviners. Their social life is proscribed by their rituals, taboos and rites. They sacrifice animals on special occasions and spit toward the sunrise and sunset. The most important of their beliefs is the worship of ancestral spirits. Those ancestors are said to wield enormous power over the living for generations to come.
D’Souza didn’t mention animism, but he implied it: “The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.” Somebody’s bound to pick up on the animism thing.
The most interesting thing about what Gingrich has to say is this: “I think he (Obama) worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating – none of which was true.”
This is what the shrinks would call “projecting.” Gingrich is projecting what he believes about himself onto the president. Gingrich, a known philanderer himself, recently converted to Catholicism and calls himself a Christian. If he says so, I’ll have to take him at his word. But to impugn the religious beliefs of others, whether liberation theologians, Muslims or Luo animist tribesmen is not exactly what you would consider following the teachings of Christ.
Gingrich, whose political ambitions are always lurking in the shadows, said the president “was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve. He was inherently dishonest.”