Friday, 25 April 2008

Oprah, please change your mind

An Open Letter To Oprah Winfrey

Subject: Please reconsider your endorsement of Barack Obama

Dear Oprah:

I note that you have publicly endorsed Senator Obama for the Democratic party’s presidential nominee. I am writing this letter to present some facts to you – facts that you may or may not already know, regarding a substantial number of ‘undesirable’ associations the senator has in his background. If you are already aware of them, perhaps you have not ‘connected the dots’ to see how, all together, they point to a person who falls well short of the profile of wisdom, integrity, unifier that we all want to see in our US President.

Where does one start? I suppose starting with Pastor Wright makes sense, since that is the association we have recently heard the most of. Just two short months ago, when questioned about his ties to Islam, Obama told us all that he was a committed Christian, that he attended church regularly, and that his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was his close confidant and mentor, the man to whom he referred all major decisions. Then, about a month ago the nation learned about Pastor Wright’separatist preaching, his 'damning' of this country (a country that gives him the freedom of speech to even speak those treacherous words), his honouring of Louis Farrakhan, head of Nation of Islam, and his reproduction of the Hamas Manifesto in the church magazine. In swift manner this trusted friend/mentor was de-escalated to doddering old uncle whose mumblings were just that – mumblings.
Well, both these scenarios can’t be true, can they? One is a lie; and whichever one is the lie, the fact remains that Mr. Obama has played ‘fast and loose’ with his faith – whatever that is. And he has dishonoured the man who is supposed to be his spiritual mentor. We Americans cherish our freedom to follow the faith of our choice – be it Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Baha’i, etc. To many, seeing a man treat pastor/priest/rabbi/spiritual leader with such disrespect must surely raise questions about that man’s sincerity – or the value of his words.

I won’t go into as much detail regarding the others in Obama’s ‘undesirable’ list, but will mention briefly some other of his associations: for instance, his direct association with Louis Farrakhan when he helped him organize the first Million Man March. That March was strongly criticized for emphasis on religious aspects, which is not surprising, with Farrakhan being head of the Nation Of Islam - a group that is distinctly Muslim, separatist, divisive. But that doesn’t especially clarify Obama’s stated position as desiring to be a unifier of the country.

Then there is Tony Rezko - a strong Obama supporter who hosted a fund-raiser for Obama in a previous campaign. At roughly the same time as the fund-raiser, Rezko was under investigation for money laundering, extortion, bribery and wire fraud – charges for which he has since been indicted. He (Rezko) also has links with Nadhmi Auchi, who was closely linked to Saddam Hussein, and a financial transaction between Rezko and Auchi took place just a few days before Rezko and the Obama’s bought adjoining property. That, perhaps, may just have been a matter of ‘unfortunate timing’. But I would really think that an individual with political aspirations (that is, Barack Obama) would be more circumspect in deciding with whom to associate and with whom to do business.

Then there's Rashid Khalidi, another fundraiser for the Senator, who had previously been a director of the official PLO press agency WAFA in Beirut - an organization labelled as a territorist group - from 1976 to 1982. More recently, Khalidi has headed up a Palestinian organization in Chicago that refers to the founding of Israel – a US ally - as "Nakba" or "catastrophe".

And on to Edward Said - adviser to Arafat. A photo at the Electronic Intifada website shows Mr. and Mrs. Obama at Said’s table during a fund-raiser for Arafat. The accompanying article at the EI site is interesting for its criticism of Obama – accusing him of a shift of allegiances. It seems that, prior to entering politics at a national level, BHO was strongly committed to the Palestinian cause. Once he entered national politics, though, he has dropped them because, according to EI, it is more ‘political’ in the US to be seen as supporting Israel. Well, here’s another turn-around, isn’t it? Does it make you wonder how trust-worthy the man’s word is?

I’ll finish now by discussing a connection that has emerged only recently. On his trip to Kenya in 2004, Barack Obama developed quite a close relation with the then opposition politician Raila Odinga – a member of the same Luo tribe as Barack’s father. The relation was so tight that it caused the then incumbent Kenyan Prime Minister to dub Barack as ‘Odinga’s stooge.’ During the period leading up to the recent election there, Obama kept in close touch with his fellow-tribesman, encouraging his campaign. What followed the election was disastrous. I’m sure you are aware of the civil unrest and killings that occurred because of disputed election results – civil unrest and killings (including the murder of 200 Christians who had sheltered in a church) that was carried out by followers of Obama's buddy, Odinga. Throughout that whole period of unrest and massacre, we do not hear that Odinga said or did anything to try to restore the peace or stop the killings. Nor do we hear Obama – himself an influential person - say anything that might diffuse the situation. So, I ask you, Oprah – what can you tell me about the senator’s priorities? His integrity? His allegiances?

Oh, I almost forgot to include William C. Ayers, a member of the Weathermen terrorist group which sought to overthrow the U.S. government in the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, and who took responsibility for bombing the U.S. Capitol in 1971. Obama and Ayers served together on the Wood's Fund board of which Obama was a (paid) director from 1999 until the end of 2002. Yet another example of keeping questionable company.

These are the connections that I know about and have researched. There may be others, or this may be the complete list. But, let’s take a tally of the list as is. It comprises people who have acted in ways that are: un-American (Wright), and/or divisive (Farrakhan), and/or illegal (Rezko), and/or specifically anti-American (Ayers) and/or specifically inhumane (Odinga) and/or supportive of terrorism in the Middle East (Khalidi, Said). That makes for quite a list of 'friends' that most Americans would consider to be on the wrong side of the fence.

So did Obama know what these people were up to? Or didn’t he? If he didn’t know, then this list speaks of naivete; and if that is the case, then we must ask ourselves if, as a nation, we can afford to have such a naïf person in the Oval Office? I think the vast majority of Americans would give a ‘No’ answer to that.

Or was the senator well aware of the involvements of these several associates? We know that the Obama camp’s typical response when presented with any of these connections is to decry ‘guilt by association’. However, if we are to take off the rose-colored glasses through which so many have been viewing the man, and speak realistically, our common sense should warn us against putting our trust in any man with so many ‘undesirable’ connections – no matter how glowing his rhetoric may be. (It is in fact possible that glowing rhetoric is really the work of a gifted – and paid - speech writer rather than the words of the one who delivers the speech.) And, if Obama had been aware of their involvements, what does that say about the man’s integrity? What does it say about his true interests? About his true vision of ‘change’ for America?

Oprah, I encourage you to please consider these facts. After consideration I’m sure you will agree there is a lack of character, openness and integrity in the man that makes him an undesirable candidate for President. And then, based on that agreement, I hope you will retract your endorsement of the junior senator from Illinois.

Your opinion on any subject is very influential in America, Oprah – but you already know that. Please do not use that influence to assist a man of such questionable judgment to attain the position of presidential nominee, and certainly not the position of President.

Sincerely yours,
the reality checker - because someone has to do it

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