Unriddling the Radical Worldview of President Obama - Part 2


After leaving Chicago in 1948, Davis moved to Hawaii and to a position as a columnist for the Honolulu Record, published by the Communist-controlled International Longshore and Warehouse Union. It was there in Hawaii that he befriended Stanley Dunham and his grandson, Barack Obama.

The introduction of 9-year-old Barack Obama to 65-year-old Frank Marshall Davis in 1970 was witnessed by neighbor Dawna Weatherly-Williams. She told the London Telegraph that this introduction was arranged by Obama’s grandfather, who was seeking a black male role model for his grandson.

Obama’s maternal half-sister elaborated further, saying her grandfather saw Frank Davis as “a point of connection, a bridge if you will, to the larger African-American experience for my brother.”

Over the decade following this meeting, Davis and the young Obama met many times, often for hours at a time and late into the night. In Dreams From My Father, Obama recounts how Davis offered him advice on several life-altering issues: on race, on women, on college and on society in general.

In one section of the book, Obama recounts going to Davis for advice after his white grandmother came home frightened by a black man who asked her for money. Davis told Obama that his grandmother had a reason for her fear. “Your grandma’s right to be scared,” Davis said. “She understands that black people have a reason to hate. That’s just how it is. For your sake, I wish it were otherwise, but it’s not. So you might as well get used to it.” It wasn’t a message of racial reconciliation, but one of rage-driven class struggle. That notion comes straight from the pages of the Communist Manifesto.

In another section of Dreams From My Father, Obama recounts advice Davis gave him as he was about to leave Hawaii for Occidental College. “Understand something, boy,” Davis told the young Obama. “You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained. … They’ll train you to forget what it is that you already know. They’ll train you so good, you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that expletive.”

Mr. Obama’s record of his time at Occidental College shows that he took that radical advice very much to heart.

Occidental College

Relatively little is known of President Obama’s college years besides what he records in his own memoirs. Even these memoirs, however, are strikingly revealing of just how radically left-wing his worldview was at this point in his life.

“To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully,” he wrote in Dreams From My Father. “The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints.”

According to Dr. John C. Drew, a political scientist who knew Obama at Occidental, America’s current president also attended a few meetings of the Democratic Socialist Alliance during those years. This group was a student Marxist-socialist fellowship founded by Drew in 1976.

In a radio interview with Dr. Paul Kengor on the Glen Meakem Program, Drew explained that his girlfriend at the time, Caroline Boss, introduced the 19-year-old Barack Obama to him as a fellow Marxist in 1980. By this time in his life, Drew had abandoned the violent, revolutionary style of Marxist-Leninism in favor of a more gradualist approach espoused by Herbert Marcuse. So, he noted his surprise that Obama was predicting a people’s revolution.

Although Drew later repudiated Marxism entirely, he still sees himself as a sort of “missing link” between Barack Obama’s exposure to communism with Frank Marshall Davis and his later exposure to other more subtle forms of radical leftism in Chicago: “I felt like I was doing Obama a favor by pointing out that the Marxist revolution that he and Caroline and Chandoo were hoping for was really kind of a pipe dream, and that there was nothing in European history or the history of developed nations that would make that sort of fantasy—you know, Frank Marshall Davis fantasy of revolution—come true” (Oct. 16, 2010).

Whether or not Dr. John Drew had any actual impact on Obama’s worldview, it is evident that the Marxist sympathies of Mr. Obama’s youth eventually did give way to more deceptive forms of far-left ideology.

Alinskyite Connections

In Dreams From My Father, Mr. Obama identified Marty Kaufman as a key influence. According to Obama, Kaufman was responsible for hiring him to work as a community organizer in the Developing Communities Project in Chicago. While he definitely did work as a community organizer in Chicago for a number of years, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times has identified his boss during these years as Jerry Kellman. So, in similar fashion to how he referred to Frank Marshall Davis simply as Frank, Obama referred to Kellman as Kaufman to obscure his identity.

Jerry Kellman was educated in community organizing at a school run by the infamous socialist community organizer Saul Alinsky and drew a lot of inspiration from Alinsky’s methods.

Alinsky, regarded as the father of community organizing, is famous for his book Rules for Radicals, which he shockingly dedicated to Lucifer as the “first radical” to rebel against the establishment and win his own kingdom.

Although Alinsky dedicated his life to the cause of income redistribution and sympathized with Marxist activists, he never joined the Communist Party. By his own account, he was too independent to accept any form of absolute truth, Christian or Communist. Rather he believed that a leftist should have the moral flexibility to engage in whatever Machiavellian means necessary to achieve his goals.

Sometimes referred to as the Lenin of the post-Communist left, Alinsky harshly criticized the ’60s New Left movement for its flag burning, Maoist slogans and hippie style. Instead, he recommended that far-left student activists should cut their hair, put on a suit, and infiltrate the system from within. “If the real radical finds that having long hair sets up psychological barriers to communication and organization, he cuts his hair,” he writes in Rules for Radicals. “As an organizer, I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. … That means working in the system.”

Perhaps Kellman’s connection with Alinsky’s school is why Obama chose to give him an alias in Dreams From My Father. Regardless, his years working for the Developing Communities Project introduced Obama not only to Alinskyite tactics of community organizing, but also to several other radical-left personalities.

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