a fellow citizen of the world


“In Berlin, Obama made exactly one point with which it was possible to disagree.” According to David Brooks, it was not this one:

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
    We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.
    So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

Thanks, but no thanks. Touting fellow citizenship of the world is this century’s ladylike complement in stupidity to Woodrow Wilson’s fatal fixation on self-determination as an imperative principle of national action, the principle indispensably and preponderantly responsible for incessant warfare tearing apart the Old World throughout the past century. Today, we Americans could scarcely do worse than forswear our tribal loyalty to the founding documents that circumscribe the walls of our nation. We owe no duty of citizenship to those unwilling or unable to abide by our mandate. On the contrary, to affirm such duty is to undermine the compact that created this nation and continues to maintain it to this day. Our nation is unique in being held together by nothing but its founding principle. It has welcomed the worthiest and the worst off at the cost of renouncing all prior allegiances. It cannot stand without sustaining the boundaries defined by this renunciation. Nor can it go forth tearing down the boundaries between hidebound races, fanatical faiths, and complacent cultures.

On 20 November 1858, while supporting himself as a surveyor, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal: “Who are bad neighbors? They who suffer their neighbors’ cattle to go at large because they don’t want their ill will,—are afraid to anger them. They are abettors of the ill-doers.” Obama’s alignment with cosmopolitan clastics recalls the prophet of neighborly love, said to have united Jews and gentiles by breaking down the middle wall of partition between them. But the world that defines its commons by disparate commitments to creeds and traditions, must be served by policies that embody bullish insularity of Thoreau, not by fantasies that abet the ill-doers through capturing ovine inclusiveness of Jesus. And that is the neighborly policy that America perpetually renews in virtue of her Constitution, with each turn at mending walls refusing the sufferance of our neighbors’ cattle going at large. And our best foreign policy would commit to a like mending by all neighbors, everywhere in the world.

hymietown complot

The principal sources for the New Yorker cartoon of the Obamas on the cover of its 21 July 2008 issue are Christopher Hitchens’ dissection of Michelle Obama’s endorsement of Black Power and Daniel Pipes’ analysis of Barack Hussein Obama as an apostate Muslim. Hitchens twits the would-be First Lady for acknowledging, in her Princeton undergraduate thesis, her guidance by the definition of black “separationism” offered by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton in their 1967 opus, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. In his turn, Pipes reprimands her putative lord and master for dissembling about having been born a Muslim and having had a Muslim upbringing.


    Mixed messages are the most effective vehicle for political defamation. According to its editor David Remnick, the New Yorker’s cover image is “not a satire about Obama — it’s a satire about the distortions and misconceptions and prejudices about Obama”:

Obviously I wouldn’t have run a cover just to get attention — I ran the cover because I thought it had something to say. What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama’s — both Obamas’ — past, and their politics. I can’t speak for anyone else’s interpretations, all I can say is that it combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama’s supposed “lack of patriotism” or his being “soft on terrorism” or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the Oval Office.
    The idea that we would publish a cover saying these things literally, I think, is just not in the vocabulary of what we do and who we are… We’ve run many many satirical political covers. Ask the Bush administration how many.

To be sure, the slide show of past political covers by New Yorker illustrator Barry Blitt accords the pride of place to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney amid luminaries ranging from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Martin Luther King, Jr. But it is preposterous to propose that the limitations of the speaker’s vocabulary should constrain the public implications of his speech. We have no control over the “aboutness” of words blowing in the wind. And the Obamas’ fusion of multicultural roots and separationist ambitions is due to receive more than its share of scrutiny in an election year as marked by suspicions of race and religion as it is inflected by imperatives of culture and politics, when their presumptive adversary already has been exposed as a deranged victim of three slant-eyed screws — a simian, a shrew, and a spook:


    How to combat these noisome slurs? Jesse Jackson was not far off the mark in wishing an orchiectomy upon Barack Obama. The wellspring of his difficulties is but a few inches away. It’s all about the Jews. David Remnick is one. Daniel Pipes is another. Even Christopher Hitchens, despite his name bearing our Lord on the inside, despite his hand officiating an inward baptism with a tumbler of whisky, aligns himself with the Chosen People. As a bonus, Jann Wenner, the skalawag responsible for racialist scapegoating of Senator McCain, is a Jewish homosexual.
    Only one escape is left to Obama. It is spelled out by another woman of color, Zadie Smith, in an even smugger organ of Hymietown booboisie, reassuring the kosher compatriots of Gregor Samsa: “We’re all insects, all Ungeziefer, now.” Clearly, his attempt to brand himself as a life-long Christian has backfired. He couldn’t do any worse rebranding himself as the second coming of the Jewish Negro, namely Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior. The writing is on the wall: in March 2008, 1% of registered voters believed that Barack Obama was Jewish. The least Barack would get out of repudiating Michelle’s separationism for the sake of embracing Zadie’s incorporationism to realign himself with subhuman vermin, is a better class of punani: