Man questions whether Obama is Anglo-Saxon

August 2, 2008



By Tony Walther

You can’t have the first black candidate for president who has the potential for actually getting elected without someone just coming out and saying it.

The undercurrent is that he can’t get elected because he’s black. But few want to say that in public, I suppose. It has been mentioned, though, and certainly implied.

But a man on the street, as it were, in some town in Kentucky on CNN registered his suspicions about Barack Obama. The piece was really about the fact that there are still a lot of people who seriously think that he is a Muslim, either outright, or a closet Muslim, I guess. He’s been going to a Christian church for at least 20 years and there is no evidence unearthed yet, that I am aware of, that he has ever been a practicing Muslim (yes his father had some connection with Islam and Obama did attend a Muslim-run school for a time that did not require its pupils to be Muslim).

But this one man said that with a name like “Obama”, well, “it doesn’t sound Anglo-Saxon to me.” Gee ya think? Or think not?

First of all, Mr. Obama is quite visibly black (actually half by parenthood). So no, I guess he probably would not be considered Anglo-Saxon, although, come to think of it, I don’t know the heritage of his mother for sure. But a quick check on the web tells me her maiden name was Dunham and that Dunham is an Anglo-Saxon name (for whatever that is worth).

And to refresh our collected memories, Anglo-Saxons are people in Britain descended from three Germanic tribes: Angles, Saxons, Jutes (I suppose Anglo-Saxon-Jute, isn’t quite as catchy).

But for crying out loud, a lot of us white folks are not Anglo-Saxon, or at least not strictly so. Last time I checked, being Anglo-Saxon was not a constitutional requirement for being president of the United States (a defacto one maybe).

And, since the questioning was really about whether Obama is a Muslim, maybe the gentleman was implying that you have to be Anglo-Saxon to be a Christian. But although I’m not a Biblical authority, I don’t think Jesus was Anglo-Saxon.

That’s what struck me odd about the man’s reaction and the story.

But the story, as I already mentioned, was really about the fact that the continuing internet buzz has got a lot of folks convinced that Obama is at least a secret Muslim.

Back to that gentleman. It probably almost seemed more politically correct for him, in his mind, to question whether Obama was a Muslim, than to suggest that the real problem was the color of his skin.

Now, having said all that, I have to admit, I would question whether Americans would want to vote for a Muslim, what with all that has gone on in radical Muslim terrorism these past many years.

And, I also am aware that despite the fact that we supposedly have freedom of religion and that politics and religion are supposed to be separate under our constitution, the truth of it is that in this day and age being a Christian, if only nominally (Reagan comes to mind), is a defacto requirement when running for office, particularly president.

Now some who read this will conclude that I am promoting Obama for president and that I am coming to his defense.

No, I’m and neither promoting him nor writing against him.

It does seem, though, that if that CNN piece is representative at all of how many folks feel around the nation (almost everyone interviewed, and there were several, opined that Obama was really a Muslim outright or incognito) then he really is in danger of losing the race for president due to what has become known as the “Bradley effect” (after Black man Tom Bradley who was polled as the likely winner for governor of California back in the 80s, but lost, supposedly as the result of white voters not wanting to admit they couldn’t force themselves to vote of a Black).

Surprising to me, I understand Obama did not get a bump in the polls for all of his overseas ballyhoo.

And I keep seeing that the polls continue to be close between him and John McCain. I did read one poll on Huffington Post recently that suggested that Obama was ahead in the major electoral vote states where the race will be actually won or lost, but now I’m seeing that the polls are actually close in the electoral vote thing.

We are often reminded that the only poll that counts is the one taken on election day.

The polls were not terribly accurate during the primary, and I am beginning to think that the election day poll might just be the only meaningful one.

We certainly need to know all we can about a candidate’s personal background. We also need to know precisely where he or she stands on the important issues: the economy, the energy crisis, war and peace.

Of course the candidates always tell us they are for all things good and against all things bad. That’s politics.

Sorting through the information and the messages to glean the truth is the work a responsible voter faces.


As I might put it if I was on a Seinfeld episode: I was born in a Catholic hospital, but I am not Catholic, not that there’s anything wrong with that.