After hearing some of my friends repeating the rumor that Barack Obama had a Muslim upbringing which he has concealed, I checked and found it was flatly untrue. But that was several months ago. Only recently did I discover a fact that puts an ironic twist on the whole matter: the man who initiated the rumor, designed to make Obama look frightening to Jews, is himself a rabid anti-Semite.
The Washington Post traces the rumor to a 2004 article by Andy Martin, a politician who had run that year for the same Senate seat Obama ultimately won. The article wasn't as extreme as some of the later forms the rumor took--Martin didn't attempt to tie Obama to "radical" Islam, and he acknowledged that Obama was currently a practicing Christian--but it was the beginning. Nobody knows who started the anonymous chain emails, but Martin does take credit for being the first to argue publicly that Obama was raised Muslim.
As Wikipedia reveals, Martin is quite a character. (What's printed on Wikipedia is not necessarily accurate, but in this case it provides a range of credible sources, including official court transcripts.) Numerous federal and state courts have dubbed him a "vexatious litigant" due to his having filed hundreds of mostly frivolous lawsuits. He was denied a license to practice law in the state of Illinois because of his unprofessional behavior on various occasions. But I haven't gotten to the most interesting part. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune (reprinted on an Illinois Republican Party website):
In his past, Martin also has expressed anti-Semitic views. When he ran for Congress in Connecticut in 1986, the name of his congressional campaign committee included the phrase "to exterminate Jew power in America," Federal Election Commission records show.Though he denies having made those remarks, despite what the public records show, he is still pretty open about his views on Israel. A columnist for a Florida newspaper summed it up (the embedded links are my own, pointing to more recent articles where Martin said these or similar things):
In a 1983 personal bankruptcy case, he referred to a federal bankruptcy judge as a "crooked, slimy Jew, who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race." In a related court filing in the case, he also expressed sympathy to the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
While he touts a two-state solution for the Middle East in his "Andy Martin Peace Plan," says he's close to the peace movement in Israel, and has proposed increased compensation for Holocaust victims, the candidate also called for the Bush administration to attack Israel instead of Iraq. He has compared Ariel Sharon to Adolf Hitler and has written in defense of Hamas suicide bombers.Here are some highlights from his rambling 1983 affidavit which makes Mel Gibson's drunken rant seem mild by comparison. (I got the text from Justia.com, a legal site with thousands of court records.)
Although I was not a Jew hater when these cases began, any love for the Jews I may have had has been dissipated by barbaric tortures inflicted on me by the Jews. I can see now that anti-semitism has a real root in the ageless manipulation, chicanery and murder by the Jews.... Jews killed the son of God, and seek to deny the fact, and seek to murder and loot and steal from anyone who opposes their efforts at world domination.... I do not believe I can receive Justice from a pack of Jew thives [sic], judges and lawyers.... "Judge" Krechevsky is not neutral or detached. He is part of a Jew conspiracy to steal my property.... I am able to understand how the Holocaust took place, and with every passing day feel less and less sorry that it did, when Jew survivors are operating as a wolf pack to steal my property.There's something sadly ironic about the fact that Jews concerned about Obama's relationship with the Jewish community have accepted the words of a real anti-Semite. It may seem strange that he would appeal to a fear of anti-Semitism. My guess is that he enjoys manipulating what he perceives as Jewish power. What's sad is how many of us have taken the bait.