The Video and The President

Obama Time CoverRecently a friend sent me a plea to pray for President Obama.  Attached to that plea was a link to a YouTube video that tries to prove how unpatriotic and dangerous the President is.  Below is my response to her.

. . . this video is a major piece of propaganda.  The editing in it isn’t even clever.  You can take sound bites from almost anyone, string them together and make them say what you want them to.  So much of what is said in here isn’t controversial if you know the context, but the editing makes it controversial.  The words that introduce each section set the viewer up to believe what the editor wants you to believe.  Case in point—Obama dresses as a Muslim followed by footage of him in traditional African clothes.  They are not traditional Muslim clothes, they are traditional African clothes.  His heritage is half African.  If his heritage were Scottish and he was wearing a kilt no one would think twice about it.

As for loving the sound of the Muslim call to worship—he spent a significant part of his formative years in Indonesia, the largest (by population) Muslim nation in the world.  I’d almost bet that when he hears a call to worship, it reminds him of his childhood.  As for the whole deal on bowing to a Muslim ruler . . . he was being culturally appropriate in how he greeted a ruler in that ruler’s nation.  Why didn’t he shake hands with Queen Elizabeth the same way?  It wasn’t culturally appropriate for her.

He visited a mosque.  Big deal. I’ve visited mosques.  I’ve visited cathedrals.  That makes me neither Muslim nor Catholic.  He points out all the contributions Muslims have made to math, science, and literature over the centuries.  So what?  Atheists, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians have also made contributions in those areas.  We don’t seem threatened by that.

He points out that the US is no longer a christian nation.  We aren’t.  Our foundation is still based on christian principles, but to call ourselves a christian nation either insults God or waters down Christianity.  The sheer geographical size of our nation and its general welcome of all people regardless of color or creed would in itself make the reality that the USA is home to many, many Muslims logical.

Are we at war with Islam or are we at war with terrorists who are Muslims?  There is a vast difference.  Yes, Islam has tenets that are disturbing and leaders who would take over the world given the opportunity; I’m not naive about that.  However, equating terrorists with people who cannot imagine being anything but Muslim because of the family they were born into is tantamount to equating all Caucasians with white supremacists because of their skin color.  (Yes, it’s a limited analogy.)

I think the crux of the matter is that we have a President who is a Third Culture Kid (TCK).  A TCK is defined as a person who has spent a significant part of his/her developmental years in a culture other than his/her parents’ culture.  The TCK builds relationships to all the cultures while not having full ownership in any.  Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar backgrounds.  (Pollock and Van Reken, 1999)  If you look at Obama through that filter, who he is and what he does make a lot more sense.

The furor recorded in the video montage over him not wearing the American flag pin makes sense when you understand TCKs.  They are fiercely patriotic, but they are rarely nationalistic.  Patriotism says, “I want my country to do right and to be right.”  Patriotism believes right makes might.  Nationalism on the other hand says, “My country is right no matter what.”  Nationalism believes might makes right.  I believe the President is patriotic but not nationalistic.  It’s easy to confuse the two.  His West Point speech highlights his patriotism.  During that speech he even challenges the cadets to have a right makes might attitude.

Do I think President Obama is always right?  Not a chance.  Do I think he needs to be held accountable for his words and actions?  Absolutely.  Do I think he is often misunderstood?  Without a doubt. (Aren’t we all at one time or another?  He just gets to be misunderstood by more people more often.)  Do I think we need to pray for him?  Certainly.  Even if God didn’t tell us to, we would still be right in praying for him.

I intentionally have not posted a link to the video.  I have full confidence that you’re intelligent;  if you really want to see it, you’ll find it.  I don’t want it associated with my website.  It’s not truthfully informative, it’s propaganda that is going viral.  My purpose in writing is to present a filter not tainted by hate and fear.  I hope I’ve succeeded.  And I hope I’ve succeeded without losing any friends.

image courtesy of MyEyeSees

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18 Responses to “The Video and The President”

  1. RuthApril 15, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    Words of wisdom well thoought our and well expressed. We will pray for our president.

  2. Nathan R. HaleApril 15, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    All I can say is…thank you and you’re awesome. People need to understand this stuff, and you communicate it clearly. Will definitely be sharing this post with many people.

  3. SherylApril 15, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    Thanks for the encouragement–and for sharing it!

  4. TirzahApril 15, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Well said, my friend, well said! Thank you for this perspective. I may not agree with his politics but President Obama scores huge points for being a TCK and I do respect him because of the position he holds. I have no tolerance for ignorant rants and unfounded fear. God is in control and he never promised us comfort and ease, he only promised we would never be alone. Maybe I should pursue journalism again…

  5. rikkiApril 15, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    thanks for taking a stand against this kind of propaganda, sheryl. i get tired of fb messages about the president’s evil socialistic/communistic/nazi/muslim/fill-in-the-blank agenda. it’s just silliness to let yourself be misguided by anything trying to spread hate. i like the mini TCK lesson tucked inside, as well!

  6. Janet WeissApril 15, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    Sheryl, while I agree with some of what you say, I believe there is good reason to fear this man’s agenda, mainly because of his background in “Chicago-style” politics. Having grown up in a socialist country, I have no desire to see that happen here. Maybe some of his actions can be put down to TCKisms, but in that case, maybe a TCK shouldn’t be president of a country if he can’t give that country total committment, and feels he has to weaken it by apologizing for it so often. I don’t care for the rants either, but I am also committed to praying for him and voting him out of power as soon as possible.

    And yes, we’re still friends! 😉

  7. Josh TuckerApril 15, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    Well said, Miss O.

    I am not a fan of this president. At all. Period. Point à la ligne. However, credibility lies in the ability to overcome bias. If we embrace absurd criticism, then we will be dismissed when the criticism we present is valid. This is simply true of life, and I’ve always striven to be someone who, for example, can recognize and applaud the one good point in a sermon otherwise entirely heretical.

    I also really liked your point about patriotism and nationalism. I have wrestled with that at times. I used to consider myself entirely unpatriotic — but then discovered that I felt a sense of patriotism that seemed to go beyond intellect or any choice I could make. Until reading this post, I had always assumed that either I had always been patriotic, and not known it, or I had needed to reconnect with this country before that sense of patriotism could (re?)develop in me. Now I understand that what I used to see as a lack of patriotism was actually a disdain for nationalism (and ethnocentrism, as well).

  8. laura joslinApril 15, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    I enjoyed reading and appreciate your “almost rant”. 🙂

  9. shelleyApril 15, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Thoughtful piece, Sheryl. And it’s intriguing to consider the TCK aspect that no doubt has shaped him . I don’t align with him politically, but I have been surprised by the fear and rants in email forwards and conversations I’ve had with otherwise level headed Christian conservatives about many things, including him being a Muslim. So now that you’ve shed some well-reasoned light and perspective on this topic, how about if you tackle addressing all other forwarded mass emails and links that rant and spew hatred towards homosexuals, undocumented aliens, etc etc.? Maybe you get them too. (…And BTW, thanks for not forwarding them, and hopefully the email you received regarding Obama didn’t threaten that you’d suffer a great loss in 3 days if you didn’t pray as suggested and forward it to 20 of your closest friends.)

    Always interesting to hear your thoughts, my friend.

  10. JennyApril 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Girl this is GOOD! Wow – it is a great breakdown of the polemics that go around. I appreciate your expanding the claims and giving some meat to them. Great job!

  11. Ryan EinfeldtApril 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    Hooray! Another Christian from my past who doesn’t think this man is the devil…such a breath of fresh, healthy air. Good thoughts – thanks for sharing.

  12. CyndiApril 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    The highest compliment I received right after he was elected as president was being asked if I voted for him. I did not, but I was so offended by Christians spreading hateful messages about him that I shared Romans 13:1 & 2 as my status on Facebook that next morning. President Obama is an authority established by God and we do well to submit to him and pray for him. Yes, it is appropriate to be concerned and voice one’s thoughts when he has erred, but please do so AFTER one has prayed for him!

    Thank you, Sheryl, for sharing this encouragement with the rest of us.

    Blessings!

  13. RebeccaApril 15, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Amen sister!

  14. WaltApril 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    WOW! Great insight. You preach it and I’ll type it and turn the pages.

    Really enjoyed this.

  15. SteveApril 19, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    Great post.

    People are stupid.

    Thanks for attempting to make everyone else less stupid.

    The number one rule in the world should be don’t be stupid.

    You Rock.

    We Love You.

  16. William HaunApril 20, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Thanks for a clear-headed response to yet another viral video meant to inflame anger & bitterness. I don’t hardly bother speaking up anymore when I hear people talk about unpatriotic and dangerous Obama is. I’ve bit my tongue so many times that it is almost completely gone.

  17. Mallory LongApril 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Awesome words Sheryl, thanks for writing this. I may quote you in the future…

  18. NathanApril 28, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    Very well said ! I grew up in Mali, West Africa with 98% Muslim population, and attended ICA in the Ivory Coast and i must say that i agree with you. interpretation can go whichever way the presenter wants things to go depending on how things are edited. especially when only some of the information is used. this goes to show that we as a group of educated people need to do our own investigating of facts and not accept everything we read and see as fact.
    thanks for you putting them strait on a few things.

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