Barack Obama in New York ca. 1981 or '82. Barack Obama's
Close Encounter with the
Did the presidential candidate and the revolutionary terror group cross paths at a violent 1981 anti-Apartheid protest?
posted: October 27, 2008
Barack Obama would have you believe that the bombings by the radical domestic terrorists known as The Weather Underground were something that happened "when I was eight years old" and with which he had absolutely no connection. And while it is true that their bombings started when Obama was eight years old, they actually continued until he was twenty years old. And, incredibly, the life of Barack Obama and the terror campaign of the Weather Underground nearly intersected on the evening of September 26, 1981 at an anti-Apartheid protest which turned violent at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
I'm tempted to say they may have intersected, rather than just "nearly." But I don't know for sure.
Members of the Weather Underground after a violent
anti-Apartheid protest in New York in 1981 What I do know is that Obama had the same political interests as the final remnants of the Weather Underground at the exact same time in the exact same place. That as an adult he was living in the same city where and when they conducted their second-to-last terror attack, which was a protest against the Apartheid polices of South Africa -- the very topic to which Obama has said he was devoted at that time. So because of all this, Obama must have known about the Weather Underground and their tactics while he was still in college. So when he met Weather Underground founder William Ayers 13 years later, Obama certainly had to have known exactly who Ayers was and what he had done.
I'll be frank and admit that when I first started working on this report, I thought perhaps I might come across evidence that Obama personally witnessed a Weather Underground attack. But I could never find that proof. The final link in the chain eluded me, and eludes me still. So I'm not claiming that Obama had any direct connection to the incident.
But damn how the coincidences -- if you can call them that -- kept piling up. I may have never found proof that Obama was at Kennedy Airport on September 26, 1981, when Weather Underground terrorists blinded an innocent man, but I did uncover evidence to suggest he could have been there. Indeed, all the facts point in one direction: that he could very likely have gone to the protest, because protesting against Apartheid was by his own admission his field of interest at the time. And he was in New York on that day. But primarily because very little is known about that period in Obama's life, we may never find out the real story.
Read on, and come to your own conclusions.
Contents Obama Became Involved With Anti-Apartheid Protests and Embraced Far-Left-Wing Politics While at Occidental College
• Obama Became Involved With Anti-Apartheid Protests and Embraced Far-Left-Wing Politics While at Occidental College
• Obama in New York at Columbia: What Little We Know
- Journalistic frustration: The media hits a blank wall about Obama's New York years
- Did Obama move around frequently, or stay in one place?
- Was Obama a member of the radical Black Students Organization, or not?
- Was Obama active politically, or did he live a solitary life?
• The Anti-Apartheid Protest at Kennedy Airport Against "The Springboks," the South African National Rugby Team
- Acid-throwing incident at John F. Kennedy Airport
• The Connection Between the Springboks Protest, the Brinks Robbery, and the Weather Underground
- The other arrested anti-Apartheid protesters
- The Lynne Stewart connection
- A note about my usage of the name "Weather Underground"
• The Dohrn-Ayers Connection to the Brinks Robbery
• Bonus Links
Between 1979 and 1981, Obama -- by his own account, and by the testimony of others who knew him at the time -- became heavily involved in the anti-Apartheid protest movement while attending Occidental College, where he also embraced Marxism and far-left-wing ideologies.
This excellent article in Open Letters Monthly illuminates many little-known details of this "lost" period of Obama's life. Included is this quote written by Obama himself in Dreams From My Father):
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. 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.To hear an mp3 audio clip of Obama himself speaking this passage about his Marxist friends, simply click here (right-click or control-click to to download the mp3).
"Franz" Fanon is actually Frantz Fanon, a 20th century psychiatrist and communist philosopher who is seen as the patron saint of Third World revolutionaries. And I think we can be quite sure Obama wasn't attacking Fanon and praising Eurocentrism; if you're even using words like "neocolonialism" and "patriarchy," it's obvious where your sympathies lie.
The article continues,
According to the Los Angeles Times, Obama's main political interest in 1980 and 1981 while at Occidental was the anti-Apartheid movement:
Obama became more serious during his sophomore year, taking dense philosophy courses, becoming involved with the Black Students' Association and a campaign to divest funds from apartheid South Africa. He got his first taste of the allure of public speaking at a rally for the anti-apartheid campaign
, where he played the role of an activist giving a speech in a piece of street theater. After a few opening remarks, white students dressed in paramilitary uniforms were to come on stage and drag him away. As it happened, after he got through his opening remarks:
I stopped. The crowd was quiet now, watching me. Somebody started to clap. "Go on with it Barack," somebody else shouted. "Tell it like it is." Then the others started in, clapping, cheering, and I knew that I had them, that the connection had been made....
Though some express surprise at his current prominence, classmates recall a slim, good-looking teen with a moderate Afro, a taste for Casa Bianca's Hawaiian-style pizza (pineapple and ham) and a role in protesting college investments in firms doing business in South Africa during the apartheid era. This video made by the Boston Globe discusses in greater detail Obama's political involvement with the anti-Apartheid movement in 1981. After getting his bearings during his first year at Occidental, he took a political turn as a sophomore:
He and others recall a strong speech Obama made at a campus rally urging South Africa divestment. Obama, in his book, considered that a big moment: "I figured I was ready, and could reach people where it counted," he wrote. "I thought my voice wouldn't fail me."
Obama had been somewhat rudderless when he first arrived on campus. He gained a sense of direction in his sophomore year [i.e. late 1980 through mid-1981] when he joined a student campaign to push the college to divest from South Africa on account of the Apartheid policies of the white minority government. "That group of students remains, in my mind, one of the most serious groups of students to have gone through Occidental College. The [South African] divestment movement was to the '70s and '80s what civil rights, the anti-war movement and the women's movement were to the '60s."This article about Obama on the Occidental College Web site also reveals how Obama was deeply involved in the anti-Apartheid movement there:
Almost 30 years ago, he was a freshman from Honolulu living in Haines Hall, playing pick-up basketball and developing a reputation as a campus activist. Today, Barack Obama '83 is a Democratic presidential hopeful... Bonus Coincidence: That speech by Obama referenced above, which was the first political speech he ever gave, was to a group at Occidental associated with the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) -- which itself had been the precursor to the Weather Undergound. (And this article also traces Obama's continued SDS connections, including a 2002 speech he gave at a rally organized by SDS veterans.)
According to Obama, who then went by the name of Barry, it was his involvement in the South African divestment movement at Occidental that first set him on his current path. "I got into politics at Occidental," he said in a 2004 interview with Occidental magazine. "I made a conscious decision to go into public policy."
It was a decision that eventually led him to transfer to Columbia University - "the idea of being in New York was very appealing," he says...
So, we know beyond any doubt that Obama was into Marxism and other far-left ideologies and was an active anti-Apartheid protester as of June 1981, which is when he left Occidental and transferred to Columbia. In fact, that was one of the reasons why he transferred to Columbia -- to pursue his growing interests further.
Obama in New York at Columbia: What Little We Know
After Obama left Los Angeles and Occidental in June of 1981, a veil of mystery descends over his life story. As many journalists and researchers have discovered over the last year, very little is known about Obama's time at Columbia, and what few details Obama himself has mentioned seem to contradict the scraps of evidence that can be found.
This section demonstrates two key points: First, that Obama continued his anti-Apartheid activities and Black identity politics while at Columbia; and second, that he's almost certainly not telling the truth about whatever else he was doing during his time there, from August 1981 up until 1983.
As is well-known, Columbia has long been one of the epicenters of political activism. The students there, whatever the era, are always looking for an issue to protest. In the early 1980's according to Wikipedia and other sources, that issue was the anti-Apartheid movement:
Protests against racism and apartheid After several years of pressure from such protests, Columbia University on May 7, 1984 finally relented and agreed to stop investing in South Africa.
Further student protests, including hunger strike and more barricades of Hamilton Hall during the late 1970s and early 1980s, were aimed at convincing the university trustees to divest all of the university's investments in companies that were seen as active or tacit supporters of the apartheid regime in South Africa.
In an interview published in the January, 2005 issue of Columbia College Today, an alumni magazine, Obama revealed this crucial detail about his interests when he arrived at Columbia in 1981:
As he pursued a political science degree, specializing in international relations, Obama says he was somewhat involved with the Black Students Organization and participated in anti-apartheid activities.This same fact was cited on page two of this New York Times article.
This makes perfect sense, since we know for certain that Obama had been heavily involved in the anti-Apartheid scene up until June 1981 at Occidental, just a couple months before arriving at Columbia in August.
So, Obama's own admission that he was involved in anti-Apartheid protests is partly confirmed by the fact that we know anti-Apartheid protests were going on at Columbia at the time.
But nearly everything else Obama has said about this period is contradicted by the existing evidence. Which can only lead to one conclusion: Obama is not telling us the whole story. Why? What does he have to hide?
The rest of this section contains a great deal of evidence that seems to be mutually contradictory: Obama says one thing, an independent source says another. If it all seems to be going in circles and signifying nothing, that's the point: The evidence in this section proves that we cannot trust what Obama says about his time at Columbia.
Journalistic frustration: The media hits a blank wall about Obama's New York years
Many articles have already been published on this very topic: How Obama refuses to say much of anything about his time at Columbia, and how what little he has said contradicts other sources. In researching this article I had the exact same experience, and I'll present some of my findings below, but first let's take a quick look at what others have said.
The New York Times most famously published an article in 2007 entitled "Obama's Account of New York Years Often Differs From What Others Say," which points out a great many inconsistencies in Obama's meager testimony about his Columbia stint. He has portrayed himself then as having been solitary, studious, hard-working, and impoverished while at Columbia, but the Times notes with frustration,
Yet he declined repeated requests to talk about his New York years, release his Columbia transcript or identify even a single fellow student, co-worker, roommate or friend from those years. ... His 1995 memoir, "Dreams From My Father," weighs in at more than 450 pages. But he also exercised his writer's prerogative to decide what to include or leave out. Now, as he presents himself to voters, a look at his years in New York - other people's accounts and his own - suggests not only what he was like back then but how he chooses to be seen now. Some say he has taken some literary license in the telling of his story."Taken some literary license" is a nice way of saying: Lied. The Times then goes on to demonstrate many inconsistencies in Obama's version of events.
The New York Observer points out that nobody on campus even remembers Obama being there at the time. Not one person.
Riehl World View concurs, and adds more puzzling details -- or rather, absence of details.
The article about Obama at WikiCU, the online Columbia encyclopedia, even expresses mystification about their own alumnus. In what should be a definitive article about his years there, the encyclopedia says things like...
Obama claims to have participated to some extent in anti-apartheid activities with the Black Students Organization, but no one is quite sure. ...and so forth. If the people at Columbia themselves seem to be so unsure about Obama's time there, how can an outside journalist expect to find the truth?
He majored in PoliSci, and claims to have concentrated in "International Relations"...
Sources first differed on whether he wrote his senior thesis on Soviet nuclear disarmament or the North-South debate on trade and the "new international economic order". Later, it emerged that he had not really written an official thesis at all...
It has been reported that Obama graduated without honors...
While researching this article, I encountered the same blank wall as the journalists who came before me. And whenever I did dig up a fact, it only contradicted Obama's own claims. The following sections illustrate some of these contradictions, and are only presented here for one reason: To show that Obama has never told the truth or the full story about his time at Columbia.
Did Obama move around frequently, or stay in one place?
In Dreams From My Father, and several other places, Obama claims to have been practically itinerant while in New York, moving from apartment to apartment, from one bad neighborhood to another. This AP article, as a typical example, states:
The Obama campaign declined to discuss Obama's time at Columbia and his friendships in general. It won't, for example, release his transcript or name his friends. It did, however, list five locations where Obama lived during his four years here: three on Manhattan's Upper West Side and two in Brooklyn - one in Park Slope, the other in Brooklyn Heights. His memoir mentions two others on Manhattan's Upper East Side. In about 1982, Siddiqi and Obama got an apartment at a sixth-floor walkup on East 94th Street.That's seven different locations in total.
However, a quick perusal of the phone books from the period suggest otherwise -- that Obama moved into that 94th Street apartment shortly after first arriving, and stayed there the rest of the time while in New York:
This page from the 1982 Manhattan phonebook lists "B. Obama" as living at 339 East 94th St. (The 1982 directory is the first one Obama could have appeared in, since the 1981 directory was printed before Obama's arrival.)
Yet this page, from the 1985 Manhattan phonebook, shows that he was still living at the same address -- even having the same phone number. And he was in the following year's directory as well, still at 339 East 94th St.
How could that be? As Obama's campaign said in the quote above, and as Obama details in Dreams From My Father, he moved several times while in New York, sometimes sharing a room with others.
The only feasible explanation would be that Obama rented the 339 East 94th St. apartment (shown here), and then moved out while subleasing it to others, still maintaining the apartment and the phone in his name. And while acting as a sort of freelance landlord, collecting renting from his sublessors, he was still broke and kept having to move from place to place himself.
But seriously: How likely is that? It's much more likely that Obama simply stayed in this one location the entire time, and later concocted a tale of being poor and itinerant as part of some narrative about his rise from poverty, or something along those lines.
More info here:
Barack Obama's Close Encounter with the Weather Underground