Lately, about once or twice a day, I receive an email from a well-meaning correspondent asking whether the late black nationalist Malcolm X was, in fact, the natural father of President Barack Obama.
The question is not as outlandish as it sounds: The falsification of Obama’s official bio makes speculation on his origins almost inevitable.
The Malcolm-as-father proponent usually begins with photos of Malcolm and Obama. (Yes, they do look vaguely alike.) He then builds a case by adding any random detail that might support his thesis and ignoring those that don’t. The latter category includes just about everything known about Malcolm X’s character and history.
In 1960 Malcolm X was the least likely black man in America to have impregnated Ann Dunham, Obama’s mom, then a mousy white adolescent in Washington state or Hawaii or wherever.
Beyond the logistical problems – Ann, are you sure America’s most prominent black nationalist will feel comfortable at your lily white prom? – Malcolm was bound by several restraints, both philosophical and personal.
For one, while a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI), the married Malcolm opposed adultery. He did so with such conviction that it would ultimately cost him his life.
In 1962, the year after Obama’s birth, Malcolm learned that two of the former secretaries of Elijah Muhammad, his spiritual leader in the NOI, had sued the old geezer for child support.
Malcolm was nothing if not faithful. From the time he entered prison until the time he married 12 years later he claimed he did not touch a woman “because of Mr. Muhammad’s influence upon me.”
He presumed the same principled restraint from other Muslims, Muhammad especially. At first, he refused to believe that Elijah Muhammad, the man who made the rules, would “betray the reverence bestowed upon him” by so many trusting black Muslims.
As the rumors grew stronger, Malcolm investigated, confirmed the stories and finally confronted Elijah with the facts. In so doing, Malcolm all but signed his death warrant. “Hating me,” he said prophetically, “was going to become the cause for people of shattered faith to rally around.”
In the last year or two of his life, Malcolm wised up to the mess he had made of his early years. “I was a zombie then – like all Muslims,” he said, “I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march.”
Unfortunately, before his change of heart, Malcolm had won over one significant would-be zombie, the boxer now known as Muhammad Ali. Forced to choose between Elijah and Malcolm, Ali chose Elijah, although Malcolm had been in his corner, almost literally, from the beginning,
“Worse than death was betrayal,” Malcolm would lament. And no betrayal cut as deeply as Ali’s. It “hurt Malcolm more than any other person turning away that I know of,” said Malcolm’s widow, Betty Shabazz.
Ali was the one person who might have saved Malcolm from Elijah’s fatwa. As the death threats morphed into murder plots, Shabazz begged his intercession.
“You see what you’re doing to my husband, don’t you,” she pleaded after a chance encounter with Ali. Ali blew her off, disingenuously raising his hands in the air and saying, “I’m not doing anything to him.”
Soon thereafter, an NOI hit squad assassinated Malcolm in full view of his wife and children at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. “Ali threw Malcolm away like a pork chop,” says Sunni Khalid, one of the few journalists to see through the myth. “Even today those who really know can never forgive him.”
A second fact that argues against paternity is that Malcolm, like Ali, like all NOI members, was proudly racist. “I’m Jack Johnson,” Ali once said comparing himself to the equally promiscuous heavyweight champion. “Without the white women.”
When asked in a 1975 Playboy interview if he believed that lynching was the answer to interracial sex, Ali answered, “A black man should be killed if he’s messing with a white woman.” This charming sentiment Ali voiced years into his unexamined reign as liberal sports icon. The left chose not to notice.
There is a third consideration. As is now well-documented, Malcolm X appears to have had little use for women. In his definitive Malcolm biography, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” black scholar Manning Marable, confirmed the rumors. Before joining the NOI, Malcolm did have an “early homosexual relationship with a white businessman” and may have had other such relationships afterwards.
That much said, Malcolm did marry and father six children, but the Marable bio also contended that his relationship with Betty was less than exciting.
Marable included a letter Malcolm wrote to Elijah in 1959 on this very topic, “(Betty) told me that we were incompatible sexually because I had never given her any real satisfaction.”
For these reasons and more, in my book “Deconstructing Obama,” I make the case against Malcolm X’s paternity. I add that for those who insist on a celebrity father for Obama, rocker Jimi Hendrix is a much better candidate.
I point out that Hendrix was two days older than Ann, also went to high school in Seattle, dated white girls, and like Ann’s son, was left-handed. Then, too, Obama has mentioned Hendrix on several occasions.
Lest anyone think me overly serious, I described my motives as mischievous and my analysis as pure “Paul-is-dead.” To further discourage the dunderheads, I added, “I can envision the mirthless Huffington headline now. ‘Whack job from Web’s farthest lunatic orbit says Hendrix Obama’s father.’”
I underestimated the utter indifference to the truth of the heavily subsidized left-wing media. Here is what Simon Maloy of Media Matters actually did write: “Cashill’s candidates for Obama’s ‘real’ father include Malcolm X and Jimi Hendrix.”
No, Malcolm was not Obama’s father. But if you want a fact to taunt your left-wing friends with, try this one: Ali attended the 1984 Republican convention as a Reagan supporter. Who knew?