Barack’s Mother

What an impressive woman Barack Obama’s mother — Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro — was, much more than just “the white woman from Kansas.”  From today’s New York Times:

Kansas was merely a way station in her childhood, wheeling westward in the slipstream of her furniture-salesman father. In Hawaii, she married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote an 800-page dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java, worked for the Ford Foundation, championed women’s work and helped bring microcredit to the world’s poor.

She died at 53 from ovarian cancer, but what a difference she made in her short but intense life, a difference that may carry on in the values she instilled in her two children, one who just might become President.

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.


  1. I find the above comment offensive, including the blog that it links back to. I don’t see a single argument or reasonable point being made, just innuendo. But instead of hitting the delete key I’ll leave it here as a testament of how low people can go and the kind of politics we really need to get past.

  2. In researching Ann Dunham I can see where Barack gets his vision and open mindedness. More Mothers like her would lead to more leaders like Obama. America, and the world, need this now. His special knowing obviously has roots in his diverse and unique upbringing. Congratulations Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro! May your sprit live on in your son and flourish.

  3. Yes…what a remarkable woman, leaving her son to her parents to raise as she follows her own dreams of finishing her phd in 24 years…

    what a fine example of motherhood.

  4. Carolynne might benefit from getting the facts right. Barack chose to stay in Hawaii to finish high school there rather than go back to Indonesia again. They were apart from each other a relatively short amount of time.

  5. The facts speak for themselves…there are few 10 year olds who choose to leave their mother and step father without due cause…. Interestingly Ann Dunham kept her daughter with her after her second relationship failed*. This daughter was with her when she died: something her son failed to do.
    *Since Barach Obama sr had a wife and two children in Africa when there is doubt cast by the democratic presumptive nominee that his parents were ever married….

  6. How about an analysis of the ideas of the candidate or candidates rather than a discussion wherein you resort to villification of a dead mother.

  7. The truth would be refreshing as to know who Barak Obama is and the stock of people he came from. The truth is Barak Obama said his mother was conservative, but I don’t see it in her history. It was several times his mother left him with others to raise so it wasn’t the just one time. Quit acting like you know Barak Obama –you don’t!! There many more inconsistancies with what he has said in his book and what he has said publically.

  8. Barack Obama referred to his mother as “the dominant figure in my formative years… The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics.”[

    In 2007 Obama described his mother as “a Christian from Kansas.” “I was raised by my mother,” he continued. “So, I’ve always been a Christian.”[23][24] Also in 2007, he said in a speech, “My mother, whose parents were nonpracticing Baptists and Methodists, was one of the most spiritual souls I ever knew.

    “Midwest Values and Upbringing.” “Obama was raised by his mother and grandparents, who instilled in him their Midwest Kansas values of honesty, fairness and hard work.” (from Obama’s Campaign Website)

    “Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story – of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.” (from his DNC acceptance speech)

    “My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or ”blessed,” believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. ” (from his 2004 keynote DNC speech…funny, if he believed what he said, why did the “abiding” faith of that polygamist marriage last no more than 2 years and why did he choose to go by “Barry?”)

    “My grandparents, they grew up in Kansas, right in the center of the Heartland.” “But it was his mother,who would see in him a promise, and understood what she needed to do.” “My son, he is an American, and he needs to understand what that means.” (from the 2008 DNC Biography Video/Conventrion Intro)…

    So let’s see where Stanley Ann Dunham, with her admirable motherly and all-American values, really came from, and what thoughts and feelings this upbringing produced in her son Barack:

    Her family moved away from Kansas when Stanley Ann was only 3, first to Texas, then to California, Texas, and Seattle, eventually settling in Mercer Island, Washington, in 1955 so that 13-year old Ann could attend the Mercer Island high school that had just opened. Here Marxist teachers Val Foubert and Jim Wichterman taught the importance of challenging societal norms and questioning authority. Dunham took the lessons to heart; “She felt she didn’t need to date or marry or have children.” …One high school friend described her as: …”We were liberals before we knew what liberals were.” Another called her “the original feminist.”[6]

    Dunham’s best friend in high school has said that she “touted herself as an atheist, and it was something she’d read about and could argue.”[6] (

    Next scene: Introduce the “Barry Bunch tune,” sung in a studio by professionals, possibly with a slightly altered melody. The lyrics of are shown below, with additional information and suggested instructions in the parentheses, which can be displayed as background text to the picture images during the song:

    Here’s the story of a girl named Stanley

    (show the quote where her dad wanted a boy, which probably started her out on her angry road to rebellion)

    Who was schooled on the Left Coast by Marxist friends

    (Show pictures of her school board and Communist party member John Stenhouse, or Stanley’s teachers Val Foubert or Jim Wichterman…whose two classrooms formed “Anarchy Alley,” and who had the greatest influence on her, encouraging her to become the radical she would be)

    Called a “Liberal,” “Feminist” and a proud Atheist

    (show her friends’ quotes…she “questioned authority” and “challenged societal norms…” all before the 60’s!)

    She married Muslim Men

    (show Barack Sr., who actually impregnated her first, then married her, and husband #2, Indonesian Muslim Oil Executive, Lolo Soetoro)

    It’s the story, of her boy named Barry,

    (show childhood photo)

    who was wrestling demons of abandonment of his own

    (show defiant, fist-raising Barry…whose well-connected, already-married-to-a-Kenyan, Muslim, polygamist father abandoned him when he was 2; and whose mother chose to leave him behind in Hawaii with her parents when he was 10 so she could follow second husband Lolo and pursue her own degree)

    So he dropped the name “Barack,” thinking it too scary?,

    (what leadership, courage, and judgment it takes to drop and then resurrect up one’s own name…like Barack or Rodham)

    And he felt all alone

    (show Barack’s “typical white person” quote where he threw his grandmother, who sacrificed to pay for his expensive, private school education, under the bus: “…a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

    Til the day radical Marxist men became his mentors,

    (show pictures and quotes, in sequence, of Barack’s racist, Communist poet mentor from Hawaii, Frank Marshall Davis, who warned him about his future education, “They’ll train you so good,” he said, “you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that sh**.” Now we see why Barack buys into the notion that the “American Dream” is somehow dead and needs to be “reclaimed….” Instead of being grateful and acknowleding that the dream is still alive, with his own example, he chose to agitate; Saul Alinsky, the father of the agitation style “community organizing” made famous in Chicago, and whose book, “Rules for Radicals” was dedicated to Lucifer; Gerald Kellmann, student of Alinsky who hired Barack out of Columbia to be the perfect Chicago agitator, and whom Barack chose to name “Charlie Kaufman” in his fictional autobiography; radical terrorist murderers Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn; former Muslim, racist pastor Jeremiah Wright, who baptized Obama and his children and has preached the hatred of “Black Liberation Theology” to Barack for 20 years, but whose hate-filled sermons Barack says he doesn’t remember, and whom Barack only threw under the bus FINALLY after Wright called him a “politician”–what judgment and leadership that was!; Louis Farrakhan, Barack supporter and idol of Jeremiah Wright; and Michelle, Barack’s angry wife, with her socialist, “take a piece of the pie from someone and give it to someone without it” redistribution speech and anti-American, insulting, “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country” quotes)

    And these leftist father figures had a hunch

    that some day they’d become for Obamessiah

    the instruments of socialist “hope” and “change” as “Barry’s Bunch”

    The Barry Bunch,

    The Barry Bunch,

    Resistance is futile, your wealth will be redistributed by Barry’s Bunch

  9. Hmmm…’Guilt by association’…

    Well, if you choose as your friends and colleagues those who share a radical, socialistic view of the world, is it just a coincidence? ‘He’s a guy who lives on my street’, ‘I never heard those sermons’, etc., are about as believable as ‘I didn’t inhale’. Trouble is, just as nobody in the press corps thought to ask Clinton, ‘Oh, I get it…Brownies, right?’, nobody in today’s press is going to delve into deeper things with Barry.

    The inconsistencies between his biography and extemporaneous comments are glaring and disturbing.

    One last thing…what caught my eye in the published pictures of Ann Dunham, she was always looking down her nose at the camera. Just as her son does now. Coincidence?

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