Spectator's Journal

Are You — and Donald Trump — Obama’s Brother’s Keeper?

Charitable giving is not exactly the President's strong suit -- better to rely on Dinesh D'Souza.

By 10.31.12

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Donald Trump has offered President Barack Obama $5 million to the charity of his choice if Obama opens his college records. Obama has until 5:00 Wednesday afternoon to respond. Trump should expect nothing. Not only does Obama not want us to see those records, but he could care less about the $5 million in charity. Obama, after all, gives very little to charity. For Obama, like many liberals, "charity" is forced government redistribution; they coerce money from the likes of Trump (and those of far lesser incomes) to be redirected to others with less money -- from the makers to the takers.

A telling illustration of Obama's personal lack of charity is the situation with his half brother, George Obama. George is interviewed in Dinesh D'Souza's film "2016: Obama's America." As D'Souza shows graphically, George lives in a shanty house in Nairobi, Kenya, surviving on a few dollars a month.

George apparently took a liking to D'Souza. Remarkably, he recently phoned D'Souza from Kenya. It was an emergency. Obama's brother needed healthcare. He explained to D'Souza that his child was in the hospital, ailing from a "chest condition." He needed a quick $1,000 for the medical bills.

"Since George was at the hospital I asked him to let me speak to a nurse," says D'Souza, "and she confirmed that George's son was indeed ill." D'Souza immediately sent the money via Western Union.

And here's the kicker: As D'Souza relates, "Before I hung up, I asked George, 'Why are you coming to me?' He said, 'I have no one else to ask.' Then he said something that astounded me, 'Dinesh, you are like a brother to me.'"

That's touching. In fact, however, Dinesh D'Souza is not a brother to George Obama. Barack Obama is. And Obama is a millionaire. Why didn't George go to his real brother for support? Better, why doesn't Obama go to him?

But, alas, there's more. This whole sorry thing is actually even worse. Consider:

As president, Barack Obama has not been shy about invoking his faith -- and with no protest from liberals who went wild every time George W. Bush even mentioned God. Obama has invoked his faith in support of everything from "Obamacare" to gay marriage. Most of all, Obama constantly uses the phrase "my brother's keeper." It has become the signature line for his public expression of faith. My colleague, Dr. Gary Smith, author of the authoritative Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush, reports that Obama has used the phrase 57 times. The Presidential Papers reveal 17 instances of Obama using the phrase over the last 12 months, 11 of them at fundraisers.

"I am my brother's keeper," said President Obama in Atlanta recently. "Each of us is only here because somebody somewhere was looking out for us. It started in the family, but it wasn't just the immediate family…. Our story has never been about what we can do alone. It's what we do together."

For Obama, this is an exhortation to help one another, from our literal brothers to our brothers in the wider community and world.

To be sure, the "brother's keeper" passage is an odd choice. It comes from the Old Testament remark of Cain after he murdered his brother Abel. God asks Cain where his brother is. Cain replies, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

It is a bad moment. Given the roots of the phrase -- the first murder, of a sibling no less -- it's a strange formulation for making the case of helping our brother, or our neighbor, or the needy. A phrase like "love thy neighbor," a favorite of George W. Bush, is far more preferable, and certainly derived from an infinitely better source.

But here's the kicker:

Who is Obama's brother's keeper? That is, who is George Obama's keeper? Well, it certainly isn't Barack Obama. Lately, it's Dinesh D'Souza. Or, more specifically, it's all of us, you and me -- everyone but Barack Obama.

For those who find this hypocritical of Obama, they should understand it's actually not all that inconsistent. Barack Obama is from the "social justice" Religious Left (see here, here, and here). Many religious liberals link "compassion" and even "charity" not to individual action but government action. Obviously, that's totally misguided.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is an excellent illustration. Consider: What did the Good Samaritan do when he encountered the wounded traveler? He picked him up, treated him, transported him, paid the innkeeper, and pledged to follow up. He gave his own time and resources. Note that he didn't shout for governing authorities to come help the wounded traveler. Certainly, Jesus didn't employ the parable as a call for a single federal collective to handle all poverty.

Really, Barack Obama's ignoring of his brother's plight is no surprise. Obama's view of social justice is based not on personal charity but big government and wealth distribution. He favors what the late economist Hans Sennholz called "the Transfer Society." And so, he's pushing the problem of his brother to the rest of us. Obama sees us as his brother's keeper. We are the ones expected to help Obama's brother. You are Obama's brother's keeper.

And so, Donald Trump can expect his Wednesday afternoon deadline to pass in dead silence. His offer provides no incentive to Barack Obama. I suggest that Trump instead donate the money to the families of the victims of the Benghazi attack -- or to a healthcare fund for Obama's brother, George. After all, Mr. Trump, you, too, are Obama's brother's keeper.

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About the Author

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His latest book is 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative.