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Cohen on Obama's Church and Farrakhan:

The issue is quickly hitting the mainstream, as the Washington Post's Richard Cohen has a column today that starts:

Barack Obama is a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. Its minister, and Obama's spiritual adviser, is the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. In 1982, the church launched Trumpet Newsmagazine; Wright's daughters serve as publisher and executive editor. Every year, the magazine makes awards in various categories. Last year, it gave the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award to a man it said "truly epitomized greatness." That man is Louis Farrakhan.

Obama's close ties to Rev. Wright and Trinity United raise two related issues. First, as I noted yesterday, Obama campaigns as a "uniter." Yet his spiritual mentor, and longtime pastor of his church, is an ardent admirer of Louis Farrakhan. One can even argue that Farrakhan has done some admirable things, despite his racist demagoguery. Unfortunately, Rev. Wright's praise for Farrakhan is precisely based on Farrakhan's racist demagoguery, what Rev. Wright calls Farrakhan's "astounding and eyeopening" analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" that is "helpful and honest." Such as "White people are potential humans - they haven't evolved yet"? Or "they [the Jews] are the greatest controllers of black minds, black intelligence." For Obama to merely brush this all off as "I don't always agree with Rev. Wright" doesn't exactly satisfy. People are routinely judged, after all, by the company they keep, and one would think that someone running for president as a "uniter" would have kept rather different company.

Relatedly, one implication of electing a president is that his "circle" suddenly becomes much more powerful and influential. At the very least, if Obama wins, if his spiritual life remains constant, Rev. Wright will inevitably become one of the most influential ministers in the world, and his church one of the most important churches. Remember Rabbi Michael Lerner's moment in the sun when Hillary Clinton consulted him about the "politics of meaning"? And Hillary, of course, isn't even Jewish! Rev. Wright is not the most pressing issue facing Democratic voters, but given the relatively small policy differences among the Democratic candidates, it's certainly worth considering on the margin (as is, for example, the implications of returning to power such lovely members of the Clinton circle as Sidney Blumenthal).

Finally, it strikes me as completely fair to raise this issue, at least given the current accepted role of religion in politics in the U.S., and the widespread importance placed on tolerance. Pres. Bush has (properly) been criticized for giving a speech at Bob Jones University, which had a ban on interracial dating based purportedly on its leaders' interpretation of Christian scripture. (I say purportedly because after all the bad publicity that attended Bush's visit, the policy was dropped). Mitt Romney has felt obligated to address the Mormon church's past history of bigoted teachings and policy. Giuliani and McCain have been criticized for playing footsie with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, respectively; imagine if they had announced that these men were their close friends and spiritual mentors! If there's some reason Obama deserves a special pass on this, I can't think of it.

UPDATE: An interesting angle that I noticed perusing some related commentary. Rev. Wright is obviously a smart, savvy individual. He knows that many of his views are controversial, and told the NY Times last year that he understood he could cause some problems for Obama. So why have his magazine honor Farrakhan, and why be quoted praising Farrakhan, in the middle of Obama's campaign for president? Odd.

FURTHER UPDATE: Here's the video created to honor Farrakhan at the Trumpet Gala. After a clip of Farrakhan discussing his willingness to die for "truth," The narrator explains that Farrakhan is being honored for his commitment to truth, education, and leadership. Thanks for ruining my breakfast...

Cornellian (mail):
First, as I noted yesterday, Obama campaigns as a "uniter." Yet his spiritual mentor, and longtime pastor of his church, is an ardent admirer of Louis Farrakhan.

In other words, there's some kind of issue precisely because Obama's campaign speeches make clear he does NOT agree with Farrakhan's idiotic views.

And what exactly is a "spiritual mentor?" Was "pastor of his church" not a strong enough link to suit your purposes?

Finally, it strikes me as completely fair to raise this issue, at least given the current accepted role of religion in politics in the U.S., and the widespread importance placed on tolerance.

Accepted by who? I'm sure it does strike you that way Mr. Rove, and no doubt Fox and Drudge will get the message - repeat "Obama" and "Farrakhan" in the same sentence as many times as possible until Hilary has won the nomination.
1.15.2008 7:19am
Public_Defender (mail):
As an Obama supporter, I'm glad that he has to deal with this for the first time now rather than in the general election. And I believe Obama can do better than, "I don't always agree with Rev. Wright." That's why I support him. If he can't, I'll probably have to find another candidate.

To my fellow Obama supporters, if you don't agree with me on principle, agree with me on practicality grounds. Obama will be eaten alive in the general election if the best he can do is, "I don't always agree with Rev. Wright."

As much as I hate to say it, I pretty much agree with David Bernstein on this one.
1.15.2008 7:23am
Eh Nonymous:
At a time like this, what could be more important than associating threatening candidates with their least appetizing supporters, acquaintances, or recipients of leniency?

I say, the personal beliefs of a person who's in some way related to the person running for office isn't the main thing in this campaign: it's the only thing!

Vote against Mark Penn!
Vote against Rev. Wright!
Vote against Dumond!
Vote against that guy who wrote Ron Paul's newsletters!
Vote against Bob Jones University!

Pay no attention to the person *in front of* the curtain. Their actual views are of no consequence in an election. Guilt by association is and must be the only appropriate way adults should judge candidates.

Also, I continue to find almost nothing uplifting, exciting, or admirable in the more invidiously inspired posts at VC.

I look forward to his Honor's posts for less of the same.
1.15.2008 7:54am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Cohen says this: "history tells us that anti-Semitism is not to be trifled with. It is a botulism of the mind." He also points out correctly that Farrakhan should be condemned for "denigrating the Holocaust." Cohen also obviously believes in the principle of guilt by association.

All the major GOP candidates have set up shop in the Power Line Forum. It turns out that several of the regulars there have posted multiple comments promoting Holocaust denial, including statements like this:

And this Holocaust crap - geeeeeeeeeeez people, get over it


I realize that it's often not fair to blame a forum operator for what commenters say, but in this instance the administrators are aware of the situation, and they did nothing. More details here.

What does it say about the GOP that their candidates have found a happy home at a site which knowingly hosts Holocaust denial? I thought "anti-Semitism is not to be trifled with?"

IOKIYAR.
1.15.2008 8:06am
Michael B (mail):
Kristol on Obama and other Dems:

"When Obama was asked in the most recent Democratic presidential debate, “Would you have seen this kind of greater security in Iraq if we had followed your recommendations to pull the troops out last year?” he didn’t directly address the question. But he volunteered that “much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar Province, Sunni tribes, who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know what? — the Americans may be leaving soon. And we are going to be left very vulnerable to the Shias. We should start negotiating now.”

"But Sunni tribes in Anbar announced in September 2006 that they would join to fight Al Qaeda. That was two months before the Democrats won control of Congress. The Sunni tribes turned not primarily because of fear of the Shiites, but because of their horror at Al Qaeda’s atrocities in Anbar. And the improvements in Anbar could never have been sustained without aggressive American military efforts — efforts that were more effective in 2007 than they had been in 2006, due in part to the addition of the surge forces."
1.15.2008 8:08am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Obama must be pretty clean if the people who are afraid of him can't come up with anything better than this. I think that's the net meaning of this story, and I think a lot of other people will react the same way. In other words, it's a kind of reverse endorsement. The kind of person who takes this story seriously was never going to vote D anyway.

The story would have traction if Obama himself radiated signs of bigotry. But he doesn't.
1.15.2008 8:09am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
He knows that many of his views are controversial, and told the NY Times last year that he understood he could cause some problems for Obama. So why have his magazine honor Farrakhan, and why be quoted praising Farrakhan, in the middle of Obama's campaign for president?

Because he's more concerned with advancing his own career than Mr. Obama's?
1.15.2008 8:31am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
And what exactly is a "spiritual mentor?"

The guy he credits in his autobiography for converting him and turning his life around.
Was "pastor of his church" not a strong enough link to suit your purposes?

"Pastor of my church" could be a guy who took over last week and who I don't much like, and is objectively a much weaker link than "personal confessor for the last twenty years, close confidant, and the man who saved me from a life on the streets."

There have been other times in American history when the electorate has been concerned about a churchman having the President's ear. I never much liked Billy Graham, but I like Jeremiah Wright a lot less, and the notion of him in the vicinity of the White House bothers me a lot more.

Of course, having Huckabee in the White House would be even worse....
1.15.2008 8:37am
NickM (mail) (www):
This isn't much different from the Ron Paul situation. Having a racist and religious bigot as one of your closest advisors is just not acceptable to a huge chunk of America.

Nick
1.15.2008 8:37am
John Herbison (mail):
Did Richard Cohen, Professor Bernstein and their ilk ever comment on the current occupant of the White House receiving spiritual counsel from the likes of Ted Haggard?
1.15.2008 8:45am
Craig Ranapia (mail):

Finally, it strikes me as completely fair to raise this issue, at least given the current accepted role of religion in politics in the U.S., and the widespread importance placed on tolerance.



Well, David, I guess I come at this from a slightly different perspective as a Catholic. (And I think it would be fair to say that in the opinion of many, the incumbent Pontiff is as far from 'tolerant' as you can get without falling off the edge of the flat earth.) It would be spectacularly disingenuous to pretend my religious beliefs don't affect my politics, but somehow I can form a view - or cast a vote - without a permission slip from my parish priest. If anything, I seem to recall John Kerry getting in a bit of strife four years ago for a voting record that failed to toe the orthodox line.


If there's some reason Obama deserves a special pass on this, I can't think of it.


Neither can I, but I do wonder why anyone should be subject to a rather fatuous form of guilt by association. Even though I'm an Obama supporter, I do think there's more substantive issues in Obama and Clinton's political records that deserve closer scrutiny in a campaign materially different from an episode of America's Next Top Model.
1.15.2008 8:46am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Jukeboxgrad:
I realize that it's often not fair to blame a forum operator for what commenters say, but in this instance the administrators are aware of the situation, and they did nothing.

Come back and tell us about it when Powerline honors the antisemites with a prominent article saying they "truly epitomize greatness."

We can all play "six degrees of separation" and it's pretty meaningless if you don't consider the strength of the links. In this case, the link from Wright to Farakhan is self-chosen, strong, and explicitly ideological; and the link from the "at worst racist and at best extremely unwise" Wright to Obama is even stronger - "He changed my life."

That's quite a bit stronger than "posts on Powerline's blog without being kicked off" and "Accepts free publicity on Powerline's front page."
1.15.2008 8:49am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Also from Cohen's piece:
The New York Times recently reported on Obama's penchant while serving in the Illinois legislature for merely voting "present" when faced with some tough issues. Farrakhan, in a strictly political sense, may be a tough issue for him. This time, though, "present" will not do

A valid concern has been raised, but it's one that shouldn't be hard to put back down.

All Obama has to do is make an unambiguous statement that (1) Denounces Farakhan's bigotry and says that his "analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation" is in many ways incorrect (while continuing to acknowledge the things Farakhan gets right, like promoting self-reliance, self-discipline and personal dignity, proven ability to reform criminals, etc.)
(2) Says he strongly disagreed with Wright about this whole award thing.

If he can say that, the problem goes away tomorrow.
If he can't say that, he shouldn't be president.

OK Obama, it's "Sister Souljah" time! Got the nads?
1.15.2008 9:04am
genob:

Bob Jones University, which had a ban on interracial dating based purportedly on its leaders' interpretation of Christian scripture. (I say purportedly because after all the bad publicity that attended Bush's visit, the policy was dropped).


I don't know for sure (happy to hear if someone has evidence/experience to the contrary), and I doubt they claim that any objection on scripture, but I will wager that interracial dating isn't exactly welcomed and encouraged at Trinity United Church of Christ.
1.15.2008 9:07am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "Sunni tribes in Anbar announced in September 2006 that they would join to fight Al Qaeda. That was two months before the Democrats won control of Congress"

Kristol's argument is really, really silly. First of all, the fact that the election hadn't happened yet doesn't mean much, because everyone except Rove knew and was admitting that the Dems were going to win. So even though the election hadn't happened yet, the handwriting was already on the wall.

Secondly, I thought we were supposed to believe that the change in attitude on part of the Sunni tribes was driven by The Surge. But here we have Kristol telling us they developed their new attitude on 9/06. The Surge wasn't announced until 1/07. In 9/06, when the Sunni tribes developed a new attitude, everyone knew the Dems were going to win in 11/06. But no one knew that Bush was going to announce The Surge in 1/07.

As usual, Kristol is turning the facts inside-out. The fact he brings (what happened in 9/06) doesn't discredit Obama, it discredits Kristol. And you.
1.15.2008 9:09am
Lee2 (mail):
One point I haven't seen answered yet is this: how did Farrakhan get chosen for this award issued by a newsmagazine of Trinity United Church of Christ?

The United Church of Christ is known as an early adopter of democracy in church governance (1630). But in a number of churches--and I don't know what happens in TUCC--this means both that the congregation votes, and that the church is governed in essentially the same manner as a corporation. (In Virginia, some of oldest precedent on corporate governance comes from schizmatic church debates). So, the Committee on Nominations--which choses the nominees to the various church councils--has great power. It's hard, not to mention divisive, to fight the status quo nominations.

So, I haven't been able to find out what entity within TUCC chose to give an award to Farrakhan, or what process was used to select the people who chose to praise Farrakhan. But given church governance structure, it is possible for them to reflect a radical wing within the church, or the majority of the church (as Farrakhan does have his followers). Neither of these is proof that the pastor of TUCC would have chosen Farrakhan as the awardee (on the other hand, maybe he was the behind the scenes pro-Farrakhan agitator). If the pastor privately disagreed with the choice of Farrakhan, this might be logrolling. He could have agreed to publicly not reveal a division between TUCC and Trinity Newsmagazine, in exchange for some other compromise elsewhere within the church.

I think it's most likely that the Rev. Wright is himself sympathetic to Farrakhan and a supporter of Farrakhan on at least some grounds, and that Wright is personally sufficiently untroubled by Farrakhan's anti-Jewish prejudice that Wright doesn't rock the boat. It's bad that Wright is not upset about anti-Jewish racism. Wright is focused on the struggle African-Americans, and anti-Jewish racism is orthagonal to that concern.

I completely agree that Obama should state the obvious: that he disagrees with Farrakhan's odious views. And I agree with those who point out that Obama, in his actions and words, does not appear at all to be anti-Semetic.

But given that controlling a church that is governed by its congregation under rules of corporate governance is like herding cats, I think that questions of what's going on and what Obama thinks ought to precede guilt by association.
1.15.2008 9:11am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
While this story exists in it's own right, I do suspect the hand of political rivals in its timing.

"Sister Souljah"ing Farakhan right before the votes in predominantly white states like NH and IA would have been an obvious vote-winner. Having to do it right before the SC primary in which black votes are a big deal takes a lot more political guts.

Oh well:
(1) That's why a smart politican pulls his own skeletons out of the closet in a time and manner of his own chosing.
(2) Now we get to see if Obama's really ready for thbig time. His failure to act in accordance with (1) indicates maybe not, but he's still got a good chance to prove otherwise, and maybe even strengthen his appeal among moderates if he plays this thing right.
1.15.2008 9:11am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I think that questions of what's going on and what Obama thinks ought to precede guilt by association.

If Obama wants the question of "what he thinks" to "precede guilt by association" all he has to do is open his mouth and tell us.
1.15.2008 9:15am
Lugo:
The story would have traction if Obama himself radiated signs of bigotry. But he doesn't.

His wife, on the other hand, clearly does.
1.15.2008 9:29am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ralph: "That's quite a bit stronger than 'posts on Powerline's blog without being kicked off' "

I have never claimed that anyone should be "kicked off," or that any messages should have been deleted. But there is no excuse for an administrator to be silent, if the situation is brought to their attention.

"We can all play 'six degrees of separation' "

Indeed, and in this instance some anti-Obama folks have decided to play that game. Therefore they should not be surprised that the game can also be played in reverse.

By Cohen's standards, what Hinderaker did is wrong, and it's wrong for the GOP candidates to share a site that knowingly hosts Holocaust denial.
1.15.2008 9:30am
Michael B (mail):
"Kristol's argument is really, really silly. First of all, the fact that the election hadn't happened yet doesn't mean much, because everyone except Rove knew and was admitting that the Dems were going to win." jukeboxgrad

While I put that up as an FYI type of ref. - though also because some were suggesting Obama's church and pastor affiliation merely reflected "guilt by association" (which is dubious, since it's Obama who chose the association as related, presumably, to a significant aspect of his life) - I hardly think the Sunni Arab tribes were considering the predictions of the election in their calculus more than they were considering al Qaeda's terror, dissolution or whatever the better term might be. In that sense "silly" is better applied to your own offering.
1.15.2008 9:31am
hawkins:
""they [the Jews] are the greatest controllers of black minds, black intelligence.""

No doubt Farrakhan is an anti-semite, but this seams like an odd choice of quotes to condemn. Clearly ignorant, but it doesnt seem too disparaging to me.
1.15.2008 9:47am
Mike Keenan:
Is it possible for someone who is not anti-semitic to be a member of this church?

This church calls itself "unashamedly Black". Would any candidate as a member of an "unashamedly White" church be running for president?

I may be voting for Obama (certainly in preference to 8 more years of Bush-Clinton), so I hope he can address these things and not let them fester.
1.15.2008 9:50am
Temp Guest (mail):
The Democrats have been playing the race and ethnicity card for about thirty years now. It's pure Schadenfreude to see the party about to be blown sky high by the explosives they've been toying with these past three decades. It will be interesting to see how the Dems attempt to extricate themselves from their self-created Zugzwang.

(Notice that I'm being nice by ignoring the ignoble history of the party whose origins are based on racism and support of slavery and most of whose history has involved explicit support for Jim Crow and the Klan.)
1.15.2008 9:50am
BD:
This is ALL WRONG. The issue isn't that Obama's pastor is a fan of a guy with kooky racist and anti-semitic views - and what should Obama be made to do about it?

The issue is that Obama's ostensibly Christian church evidently adores the leader of the Nation of ISLAM!

To put it plainly: This story is intended to raise questions about whether Obama is a crypto-Muslim.

It's a Trojan Horse. We're meant to think the story is another PC-inspired hit about how the candidate has a friend who has a friend who is a bigot. In fact, it's intended to tap into the unspoken fear that we may be electing a fox in sheep's clothing.
1.15.2008 9:52am
Kevin P. (mail):

jukeboxgrad (mail):
All the major GOP candidates have set up shop in the Power Line Forum. It turns out that several of the regulars there have posted multiple comments promoting Holocaust denial, including statements like this:

And this Holocaust crap - geeeeeeeeeeez people, get over it

I waded through all the posts there until I found the cooment by rocketman and read it and his other posts in the thread. I do not read it as Holocaust denial. Rather, I read it as against obsession with the Holocaust, an event that happened 70 years ago.

And in any case, this is one commenter espousing one point of view. By analogy, because JF Thomas comments on VC posts regularly and his comments are usually not deleted, we would have to assume that Eugene Volokh associates with gun grabbing socialists.
1.15.2008 9:53am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):

I don't think David Bernstein has it in for Obama -- rather, whatever political damage is done to Obama is acceptable side-effect of marginalizing Farrakhan and Rev. Wright. Farrakhan is the real target, since Bernstein doesn't seem to know or care much about Rev. Wright apart from his apparent support for Farrakhan. Bernstein isn't really worried that Obama supports Farrakhan -- rather, Obama's mild attempt to be rid of the issue "doesn't really satisfy." You might think that the issue in picking a President would be the candidate's character, but not for Bernstein. And then Bernstein says that it's "fair to raise the issue." Note that all he's doing is "raising an issue" -- you search in vain for an argument about Obama. Presumably the argument would be: Because Obama refuses to dissassociate himself more strongly with a pastor who supports Farrakhan, one can conclude that he supports Farrakhan. Bernstein won't say this, because it's borderline loopy. Anyone who has watched Obama speaks understands full well that Obama rejects what Farrakhan is about.

But Bernstein knows this. This post isn't about what Obama thinks -- it's about trying to punish Obama for failing to do more to marginalize Farrakhan.

A better way to marginalize the Farrakhans would be to elect a unifier like Obama, rather than a more divisive figure (from either party). Obama would deprive Farrakhan of oxygen. Bernstein's approach simply fans the flames.
1.15.2008 9:58am
SI (mail):
I could thank you for ruining my breakfast. You are imputing to Obama the sentiments of a different person - granted it is a person who is his admitted "spiritual advisor." Nevertheless, your tone clearly condemns Obama without mentioning any statements by him concerning this matter.

Cohen's article does mention something you neglected to:

Instead, as Obama's top campaign aide, David Axelrod, points out, Obama often has said that he and his minister sometimes disagree. Farrakhan, Axelrod told me, is one of those instances.


It's true that a political aide is likely attempting to spin what may become bad press. But here where nothing about Obama's campaign or in his past suggest that he supports Farrakhan directly, or would ever support Farrakhan's thoughts on race and stance on violence. There is simply no reason to think that the aide was being anything less than honest.

Furthermore there is a qualitative difference between having as your "spiritual advisor" a man who admires a third person who you may or may not admire, and agreeing to speak at an institution that actively promotes segregation.

You have two glaring logical flaws here: 1) imputing to Obama the opinions of his "spiritual advisor" (who is in turn admiring certain aspects of a man who is polarizing and racist); and 2) Equating personal support of a racist institution with accepting the advice of a religious figure who admires a racist (although nothing in anything you have provided indicates that Rev. Wright admired Farrakhan's racism).

When you couple this with the willful omission of the Obama campaign's counter-argument, you reveal your commitment to "fair and balanced" discussion of issues.
1.15.2008 10:01am
Cornellian (mail):
By analogy, because JF Thomas comments on VC posts regularly and his comments are usually not deleted, we would have to assume that Eugene Volokh associates with gun grabbing socialists.

And if EV ever runs for office someday, no doubt some people will claim exactly that.
1.15.2008 10:03am
Viceroy:

Obama's close ties to Rev. Wright and Trinity United raise two related issues. First, as I noted yesterday, Obama campaigns as a "uniter." Yet his spiritual mentor, and longtime pastor of his church, is an ardent admirer of Louis Farrakhan.


Yea, the minute we start talking about someone's close ties to someone who then has close ties to someone objectionable a whole lot of candidates are going to be in a fix.

These "arguments" seem fairly tenuous and if applied with equal rigor to other candidates would leave one without many choices.
1.15.2008 10:03am
Perry:
Wow - Obama criticized for an award that was given by the newsmagazine published by his church that has 10,000 people in its congregation.

Did we get to Kevin Bacon yet or do we still need a link or two?
1.15.2008 10:10am
vclurker (mail):
First, Obama undoubtedly got a lot of political capital in his early political career by associating with a large, Afrocentric church led by an influential minister in Chicago. You take political credit, you also get the blame.

Second, fine to note, as Cohen does, that Obama shows no signs of exhibiting personal bigotry. But if I were a member of a church that was honoring Farrakhan for his commitment to truth, I'd at the very least send an email about it to the pastor, and if I were someone as influential as Obama, I'd have a sit-down with the leadership about it. Failure to address my concerns would lead to resignation. I understand Obama's been rather busy lately, but it's not too late to say something about it.
1.15.2008 10:16am
KR (mail):
If there's some reason Obama deserves a special pass on this, I can't think of it.


Because he's a Democrat, obviously.

Indeed, and in this instance some anti-Obama folks have decided to play that game. Therefore they should not be surprised that the game can also be played in reverse.


Ok, but you can't seriously think that "pastor for 20 years, prominently mentioned in autobiography" is the same as "troll on an Internet forum"? If someone accepts an interview on Slashdot, does that mean that they support pouring hot grits down Natalie Portman's pants?
1.15.2008 10:17am
Adam J:
No no, Professor Bernstein has a good point, Obama must be antisemitic because his "spiritual mentor" thinks highly of a person that is antisemitic. Of course, Obama's top campaign aid says in the article that Obama doesn't agree with the Rev. with regard to Farrakhan, but why should we believe him?
1.15.2008 10:19am
c.j. ammenheuser:
BD:
Exactly.
And therefore rises the unthinkable question: is he?
1.15.2008 10:19am
Elliot Reed (mail):
This church calls itself "unashamedly Black". Would any candidate as a member of an "unashamedly White" church be running for president?
Responses like this make me think the Farrakhan thing is a red herring and the real attack line here is that Obama has the gall to attend a black church. How dare he do such a thing! He should attend a white church like white people do!
1.15.2008 10:23am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Instead, as Obama's top campaign aide, David Axelrod, points out, Obama often has said that he and his minister sometimes disagree. Farrakhan, Axelrod told me, is one of those instances.


That's kind of nice, but it's not the same as hearing it from the horse's mouth. The indirection of it raises the suspicion (not certainty, just suspicion) that Obama is trying to have it both ways: trying to give whites the impression that he's not a Farakhan-like racist, while hoping Farakhan's black fans assume that he is.

All Obama has to do is speak for himself and denounce Farakhan "loud and proud" and the issue goes away. Failure to do so will instead make the above suspicion grow ever stronger, and rightly so.
1.15.2008 10:24am
pete (mail) (www):
Besides the fact that Louis Farrakhan is an anit-semite he has also preached some very bizzare things about UFO's. From a speech in Chicago in 1996:


The final thing is the destruction. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Motherplane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Ezekial, in the Old Testament, saw a wheel that looked like a cloud by day but a pillar of fire by night. The Hon. Elijah Muhammad said that that wheel was built on the island of Nippon, which is now called Japan, by some of the original scientists. It took 15 billion dollars in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel. America does not yet know the composition of the steel used to make an instrument like it. It is a circular plane, and the Bible says that it never makes turns. Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. He said there are 1,500 small wheels in this mother wheel which is a half mile by a half mile. This Mother Wheel is like a small human built planet. Each one of these small planes carry three bombs.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said these planes were used to set up mountains on the earth. The Qur'an says it like this: We have raised mountains on the earth lest it convulse with you. How do you raise a mountain, and what is the purpose of a mountain? Have you ever tried to balance a tire? You use weights to keep the tire balanced. That's how the earth is balanced, with mountain ranges. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that we have a type of bomb that, when it strikes the earth a drill on it is timed to go into the earth and explode at the height that you wish the mountain to be. If you wish to take the mountain up a mile, you time the drill to go a mile in and then explode. The bombs these planes have are timed to go one mile down and bring up a mountain one mile high, but it will destroy everything within a 50 square mile radius. The white man writes in his above top secret memos o the UFOs. He sees them around his military installation like they are spying.

That Mother Wheel is a dreadful looking thing. White folks are making movies now to make these planes look like fiction, but it is based on something real. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that Mother Plane is so powerful that with sound reverberating in he atmosphere, just with a sound, she can crumble buildings. And the final act of destruction will be that Allah will make a wall out of the atmosphere over and around North America. You will see it, but you won't be able to penetrate it. He said Allah (God) will cut a shortage in gravity and a fire will start from 13-layers up and burn down, burning the atmosphere. When it gets to the earth, it will burn everything. It will burn for 310 years and take 690 years to cool off.


The Nation of Islam preaches some bizarre things including that the white race was created by the evil big headed scientist Yakub over the course of 600 years on the island of Patmos to oppress the black man for 6000 years. I have no idea why any Christian organization would chose to honor Farrakhan for proclaiming the truth.
1.15.2008 10:25am
The Cabbage (mail):
Obama fans suffer from the same delusional he-walks-on-water thinking that overwhelms Billy Beane fans.

I can't imagine what would happen if Obama traded for Jason Kendall.
1.15.2008 10:26am
AK (mail):
I've never had much interest in the condemnation game, in which candidates are judged for their suitability for office by their ability to say the right words about associates who say the wrong words. It's not that I don't think Obama's connection to Kevin Bacon Louis Farrakhan is probative of his views on racial equality. On the contrary: it tells us at least something about Obama's tolerance for bigotry and racial demagoguery. Rather, I object to the part of the condemnation game where Obama can make everything right by rebuking the associate for his bigotry. Obama condemns, the press applauds, and everyone moves on to something else. It shouldn't be that simple.

Obama should not have been unaware of Wright's admiration for Farrakhan, nor should he have been ignorant of his church's theology. There is no excuse for Obama not to have disassociated himself from Wright and his church, or at least voiced any disagreement he might have had. If Obama comes out tomorrow with a condemnation, it will be plain that he's doing so only because the public outcry began to jeopardize his political viability. No intelligent person should fall for that.

I never call on any politician to fire offensive subordinates or to dissassociate themselves from offensive friends and allies. If they're not smart enough to do that on their own, they're either bigoted themselves or too dumb and tone-deaf for office. When John Edwards hired that foul-mouthed, anti-Christian blogger Amanda Marcotte, Christians demanded that she be fired. I was as offended as anyone, but I didn't demand that Edwards fire her, for the simple reason that firing her in response to demands from Christians would not convince me that there was no room for anti-Christian bigotry in the Edwards campaign. If I demanded that she be fired and Edwards fired her, Edwards could say "look, I did what you wanted, now be quiet." I'm not giving him that opportunity.
1.15.2008 10:26am
Adam J:
Mike Keenan- There's fundamental differences between Black Nationalism and White Nationalism. Black Nationalism generally is devoted to African Americans achieving equality (although there are exceptions, such as Farrakhan himself). White Nationalism, on the other hand, is only dedicated to white superiority.
1.15.2008 10:27am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Second, fine to note, as Cohen does, that Obama shows no signs of exhibiting personal bigotry. But if I were a member of a church that was honoring Farrakhan for his commitment to truth, I'd at the very least send an email about it to the pastor, and if I were someone as influential as Obama, I'd have a sit-down with the leadership about it. Failure to address my concerns would lead to resignation. I understand Obama's been rather busy lately, but it's not too late to say something about it.

Of course, you don't know what Obama has said or done behind closed doors. You want him to make a public stink, notwithstanding that that's not what most people do when they disagree with decisions made within their congregation.
1.15.2008 10:27am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Of course, Obama's top campaign aid says in the article that Obama doesn't agree with the Rev. with regard to Farrakhan, but why should we believe him?
Because he's a campaign aide, duh.
Do you believe anything Karl Rove says?
Obama's got the same kind of "questionable supporters &associates" problem pretty much every politican has. If he addresses it as skillfully as a Bush or a Clinton would, he's still in the game. If he addresses it as badly as Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani have, he's toast.
1.15.2008 10:29am
Ex parte McCardle:
Temp Guest: Schadenfreude and Zugzwang, eh? It must all be part of the same Weltanschauung.
1.15.2008 10:30am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Obama may disagree with Wright on whatever it is politically inconvenient to be caught agreeing with Wright on.
However, spiritual advisers are not assigned by the Bureau of Spiritual Adviser Assignments. They are chosen. They can be unchosen.
Obama may disagree with Wright on one thing or another, but it's clear that the disagreement doesn't rise to the level of requiring Obama to find a more agreeable SI.
So, what does Wright offer which is so wonderful that supporting Farrakhan and his violence, anti-Semitism, and separatism have to be accepted as unavoidable although distasteful baggage?
1.15.2008 10:31am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Besides the fact that Louis Farrakhan is an anit-semite he has also preached some very bizzare things about UFO's

Does he have any connections with the Kucinich campaign?
1.15.2008 10:31am
GMUSL '07 Alum (mail):
No scare quotes for Lerner? He isn't even a real rabbi!
1.15.2008 10:31am
Tom952 (mail):
If Obama makes it into the general election he will be hit hard on the issue of his sympathies for the Muslim point of view. If he can't distance himself from Farrakhan and Farrakhan's supporters, it will destroy his national political viability.
1.15.2008 10:31am
MDJD2B (mail):

This church calls itself "unashamedly Black". Would any candidate as a member of an "unashamedly White" church be running for president?

I have no problem with members of an ethnic group asserting solidarity and pride in their ethnicity.

It is erroneous, I think, to assert a parallelism between "Black" and "White" in American society. Blacks, African-Americans, or whatever is the appelation du jour, comprise an ethnic group like Irish, Jewish, or Greek. The "White" experience and culture is more heterogeneous; "Whites" do not share the history and cultural indicia to the same extent that African-Americans do.
1.15.2008 10:32am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I love election season, when people get so attached to their candidate of choice that they lose any objectivity about that candidate, and try to pillory anyone who raises a question about that candidate.

For those who argue that I'm implicitly accusing Obama of being a Muslim, or explicitly an anti-Semite, you've either got a fertile imagination, or you're intentionally trying to avoid the issue of whether Obama's associations are consistent with his message by distorting what I wrote.
1.15.2008 10:33am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Well said, Richard Aubrey.
1.15.2008 10:37am
TL James:

jukebox:
Obama must be pretty clean if the people who are afraid of him can't come up with anything better than this.


And "the people who are afraid of him" will never come up with anything that will stick precicely b/c he's black. Any attack on him must be motivated by racial animus; ergo, the attackers are racist. Obama never has to lead with the race card; all he has to do is respond with it.

It was fine for Gore's people to discuss Bush's drug and alcohol use in 2000, but god forbid anyone (even another black man, Bob Johnson) do that to Obama.
1.15.2008 10:38am
AK (mail):
This church calls itself "unashamedly Black". Would any candidate as a member of an "unashamedly White" church be running for president?

Of course not. But a parishoner of St. Patrick's, St. Anthony's, or St. Casimir's could proudly claim to belong to an Irish, Italian, or Polish church without raising an eyebrow.
1.15.2008 10:40am
Meh (mail):
Tyrone Slothrop: Of course, you don't know what Obama has said or done behind closed doors. You want him to make a public stink, notwithstanding that that's not what most people do when they disagree with decisions made within their congregation.

Most people are not running for President of the United States.
1.15.2008 10:48am
tgb1000 (mail):
I love election season, when people get so attached to their candidate of choice that they lose any objectivity about that candidate, and try to pillory anyone who raises a question about that candidate.

Hello Pot, I'd like you to meet the Kettle.
1.15.2008 10:49am
First Time Offender Doing 55 Years (mail):

Finally, it strikes me as completely fair to raise this issue, at least given the current accepted role of religion in politics in the U.S., and the widespread importance placed on tolerance.

And there's the problem. For some reason, we seem compelled to pay attention to religious leaders (whether they are political figures like Farrakhan or "spiritual advisors" like Wright) simply because they are self-professed religious leaders.

Let's face it, we wouldn't give these crackpots the time of day if they were merely wandering the streets spouting this garbage. But add "Rev." or "Nation of Islam" to the title, however, and you get instant credibility and media attention.

I say we reject the "current accepted role of religion in politics" in the U.S.

Or, if we're really going to talk about the religious views of candidates, let's get down to the nitty gritty: do they really believe the crazy stuff in their sacred texts?
1.15.2008 10:50am
TGGP (mail) (www):
People are routinely judged, after all, by the company they keep
Doesn't mean they ought to be.

If you want to make a Saileresque argument that this reveals he retains some hangups and resentments and is likely to be act as a Big Man in office, go ahead. I think that as President he will wield a lot of power and we should be concerned by things more important than who his reverend endorses.
1.15.2008 10:50am
ejo:
attend a white church like white people do-does that mean, in the poster's opinion, all black churches are run by racists and race baiters? surely, if your spiritual adviser and reverend is a supporter of a jew hating lunatic, it might come back to haunt you. people might even raise it as an issue.
1.15.2008 10:53am
Adam J:
Politics must be a harsh place, where one has to eliminate any friendship merely because they say the wrong thing. I haven't even heard any real evidence that Wright is a bigot. Has Wright ever said anything negative about the Jewish faith? The only "proof" is that Wright thinks highly of Farrakhan. However Farrakhan has done many things for the African American community that are laudible. I think Wright's words displays a little too much tolerance for a bigot, and I'm certainly critical of this. But its a HUGE stretch to criticize Obama for this and try to impute what Wright said to Obama. If Wright HIMSELF starts preaching black supremecy or other racist nonsense then I'd completely agree with Professor Bernstein- Obama's choice not to disassociate himself would certainly call into question whether he should be President. But I don't think any reasonable person in Obama's shoes would destroy such an important relationship in their life over what Wright has done.
1.15.2008 10:57am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Most people are not running for President of the United States.

It's unclear to me why running for President should change one's relationship with one's church.
1.15.2008 11:00am
AK (mail):
It was fine for Gore's people to discuss Bush's drug and alcohol use in 2000, but god forbid anyone (even another black man, Bob Johnson) do that to Obama.

I voted for Bush twice and there's no way I'm voting for Obama, but I do see a bit of a difference between the two. A presidential candidate's past drug use or (other) illegal activity is a fair point of discussion. Bush wasn't candid about his recreational drug use, and the public deserved answers. It's unfortunate that Gore had to raise the issue, but I do think Bush had to take responsibility for his past.

I'm satisfied with Obama's candor on the subject. I don't think there's really anything else we need to know. If for no other reason than a spirit of fair play, I don't think we should be beating Obama over the head with activities that he has freely admitted to and explained to my satisfaction.

On the other hand, I do think it would be fair to ask Obama how his drug use has shaped his attitude to the War on Drugs. For the past 15 years we've had someone in the White House who has used illegal drugs, and if Obama wins that will be another four or eight years. In light of the fact that winners occasionally use drugs, presidential candidates who have used drugs should be pressed particularly hard on why the War on Drugs must continue.
1.15.2008 11:03am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Let's face it, we wouldn't give these crackpots the time of day if they were merely wandering the streets spouting this garbage.
My problem is that Obama hangs with people who do give crackpots not just the the time of day, but awards for being an all-around great guy.

The guy Obama chose for a "personal spiritual advisor" seems to have judgement problems - is Obama going to be any better picking an Attorney General? I don't want another Janet Reno.

And I don't want elect another idiot who'll look Vladimir Putin in the eye, "see his soul" and decide he's a great guy.

A big part of the President's job is judging people's character, and another big part is holding the people around you responsible when they screw up. We've had seven years of a guy who was average at the first and terrible at the second. If Obama wants to replace him he must demonstrate that he's better at both.
1.15.2008 11:05am
Jaspar Lamar Crabb (mail):
Cohen writes: "It's important to state right off that nothing in Obama's record suggests he harbors anti-Semitic views or agrees with Wright when it comes to Farrakhan."

To summarize, Obama is not an anti-semite, his past drug use is not a legitimate issue, and we don't owe Orin a beer.
1.15.2008 11:06am
K Parker (mail):
"Whites" do not share the history and cultural indicia to the same extent that African-Americans do.


Neither do African-Americans, either; compare the backgrounds of Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, and, oh, I don't know, maybe Obama himself if you need an example.
1.15.2008 11:07am
K Parker (mail):
Adam J,

I don't think people are criticizing Obama for what Wright did, they're criticizing him for failing to dissociate himself from it. You can still disagree that the latter is important, or necessary, but it's a quite different thing.
1.15.2008 11:11am
AK (mail):
Or, if we're really going to talk about the religious views of candidates, let's get down to the nitty gritty: do they really believe the crazy stuff in their sacred texts?

The Republicans were asked this question in an early debate. I believe the question was phrased as "do you believe that every word of the Bible is true?" I recall it being a show-of-hands question, which I don't think is particularly fair, but your question has been asked.
1.15.2008 11:12am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Tyrone (and others),

Let's say that Mitt Romney identified a "spiritual advisor" on the par of Rev. Wright, who converted him to being a religious Mormon. This spiritual advisor led a very successful church, to which Romney belongs, with all sorts of wonderful youth and other programs. The church also recently gave an award to a leader of one of the polygamous, heretical Mormon churches that believes that men have the right and duty to beat their wives for disobedience. The "spiritual advisor" praised this individual as someone with a "helpful," "honest," "eyeopening" , etc. perspective on relations between the sexes. Think this isn't going to be an issue.
1.15.2008 11:13am
TL James:
AK:

In many ways, I'm inclined to agree with your point on candor. My main point (perhaps not well articulated) is that Obama, by virtue of being black, has the power to turn any criticism into a racial issue ("Why woul you ask about [insert issue here]? Is it because he's a black man?")

It's the same boy-who-cried-wolf mentality that motivates the likes of Sharpton and Jackson. Any issue that remotely touches the black community, and is then referenced by a white person, must be turned into a divisive wedge issue that plays upon white guilt(Jena 6, Imus, the Tiger Woods lynching comment on ESPN).

Sadly, like the boy who cried wolf, people may begin to ignore these voices when a serious issue actually does come up. If we can't separate the serious from the asinine (and hold both blacks and whites to the same standard), then forget about progress on the race issue.
1.15.2008 11:18am
Yankev (mail):

By Cohen's standards, what Hinderaker did is wrong, and it's wrong for the GOP candidates to share a site that knowingly hosts Holocaust denial.


And yet here are you and I at VC, jukeboxgrad, despite frequent posts by Farfaman.
1.15.2008 11:19am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
I love election season, when people get so attached to their candidate of choice that they lose any objectivity about that candidate, and try to pillory anyone who raises a question about that candidate.

If you have a question about Obama, you're not asking it. Neither is Richard Cohen, who writes: "I don't for a moment think that Obama shares Wright's views on Farrakhan." The point of the exercise is to try to pressure Obama to disown Wright and Farrakhan.
1.15.2008 11:26am
Kevin T. Keith (www):
I think your comparisons are unfair.

The other candidates you mention were all held to acount for their own statements, actions, or declarations of faith. Bush made a deliberate choice to speak at a notoriously racist, reactionary institution at a time when it practiced racial segregation. Romney was a declared member of a church with explicitly racist beliefs, for a lengthy period during which that dogma was in official effect. Giuliani and McCain personally courted and praised racist, misogynist, homophobic extremists and appeared at institutions promoting their beliefs.

Obama has no direct connection with Farrakhan. He is a member of a church that publishes a magazine that gave Farrakhan an award - but that award is not part of the churche's official dogma, and membership in the church does not imply agreement with the award, nor is the award an ongoing point of doctrine that would be expected to shape Obama's beliefs over his lifetime. Obama is close to the minister of the church, but the minister is not the publisher of the magazine, and at any rate the minister's opinions are not Obama's responsibility, nor are Farrakhan's opinions the minister's opinions, necessarily. Obama has not courted or praised Farrakhan, as many Republicans have done with Falwell and Robertson, and he has not even explicitly endorsed the beliefs of his minister, who himself has not explicitly endorsed the inflammatory statements of Farrakhan that you attempt to link him to. In fact, Obama has disavowed the minister's opinion of Farrakhan - something the Republican candidates never did with Falwell or Robertson, and only did so very grudgingly and very late with Bob Jones.

The situations are in no way comparable, and it makes no sense to hold Obama accountable for the statements of someone who was profiled in a magazine article that quoted a minister of a church that Obama attends. You could hardly find a more circuitous "linkage" between the two - but when confronted with this "connection" Obama disavowed it. That's more than could reasonably be asked in the first place.
1.15.2008 11:29am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
when confronted with this "connection" Obama disavowed it.

No, Obama's campaign manager says he thinks Obama would disavow it. Not quite the same.
1.15.2008 11:33am
AK (mail):

"Whites" do not share the history and cultural indicia to the same extent that African-Americans do.

Neither do African-Americans, either; compare the backgrounds of Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, and, oh, I don't know, maybe Obama himself if you need an example.
All this is true: Powell's Caribbean-black heritage is different from Thomas' American-black heritage and Obama's Kenyan heritage.

But what do you want? It's not okay for Obama to belong to a "proudly black" church, but would it be okay for him to belong to a "proudly Kenyan" church or, more broadly, a "proudly African" church? Is there enough daylight between Caribbean slaves and American slaves that Powell could only belong to a "proudly Caribbean" church, and not a "proudly black" church? Or do descendents of Caribbean slaves have enough in common with descendents of American slaves that they can belong to churches made up of predominantly the latter?

I don't know what your rules are, but I think this is silly. The closest parallel for the cultural heritage that blacks in America share is the cultural heritage that individual white ethnicities share. For the most part it's difficult if not impossible to determine anything about the specific African cultural heritage of American blacks. Pan-Africanism is all they've got, so I don't have any exception to them celebrating it.
1.15.2008 11:34am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Let's say that Mitt Romney identified a "spiritual advisor" on the par of Rev. Wright, who converted him to being a religious Mormon. This spiritual advisor led a very successful church, to which Romney belongs, with all sorts of wonderful youth and other programs. The church also recently gave an award to a leader of one of the polygamous, heretical Mormon churches that believes that men have the right and duty to beat their wives for disobedience. The "spiritual advisor" praised this individual as someone with a "helpful," "honest," "eyeopening" , etc. perspective on relations between the sexes. Think this isn't going to be an issue.

There are positive and normative questions here. Is it going to be an issue? Most likely. In the current situation, I suspect that Obama is doing his level best to keep it from becoming an issue by indicating mildly that he doesn't agree with Wright on all issues (read: Farrakhan), but by saying it in a sufficiently low-key way that the disavowal doesn't become an issue. If all you're talking about is press management and what becomes an issue, then you should realize that there's no upside for Obama here. If he were perceived as beholden to the sort of people who like Farrakhan, then he could use this to move to the middle a la Bill Clinton's Sistah Souljah moment. But that's not where his support is coming from, and he doesn't gain anything by reminding white voters that he's black or distancing himself from (some) blacks.

But you're not just talking about the positive question of what will be an issue. You are making an effort to make it an issue, while remaining coy about what you're doing.

At the same time, you're not working very hard to explain why this saga tells us much about Obama, because it doesn't. Obama's message is the polar opposite of Farrakhan's. If you wanted to rebuke Farrakhan, you would support Obama. In a United States that can elect Obama President, what currency does Farrakhan's message still have?
1.15.2008 11:41am
Adam J:
K Parker- The article itself has Obama disassociating himself from it, didn't you read it?

Also, the Prof's wonderful little post here is amazingly biased. The first clue is that he never even points out that Obama's advisor said that Obama disagrees with Wright. The second is the conclusion that "Rev. Wright's praise for Farrakhan is precisely based on Farrakhan's racist demagoguery." How he reaches this conclusion- because Wright said Farrakhan's "astounding and eyeopening" analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" ... is "helpful and honest." Obviously this is a poorly chosen statement (at the very least), but I don't see anywhere where Wright says it was the "racist demagoguery" that he is praising. That's a conclusion that's just not supported by the evidence. The next conclusion is "Rev. Wright will inevitably become one of the most influential ministers in the world, and his church one of the most important churches." Um... who is Bush's priest anyone? Oh wait, nobody knows. Why should we assume that Wright will gain this substantial influence? Well according to Bernstein it's just because of his bizarre example of how Rabbi Michael Lerner got a "moment in the sun" after being consulted by Clinton. Next, the Professor provides tries to explain how this is fair play.. but he doesn't explain why it's okay, just a lame attempt to say, look it happened here, so it must be okay.
1.15.2008 11:43am
Rusty (mail):
To make an analogy, if Hillary's church made Bob Phelps "Man of the Year" people would demand she quit or at least issue a strong condemnation. But Obama's supporters are very quick to dismiss this -- is it the target of the hate or their tollerance for it?
1.15.2008 11:48am
Adam J:
No, Obama's campaign manager says he thinks Obama would disavow it. Not quite the same.

We've stooped to outright lying now Ralph? You're quickly destroying your credibility. Here's the quote;

Instead, as Obama's top campaign aide, David Axelrod, points out, Obama often has said that he and his minister sometimes disagree. Farrakhan, Axelrod told me, is one of those instances.
1.15.2008 11:48am
ejo:
obama doesn't have much of a track record of anything. he was a legislative non-entity in Illinois. he hasn't done much nationally either. if you want to know about where he stands, you have to look to his associations. Tony Rezcko, Emil Jones, Rev. Wright. These are the people that have been there. he gets dirty money from some, he takes his marching orders from others and spiritual advice from the last.
1.15.2008 11:53am
Mr. Liberal:
Its nice to see that the deplorable David Bernstein is continuing his smear campaign.

Very mature.
1.15.2008 11:54am
neurodoc:
A few comments, if I may...

Over the course of many years, Richard Cohen has repeatedly and very commendably called out Farrakhan and his bigotry, along with those who would focus only on the "good" in Farrakhan, whatever that may be. (As an aside, let it be noted that Malcolm X's family earnestly believed that Farrakhan was implicated in Malcolm's assassination.) It is ridiculous to suggest now that Cohen is anyone's cat's-paw in this latest Farrakhan business, really out "to raise questions about whether Obama is a crypto-Muslim."

Those who saw George W's appearance at Bob Jones U as a gesture to the bigots in South Carolina and elsewhere had good reason to see it as such. Those who saw Reagan's '84 campaign kickoff in Philadelphia, MS, where Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney were so cruelly murdered by Klan types, as another reach out to bigots had very good reason to see that too as such. When those seeking to defend Obama's failure to distance himself from his church's celebration of Farrakhan cite Bush's appearance at Bob Jones U, they are not only doing the tu quoque thing, they are also implicitly accepting a likeness between Bush at Bob Jones U and Obama having as his spiritual mentor someone who admires Farrakhan. That is a defense?

I personally think that Ron Paul is more closely linked to racism through those newsletters than Obama through his church. But that said, I don't recall that those who are saying now in defense of Obama that he has not espoused anything like what Farrakhan espouses have said in the course of other recent threads that Paul shouldn't be taken to task for the hateful stuff in the newsletters because he never openly espoused those things as a candidate or officeholder.

And jukeboxgrad, why isn't it "Sister Souljah" time for Obama, as Ralph Phelan puts it? I think it would be a most opportune time for it, as it was for Bill back in '92. At the moment, Obama and his camp are all over Hillary for her remark that you needed an LBJ in the White House for Martin Luther King's goals to become a reality. That might be seen as playing the race card, so why not play another race card in the most excellent of ways, denouncing racism no matter the source, calling out Farrakhan in particular.
1.15.2008 11:54am
MDJD2B (mail):

Neither do African-Americans, either; compare the backgrounds of Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, and, oh, I don't know, maybe Obama himself if you need an example.

Most African-Americans in the United states (though not Powell or Obama) share a history of enslavement of their ancestors in the Soputh (true of Powell, but in the West Indies) followed by life under de jure or de facto segregation for at least another 100 years.

this has resulted in unique speech patterns, diet, music, rleigious expression, etc., shared my many or most African-Americans, but distinct from the majority culture.

Yes, I appreciate that Kathleen Battle and Charlie Pride have musical careers atypical for African Americans, that Reuben Greenburg's religious expression is different, etc.

Similarly, there is sufficient variation in the expression and variation of members of other ethnic groups that it is unfair to generalize of stereotype one person on the basis of therse commonalities.

Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to regard most Blacks as belonging to an ethnic group here in the US. Whitres are fragmented into ethnic groups. Being proud that you share a hommon heritage with Einstein of Yeats, or that your ancestors came over on the Mayflower, strikes one as different as saying that one is proud that one's ancestors are European. Reveling in your Sunday spaghetti dinner or teaching you kids Greek has no counterpart with some sort of pan-White identification. In the context of the contemporary US, Black identification seems more ethnic, though not all Blacks share the slave/Jim Crow ehistorical experience and the cultural attributes of the descendants of those who did.



Nevertheless,
1.15.2008 11:57am
Adam J:
Rusty - The difference is Farrakhan is a bigot and a philanthropist... Phelps is just a bigot. If one honors Phelps it could only be because he is a bigot, whereas honoring Farrakhan could be for two reasons, either because he is a bigot, or because he is a philanthropist. I think the evidence points towards the latter. I of course question the wisdom of the award, since it clearly sends a mixed message, and Farrakhan is a creep, but I haven't seen any reason to assume that the church agrees with Farrakhan's black supremacy views. And until I do, I don't see why Obama has to break off ties to his church and his pastor, something that would be obviously very painful for any individual.
1.15.2008 12:02pm
BD:
To David Bernstein: I'm not questioning your motives in writing about this. Obviously, Wright is an odd choice for spiritual advisor given Obama's image as a "uniter." Nevertheless, the greater import of this story, in my view, is that it creates an association between Obama and "Islam." Note that I'm not suggesting that anyone who writes about the story is attempting to draw the connection to Islam.
1.15.2008 12:06pm
calmom:
This is a test for Obama. If he truly thinks that opposing racism and anti-Semitism in all forms is important, he'll denounce this award to Farrakhan loudly and clearly.

If he doesn't he's a hypocrite trying to have it both ways.
1.15.2008 12:11pm
Rusty (mail):
AdamJ:

I'm not sure that works -- nearly every evil figure in history did some good for his/her people. Saddam Hussein did all sorts of charity and was beloved in his home province. And particularly in Christianity, one does not make up for evil by doing good works. I'm sure some of the pedophile Catholic priests did some good for their parishoners, but they still deserve utter contempt. You can't be *that* harmful to one group and excuse it with your good works to another.

In any event, it's not just Farrakhan -- I can't imagine Jews are that comfortable with Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Obama foreign policy brain trust. And Obama's community, Hyde Park in Chicago, is as out-there-lefty as anywhere in the country, the handful of conservative economists and lawyers out of the University of Chicago notwithstanding. Jews and Israel supporters have to be thinking "if this guy gets into office and needs to build some good will with Arab nations to help withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, what would keep him from following Brzezinski's advice?" And being nonchalant about someone like Farrakhan can't help that.
1.15.2008 12:14pm
Mr. Liberal:
Public_Defender,



To my fellow Obama supporters, if you don't agree with me on principle, agree with me on practicality grounds. Obama will be eaten alive in the general election if the best he can do is, "I don't always agree with Rev. Wright."


Voters in the general election are not as stupid as you think.

That is actually an excellent defense. "I do not always agree with Rev. Wright."

Many people have also been in the position of agreeing with a pastor of a Church they attend on an issue or two.

That doesn't mean they abandon all the social networks they have built with others in the church.

Oh wait. Is David Bernstein going to condemn everyone in the congregation? They must all be bad people to go to this church.

Give me a break. This is a stupid and pathetic smear campaign. David Bernstein is the one who should be ashamed of himself. I would expect this from a crass political operative, but not a supposedly intelligent law professor.

Hey, but maybe I am giving Bernstein too much credit. This is a guy who defends Lochner.
1.15.2008 12:17pm
neurodoc:
I wonder whom the Trumpet Newmagazine, published by Reverend Wrights' daughters, has singled out for praise before settling on Farrakhan this year. Others equally unpraiseworthy?
1.15.2008 12:25pm
Cornellian (mail):
If you have a question about Obama, you're not asking it. Neither is Richard Cohen, who writes: "I don't for a moment think that Obama shares Wright's views on Farrakhan." The point of the exercise is to try to pressure Obama to disown Wright and Farrakhan.

No, the point is just to get Obama to talk about Farrakhan so clips of him doing so can be replayed endlessly by all the usual suspects. Even a clip of Obama saying nothing more than "I have never met Farrakhan" will be sufficient for that purpose.
1.15.2008 12:25pm
Adam J:
Rusty - I never said that Farrakhan is excused by the good work that he does. And for that reason I think the award is a terrible idea and I think the award indirectly supports antisemitism. What I don't think is that the award was intended to support antisemitism, but was instead given for the good work that Farrakhan has done. I'd love to see Obama call into question the granting of the award, but I don't think his silence says anything at all- it's just too attenuated to put Obama's friends statement and acts that indirectly support antisemitism on him. I dunno about you, but I have friends who are pretty clearly prejudiced- you often don't realize your friend's prejudices, and when you do you tend to overlook them and see their virtues. I've said things to my friends personally about their prejudices, but it would be a different thing entirely to make a public statement about it.
1.15.2008 12:26pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
From a NYT profile of Obama:

Twenty years ago at Trinity, Mr. Obama, then a community organizer in poor Chicago neighborhoods, found the African-American community he had sought all his life, along with professional credibility as a community organizer and an education in how to inspire followers. He had sampled various faiths but adopted none until he met Mr. Wright, a dynamic pastor who preached Afrocentric theology, dabbled in radical politics and delivered music-and-profanity-spiked sermons.

The above concerns me.

But this:
Few of those at Mr. Wright’s tribute in March knew of the pressures that Mr. Obama’s presidential run was placing on the relationship between the pastor and his star congregant. Mr. Wright’s assertions of widespread white racism and his scorching remarks about American government have drawn criticism, and prompted the senator to cancel his delivery of the invocation when he formally announced his candidacy in February.

reassures me a bit, but not completely.

It is hard to imagine, though, how Mr. Obama can truly distance himself from Mr. Wright. The Christianity that Mr. Obama adopted at Trinity has infused not only his life, but also his campaign. He began his presidential announcement with the phrase “Giving all praise and honor to God,” a salutation common in the black church. He titled his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” after one of Mr. Wright’s sermons, and often talks about biblical underdogs, the mutual interests of religious and secular America, and the centrality of faith in public life....

It is difficult to tell whether Mr. Obama’s religious and political beliefs are fused or simply run parallel.

And given Wright's undeniable influence and undeniable whackitude, Obama will have to show convincingly that it's the latter if he wants to be President.
1.15.2008 12:31pm
Mr. Liberal:

I love election season, when people get so attached to their candidate of choice that they lose any objectivity about that candidate, and try to pillory anyone who raises a question about that candidate.


I'm sorry. Seeing you try to attack someone because he didn't turn his back on his "spiritual advisor," who apparently has done a lot of good for him in his personal life, merely because he also has some objectionable views that are unrelated to the good he did.

That is called loyalty. That is called realizing that someone is more than their views, however flawed. Admirably qualities that you apparently lack.

Guess what. If everyone turned their back on everyone who had some objectionable views, you would have no friends. Alas, I don't condemn Eugene Volokh for his associations with you, even while I find your views to be totally objectionable and repugnant.

Grow up.
1.15.2008 12:31pm
Cro (mail):


Seems appropriate.

I don't think it will matter in the primary. Not many people in the Democratic primary get all that upset by these things. By the general, it may be forgotten.
1.15.2008 12:32pm
neurodoc:
Adam J, two questions for you: i) Have you openly and proudly identified any of those prejudiced friends as your "spiritual mentors," individuals who have dramatically influenced the course of your life, and counted yourself as one of their flock? ii) Are you running for president of the United States?
1.15.2008 12:35pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Seeing you try to attack someone because he didn't turn his back on his "spiritual advisor," who apparently has done a lot of good for him in his personal life, merely because he also has some objectionable views that are unrelated to the good he did.

When your "spiritual advisor" is a wing-nut, people rightly start to wonder about you.
1.15.2008 12:40pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
To those of you who keep accusing Obama's supporters of (God forbid!) "playing the race card":

I love this argument. Other people make racist attacks on Obama. Obama (or his supporters) respond by pointing out that these are racist attacks, and Obama is the one guilty of "playing the race card"? Why not the people making the racist attacks?
1.15.2008 12:40pm
Adam J:
Neurodoc- I don't see your point- could you explain it.

I'd also point out that I've yet to see any clear evidence Wright is prejudiced, as I've explained his regard for Farrakhan shows a lack of judgment, but it's a stretch to presume it shows prejudice. Has the Rev. actually made any statements that directly show he is bigoted? And how does running for President change the equation? People running for President can't have friends and mentors who make ill considered statements or acts? Obama has already said he disagrees with Wright on this, he also has to burn the bridge too? And did I miss the memo where Barrack said he was putting Wright on his cabinet when he gets elected?
1.15.2008 12:46pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):

Ralph Phelan: When your "spiritual advisor" is a wing-nut, people rightly start to wonder about you.

Apart from the Farrakhan thing, what makes him a "wing-nut?"
1.15.2008 12:47pm
BD:
"It is ridiculous to suggest now that Cohen is anyone's cat's-paw in this latest Farrakhan business, really out 'to raise questions about whether Obama is a crypto-Muslim.'"

The story connects Obama to Farrakhan. Reasonable people can disagree over how strong that connection that is and, therefore, how fair it is to make the connection. But the connection to Farrakhan is the central point of the story.

In connecting Obama to Farrakhan, the story connects Obama to (a) racist and anti-semitic views inconsistent with Obama's image as a "uniter"; and (b) the Nation of Islam.

For all I know, Cohen didn't give a moment of thought to the fact that Farrakhan is the leader of the "Nation of Islam." It may have had nothing to do with his particular motivations in writing the story and it may say nothing of the significance he, in particular, attaches to the Farrakhan association. Nevertheless, you can't write a story connecting Obama to Farrakhan without ipso facto connecting Obama to "Islam."
1.15.2008 12:48pm
calmom:
Obama's camp vilified the owner of BET for bring up Obama's drug use again. Obama disingenuously criticized Hillary for her Martin Luther King remarks, which were accurate and not at all racist. Obama's wife and others (deliberately?) took Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" remarks completely out of context. I am no Hillary supporter and I won't vote for her. But nothing she has said can be construed as racist.

Obama wants to find racism where there isn't any for political gain. But he doesn't want to find racism where it might hurt him politically.

He needs to denounce both Wright and Farrakhan today and completely distance himself from both of them. If he doesn't, he has no credibility.
1.15.2008 12:53pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lugo: "His wife, on the other hand, clearly does [radiate signs of bigotry]"

I hadn't noticed. Could you be more specific?
1.15.2008 12:53pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "I hardly think the Sunni Arab tribes were considering the predictions of the election in their calculus"

But you don't mind quoting Kristol, who seems to think that the Sunni tribes acted in 9/06 in response to a surge that wasn't announced until 1/07. Makes perfect sense!

And I think it takes a lot of naivete on your part to believe that folks in Iraq aren't paying close attention to the way the political wind is blowing over here. So the silliness is all yours.
1.15.2008 12:53pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kevin: "I waded through all the posts there until I found the cooment by rocketman and read it and his other posts in the thread. I do not read it as Holocaust denial."

You didn't look around very carefully, because you seem to have missed this:

the articles on the Treblinka concentration camp did bring up some discomforting questions. According to the article, and many provided links, the claim is made that no forensic evidence exists of the burial of the burned remains of 800,000 people at the Treblinka site. … highly accurate surveys involving ground- searching sonar of the entire Treblinka site have revealed zero human remains. From watching CSI, we all know that if 800,000 cremated bodies were buried somewhere, there would be tons of bone, ash, and teeth buried there today.


Let us know if you're claiming those words amount to something other than Holocaust denial.

"this is one commenter espousing one point of view"

You didn't look around very carefully, because there were multiple commenters espousing this point of view. And that's not the key point. The key point is that Hinderaker was notified, and he responded by sitting on his hands.

"By analogy, because JF Thomas comments on VC posts regularly and his comments are usually not deleted"

I have said nothing anywhere to suggest that any comments should have been deleted. If JF Thomas (or anyone else) posted Holocaust denial here, and an adminstrator was informed about that, I would expect the reaction to be something other than silence.

"we would have to assume that Eugene Volokh associates with gun grabbing socialists"

I'm not sure what a 'gun-grabbing socialist' is. If you've seen comments on VC that are equivalent in offensiveness to Holocaust denial, I'd be interested in seeing them.
1.15.2008 12:53pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kr: "you can't seriously think that 'pastor for 20 years, prominently mentioned in autobiography' is the same as 'troll on an Internet forum' ?"

I can easily imagine legitimate reasons why I would choose a spiritual advisor even though we have important differences. I cannot imagine a legitimate reason to sit on my hands after I'm notified that a forum I run is hosting Holocaust denial.

And a troll is usually someone who hits and runs. One of the offenders at Power Line has posted there roughly ten thousand times.
1.15.2008 12:54pm
Michael B (mail):
So is innocence by association supplanting guilt by association?!?!? I don't think guilt is inherent in this personally chosen and committed to association, but it is a personally chosen association nonetheless. More here at M.P., excerpt:

Such fawning is hardly surprising given that Dr Wright himself — who in his sermons and interviews has equated Zionism with racism and Israel with apartheid South Africa, who said on the Sunday after 9/11 that the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies, and who suggested four years later that 9/11 was retribution for America’s racism ( views from which Obama has distanced himself) – appears to enjoy a close relationship with Farrakhan. In the Trumpet feature article, Wright raves:
Minister Farrakhan will be remembered as one of the 20th and 21st century giants of the African American religious experience...His integrity and honesty have secured him a place in history as one of the nation’s most powerful critics. His love for Africa and African American people has made him an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose.
And in this story on NewsMax, Ronald Kessler reports:
Just before Obama’s nationally televised campaign kickoff rally last Feb. 10, the candidate disinvited Wright from giving the public invocation. Wright explained: ‘When [Obama’s] enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli’ to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, ‘a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell.’
Considering the fact that the very mention of George W Bush’s belief in God is enough to give Democrats an aneurysm, and that Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are currently being dismissed as religious nutjobs, isn’t the Democrat (and media) silence over Obama’s choice of a black power church which is more akin to a cult, and the obnoxious views of the pastor who he says brought him into Christianity in the first place, more than a little remarkable?
1.15.2008 12:54pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mike: "This church calls itself 'unashamedly Black'. Would any candidate as a member of an 'unashamedly White' church be running for president?"

Would any candidate as a member of an 'unashamedly Jewish' church ever be running for president? What about 'unashamedly Hispanic?'
1.15.2008 12:54pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
temp: "The Democrats have been playing the race and ethnicity card for about thirty years now."

Right, like when a famous Democrat chose to launch his campaign in Neshoba County, of all places.
1.15.2008 12:54pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pete: "The Nation of Islam preaches some bizarre things"

Thank goodness there are no major candidates associated with religions that teach bizarre things.
1.15.2008 12:54pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
To those of you who keep accusing Obama's supporters of (God forbid!) "playing the race card":

I love this argument. Other people make racist attacks on Obama. Obama (or his supporters) respond by pointing out that these are racist attacks

Bill Clinton says Obama's foriegn policy claims, or perhaps his entire campaign, is "fairy tale." Obama's supporters claim it's a "racist attack." Huh?

Oratory and charisma are Obama's strong points. Hillary Clinton points out that all of MLK's oratory and JFK's charisma weren't enough to get civil rights legislation passed, you need an ass-kicker like her or LBJ to actually get stuff through Congress. "You're no LBJ" is a reasonable response [as is 'So what was Eisenhower, chopped liver?'], but racist? Huh?

Hillary Clinton cries in NH because her campaign looks like it's going down the tubes, and she gets accused of racism for not crying about Katrina victims. Why should she, when Katrina wasn't about her? Call her a narcissist, but racist? Huh?

Obama's supporters didn't just play the race card, they bluffed with it and had their bluff called.
1.15.2008 12:54pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ak: "There is no excuse for Obama not to have disassociated himself from Wright and his church, or at least voiced any disagreement he might have had."

There's no excuse for you to pretend that Obama, via his campaign, has not already indicated his disagreement.
1.15.2008 12:54pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
tl: "Any attack on him must be motivated by racial animus"

Attacks on him which have a racial component, like this one, are going to be naturally seen as "motivated by racial animus." When you have a credible attack that doesn't have a racial component, let us know what it is.

"It was fine for Gore's people to discuss Bush's drug and alcohol use in 2000"

I didn't realize that Obama had a DUI arrest on his record. One that he apparently tried to hide for a long time. As far as I'm concerned, getting high at home is very, very different than piloting a car drunk. YMMV.

I also didn't realize that Obama chose to associate himself with a political party that takes a relatively hawkish attitude regarding drug use. It's not the getting high, it's the hypocrisy.
1.15.2008 12:55pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
k parker: "they're criticizing him for failing to dissociate himself from it"

Via his campaign, he has already done so.
1.15.2008 12:55pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
david: "Think this isn't going to be an issue."

It's a fair analogy. If Romney's own history showed no sign of wife-beating, and if he had already said that he had some important disagreements with his spiritual advisor, then that should be enough to address it.

When the ad ran that said this

A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.


… it wasn't Huck's minister, or a friend of Huck's minister, who put his name on the ad. It was Huck himself. Big difference.
1.15.2008 12:55pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
yankev: "And yet here are you and I at VC, jukeboxgrad, despite frequent posts by Farfaman."

I never heard of him until you mentioned him. But it was very easy for me to find an example of an administrator condemning him.

That's the key distinction.
1.15.2008 12:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
neuro: "why isn't it 'Sister Souljah' time for Obama"

Because the statement that was already issued is sufficient.
1.15.2008 12:56pm
Michael B (mail):
"And I think it takes a lot of naivete on your part to believe that folks in Iraq aren't paying close attention to the way the political wind is blowing over here. So the silliness is all yours." jukeboxgrad

No.

I didn't say they weren't paying attention, I said al Qaeda's terror, dissolution, etc. very likely commanded more attention.
1.15.2008 12:58pm
Mr. Liberal:

When your "spiritual advisor" is a wing-nut, people rightly start to wonder about you.


A person who has some objectionable views may also have some real insight on other issues.

That is pretty damn obvious. People are often complicated creatures. Look at the slave-holding Thomas Jefferson. He had a lot of good insights, while also living an excessively extravagant life that made it impossible for him to free his slaves upon his death.

One need not reject a person in their totality merely because they have an objectionable point of view on a particular issue.

Even look at Farakhan. The man probably has done some good in his life. If Rev. Wright is praising him for that good, this may be an unwise move, because of the controversies surrounding him.

But, assume I believe Rev. Wright is making a mistake. That does not mean Rev. Wright is a bad person. That does not mean that every member of Rev. Wright's congregation is a bad person. That does not mean that there are not people who do not owe personal loyalty to Rev. Wright for the good that he has done in his life.

Give me a break. This is all self-evident.

These nothing more than smears by people, like David Bernstein, who do not agree with Barack Obama's politics and are looking to gain political advantage by crass and unintelligent attacks.

Its not going to work.
1.15.2008 1:04pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Apart from the Farrakhan thing, what makes him [Rev. Wright] a "wing-nut?"


From the NYT article linked above:


Mr. Wright, whose sermons fused analysis of the Bible with outrage at what he saw as the racism of everything from daily life in Chicago to American foreign policy.[The anti-Bill Cosby]

He [Wright] was also interested in the world beyond his own; in 1984, he traveled to Cuba to teach Christians about the value of nonviolent protest and to Libya to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, along with the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Mr. Wright said his visits implied no endorsement of their views. [Yeah right.]
...

Mr. Wright preached black liberation theology, which interprets the Bible as the story of the struggles of black people, who by virtue of their oppression are better able to understand Scripture than those who have suffered less.
...

Mr. Wright issued a “War on Iraq I.Q. Test,” with questions like, “Which country do you think poses the greatest threat to global peace: Iraq or the U.S.?”
...

He [Wright] has said that Zionism has an element of “white racism.”

On the Sunday after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later he wrote that the attacks had proved that “people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns.”


And as to the importance of Wright to Obama, and the centrality of this church to his political career:
In the 16 years since Mr. Obama returned to Chicago from Harvard, Mr. Wright has presided over his wedding ceremony, baptized his two daughters and dedicated his house, while Mr. Obama has often spoken at Trinity’s panels and debates. Though the Obamas drop in on other congregations, they treat Trinity as their spiritual home, attending services frequently. The church’s Afrocentric focus makes Mr. Obama a figure of particular authenticity there, because he has the African connections so many members have searched for.
1.15.2008 1:05pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "I didn't say they weren't paying attention"

Right. You just pointed approvingly to a Kristol article which seemed to ridicule the idea that such a thing was even remotely possible. I think I detect some backpedaling.
1.15.2008 1:11pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ralph: "When your 'spiritual advisor' is a wing-nut"

All that stuff is mostly not going to be very interesting except to people who would never vote for a black guy anyway. And the voters who would never vote for a black guy are already concentrated in the GOP.

Wake me up when Obama says he plans to put Wright in charge of State.
1.15.2008 1:17pm
JayGR (mail):
It's interesting that this doesn't cause problems for the GOP candidates who love them some bigoted preachers.

It's also interesting that Father Michael Pfleger, a white Catholic leader in Chicago, says Farrakhan has been his friend for years and that he's not the man the media says he is.

Perhaps there's more to the story than meets the eye. If one cared to look that is.
1.15.2008 1:21pm
Michael B (mail):
jukeboxgrad - pathetic - do you regard coherence or continuity of thought important in the least when it comes to partisan issues?
1.15.2008 1:21pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
All that stuff is mostly not going to be very interesting except to people who would never vote for a black guy anyway.
Half of that stuff had nothing to do with race, just general "Blame America First"ism. It's gonna bother a lot of nonracists who also aren't far leftists.

Hillary's far-left connections are far in her past, and her Senate record indicates she's gotten over them. Obama's are still current. That will be a problem in a general election.
1.15.2008 1:21pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Ralph --

Fusing Biblical analysis with outrage at racism doesn't make one a wingnut. Nor does having an interest in the world beyond one's own, even Cuba or Libya. It would seem that I don't agree with Mr. Wright on a number of matters, but that doesn't make him a wingnut. Like Obama, I actually think I might learn something from people with some odd views, although I'm not ready to make you my spiritual advisor (sorry).

T.S.
1.15.2008 1:23pm
AK (mail):
All that stuff is mostly not going to be very interesting except to people who would never vote for a black guy anyway. And the voters who would never vote for a black guy are already concentrated in the GOP.

All that stuff is mostly not going to be very interesting to people who give blacks a free pass on bigotry. And the voters who give blacks a free pass on bigotry make up nearly 100% of the Democratic party. So none of this matters at all.
1.15.2008 1:27pm
Mr. Liberal:
Ralph Phelan,


Half of that stuff had nothing to do with race, just general "Blame America First"ism. It's gonna bother a lot of nonracists who also aren't far leftists.


Given your bad judgment, I am not too concerned with your predictions about what reasonable people in the center will think. Because guess what, I already know that is not where you come from.

See, most reasonable people aren't big on guilt by association. Especially when it involves a chain, convoluted logic, and where the person who is to be guilty by association explicitly does not have the same views.

People are not as stupid as you make them out to be.
1.15.2008 1:31pm
c.gray (mail):

Obama must be antisemitic because his "spiritual mentor" thinks highly of a person that is antisemitic.


Oh please.

The issue is who a candidate identifies as his important political supporters. Successful politicians cheerfully, and enthusiastically, tell off people they consider unimportant. They keep their mouths shut about unpopular aspects of people and institutions only when they believe they need to do so to get elected.

And who provides the core base for a candidate has important consequences when the candidate wins. Presidents appoint a lot of people to positions with real power. And they tend, for fairly obvious reasons, to appoint people from groups and organizations they believe they were important to their election effort.

Turn a blind eye to Bush's unwillingness to say anything bad about Bob Jones University? Don't be surprised when anti-science zealots get appointed to the Smithsonian, the NSF and NASA. Ignore Obama's willingness to quietly turn a blind eye to anti-semitism among his core supporters? Don't be surprised when anti-semites turn up at the State Department and the Treasury.

The candidate's personal views are almost irrelevant compared to what he is willing to SAY about those views.
1.15.2008 1:33pm
Ken Arromdee:
All that stuff is mostly not going to be very interesting to people who give blacks a free pass on bigotry. And the voters who give blacks a free pass on bigotry make up nearly 100% of the Democratic party. So none of this matters at all.

Jews tend to be disproportionately Democratic, and are unlikely to give blacks a free pass on anti-Jewish bigotry.
1.15.2008 1:36pm
calmom:
Having one of your campaign staffers issue a statement is not the same as saying it yourself. It's a cover. A way to have your cake and it eat too by not having any film clips of yourself saying "I don't support Afro-centrism or the spewings of Farrakhan".

The major media is afraid to ask Obama this directly on camera or in a debate. Afraid they will be called racist for merely asking a question. They haven't been afraid to ask 'guilt by association' questions of white candidates.

I'm thinking specifically of Russert asking Romney about his churches banning blacks from being bishops in the LDS ( which was 30 years ago) just a few weeks ago on MTP. And really disgustingly, Katie Couric asked Schwarzenegger about his father being a Nazi? That was her first question when he announced for the recall election.

It's such a double standard.
1.15.2008 1:37pm
hattio1:
TL James says;

My main point (perhaps not well articulated) is that Obama, by virtue of being black, has the power to turn any criticism into a racial issue ("Why woul you ask about [insert issue here]? Is it because he's a black man?")

Okay,
So lets assume he does have that power (I kind of doubt it, but whatever). Where has he used that power? Obama has specifically avoided playing the race card. Obama is not my perfect candidate by a long shot, but you should actually listen to or read what he says before criticizing him. And, I gotta be honest, the fact that you assume that he is playing the race card doesn't reflect well on you.
1.15.2008 1:38pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Free passes for blacks on bigotry? Is there a website where you sign up? Happy New Year to all of you!
Best,
Ben
1.15.2008 1:41pm
neurodoc:
Adam J, two questions for you: i) Have you openly and proudly identified any of those prejudiced friends as your "spiritual mentors," individuals who have dramatically influenced the course of your life, and counted yourself as one of their flock? ii) Are you running for president of the United States?
Neurodoc- I don't see your point- could you explain it.
I thought the point(s) pretty self-evident, but I'll give it another try.

Adam J, you did not say how close those prejudiced friends are to you or exactly what role(s) they may play in your life. We can safely assume, can't we, that you would not count any of them as a "spiritual mentor," the individual who has so consequentially influenced the direction of your life, and you are not a member of any congregation that they minister to. Furthermore, you are not running for any public office, let alone president of the United States. So that some of your friends are by your account are prejudiced and your choice has been to reproach them for their prejudices in private rather than publically, is very different in quality and quantity from the case of Obama and Reverend Wright, an admirer of Louis Farrakhan's. (It is reasonable based on the evidence to describe Wright as an admirer of Farrakhan's, isn't it?)

No one is belaboring Obama about a name from his Rolodex, or email address directory, or cellphone directory, or anything of the sort. Obama is being questioned about his relationship with Wright and Wright's church, in particular because of the celebration of Farrakhan by Wright and his/Obama's church.
1.15.2008 1:42pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
When JFK was first running for President, those unfamiliar with Catholic doctrine regarding Papal infallability (no, he's not infallible every time he opens his mouth) had understandable concerns about where JFK's ultimate loyalties would lie. He addressed those concerns and won the Presidency (and promptly green-lighted the ridiculous Bay of Pigs debacle, sent the first combat troops to Vietnam, and almost started a nuclear war before Oswald shot him in the head and we got to have a grownup in charge.)

Similar questions about Obama's loyalties will have to be acknowledged and addressed:
http://www.tucc.org/black_value_system.html


Commitment to the Black Community. The highest level of achievement for any Black person must be a contribution of strength and continuity of the Black Community.

...

Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions.

...

Pledge Allegiance to All Black Leadership Who Espouse and Embrace the Black Value System.

...

Personal Commitment to Embracement of the Black Value System. To measure the worth and validity of all activity in terms of positive contributions to the general welfare of the Black Community and the Advancement of Black People towards freedom.

Is this Obama's personal creed?
If so, as President, is he going to give his white constituents the same consideration he gives his black ones?
1.15.2008 1:46pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
c.gray says:

The issue is who a candidate identifies as his important political supporters.

Nail. Head. Bang.

Clinton's got Sid Blumenthal and Sandy Berger in her circle, and many people count that against her.
Giuliani's got Bernard Kerik, and that counts against him.
Nixon had Bebe Reboza, and that counted against him.

Now Obama's got Wright, and it will count against him in the same way for the same legitimate reasons.
1.15.2008 1:50pm
Wonderland:
If this has already been posted, my apologies, but I didn't see it doing a quick scan of the above comments.

Here's Obama's statement in response to Cohen's op-ed, courtesy of TPM:

"I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree."

I think Bernstein ought to update his post with this response. Does Bernstein think this is satisfactory? Or does Obama have to leave his church and publicly shun his pastor in order to remove all doubts that he is not anti-semitic?
1.15.2008 1:55pm
junyo (mail):
Everyone's all a-twitter that Obama may have an advisor who seems to admire Farrakhan.

Everyone's all shocked that Ron Paul may have failed to proofread his newsletter for racially insensitive remarks.

Meanwhile the front running Republican has appeared on Imus, since his return from his forced vacation. No calls to denounce, disavow, condemn or distance.

Curious.
1.15.2008 1:58pm
Mr. Liberal:

I'm thinking specifically of Russert asking Romney about his churches banning blacks from being bishops in the LDS ( which was 30 years ago) just a few weeks ago on MTP. And really disgustingly, Katie Couric asked Schwarzenegger about his father being a Nazi? That was her first question when he announced for the recall election.

It's such a double standard.


So, is the solution to acknowledge that it is pretty ridiculous to condemn modern day Mormons for the beliefs of the LDS church 30 years ago and pretty ridiculous to condemn Schwarzenegger for the beliefs of his father?

I mean, it nearly sounds as if you don't care at all whether such attacks are principled or unprincipled, but are just upset when people object when they are made by people on your side.

I for one do not think that questioning Romney about the policies of the Mormon church 30 years ago is particularly valid, nor is bringing up the Nazi beliefs of Schwarzenegger's father, absent some indicia that these candidates actually hold similar views.

But, at the end of the day, Katie Couric aside, Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California. And Mormonism aside, Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts.

People are smart enough to see through these ridiculous sorts of attacks, as long as a candidate nips them in the bud.

That does not mean that the people making them should not be condemned.

In the case of Couric and Russert, they are not originating the smear, but rather just doing their job, providing a forum for the candidate to say the obvious (i.e. they reject the views in question). But David Bernstein and others like him who start these sorts of smears, should be condemned.
1.15.2008 2:00pm
neurodoc:
hawkins: ""they [the Jews] are the greatest controllers of black minds, black intelligence.""

No doubt Farrakhan is an anti-semite, but this seams like an odd choice of quotes to condemn. Clearly ignorant, but it doesnt seem too disparaging to me.
You may not recognize the antisemitic tropes in that, but trust me, it is fraught with them. First, it plays on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion calumny that Jews conspire in secret to manipulate the world, and their evil is everywhere, though often well-concealed. Then you have the implication that Jews regard blacks as inferiors to be manipulated through mind control, and blacks allow themselves to be manipulated by Jews. The Klan and their ilk, which hate both blacks and Jews, are especially fond of this particular trope, that is Jews as manipulators of weak-minded, manipulable blacks, since it is simultaneously an attack on both Jews and blacks. Farrakhan adopts it for the purpose of fanning black antisemitism, something he has been doing with some success for many years. Obama should not want any connection to Farrakhan however minimal, e.g., one degree of separation through Reverend Wright, he should want as much distance as he could possibly get from him.
1.15.2008 2:02pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders

From the article:

Wright is quoted as saying "His depth on analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye opening."
and then:
"“Minister Farrakhan is probably one of the most misunderstood
and mis-defined leaders of our day,” says Pfleger. “When you don’t
want to deal with someone’s truth, you try to destroy their character
or redefine them…That’s what the media has sought to do with
Minister Farrakhan. His truth causes America to face its racism and
its hypocrisy.”"

Rehabilitation of ex-offenders is not mentioned at all.
Either Obama didn't read the article, or he's lying.

As I suspected, he's trying to have it both ways - he wants to be the candidate of black nationalists to his black audience while pretending he isn't to his white audience. We'll see if the MSM lets him get away with it.
1.15.2008 2:04pm
Mr. Liberal:

Everyone's all shocked that Ron Paul may have failed to proofread his newsletter for racially insensitive remarks.


If you go so far as to put your name on a newsletter, you should take responsibility for the content. If you want to have less editing responsibilities or want to create an unedited forum, you should not put your name on the newsletter and you should make it clear that you do not edit or necessarily agree with the views expressed.
1.15.2008 2:08pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Does Bernstein think this is satisfactory? Or does Obama have to leave his church and publicly shun his pastor in order to remove all doubts that he is not anti-semitic?
It does not satisfy me.
He doesn't have to shun his pastor, but he does have to publicly, unambiguously disagree with him about Farakhan's analysis of "the racial ills of this nation."
If he doesn not do so, I will assume that either he agrees or that he so needs the support of those who agree that he is unwilling to cross them in public.

He needs to demonstrate that he is willing and able to say "no" to black nationalists if he wants to lead this country.
1.15.2008 2:09pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
So, is the solution to acknowledge that it is pretty ridiculous to condemn modern day Mormons for the beliefs of the LDS church 30 years ago and pretty ridiculous to condemn Schwarzenegger for the beliefs of his father?

Both are far more ridiculous than condemning Obama for what his chosen "spiritual advisor" said a few months ago.
1.15.2008 2:12pm
AK (mail):
Meanwhile the front running Republican has appeared on Imus, since his return from his forced vacation. No calls to denounce, disavow, condemn or distance.

Has there been anyone other than Don Imus who has climbed such a large penitential mountain over such a small racial molehill? It wouldn't be possible for Imus to do more to distance himself from his remark. I don't see why every guest needs to gild the lilly.
1.15.2008 2:13pm
Adam J:
C. Grey- thanks for spelling out the point that Bernstein was trying to make ; Obama's willingness to quietly turn a blind eye to anti-semitism among his core supporters? Don't be surprised when anti-semites turn up at the State Department and the Treasury.

Of course, we'll just gloss over that the underwhelming evidence that his "core-supporter" is anti-semitic and the fact that his "core-supporter" doesn't have any position in his campaign and there's no evidence that the "core-supporter" would have any position in his presidency.
1.15.2008 2:14pm
junyo (mail):
Here's that "small racial molehill". Realistically, considering the over under on stupid comments to good done in the world, I'm not sure if Imus or Farrakhan gets seats closest to the fire in Hell. I do know that the conservatives and libertarians making hay over this are very quick to dismiss Imus' comments while pouring over every utterance that Farrakhan's ever said. If Obama is a potentially a racist, or a 'racebaiter', or 'playing the race card' for not repudiating an associate who admires someone who says stupid things, how does McCain get a free pass to hang out with the speaker of stupid thing himself?
1.15.2008 2:26pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
AK says:

All that stuff is mostly not going to be very interesting to people who give blacks a free pass on bigotry. And the voters who give blacks a free pass on bigotry make up nearly 100% of the Democratic party. So none of this matters at all.

I can tell you that this is going like wild fire through the Jewish community. They are not happy about it. Not happy at all. At one time - before Civil Rights got big - the Jewish community was the number one supporter of the black struggle against racism. Look up the early history of the NAACP.

This is going to hurt the Dems. Bad in terms of votes. Very badly in terms of money.

Have a look at the first comment here Coloreds Only. People of color are not colorblind. Especially to each other. Here is an excerpt:

I can recall more black on hispanic and vice versa prejudice than you would ever believe. I wish a had a dollar for every time one of our African-American customers would request a "white" mechanic to work on their car. I realize the story is anecdotal but it's a very common request and I heard it over and over.
1.15.2008 2:43pm
Mr. Liberal:

Both are far more ridiculous than condemning Obama for what his chosen "spiritual advisor" said a few months ago.


This is an excellent point. It is clear that Obama had no control over this, and that the spiritual advisor relationship was formed long before this.

So, are we supposed to choose our spiritual advisors based not only what they have done before the are put into that position, but based on speculation about what they might say later on?

Obama is not responsible for all of the choices made Rev. Wright, especially not for those made by him long after their relationship has been established.

I am sure that this will come up during the election. Obama will say that he does not agree with Farrakhan's more radical points of view. That will be the end of the matter.

Much ado about nothing.
1.15.2008 2:44pm
rarango (mail):
I am very impressed with Senator Obama's political skills. IMO the Clinton camp beshat itself with some personal attacks that the Obama camp portrayed as racist. (I think he may have played a race card, but thats just me). Then when the war of words starts heating up, the Obama camp offers an olive branch, thereby leaving the Clinton camp unable to wipe its rhetorical bottom. I gotta tell you: I don't plan to vote for Senator Obama, but this guy has some major political skills--and if he doesnt win the nomination this year, we will most definitely hear from him again. He may be the best politician since President Clinton himself.
1.15.2008 2:46pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
It is clear that Obama had no control over this, and that the spiritual advisor relationship was formed long before this.

See above, and pay attention. Wright was a radical and a black nationalist before Obama met him. Wright went with Farakhan on a visit to Cuba and Lybia back in 1984. This is completely in character for Wright. This is and always has been the true face of the man Obama so admires.

What does that say about Obama's judgement?
1.15.2008 2:53pm
K Parker (mail):
AK,

All I want is to point out the foolishness of the All Blacks Are The Same/All Blacks Think Alike motif. Please don't read anything more into it than that.

Adam J,

Regarding this:
whereas honoring Farrakhan could be for two reasons, either because he is a bigot, or because he is a philanthropist. I think the evidence points towards the latter.
Surely you're joking, when Wright goes out of his way to spotlight Farrakhan's nutcase racial statements.

Mr. Liberal,
That is actually an excellent defense. "I do not always agree with Rev. Wright."
Not quite: he needs to go on and explicitly say, ".. and THIS is one of those times--Farrakhan is a divisive racist and I completely disavow the slightest connection to any of his views." Indeed, if he had done something like that already, we wouldn't be having this discussion, would we? [Later: it turns out Obama just has, though at this point only on TPM. It's actually a pretty strong denial, and certainly satisfies my main objections.]

Ralph Phelan,

Good catch:
Commitment to the Black Community. The highest level of achievement for any Black person must be a contribution of strength and continuity of the Black Community.
"I've read Letter from a Birmingham Jail and Rev. Wright is certainly no MLK."
1.15.2008 2:56pm
Mr. Liberal:
K Parker,


Not quite: he needs to go on and explicitly say, ".. and THIS is one of those times--Farrakhan is a divisive racist and I completely disavow the slightest connection to any of his views." Indeed, if he had done something like that already, we wouldn't be having this discussion, would we? [Later: it turns out Obama just has, though at this point only on TPM. It's actually a pretty strong denial, and certainly satisfies my main objections.]


What a nice dog and pony show.

Anyone with a brain already knew that Obama didn't agree with Farrakhan. People like David Bernstein should be condemned for playing these retarded and intellectually dishonest games.

But, in the end, these games do not matter, as long as the candidate nips them in the bud, as Obama has:


I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.


*yawn*

Yeah, anyone with a brain already knew that. But, a smear is a smear, and must be nipped in the bud.

Like I said, much ado about nothing.

The only significance of this is it shows how pathetic those who make these smears are. David Bernstein should be ashamed of himself.
1.15.2008 3:10pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
whereas honoring Farrakhan could be for two reasons, either because he is a bigot, or because he is a philanthropist. I think the evidence points towards the latter.

Surely you're joking
It's worse if you take it seriously - it's saying that TUCC will sell an award to any bigot however heinous so long as the donation is big enough. That insinuation is the worst thing anyone has said in this thread, and I think it should be noted that there's no evidence for it.
1.15.2008 3:11pm
Mr. Liberal:
Just to be clear, this is a quote from Barack Obama, demolishing these scurrilous and irresponsible charges which are designed to suggest that he is anti-Semetic or agrees with the decision to honor Farrakhan:


I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.


These smears should not have been brought up in the first place.
1.15.2008 3:16pm
hattio1:
K Parker says

it turns out Obama just has [disavowed connection to Farrakhan and his views] though at this point only on TPM. It's actually a pretty strong denial, and certainly satisfies my main objections

But, the damage has been done. Ralph Phelan has already said the denial is not strong enough for him (What the hell else could Obama say???). And the denial is not being linked to or threads being updated in most places. I would hope that Professor Bernstein will do better than that, but it hasn't happened yet.
1.15.2008 3:23pm
crying wolf:

I can tell you that this is going like wild fire through the Jewish community. They are not happy about it. Not happy at all. At one time - before Civil Rights got big - the Jewish community was the number one supporter of the black struggle against racism. Look up the early history of the NAACP.

This is going to hurt the Dems. Bad in terms of votes. Very badly in terms of money.

And that explains why people like Richard Cohen and David Bernstein are so aggressively pimping the story, regardless of how ridiculous it is.
1.15.2008 3:25pm
unwelcome guest:
I think what was meant by philanthropist was "[Farrakhan's] efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders," which, frankly, he has done pretty well, at least better than the traditional churches. Maybe it's the channeling that anger into something more productive - like community organization.

I suppose that's rather like saying - "but what about all the good things Nazis did for German pride?"

I do know one thing - just about everyone is biased to some extent, and those biases are often distasteful. That's the moral relativism talking (or was it JC who said let he who is without sin cast the first stone?)
1.15.2008 3:26pm
ejo:
farrakhan put the gangbangers into slightly nicer suits and bowties. they are still thugs, just in the service of Farrakhan.
1.15.2008 3:28pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Ralph Phelan has already said the denial is not strong enough for him (What the hell else could Obama say???).


Well he could try not lying and claiming the award was about Frakhan's rehabilitation efforts - not when the article contains a direct quote from Obama's "spiritual advisor" about the wonderfulness of Farakhan's analysis of race in America ... an admiration that Obama has to know isn't new, dating back to 1984 at least.

This statement is almost as big an insult to the intelligence as Huckabee's "I didn't know there was a cross behind me" BS.
1.15.2008 3:29pm
Kevin P. (mail):

jukeboxgrad (mail):
kevin: "I waded through all the posts there until I found the cooment by rocketman and read it and his other posts in the thread. I do not read it as Holocaust denial."

You didn't look around very carefully, because you seem to have missed this ...


I went and read through that post as well and again, I found your charge of holocaust denial underwhelming. For one thing, it isn't written by rocketman, but by someone else. Secondly, you seem to selectively quote people. The post ends with this (which you didn't mention):


So I’ll be the one to ask it here, on a site dedicated to free speech and honest debate. Is it wrong
to look for forensic evidence of events in history?

And if so, could someone please point out which historical events are OK to scrutinize and
which are not?


This seems to me to be a reasonable question. I fully accept and believe that the Holocaust occurred and millions of Jews were murdered in it, but I refuse to say that any historical event is categorically beyond being questioned. You seem to be demanding that no one ever question anything about the Holocaust. That attitude itself is nearly religious in nature.

Anyway, I have little interest in wading through any more out-of-context quotes that you can provide. You seem to be an ardent defender of Barack Obama. Good for you. You also seem to be obsessed with the Holocaust and those who question or deny it. Hint: This election is occurring in 2008. The present day views of a presidential candidate's preacher are of more consequence than what happened 70 years ago.
1.15.2008 3:36pm
JosephSlater (mail):
So, all those people calling for a denial, how about what Obama said?

I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.


Speaking as a Jew who detests Farrakhan, it's good enough for me. I'm guessing it's good enough for most-all Jews who would have seriously considered voting for Obama anyway.

Now, about John McCain and his retreat from his quite correct statement that folks like James Dobson and Pat Robertson were "agents of intolerance." I would like to see him issue a statement reaffirming his distaste for them. Could we have a VC thread discussing that?
1.15.2008 3:41pm
Adam J:
Ralph Phelan &K Parker- So you attack me for saying the award could be given to Farrakhan for his philanthropy? Why is that? Churchs typically give awards for philanthropy, while bigotry tends to go far less rewarded. There's no evidence that the church has given it to Farrakhan for his bigotry, no evidence really why it was given except for ambigious statements about a committment to "truth, education, and leadership."

Please note I'm not trying to be an apogist for the church, the decision to give him an award is clearly a poor one, to put it mildly. But you're making very fast conclusions to assume that a church gave an award to Farrakhan based on his bigotry. You're argument that the Church supports bigotry is; Farrakhan says bigoted statements, and the award was to Farrakhan, so they must be bigots! Anyone who has taken an LSAT would know that this is not a fair analysis.
1.15.2008 3:41pm
Reinhold (mail):
Here's the Economist blog on the issue.
1.15.2008 3:50pm
ejo:
well, if given for philanthropy, wouldn't it mention his philanthropic bona fides? what sort of a philanthropist is Farrakhan, anyway? are they giving him an award based on his bigotry? I don't know. they are choosing to honor him, for whatever reason, and are ignoring his bigotry/race hatred. further, the honors blurb seems to accentuate the race baiting facet of Farrakhan-maybe they are honoring him for his bigotry.
1.15.2008 3:52pm
SI (mail):
RE: "candidate of choice". FYI, I have no intention of voting for Obama, as I feel that the policies of other candidates are more in keeping with my own than his are.

Nevertheless, you would be hard pressed to find a clergy member who doesn't admire at least one racist, sexist, homophobic or some other way of breaking down humanity into some -ism. You'd be hard pressed to find a layperson who doesn't have profound admiration for at least one person who espouses beliefs with which we ourselves disagree.

Allow me to syllogize your argument:

1. Rev. Wright admires Farrakhan.
2. Obama admires Rev. Wright.
Therefore: Obama admires Farrakhan

If you had just posted that, everyone who has read this post would have realized how ridiculous an argument it is and passed it by. Of course, then you wouldn't have as many pageviews.

Is it ethical for a law professor to engage in trolling?
1.15.2008 4:27pm
Mr. Liberal:
Actually SI, the syllogism goes more like this:

(1) The Trumpet Newmagazine, an obscure news magazine that no one has ever heard of, gives an obscure award that no one has ever heard of to Farrakhan.

(2) The Trumpet Newsmagazine isn't even edited by Rev. Wright, it is edited by his daughter.

(3) Based on this, we know that Rev. Wright may agree with the decision to give the award to Farrakhan. Or he may not.

(4) Mr. Obama has had Rev. Wright as a long-term spiritual advisor long before the decision to award Farrakhan was made by Rev. Wrights daughter.

Therefore,

(5) A cloud of suspicion hangs over Barack Obama's head.
1.15.2008 4:35pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
So you attack me for saying the award could be given to Farrakhan for his philanthropy? Why is that?

Because of the evidence.

I read the article.

It never mentions either philanthropy or rehabilitation.

It does mention Farakhan's "astounding and eye opening" "depth on analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation."

It is certainly possible that Wright does not consider Farakhan's anti-Jewish conspiracy theories to be among the parts of Farakhan's analysis he considers so true and profound. But even if he only agrees with all the anti-white stuff, that's still pretty bad.

And for Obama to claim a motivation for Wright that's plainly contradicted by Wrights own words, as quoted by his own daughter (who wrote the article) is an insultingly obvious lie.

Like the Huckster with "accidental" cross cited above, Obama's trying to have it both ways: he wants to signal to a bunch of religious fanatics that he's "one of them" while simultaneously signalling to the rest of the electorate that he's not. It reminds me of Kerry's "is he one of them or not" dance with the anti-war movement during the 2004 campaign, and it's going to work about as well.
1.15.2008 4:39pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Still waiting for the "Obama must denounce Farrakhan's anti-semetism!" posters above to react to the fact that Obama actually did denounce Farrakhan's anti-semitism.
1.15.2008 4:39pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Friends and neighbors,

Racism and Jew hatred is rampant in the Black community.

That is the elephant in the room. Obama has risen on the back of that community. Maybe he just took advantage of it. Maybe he believes it. Either way - not a pretty picture. Speaking of pictures. What about Obama embracing Jew hater Sharpton? Just an aberration? Or part of a pattern?

Jews are still pretty twitchy about Jew hatred. I used to support Ron Paul - in '88. Not going there ever again.

In any case - between Obama and Hillary the party of resent is coming apart. Fine by me.
1.15.2008 4:46pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
BTW I'm not saying that blacks are all haters. Just that Obama has risen on the backs of the haters.
1.15.2008 4:49pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Obama embraces Sharpton. Was the friendly arm around the shoulder an accident?

What we have here is not an incident. What we have is a pattern.
1.15.2008 4:52pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I find it interesting that both the economist and TPM are doing the "Article written by Rev. Wright's daughter" thing while both neglecting to mention the direct quote from Rev. Wright himself praising Farakhan's analysis of race in America.

I guess I know what the Obama campaign's talking point is. Oh well, at least TPM is practicing truth in advertising with its name.
1.15.2008 4:55pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Did I mention I voted for Obama in '04? I can't abide theocons.
1.15.2008 4:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "do you regard coherence or continuity of thought important in the least when it comes to partisan issues?"

Yes. Therefore I'm waiting patiently and hoping you will show some ("coherence or continuity of thought").
1.15.2008 5:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ralph: "in 1984, he traveled to Cuba to teach Christians about the value of nonviolent protest and to Libya to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, along with the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Mr. Wright said his visits implied no endorsement of their views. [Yeah right.]"

That was right around the time that Rumsfeld shook hands with Saddam. A lot of people seem to take for granted that this was not an "endorsement" of the fact that Saddam was gassing Kurds, at the time. So hopefully your skepticism ("yeah right") about this sort of disavowal is genuine, and not opportunistic.
1.15.2008 5:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ak: "All that stuff is mostly not going to be very interesting to people who give blacks a free pass on bigotry. And the voters who give blacks a free pass on bigotry make up nearly 100% of the Democratic party. So none of this matters at all."

If you're trying to say the most Dems can understand the difference between black pride and black bigotry, then I agree completely.
1.15.2008 5:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ralph: "Giuliani's got Bernard Kerik, and that counts against him."

The comparison would make sense if Obama was hinting that Wright was headed for a job running State. Or if Obama had previously put Wright in a position of great power (like police commissioner). Otherwise, it doesn't.

Oh yeah. It would also help a lot if Wright had been indicted on criminal charges.

Other than that, it's almost a perfect analogy.
1.15.2008 5:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kevin: "For one thing, it isn't written by rocketman, but by someone else."

I guess you're finally paying attention to what I've been saying all along: there was more than one person promoting Holocaust denial.

"I found your charge of holocaust denial underwhelming"

The thread called "Jew Watch" speaks for itself. And there's more than that, as I have shown.

"Is it wrong to look for forensic evidence of events in history?"

It is indeed wrong to pretend that something that's already been proven needs to be proven again. And that was exactly the point of the thread: that the Holocaust is unproven.

"I refuse to say that any historical event is categorically beyond being questioned"

Then I suppose you have no problem if someone claims to be unconvinced that Arabs flew planes into WTC.

"You also seem to be obsessed with the Holocaust and those who question or deny it."

If you think Holocaust denial is OK, it would be better if you said that plainly. Because that seems to be your point.
1.15.2008 5:07pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
simon: "Racism and Jew hatred is rampant in the Black community."

On this thread we have kevin saying "you also seem to be obsessed with the Holocaust and those who question or deny it." Do you think kevin is black?
1.15.2008 5:07pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
juke,

Did Obama embrace Sharpton?
1.15.2008 5:23pm
c.gray (mail):

Of course, we'll just gloss over that the underwhelming evidence that his "core-supporter" is anti-semitic


Again, oh please. The question is _not_ whether Wright is an anti-semite. The question is whether Obama feels beholden to the community of racial grievance hucksters who continually dabble in anti-semitic rhetoric, as a class. If he does, then some of them get appointments after he is elected. What Wright or even Obama personally believes is sort of beside the point.

Wright chooses to honor Farrakhan for the "truth" he injects into America's debate about race. But Farrakhan's "truth" is a weird mix of numerology, ufo theories, anti-semitic tropes, generalized anti-white race hatred mixed with inconsistent and incoherent cribbing from mainstream Sunni theology.

And Wright KNOWS all this. Its not like Farrakhan's many anti-semitic statements, among other odious, creepy or just plain weird pronouncements, aren't a matter of public record. Wright apparently just doesn't give a crap. He appears eager to actively seek out the opportunity to bask in some of Farrakhan's popularity.

And Wright put his most famous congregant and friend in a tough political position by doing so. Thanks to Obama's memoirs, we have a picture of Wright as a serious and continuing influence on the candidates moral views.

/shrug

Obama was given the choice of keeping his mouth shut to appease those whose "political" opinions lie on the spectrum somewhere between that of Wright and Farrakhan, or demonstrating his independence of such people. He's apparently chosen the latter.

Good enough for me, really. Better than most of the Republicans have managed with the kooks on their side of the political divide.
1.15.2008 6:19pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Did Obama denounce Sharpton? And say the arm over the shoulder was a mistake?

BTW Wright, his wife, and Obama have UChicago connections. I'm an alum. Is the University buying peace in the hood?
1.15.2008 6:56pm
SenatorX (mail):
I can't imagine Jews are that comfortable with Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Obama foreign policy brain trust

Ugh I didn't know he was a part of Obama's group.
1.15.2008 8:33pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Jews are not comfortable with Obama period.

I check in with my mom (88) at least weekly. She pretty well represents the Jewish grapevine, the Jewish feminist grapevine (not radical - just she will not be discriminated against. Not by society in general or her orthodox rabbi. She created a mini scandal at my father's funeral by refusing to be seated with the women). She has no 'net, TV almost exclusively.

She hates Hillary and is not fond of Obama. Edwards is her man.

If Hillary gets the nod she might vote for her for President. If Obama gets the nod - no chance she will vote for him.
1.15.2008 9:42pm