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UPDATE: ADL's Foxman Condemns Rev. Wright; Obama Criticizes Wright, but not re Farrakhan:

As I've discussed previously, Senator Obama's church's magazine, The Trumpet, recently honored Louis Farrakhan at a banquet for his devotion to "truth." The magazine quoted Obama's "spiritual mentor," Rev. Wright, as praising Farrakhan for his "astounding and eyeopening" analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" that is "helpful and honest." Farrakhan, of course, is notorious for inflammatory and bigoted comments against whites in general, and Jews (not all of whom, I should note, are white) in particular. The Nation of Islam, which he leads, sells and promotes publications promoting various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

When Wright's remarks and The Trumpet's award created a public controversy, Obama forthrightly condemned Louis Farrakhan's anti-Semitism, but said nothing about Rev. Wright's fulsome praise for Farrakhan. He also suggested that the magazine's decision to honor Farrakhan likely related to his work with ex-offenders, a decision he nevertheless disagreed with. Many found his depiction of the magazine's motives disingenuous, given the public record as to the stated reasons for the award to the contrary.

Obama's defender's on the issue, including some VC commenters, eagerly reported that the ADL issued a press release that seemed to hold Obama harmless, indeed, praised Obama's

condemnation of the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan, and his making clear that he did not agree with his church's decision. ... Issues of racism and anti-Semitism must be beyond the bounds of politics. When someone close to a political figure shows sympathy and support for an individual who makes his name espousing bigotry, that political figure needs to distance himself from that decision. Senator Obama has done just that.

There is, however, a further development, which I suspect will lead some Obama defenders to regret relying on the ADL as authoritative on this issue:

In an interview with The Jewish Week, [ADL leader] Foxman said this must be just a first step. "He's distanced himself from his pastor's decision to honor Farrakhan. He has not distanced himself from his pastor. I think that's the next step. One can now expect from Sen. Obama that he confront his minister." Ultimately, said Foxman, if Obama is unable to influence Wright to alter his stands, "I think he has an obligation to leave."

Foxman added with regard to Wright that "I would say he is a black racist." He later amended his remarks, stating that Wright "embraces, awards and celebrates a black racist. I think [calling him] racist is going a little bit too far." [Question a reporter might pursue: Does the ADL's turnabout on the issue mean that it took flak from its constituents for leaping so vigorously to Obama's defense, despite his failure to distance himself from Wright's remarks?]

I don't think that Obama necessarily has to leave his church, or even "confront" Wright. However, it would be more than welcome to discover that Obama has made clear his displeasure with the Farrakhan endorsements.

There are those who have argued that it's unfair to ask even this of Obama. While I have disagreed, the point that one shouldn't hold Obama responsible for answering for the statements of his minister has some rhetorical force, even if Obama himself has noted Wright's importance his own intellectual and spiritual development. But it's rather harder to maintain the position that Wright's comments don't reflect on Obama now that Obama has publicly criticized Wright for stating during a sermon that Bill Clinton did "the same thing to us that he did to Monica Lewinsky." Obama issued a statement: "As I've told Reverend Wright, personal attacks such as this have no place in this campaign or our politics, whether they're offered from a platform at a rally or the pulpit of a church." Obama added: "Like a member of my own family, there are things he says at times with which I deeply disagree," he said. "But as he prepares to retire, that doesn't detract from my affection for Reverend Wright or appreciation for the good works he has done."

Obama's defenders will undoubtedly point out that compared to the Farrakhan remarks, Wright's condemnation of Clinton was much more directly campaign-related, and could have raised suspicions that Obama was using Wright as a surrogate. Fair enough. But The Trumpet's decision to honor Farrakhan was not campaign-related, and Obama did see fit to comment on that, instead of taking the position that his relationship with his church is a purely private religious matter. His surrogates, meanwhile, eagerly spun the controversy, with some success, as about a "magazine edited by Rev. Wright's daughter," obfuscating that the reason for the controversy is that the magazine is sponsored by Obama's church, and, even more significant, that Rev. Wright himself praised Farrakhan.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. UPDATE: ADL's Foxman Condemns Rev. Wright; Obama Criticizes Wright, but not re Farrakhan:
  2. Cohen, Obama, and the Blogosphere:
donaldk2 (mail):
No commentator has raised this point: the congregants of that church VOTE, and there is no political benefit in offending them. To put it mildly.

Obama has done exactly the right (politic) thing.
1.18.2008 6:16am
Zzyzogeton:
Obama is being accorded special treatment. Imagine the outcry if a white candidate's pastor had honored David Duke.
1.18.2008 6:31am
Simon (391563) (mail) (www):
You're headline is wrong.

(And I assume we can expect a similar series of posts addressing Guiliani's acceptance of Pat Robertson's endorsement sometime soon?)
1.18.2008 7:22am
Simon (391563) (mail) (www):
(And of course it should be 'your', not 'you're')
1.18.2008 7:23am
mls:
OK, I don't want to defend anyone in this little tempest in a teapot, but I have an honest question.

Can one disagree with most of what someone says and still think they have "astounding and eyeopening" analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" that is "helpful and honest?"

Here's where I'm coming from -- I disagree with a lot of what Catharine Mackinnon, a radical feminist, has to say. But when I read her first book, it really was eyeopening for me -- I really started to see gender discrimination in a whole new way. Her perspective was helpful and she was being honest about her beliefs . . . .
1.18.2008 7:44am
Nate F (www):
Why is this on VC?
1.18.2008 7:44am
Public_Defender (mail):

No commentator has raised this point: the congregants of that church VOTE, and there is no political benefit in offending them. To put it mildly.

Obama has done exactly the right (politic) thing.


Yeah, but how many votes does he get from that congregation? A few thousand at most?

This is Obama's opportunity for a Sister Souljah moment, and he's blowing it. I'm an Obama supporter, and this episode is disappointing. He's usually much more thoughtful and eloquent than this. And if he can't do better, he'll be eaten alive in the general election.
1.18.2008 7:48am
KRS:

He's distanced himself from his pastor's decision to honor Farrakhan. He has not distanced himself from his pastor. I think that's the next step. One can now expect from Sen. Obama that he confront his minister.

But, of course, that's only the second step.... One can then expect Obama to demand that Rev. Wright resign, renounce Farrakhan and send a check to the ADL. That would be an adequate third step. The fourth step... who knows? Perhaps guest-posting on the VC to condemn Farrakhan's anti-Semitism.
1.18.2008 9:01am
Temp Guest (mail):
This is an example of the one major talent that Senator Obama has demonstrated to date -- an exceptional ability to avoid taking clear public stands on important issues. (For additional evidence, look at the number of "present" votes he cast as a legislator.) The key question is, "Does this country need as President a man who has demonstrated a wondrous inability to have a clear position on crucial issues?".
1.18.2008 9:04am
Zombie Richard Feynman (mail) (www):
Let me get this straight.

Obama has condemned Farrakhan, and he has condemnde Rev. Wright, but because he has not condemned Wright Re: Farrakhan, he might still be a secret anti-semite?
1.18.2008 9:19am
Medical Examiner (mail):
I call the horse's time of death as being January 18, 2008 at 5:55am. Despite Dr. Bernstein's best efforts, including multiple rounds of epinephrine, several uses of a defibrillator, and, when that had failed, a truly heroic attempt at CPR, the horse could just not be revived. Nurse, call the glue factory.
1.18.2008 9:29am
Aultimer:
Is Foxman calling for Giuliani to leave the church based on Ratzie's "honoring" the heresy trial of Gallileo?

If not, what's the principled difference?
1.18.2008 9:46am
TGGP (mail) (www):
Jews (not all of whom, I should note, are white)
Is that a reference to Sephardic or Mizrahi jews, or Ethiopians or Sammy Davis Jr?
1.18.2008 9:58am
Bald man:
Today's New York Sun has an interesting editorial on why this thing has become an issue now. In short, they see this as an attempt by the Clinton campaign among Jews to drum up support before the Florida/NY/California primaries.
1.18.2008 10:12am
neurodoc:
I have an honest question. Can one disagree with most of what someone says and still think they have "astounding and eyeopening" analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" that is "helpful and honest?"
Your question is framed as though it were hypothetical based on generalizable facts ("Can one disagree with most of what someone says and still think..."). In truth, it is not hypothetical, the "one" clearly Reverend Wright, the "someone" clearly Farrakhan. And whether you realize it or not, your "honest question" is a rather tendentious one, since it amounts to a defense of Wright's endorsement of Farrakhan, one that avoids the specifics of Wright's views and Farrakhan's views.

If you will tell us what among all of Farrakhan's utterances about race is clearly separable from the rest of Farrakhan's utterances about race and is in your opinion a legitimate basis for saying Farrakhan has offered "astounding and eyeopening" analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" that is "helpful and honest," we will tell you whether we think Reverend Wright's approving remarks about Farrakhan are defensible.

Good luck finding the particulars of what might reasonably be viewed as Farrakhan's "astounding and eyeopening analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" that is "helpful and honest." And when you report back with what you were able to carve out as acceptable, if not praiseworthy, Farrakhan, please let us know about what didn't qualify. In that should be what of any relevance it is that Wright disagrees with Farrakhan over. That should be the easy part of the assignment, since you suggest that Wright disagrees with "most" of what Farrakhan says. (Wright and Farrakhan are on the record as agreeing on that odious "Zionism equals racism" formulation which owes to the Soviet Union, that great font of antisemitism.)
1.18.2008 10:12am
DavidBernstein (mail):
"The Institute for Jewish and Community Research estimates that 6.5-10% of American Jews are ethnic minorities (Asian, Latino or African American.)"
1.18.2008 10:13am
SeaDrive:

Why is this on VC?


Why indeed? Lacking any contraindication, one makes the naive assumption that David Bernstein feels a strong repulsion for Farrahkan as an object of his anti-Semitism. Fair enough. Further, it's a just and proper use of the blogosphere to dispense opinions in strong doses of heavy language. Since this is a shared forum, it's the tolerance of the other members of the Conspiracy which is limiting.

As a reader and commenter, however, I hold the opinion that a candidate is not responsible for all the opinions of those he is connected to by two or three degress of separation. I wonder if Bernstein is not connected in the same degree with someone whose views on Middle East or civil liberty or gun control or abortion issues he finds repugnant.
1.18.2008 10:15am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'd comment further, but I need to pick up my check from Clinton campaign headquarters.
1.18.2008 10:20am
neurodoc:
While I strongly disapprove of anyone who would endorse Farrakhan's racial "perspective," and I don't think it the sort of thing to be said from any pulpit, I can't condemn Wright for saying Bill Clinton did "the same thing to us that he did to Monica Lewinsky." Agree or disagree, it is political commentary, not a hateful, racist utterance of the sort that Farrakhan gained his notoriety with. Obama had no moral obligation to rebuke his pastor for that one about Clinton and Lewinsky, it was a political requirement of him.
1.18.2008 10:21am
_E_ (www):
"The Institute for Jewish and Community Research estimates that 6.5-10% of American Jews are ethnic minorities (Asian, Latino or African American.)"

I am VERY surprised by this. I personally do not know any (except for friends with one Jewish parent and one minority parent).
1.18.2008 10:24am
GV:
If you don't like what David posts here, simply replace your internet shortcut from what you currently have to this: http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb. Given that you have the option of coming here and avoiding his posts, you have no one to blame but yourself if you're annoyed at his posts. Typically, I come through that url, although I found this post today because I went to volokh via another website.
1.18.2008 10:27am
Houston Lawyer:
It sounds like Obama's church is primarily about his pastor. This is nothing new or special since we have quite a few of those, but it bears pointing out. Take away this dynamic pastor and they would lose much of the congregation. The pastor's message is tinged with all sorts of racial baggage. We haven't seen the last of this guy and he appears to be about as controllable as Billy Carter.

He hasn't reached Jimmy Swaggart territory yet, but he has the potential.
1.18.2008 10:29am
Kevin! (mail):

Obama has condemned Farrakhan, and he has condemnde Rev. Wright, but because he has not condemned Wright Re: Farrakhan, he might still be a secret anti-semite?


Well said.

What is it about Bloggers' insistence on politicians carefully following their own prescribed denial-paths to clear themselves? See: Mickey Kaus on Edwards, Bernstein on Obama.

I have to imagine it comes from confusing strategy and effect. Perhaps TACTICALLY it would be more efficient to attack Wright for Farrakhan in a one-step process. But the real question is EFFECT -- does Obama hate Jews and subscribe to Wright's more kooky beliefs? Obviously his public pronouncements and general demeanor clears him of this.

Or it might be the dead horse thing.
1.18.2008 10:30am
DavidBernstein (mail):
It sounds exaggerated to me, but perhaps not if you include Jews who emigrated to the U.S. from Latin America. I wouldn't be surprised by some figure between 1 and 5%; in my own circle (and I don't have that big a circle), I know several Jews married to Asians with Jewish children; black, Latino, and Indian converts to Judaism (with mixed-race Jewish children); and quite a few non-white kids adopted by Jewish parents, especially Chinese girls. And there are longstanding African American synagogues in most major cities.
1.18.2008 10:32am
DavidBernstein (mail):
"But the real question is EFFECT -- does Obama hate Jews and subscribe to Wright's more kooky beliefs? Obviously his public pronouncements and general demeanor clears him of this."

No, the real question is whether Obama's well-cultivated persona covers up the truth that he's just a typical politician, who when, e.g., confronted with some ugly [truths--make that facts] about the church and minister he hitched his political star to long ago, tries to be satisfy everybody by evading the core issue.
1.18.2008 10:39am
Kovarsky (mail):
speaking of anti-semites, bobby fischer just died.
1.18.2008 10:50am
PLR:
No, the real question is whether Obama's well-cultivated persona covers up the truth that he's just a typical politician, who when, e.g., confronted with some ugly truths about the church and minister he hitched his political star to long ago, tries to be satisfy everybody by evading the core issue.

If that is his primary failing, I can live with it.
1.18.2008 10:55am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
But the real question is EFFECT -- does Obama hate Jews and subscribe to Wright's more kooky beliefs?

Possible effect number 2 - does Obama consider those who "hate Jews and subscribe to Wright's more kooky beliefs" an important part of his base who will be owed favors should he get elected?

Obviously his public pronouncements and general demeanor clears him of this.
It's not obvious to me - his public statements strike me as Clintonian in their careful missing of certain points, and I consider a politician's "general demeanor" on the stump no more indicative of anything than a good actor's "general demeanor" on the stage.

And nothing he has said addresses effect # 2.
It looks to me like Obama's going out of his way to find a way to placate those who dislike Wright without pissing off those who agree with Wright. It makes me nervous that he feels he needs their support.

Obama has shown that he can contradict the personally-unimportant and fading-in-power Farrakhan on the important subject of race.

Obama has shown that he can contradict the important-to-him and powerful-with-his-base Wright on the unimportant subject of whether it's OK to talk mean about the Clintons.

I want to see Obama demonstrate the stones to contradict the important man Wright on the important subject of race.
1.18.2008 10:56am
huxley (mail):
It's not just the pastor, but the entire church Obama needs to distance himself from. I recommend that participants explore Trinity United Church of Christ webesite for themselves, in particular, Trinity United Church of Christ, "The Black Value System".

If another church went on about the White Race, the European homeland, described American society as conspiring to kill whites, and gave an award to David Duke, we would have little hesitation in characterizing that church as racist.

If Obama is genuinely interested in uniting America, he has shown--at the very least--terrible judgment in embracing this quasi-racist church in the first place.
1.18.2008 11:01am
Andrew Ian Dodge (mail) (www):
Why is a Christian honouring a Muslim leader anyway?

This is yet another example of the PC attitude towards Obama. If the candidate were non-black the firestorm would be vicious.
1.18.2008 11:06am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Asking one's pastor not to talk smack about someone is not the same as asking one's pastor to refrain from praising someone. I am quite surprised that any black leader would praise Farrakhan because before the assassination of Malcolm X he wrote in "Muhammad Speaks" that Malcolm was "worthy of death." Further, when Elijah Muhammad's son led Black Muslims into true Islam after his father's death, Farrakhan insisted on keeping the firebrand make-believe Nation of Islam alive.

Imagine the outcry if a white candidate's pastor had honored David Duke. Billy Graham -- the pastor to the Presidents -- was on record making anti-Semitic remarks yet I don't recall any outcry.

I don't know any ... except for friends with one Jewish parent and one minority parent
If their mom is Jewish, then halakhically your friends are Jews. In America we see half-whites as minorities.

I once met a Black Hebrew Israelite, but I don't know if she was considered Jewish or not.
1.18.2008 11:09am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
David Bernstein: No, the real question is whether Obama's well-cultivated persona covers up the truth that he's just a typical politician, who when, e.g., confronted with some ugly truths about the church and minister he hitched his political star to long ago, tries to be satisfy everybody by evading the core issue.

Obama didn't "hitch his political star" to Rev. Wright. The notion that there's a political upside for Obama in his relationship with Rev. Wright is downright loopy. Among other things, it's completely inconsistent with the sort of campaign he has been running.

Obama certainly is a "typical politician" in that he must know that there's no upside for him -- unlike, possibly, the ADL -- in making a mountain out of this molehill. But it's certainly hard for him to address "the core issue" when his detractors keep moving the target. Richard Cohen and others criticized him for being too close to Farrakhan. So he condemned Farrakhan. Now you've decided that "the core issue" is realy his relation with Wright. Obama surely understands that he can't win this game of Whack-A-Mole. As must you.

The real question -- for most of us, but maybe not for those few people obsessed with condemning Farrakhan -- is what kind of President Obama would be. On that question, you're generating an awful lot of heat, but no light at all.
1.18.2008 11:11am
anonthu:
Why is this on VC?

I would humbly suggest, if you're not interested in the post, ignore the thread. If you don't like what's being posted on a blog, start your own...
1.18.2008 11:20am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Phelan is continuing to make good points, though I wouldn't quite go as far as he does.

And I agree that if Obama's worse failing is that he's a typical politician, that doesn't mean one shouldn't vote for him if one otherwise thinks his policy positions are wise and his advisors sensible. But Obama would like to have cross-ideological and nonpartisan appeal as the representative of a new kind of "uniting" politics, and that's something a typical politician just can't convincingly do.
1.18.2008 11:21am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
[I]f Obama's worse failing is that he's a typical politician, that doesn't mean one shouldn't vote for him if one otherwise thinks his policy positions are wise and his advisors sensible. But Obama would like to have cross-ideological and nonpartisan appeal as the representative of a new kind of "uniting" politics, and that's something a typical politician just can't convincingly do.

This is much more interesting. I agree that calling Obama a typical politician is not much of a condemnation. But I don't get what you say in the second sentence at all. Obama wants to unite people across party lines and ideologies. He does this in different ways. One of the most obvious is that he speaks with respect of people who disagree with him, and seems to genuinely take their views into account. This is a marked contrast to the polarization of the last seven years and that offered by some of the other Democratic candidates -- Edwards, most obviously, but also Clinton. One key to this approach is that he emphasizes what we share, instead of what separates us. He says he wants to be the President of the United States of America, right?

This style is exactly what has gotten him in trouble with you and others in this little episode. Obama would rather talk about what he owes to and respects in Rev. Wright, not about where they disagree. He is willing to condemn Farrakhan, as reasonable people must, but his condemnation is not as comprehensive or loud as you would like. You see this as a sign that he's a typical politician. I see it as a sign that he would rather spend his energies elsewhere, and not on the polarizing, tired media charade that revolves around Farrakhan at regular intervals.
1.18.2008 11:46am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I look forward to Obama finding common ground with Rev. Fred Phelps.
1.18.2008 11:56am
Elliot Reed (mail):
DavidB:
the real question is whether Obama's well-cultivated persona covers up the truth that he's just a typical politician, who when, e.g., confronted with some ugly [truths--make that facts] about the church and minister he hitched his political star to long ago, tries to be satisfy everybody by evading the core issue.
Isn't this exactly what Obama has committed himself to by claiming to be a "uniter, not a divider"? How can he be a uniter without trying to satisfy everybody, or at least the bulk of people? I think the idea that politicians (Presidents especially) can effectively be uniters in this sense is pretty dumb, but if you're going to try, that's what you have to do.
1.18.2008 11:59am
Baseballhead (mail):
Phelan is continuing to make good points, though I wouldn't quite go as far as he does.

Phelan is off the reservation. You are, too, David; you're just couching your arguments in a less aggressive tone. Like another poster noted, there is no political upside to Obama's relationship with Wright. If anything, that relationship is a political liability, as the continuing Cohen/Bernstein attacks illustrate.

Besides, at this point would anyone respect Obama for cutting ties to his church and pastor for political reasons? Pandering to people who aren't going to vote for him anyway like Cohen (and Phelan) makes no political sense whatsoever, and it'd also show he has no spiritual principles. This is an unwinnable issue for Obama since there's literally nothing he can do about this issue that will satisfy the critics and race-baiters. Like you say, David, you don't believe the man to be either racist or anti-semitic, yet you continue to paint him as such even after he's condemned Farrakhan and disagreed with Wright in public forums.

"But Obama would like to have cross-ideological and nonpartisan appeal as the representative of a new kind of "uniting" politics, and that's something a typical politician just can't convincingly do."

I get the sense that it is the people who are making so much of this issue who find the idea of cross-ideological and nonpartisan politicking to be unconvincing in general.
1.18.2008 11:59am
DavidBernstein (mail):
"Besides, at this point would anyone respect Obama for cutting ties to his church and pastor for political reasons?"

That's among the reasons I think that Foxman goes too far.
1.18.2008 12:06pm
rarango (mail):
Professor Bernstein: are you allowed to push buttons like this on the eve of the Sabbath? :) (keep it up, BTW--I love it)
1.18.2008 12:06pm
MDJD2B (mail):

The real question... is what kind of President Obama would be.

Precisely, Tyrone.

This is a candidate who worked as a community orgainizer on the South Side of Chicago, then went to law school, then practiced law in Chicago, and then was a state legislator from the South Side for 8 years. He has been a national figure since 2004 as a senator. He is a long-time neighborhood politician with a national career of only 3 years, spent as a United States Senator, Now he wants to be president.

He has so little national record, and so little exposure, that anyone who wants to know how he would do, or what he woudl do, has to read tea leaves.

Unlike Mayor Giuliani, who has played out a career on a large stage for a long time (the same can be said of Sens. McCain and Clinton) he does not have an extensive record of opinion and action with regard to a myriad of national issues.

If Giuliani played footsie with Pat Robertson (who does not have the same sort of public record of bigoted obsessions as Louis Farrakhan) we can at least put this in the context of many years of public service on a large stage.

If Senator Clinton embraced Arafat's wife right after she gave a wacky speech about Jews, we can also place this in the context of her national career.

For someone like Obama, his associations are relatively more important because there is so little hard data about the man himself. Without such specifics (and statements leike "I deplore racists and anti-Semites" do not provide much insight into a politician's likely policies) potential voters will go by whatever is out there.

Remember-- nobody has an obligation to vote for any candiate. It is entirely the candidate's obligation to demonstrate to the voter that he or she is fit for office.
1.18.2008 12:09pm
MDJD2B (mail):

I get the sense that it is the people who are making so much of this issue who find the idea of cross-ideological and nonpartisan politicking to be unconvincing in general.

That's right. I, for one, don't believe he is really cross-ideological or non-partisan. He can get away with it because he has only been around for a short time, and has not established sufficient recort to allow definitive refutation of his claim to be a "uniter." We can only go with our gut.
1.18.2008 12:16pm
Whatever:
MDJD2B wrote:

If Giuliani played footsie with Pat Robertson (who does not have the same sort of public record of bigoted obsessions as Louis Farrakhan) we can at least put this in the context of many years of public service on a large stage.


No Pat does not have the same bigoted obessions, just a few that he shares with others from his camp. I don't think Rudy has to distance himself from Pat's endorsement or anything of the sort. But I don't think that Rudy shares some of Pat's beliefs on women or homosexuals. But there is a record of Pat's beliefs. Fewer people may find them problematic than say Farrakhan but they are not always easy to defend.

Pat Robertson said:

"Kwanzaa is an absolute fraud. You know, there was no festival in Africa called 'Kwanzaa.' I mean, it's made up by a bunch of hippie-types on the West Coast. I mean, it's not something that goes back to Africa. No way."
--The 700 Club, December 6, 2004

"[It] just shows the kind of people we're dealing with. These people are crazed fanatics, and I want to say it now: I believe it's motivated by demonic power. It is satanic and it's time we recognize what we're dealing with."
"[T]he goal of Islam, ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not, is world domination."
--The 700 Club, March 13, 2006

"A cult is any group that has a form of godliness, but does not recognize Jesus Christ as the unique son of God."....."One test of a cult is that it often does not strictly teach that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God who Himself is God manifested in the flesh."......"Christian-oriented cults include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), the Worldwide Church of God, Christian Science, Unity, Unitarianism, The Way International, Rosicrucian Society of America, Bahai, Hare Krishna, Scientology, the Unification Church, and the Jehovah's Witnesses."
--CBN pamphlet entitled "Cults," dated 1992

And my personal favorite: The Interview with Jerry Falwell:

PAT ROBERTSON: Well after Tuesday's attacks, many Americans are struggling with grief, fear and unanswered questions. How should Christians respond to this crisis? Well joining us now with some answers is a dear friend of ours, the Pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University, the head and founder of that, Dr. Jerry Falwell. Jerry, it's a delight to have you with us today.

JERRY FALWELL: Thanks, Pat.

PAT ROBERTSON: Listen. What are you telling the church? You called your church together. What was your response at Thomas Road to this tragedy?

JERRY FALWELL: Well, as the world knows, the tragedy hit on Tuesday morning, and at 2:00 in the afternoon, we gathered 7,000 Liberty University students, faculty, local people together, and we used the verse that I heard you use a moment ago, Chronicles II, 7:14, that God wanted us to humble ourselves and seek his face. And there's not much we can do in the Church but what we're supposed to do, and that is pray. Pray for the President that God will give him wisdom, keep bad advisors from him, bring good ones to him, praying for the families of the victims, praying for America. And, you know this thing is not a great deal different than what I remember and you Pat. We're about the same age. December 7, 1941, when we entered the war against Japan, Germany, Italy. Hitler's goal was to destroy the Jews among other things, and conquer the world. And, these Islamic fundamentalists, these radical terrorists, these Middle Eastern monsters are committed to destroying the Jewish nation, driving her into the Mediterranean, conquering the world. And, we are the great Satan. We are the ultimate goal. I talked this morning with Tom Rose publisher of the Jerusalem Post, and orthodox Jew, and he said, "Now America knows in a horrible way what Israel's been facing for 53 years at the hand of Arafat and other terrorists and radicals and barbarians.

PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, I know that you shared several 40 day fasts for revival in America. We here at CBN had a couple of 40 day fasts during the Lenten season, and Bill Bright, I don't know, eight or nine. Do you think that this is going to be the trigger of revival, a real revival in the Church where we truly turn back to God with all our heart?

JERRY FALWELL: It could be. I've never sensed a togetherness, a burden, a broken heart as I do in the Church today, and just 48 hours, I gave away a booklet I wrote 10 years ago. I gave it away last night on the Biblical position on fasting and prayer because I do believe that that is what we've got to do now-- fast and pray. And I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we've been attacked on our soil, first time, and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters; the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats, what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact, if in fact God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes.

JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.



"N.O.W. is saying that in order to be a woman, you've got to be a lesbian."
--The 700 Club, December 3, 1997

"These girls are not stupid. If you want to pay them five hundred, six hundred, seven hundred, eight hundred dollars a month, or whatever it is, to have a baby, they'll have babies. And if they'll stop paying them, they'll stop having babies. It's that simple. It's not heartless, it's not cruel, it's an intelligent use of money."
--The 700 Club, August 7, 1995


"It's one thing to say, `We have rights to jobs...we have rights to be left alone in our little corner of the world to do our thing. It's an entirely different thing to say, well, `We're not only going to go into the schools and we're going to take your children and your grandchildren and turn them into homosexuals. Now that's wrong."
--The 700 Club, September 17, 1992

"I have known few homosexuals who did not practice their tendencies. Such people are sinning against God and will lead to the ultimate destruction of the family and our nation. I am unalterably opposed to such things, and will do everything I can to restrict the freedom of these people to spread their contagious infection to the youth of this nation."
--Pat Robertson

1.18.2008 12:27pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
I look forward to Obama finding common ground with Rev. Fred Phelps.

That shouldn't be hard. They are both Democrats.
1.18.2008 12:31pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I'm agnostic about this.

On the one hand, I find Louis Farrakhan disgusting and any opportunity to condemn him I would gladly take.

On the other hand, the Nation of Islam poses very complex issues for black politicians. The Nation of Islam had a role in the civil rights revolution in the 1960's, producing flawed but nonetheless somewhat effective leaders such as Elijah Muhammed and Malcolm X. Muhammed Ali and some other prominent blacks joined the group. They have done a lot of work in prisons and in the black community, promoting a self-reliance message that resonates with a lot of blacks.

So, while there are some followers of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam who like the anti-semitic message, there are also a lot of people who don't but who nonetheless cooperate with him because he is influential and respect some of the things that his movement teaches. This is why numerous mainstream black leaders attended the Million Man March, for instance.

It is obvious that Jewish leaders would like Farrakhan to become more of a pariah. I don't blame them for that one bit. At the same time, I haven't seen a lot of evidence that Farrakhan's anti-semitic views are taken seriously or are resulting in any real harm to Jews.

Thus, there is an argument for a cooling the heels a bit here. Obama is clearly not an anti-semite; his pastor probably isn't one either, and there isn't any great need to punish every black politician who goes to a church that has some connection to Farrakhan, at least unless and until there is evidence of an epidemic of tangible black anti-semitism that starts doing harm to Jews. Of course, Abe Foxman doesn't cool his heels-- it's simply not in his M.O.
1.18.2008 12:34pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Obama: "I went to a church preaching Black Supremacy and that supported Farrakahn's anti-Jew attitude for 18 years. But I didn't believe a word of it. I only did it because I needed Christian political cover because of my Muslim connections and because it provided a political base that helped me get elected in a black neighborhood".

When do you expect to see an honest politician?
1.18.2008 12:36pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
MDJD2B: He has so little national record, and so little exposure, that anyone who wants to know how he would do, or what he woudl do, has to read tea leaves.

If you really want to know more about him, read his books. Unlike tea leaves, they're filled with lots and lots of words. He also speaks publicly quite often.
1.18.2008 12:37pm
EH (mail):
I, for one, am anxiously awaiting a David Bernstein post addressing and delineating in equal detail and fervency the similarly problematic aspects of the Mike Huckabee candidacy.

What is happening here is a perverted form of red-herring prejudice. Bernstein has chosen a set of attributes that Obama should stand for, then lambastes him for not honoring them. We get it, you don't like Farrakhan and have decided to become a mouthpiece for the increasingly-discredited Cohen.

MDJD2B: Are you saying we should be looking for another Cheney? Experience is overrated.
1.18.2008 12:38pm
Wonderland:
Bernstein:

Please, spare us any more of these ridiculous posts. Obama's denounced anti-semitism generally, denounced Farrakhan's anti-semitism specifically, and said that he disagrees with his pastor's daughters' (!!!) decision to give him an award. Your continuing efforts to raise "questions" as to his feelings toward Jews is risible, and your claims that this is simply an inquiry into whether Obama is a "typical politician" are transparently false. Your point is to insinuate (not subtly) that he's in bed with anti-Semites. You're not fooling anybody; and your continual harping on this non-issue is functionally no better than passing along emails regarding the "madrassa" that Obama attended when he was 7.

As for your claim that Obama's avoiding the "core issue" -- isn't the "core issue" here antisemitism? And hasn't he roundly denounced it? Haven't all of his public statements regarding Jews generally and Israel specifically put him well within the mainstream of the Democratic pary, and the country? How in the world can this amount to "evading" the "core issue"?

Get real.
1.18.2008 12:40pm
mls:

Neurodoc says: your "honest question" is a rather tendentious one, since it amounts to a defense of Wright's endorsement of Farrakhan


Neurodoc, I will answer you in the same helpful way you did me:

Prove it.

There, didn't that address the merits nicely?
1.18.2008 12:41pm
MichaelT:
Given that Obama has little political history built, any idea of how he would handle this country's highest office, his most recent campaign tactics, prior to his current campaign, sheds much light on him. Growing up in Chicago, I am very familiar with the political machines in action there. Obama has proven himself to be ruthless in that arena.
1.18.2008 12:42pm
Astonished Christian:
I believe a double standard is being applied here. Hillary Clinton has received spiritual counsel from Billy Graham who, as I recall, is reported to have made anti-Semitic remarks in the White House. Why isn't Hillary Clinton being asked to renounce or chastize Billy Graham or to explain why she accepted spiritual guidance from someone with enormous world influence who is recorded to have made anti-Semitic remarks. Senator Obama's pastor has not made anti-Semitic remarks. Senator Obama's church, the Church of Christ, is an inclusive church which seeks to help the poor and pursue social justice. This pastor has not made anti-Semitic remarks. The charge against Senator Obama seems to be that because his minister's church has some connection with a magazine that honored Farrakhan for his social justice work Senator Obama should disown both his church and his minister. Since Senator Obama has directly condemned Farakkan's anti-Semitic views and since no one argues that Obama is anti-Semitic, this whole debate seems like a pathetic attempt to create mud from a milkshake. Christian teachings generally call for moving forward, seeing the best in people, believing in their capacity for redemption, and resisting the effort to cast stones wildly. This effort to smear Obama through a dizzying process of guilt by seven degrees of separation, this disrespect for his religion and for his religious community, are troubling indeed. How on earth would Mr. Bernstein feel if a radical feminist Unitarian were to ask Joe Lieberman to renounce his connection with his orthodox congregation because women are segregated and not permitted to play an equal role in religious life? On a more serious note, Senator Obama's pastor has created a thriving church which provides a place of refuge, hope, and spiritual comfort in a very poor community. It is sad indeed that Mr. Bernstein would presume to ask Senator Obama to renounce this church.
1.18.2008 12:45pm
Baseballhead (mail):
I look forward to Obama finding common ground with Rev. Fred Phelps.

That shouldn't be hard. They are both Democrats.
Did you just make that up?Fred Phelps has endorsed Fred Thompson for President.
1.18.2008 12:45pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
EH, you realize, of course, that I blogged about this the day BEFORE Cohen's column was published.

"isn't the 'core issue' here anti-Semitism?"

No, it's not. It's judging Obama by the company he keeps (that is, Wright, not Farrakhan), given that this company may become part of his "kitchen cabinet" or "inner circle" as president, and whether he's more of the sincere chap of his image, or more the typical political type, full of obfuscation and trying to divert people's attention from unpleasantries. His response, and his aid's response, to Cohen's piece suggests the latter. Not a trace of genuine, "I'm really angry that my church and pastor would honor someone like Farrakhan" (assuming he hadn't heard about it already).
1.18.2008 12:50pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Bhead, you realize that's a spoof site, right?
1.18.2008 12:52pm
pete (mail) (www):

"Kwanzaa is an absolute fraud. You know, there was no festival in Africa called 'Kwanzaa.' I mean, it's made up by a bunch of hippie-types on the West Coast. I mean, it's not something that goes back to Africa. No way."


You do realize this is a pretty accurate desciption of Kwanzaa. It was created in 1966 by Ron Karenga, who is a felon convicted of torturing two women in California by beating them with electrical cords and using a soldering iron on them. I guess if you do not consider marxist black panthers to be hippie types you can call this quote incorrect.
1.18.2008 12:52pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Obama: "The only reason I embraced Al Sharpton was to get the Black vote. I'm a political opportunist. Don't hold it against me, because currently I see my opportunity as a uniter. Trust me."
1.18.2008 12:53pm
MichaelT:
@Astonished Christian:

Obama's church states that it is 'Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian.' The reality is that the church is most definitely 'Unashamedly Black,' but far from 'Unapologetically Christian.' Just read their about page (this link is to one changed early last year). Do a little research and you'll find tht the church is more about people of color than Christ.
1.18.2008 12:56pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Nope,

Fred is a Democrat - you can look it up. The only reason I can think of that he would endorse Thompson is to sink him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Phelps

Gore Delegate to DNC in '88.
1.18.2008 12:57pm
Yankev (mail):

It is obvious that Jewish leaders would like Farrakhan to become more of a pariah. I don't blame them for that one bit. At the same time, I haven't seen a lot of evidence that Farrakhan's anti-semitic views are taken seriously or are resulting in any real harm to Jews.

apparently you are unaware of the takeover of the Bnai Brith building in Washington by armed Hanafi Black Muslims in the late 1970s, which resulted in the death of a security guard and the taking hostage of everyone in the building, who were frequently threatened with execution by their captors. The spokesman said that Bnai Brith was chosen because Jews were the original slave traders -- a canard often spread by Farrakan and his followers.

The anti-Jewish riots in Crown Heights riots, of course, were more the work of Rev. Al Sharpton than of Farrakhan; I do not know whether the latter and his NOI were involved. As you know, those riots resulted in the murder of one Jew and the injury of scores of others, as well as damage to Jewish homes and businesses.
1.18.2008 12:59pm
pete (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
Did you just make that up?Fred Phelps has endorsed Fred Thompson for President.
</blockquote>

Phelps helped out Al Gore's campaign in 1988 and his son was later invited to the first Clinton/Gore innagural, in 1990 Phelps ran for governor of Nebraska in the Democratic primary, and in 1992 got 30% of the vote in Democratic primary in Nebraska for US Senate. See this Southern Poverty Law Center bio of Phelps for details: http://www.splcenter.org/intel/ intelreport/article.jsp?sid=184
1.18.2008 1:00pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
The charge against Senator Obama seems to be that because his minister's church has some connection with a magazine that honored Farrakhan for his social justice work Senator Obama should disown both his church and his minister.

AC, thanks for repeating the disingenuous Obama talking points? Do you work for the campaign? The church does not have "some connection" with the magazine. The church publishes the magazine. The magazine did not "honor Farrakhan for its socical justice work." It honored him for his purported dedication to "truth, education, and leadership." Wright is not just Obama's minister, but his friend and confidante; Obama has just said he's like family. The controversy is over not just the magazine, but also Wright's own comments praising Farrakhan. Finally, unlike Foxman, I have not suggested that Obama should disown his church or his minister.
1.18.2008 1:02pm
frankcross (mail):
Phelps is a Democrat but has apparently crossed parties to endorse Thompson. Will we now see new threads started asking Thompson to formally disavow Phelps?
1.18.2008 1:03pm
sharinlite:
Western civilization has been on the road to perdition for quite some time and the end of that road is now clearly visible, who cares anyway? We have nitpicked our selves almost to death with all of this PC correctness about everything, every where to all for all time, that the devil can no longer be returned to the bottle. Live with it folks. Today it is perfectly O.K. to openly hate the Jews, or just about anybody and say so in print, audio and visual without any causative effect (unless you are white, republican or Christian) that nothing matters to anyone about anything except to "get their way"! As Michelle Malkin is fond of saying: "SUCK IT UP"!
1.18.2008 1:03pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
I will go further than Bernstein.

Obama should publicly embrace his minister. He should at least get the arm over the shoulder Sharpton got. I mean - best buddies for 18 years - isn't that worth at least an arm over the shoulder?
1.18.2008 1:06pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
David Bernstein: It's judging Obama by the company he keeps (that is, Wright, not Farrakhan), given that this company may become part of his "kitchen cabinet" or "inner circle" as president, and whether he's more of the sincere chap of his image, or more the typical political type, full of obfuscation and trying to divert people's attention from unpleasantries.

You can't see the forest because you've found a branch that you can't take your eyes off of. If Obama disagrees with Wright at the right times -- e.g., he condemns Farrakhan -- then why would it matter if Wright were to "become part of his 'kitchen cabinet.'" As someone else said, the issue is Obama's character and judgment.

Unless you don't care as much about who is President as you do about marginalizing Farrakhan. If Farrakhan bothers you so much that you will vote against a candidate merely because they are close to someone one who might be seen to legitimize Farrakhan, regardless of what the candidate would do or say as President, then that is your right, and I can only take comfort that other voters will cast ballots for equally peculiar reasons that will cancel yours out. But stop pretending that it has something to do with Obama.
1.18.2008 1:06pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
And there are longstanding African American synagogues in most major cities.

Obviously, this is tangentional, but what the fvck are you talking about DB? Maybe I am just really, really out of it, but I have never heard of these. Maybe it's an east coast thing, but the "major cities" out here in the West don't have any long-standing African-American synagogues (not that I'd have any problem with it).
1.18.2008 1:06pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Phelps isn't Thompson's personal minister and confidant.
1.18.2008 1:07pm
Baseballhead (mail):
It's judging Obama by the company he keeps (that is, Wright, not Farrakhan), given that this company may become part of his "kitchen cabinet" or "inner circle" as president, and whether he's more of the sincere chap of his image, or more the typical political type, full of obfuscation and trying to divert people's attention from unpleasantries.

What part of "I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan," is a diversion? What part of "...it is not a decision with which I agree," is a dodge?

I remain mystified as to why this is an issue. Let's be honest: if Obama did come out with an "angry" statement, how many of his detractors would take it to be genuine anger? If he left his church, how many of his detractors would take it to be a sign of typical political expediency? After all, none of Cohen, Bernstein, etc., believe Obama to be either a racist or an anti-semite, so how much influence could they believe Wright really had on Obama on these issues? This is an issue only because Cohen, et al, want it to be an issue for the simple reason that they don't like Obama -- Bernstein's at least been upfront about that -- and they want to raise as many negatives as possible, regardless of how little merit those negatives have.
1.18.2008 1:09pm
Baseballhead (mail):
Phelps isn't Thompson's personal minister and confidant.


But you weren't talking about personal relationships. You were talking about common ground. Phelps made it explicitly clear in his post that he shares much common ground with Thompson.
1.18.2008 1:11pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
BBH,

In politics actions (and who your friends are) speak louder than words.

Politicians lie. Embracing Al Sharpton is a fact. And I have the pictures to prove it.
1.18.2008 1:12pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
BBH,

I have been talking about nothing except personal relationships. Why embrace Al Sharpton if there is no common ground?

BTW I have a lot in Common with Fred T. and I despise Fred P.

Now how does Fred P. square his militant ant-war stance with Fred T.'s "send the jihadis to their virgins"?
1.18.2008 1:16pm
Rhode Island Lawyer:

If Giuliani played footsie with Pat Robertson (who does not have the same sort of public record of bigoted obsessions as Louis Farrakhan) we can at least put this in the context of many years of public service on a large stage.

If Senator Clinton embraced Arafat's wife right after she gave a wacky speech about Jews, we can also place this in the context of her national career.



MDJD2B: Nice job setting up and knocking down the strawman. Both of your examples involve a candidate who is directly involved with someone who is accused of bigotry, subtly suggesting that Obama is "playing footsie" with Farrakhan, who is the counterpart to Pat Robertson and Arafat's wife in your construct.

The analogy is false - no one has suggested that Obama has ever supported Farrakhan; on the contrary, the reality is that Obama has pointedly criticized Farrakhan's racist and reprehensible positions.

I have no problem with criticizing any candidate for the company he or she keeps, but don't make it up as you go along.
1.18.2008 1:18pm
American Patriot:
Fred Phelps is not only a Democrat, but also a left-wing radical of the worst kind. Just look at his website "godhatesamerica" and you will find that he has a deep hatred for the U.S. military and America itself. He even protests soldiers funerals! (And, liberals, please do not make the argument that Phelps protests soldiers' funeral because of his hate for homosexuality; the military is just about the last institution in the country that does not allow open homosexuals so this is the last institution he would protest if his primary aim was to fight homosexuality).

Not only that, but Fred Phelps hates Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and basically all Christians (other than those who follow him, of course); he deeply hates the Catholic Church and the Pope and loathes George Bush.

While it is true that liberals love homosexuality and Phelps doesn't, this one issue certainly doesn't supercede everything else (plus, Phelps claims that God hates even homosexuals who do not engage in homosexual conduct, which position is very different from the standard conservative Christian position).
1.18.2008 1:26pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
CT, I don't know about the West Coast, but there are many in NYC, Philadelphia, and elsewhere in the NE, and at least one in Chicago that I know of.

Once again, the Phelps endorsement of Thompson is ON A SPOOF SITE.
1.18.2008 1:27pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Public Defender sez: 'he'll be eaten alive in the general election.'

No doubt. Rightly or wrongly (rightly, in my view) Farrakahn is the third rail of American politics.

Obama may consider he is in a difficult position in this respect, and wish -- as his defenders here all wish -- that we would just overlook it -- but if he isn't smart enough to figure that out, he ain't ready for the big leagues.
1.18.2008 1:28pm
American Patriot:
The Thompson campaign responded quickly to Phelps' endorsement by saying that WBC is a "radical fringe group looking to draw attention to themselves." Not much more could have been said.
1.18.2008 1:35pm
Baseballhead (mail):
BTW I have a lot in Common with Fred T. and I despise Fred P.

So it's possible and right for you to share common ground with Phelps, but impossible and disgusting for Obama to share common ground with Wright? Because if we applied the standards Obama's be given to you, M. Simon, not only would you not be able to run for president, but you'd also be a horrible human being.

I think it's more likely that in this case, neither of you are horrible people, and that the standard given is all wrong.
1.18.2008 1:37pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
The notion that there's a political upside for Obama in his relationship with Rev. Wright is downright loopy.

The notion that there'd be an upside in November is loopy.

Whether there's an upside now is debatable - Obama association with Wright is a negative with some white voters, but is a positive with racist, antisemitic or conspiracy-mongering black voters, so the net result becomes a question of numbers. I'm sure Obama will do well in Durham, NC, where all the folks who voted for Mike Nifong are just gonna love Reverend Wright.

The notion that membership in this church was a huge help in getting Obama into the state legislature sounds pretty likely to me.
1.18.2008 1:38pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Baseballhead: This is an issue only because Cohen, et al, want it to be an issue for the simple reason that they don't like Obama -- Bernstein's at least been upfront about that -- and they want to raise as many negatives as possible, regardless of how little merit those negatives have.

Bernstein's not gunning for Obama -- he just cares much more about the exercise marginalizing Farrakhan than he does about distinguishing between Democratic presidential candidates. The same is true of Cohen, with the added twist that he has to generate new columns periodically and this was one he could write in his sleep. With Cohen, it's a sort of laziness; with Bernstein, it's the opposite.
1.18.2008 1:42pm
Mark Field (mail):
In the few posts I've made in these threads, I think I've made it clear that I don't think much of the Kevin Bacon game as applied to political candidates and lunatics. However, in the spirit of the game I offer this link, and I look forward to the anticipated circle jerk of denunciation.
1.18.2008 1:44pm
huxley (mail):
It's not just a "two degrees of Farrakhan" issue. Out of all the available Christian churches in Chicago, Obama picked a quasi-racist church in which he has been a devout participant for about 20 years and has taken its pastor as his spiritual mentor. This is not a casual relationship but a deep commitment. Either Obama is a cynical politician using Trinity's questionable brand of Christianity as political base, or he is a quasi-racist himself.

Again, if a Republican politician was a member of a church that focused on the White Race, the European homeland, espoused beliefs that American society fosters the killing of whites, and gave an award to David Duke, that politician would have some serious explaining to do, and wouldn't get off with saying that he disagreed with David Duke's racism.
1.18.2008 1:45pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Baseballhead said:
Phelan is off the reservation. You are, too, David;

What exactly does that mean?
That we're going someplace you don't think we should be allowed to go?
Herding people onto a reservation is generally considered a rather hostile act ... why should we let you confine us to a "reservation" of acceptable (to you) thoughts?
1.18.2008 1:46pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
huxley: Either Obama is a cynical politician using Trinity's questionable brand of Christianity as political base, or he is a quasi-racist himself.

Since black nationalism is a really lousy base for a national politician, and since there's a world of information out there suggesting that Obama isn't a quasi-racist, one searches for another explanation.

A-ha! Here's one! The church isn't quite that racist, and Obama has found spiritual and religious value from the non-racist parts. There, that wasn't so hard.
1.18.2008 1:49pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I, for one, am anxiously awaiting a David Bernstein post addressing and delineating in equal detail and fervency the similarly problematic aspects of the Mike Huckabee candidacy.

Until Huckabee becomes the solid #2 contender in the Republican race, I can wait.

Obama's worth covering in detail because he has a real shot.

Paul was worth covering because (a) he had generated a lot of interest among this particular audience and (b) he's hilarious.

I find Huckabee mostly tiresome and not worth the trouble.
1.18.2008 1:49pm
hattio1:
I don't know if anyone has commented on this yet, but Professor Bernstein says;

Obama's defenders will undoubtedly point out that compared to the Farrakhan remarks, Wright's condemnation of Clinton was much more directly campaign-related, and could have raised suspicions that Obama was using Wright as a surrogate. Fair enough. But The Trumpet's decision to honor Farrakhan was not campaign-related, and Obama did see fit to comment on that, instead of taking the position that his relationship with his church is a purely private religious matter


I've often disagreed with Professor Bernstein, but now he's just being intellectually dishonest. First he criticizes Obama for not making a statement condemning the fact that Farrakhan was honored in his church's newsletter. Then, when the pressure from Bernstein and other folks like him forces Obama to deal with the issue, he uses the fact that he made a statement to criticize him for not making a statement on other facts. Professor Bernstein, just admit that at this point you're going to criticize Obama no matter what. And more importantly, if you can't be fair, at least be honest.
1.18.2008 1:50pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Again, if a Republican politician was a member of a church that focused on the White Race, the European homeland, espoused beliefs that American society fosters the killing of whites

How would this differ from a Jewish politician who strongly supported Israel and believed that the Anti-Defamation League was necessary to monitor anti-Semitism?
1.18.2008 1:58pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
Bernstein I'm ashamed of you. The headline is deliberately misleading. Obama has already condemned Farrakhan in no uncertain terms. He's also criticized Wright. That is enough, period. If that's not enough for you, nothing will ever be enough.
1.18.2008 1:59pm
frankcross (mail):
I don't think "radical fringe group looking to draw attention to themselves" satisfies this board's standards for disassociation. Seems much weaker than what Obama said.

Huckabee is currently #2 in the last national polls I saw
1.18.2008 2:01pm
huxley (mail):
Slothrop -- Have you examined the TUCC website?
Disavowal of the Pursuit of "Middleclassness"

Classic methodology on control of captives teaches that captors must keep the captive ignorant educationally, but trained sufficiently well to serve the system. Also, the captors must be able to identify the "talented tenth" of those subjugated, especially those who show promise of providing the kind of leadership that might threaten the captor's control.

Those so identified as separated from the rest of the people by:

Killing them off directly, and/or fostering a social system that encourages them to kill off one another.

Placing them in concentration camps, and/or structuring an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jails and prisons.

Seducing them into a socioeconomic class system which while training them to earn more dollars, hypnotizes them into believing they are better than others and teaches them to think in terms of "we" and "they" instead of "us".
--Trinity United Church of Christ, "The Black Value System"
I find that wacko and repugnant. How about you? Would you dismiss criticism of a white candidate who was a member of a church similarly focused on the White Race?

At the very least, I'd say that Obama has terrible judgment to associate long-term with a church where such beliefs are proudly espoused, and completely rules Obama out as a unity candidate.
1.18.2008 2:03pm
Baseballhead (mail):
"Herding people onto a reservation is generally considered a rather hostile act ... why should we let you confine us to a "reservation" of acceptable (to you) thoughts?"
Think what you want. You're allowed to be wrong, and even dishonest. Just understand that others have the right to call you on it.

Until Huckabee becomes the solid #2 contender in the Republican race, I can wait.
The USA Today/Gallup Poll has had Huckabee at either #1 or #2 since the beginning of December. I'd say he has a real shot.
1.18.2008 2:10pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I don't think much of the Kevin Bacon game
A mindless link-counting Kevin Bacon game is meaningless.
But if you take into account the strength of the links it becomes more meaningful. the realative appallingness of what's on the other end matters too.

Obama
["spiritual advisor" &surrogate father since 1987]
Wright
[Publicly agree about racial theories under which white people, especially Jews, are the cause of anything bad that ever happens to a black person. Political allies since 1984]
Farrakhan, who blames Jews for the slave trade. This claim is factually incorrect. This belief is sufficiently inflammatory that it is known to have resulted in deaths.

Giuliani
[Accepts endorsement from]
Robertson, who says impolite but true things about Kwanzaa and radical Islam, who believes all religions but his own are incorrect (Wow, big surprise!), and who believes that 9/11 was Gods punishment against America because we don't oppress gays harshly enough. The last claim is clearly insane but has no factual content that can be proven either true or false. I don't know of this belief ever having actually inspired a riot in which people got killed.

I'd say two links consisting of associations both of which are over two decades old count for more than one link consisting of a political endorsement. And that Robertson may be a bad man, but Farrakhan is far worse.
1.18.2008 2:14pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):

I find that wacko and repugnant. How about you?

Sounds wacko and repugnant to me.

At the very least, I'd say that Obama has terrible judgment to associate long-term with a church where such beliefs are proudly espoused, and completely rules Obama out as a unity candidate.

Poor political judgment, sure, if he was thinking about it from a political perspective. I suspect he finds something else at the church to be compelling, and hasn't ever bothered to look at the web site, much as I've never looked at my church's web site.

If I thought Obama believed those things, I wouldn't find him to be an attractive candidate. Perhaps because I'm more familiar with him from other sources, I don't think that sort of stuff is a good guide to what he thinks at all. There are different strains within black churches, and I would surmise that this is true specifically of that church. I've never seen any reporting of what the services are like, presumably because most reporters would rather do research at their desks, on the web, instead of having to go to religious services on Sunday morning. I'd be curious to know more about the church.
1.18.2008 2:16pm
hattio1:
American Patriot says;

The Thompson campaign responded quickly to Phelps' endorsement by saying that WBC is a "radical fringe group looking to draw attention to themselves." Not much more could have been said.



Actually a lot more could have been said, and if you were applying the same standards to Thompson that Bernstein is applying to Obama, you would demand that more be said. He could say why he condemns WBC as a radical fringe group. He could specifically condemn Phelps. He could specifically condemn the Phelps/WBC treatment of the American military. See, this game is fun to play. You can always come up with a more specific statement or a new issue they didn't addres in their condemnation.

Just in case it's not obvious, I consider what Thompson completely adequate. It's the appalling hypocrisy that I object to.
1.18.2008 2:17pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Tyrone Slothrop:
huxley: Either Obama is a cynical politician using Trinity's questionable brand of Christianity as political base, or he is a quasi-racist himself.


Since black nationalism is a really lousy base for a national politician, and since there's a world of information out there suggesting that Obama isn't a quasi-racist, one searches for another explanation.

Obama is a cynical politician who used Trinity as a base to get started in politics, and is now trying to disguise that fact without pissing off his long-time supporters. I don't see the need to go looking for another explanation, unless I'm already so emotionally attached to the Obama campaign that I'd find it emotionally painful to accept the obviousness of the above.
1.18.2008 2:20pm
hattio1:
Ralph Phelan,
Now that Huckabee is number two, you think that Bernstein should focus his effort on the connections of Huckabee...right?
1.18.2008 2:21pm
cjwynes (mail):
I don't really think it's fair, polite, or a legitimate part of political discourse to tell somebody that they better either intimidate their pastor into changing views on something or else leave their church. I could understand it if people were concerned about a real danger at his church, like snake-handling or a sex cult or if they were stockpiling automatic weapons, but this is just a pastor affiliating with somebody that takes social policy positions that are disfavored. Most people attend the churches they do for reasons that largely have nothing to do with the positions espoused by the pastor on various social issues. Going to a church is about being part of a community of believers, connecting to a network of people for moral support and charitable work, and having a positive religious experience. If Obama gets those things at that church, it's nobody's business to tell him he should quit going there for political reasons.

Would anybody have suggested that every member of the LDS church prior to 1971 should have left the church because of their policy on race, regardless of the positive influence the church may have been having on their lives?

We ask alot of sacrifices from our presidential candidates, let's leave them the right to attend their home church without being trashed for it.
1.18.2008 2:23pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
apparently you are unaware of the takeover of the Bnai Brith building in Washington by armed Hanafi Black Muslims in the late 1970s, which resulted in the death of a security guard and the taking hostage of everyone in the building, who were frequently threatened with execution by their captors. The spokesman said that Bnai Brith was chosen because Jews were the original slave traders -- a canard often spread by Farrakan and his followers.

The anti-Jewish riots in Crown Heights riots, of course, were more the work of Rev. Al Sharpton than of Farrakhan; I do not know whether the latter and his NOI were involved. As you know, those riots resulted in the murder of one Jew and the injury of scores of others, as well as damage to Jewish homes and businesses.

Yankev, without in any way defending those horrible acts, those were DECADES ago. Al Sharpton is actually a perfect example of this-- he's not a guy I admire one bit, as in addition to his past advocacy of violence and his role in the Tawana Brawley affair, he also is a rampant publicity hound. Nonetheless, Al Sharpton's prominence right now is simply not harming anyone.

There is very real anti-semitism out there, it is a threat, and we need to keep fighting it. But the problem is, getting one's dander up everytime some black leader somewhere associates in some indirect way with Louis Farrakhan or the Nation of Islam is counterproductive to fighting actual, harmful anti-semitism. I don't blame Jewish groups at all for this-- Jews were targeted in the Holocaust and I wasn't, and seeing millions of one's people killed in that manner will naturally and correctly make one very concerned about the threat of anti-semitism in the future. Nonetheless, it is still possible to overreact.
1.18.2008 2:26pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Actually a lot more could have been said, and if you were applying the same standards to Thompson that Bernstein is applying to Obama, you would demand that more be said.

Thompson didn't express respect. Thompson didn't try to find a part of their message he could agree with. Thompson didn't try to find a way of distancing himself without actually offending Phelpsians.

Thompson came right out and slagged off the lot of them. That really is pretty unequivocal.
1.18.2008 2:26pm
krodjr:
Please--can we be reasonable here?

There were many Germans who opposed Hitler, and some were brave enough to attempt his ouster/death. Point out one, yes, even one Mohammedan who has condemned 9/11 or the Munich Olympics slaughter.

Mr Obama is born and bred a Mohammedan--his posited embracing of an anti-Semitic church should come as no surprise.

The recent Ms. magazine flap should be a reminder that the left is vehemently anti-Jew.

Why should we expect Obama to be different?

'nough said.
1.18.2008 2:32pm
Astonished Christian:
Gee...wasn't it JC himself who said "Judge not, lest ye be judged." "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Stuff like that. What, precisely, is it that engages the congregation of Senator Obama's church? One suspects that the church does not devote time to the publication of anti-Semitic sentiments. Rather, the church ministers to people the local community--the poor, the job less, those with drug addictions, those with aids, etc. etc. How on earth posters here feel they have any evidence for calling this church a quasi-racist church I do not fathom. It seems to me that the whole line of guilt by indirect association is racist. As I said earlier, no one is calling out Hillary Clinton because of her association with Billy Graham. This blog appears to be populated by the thought-control police who don't like black people or who rummage through all sorts of stuff looking for the next "gotcha" with which to attempt to brand folks with whom they disagree with the label "Anti-Semitic." Who is this helping , really? Jews who have worked tirelessly for civil rights and human rights in this country don't participate in this nonsense.
1.18.2008 2:34pm
Procrastinator:

[Publicly agree about racial theories under which white people, especially Jews, are the cause of anything bad that ever happens to a black person. Political allies since 1984]


So where is your proof that Obama believes this? What in the world are you babbling about?

Also, apparently how evil someone is depends on whether what someone says is true or not. Yeah, because Robertson cannot "be proven true or false" in his homophobic ravings that makes him less bad than Farrakhan. That makes sense.
1.18.2008 2:36pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Jeez, for the last time, Phelps's church did not endorse Thompson, at least not that I can find. The church did issue some kind of release saying that Thompson used to agree with its views of gays. Thompson said the church is just trying to get attention. The "endorsement" linked above is a spoof. Maybe there is some other source I'm missing, but unless someone can point to one, can we PLEASE drop the Thompson thread.

Also,

"I've often disagreed with Professor Bernstein, but now he's just being intellectually dishonest. First he criticizes Obama for not making a statement condemning the fact that Farrakhan was honored in his church's newsletter. Then, when the pressure from Bernstein and other folks like him forces Obama to deal with the issue, he uses the fact that he made a statement to criticize him for not making a statement on other facts. Professor Bernstein, just admit that at this point you're going to criticize Obama no matter what."
Great, except this chain of events never happened. I raised the issue of the praise by Wright, and the honor by the magazine. I didn't say what Obama should do about it. Cohen then wrote his column. Obama then criticized Farrakhan and halfheartedly and somewhat disingenuously disassociated himself from the magazine's honor. I pointed out why I didn't find the statement completely satisfying. If you're going to accuse someone of intellectual dishonesty, you should at least get the underlying facts straight first, my posts are still up, not hard to check.
1.18.2008 2:36pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I'm going back a ways, and there may be more recent examples, but I like this one because it is clearly parallel.

Several posters have cited Obama's forthright condemnation of antisemitism, and asked why would we not let it go at that?

Well, Lindbergh, once his hand was caught in the Jew-hating cookie jar, asserted his disdain for antisemitism, and nobody believed him.

Same with Obama. Not credible.
1.18.2008 2:43pm
Procrastinator:
Sources please, Harry, for anything Obama's said or believed that is in any way similar to Lindbergh. You're the one who's not credible.
1.18.2008 2:45pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Ralph Phelan: Obama ... used Trinity as a base to get started in politics....

That is false. Indeed, if you read this 1995 profile of Obama at the start of his political career, you won't even see Trinity mentioned. You will see Obama talk about the importance of building up black churches as institutions, which will give -- maybe not you, but a fair-minded reader -- a better sense of the role he thinks black churches should play. (It doesn't have much to do with that stuff on Trinity's website.)
1.18.2008 2:51pm
neurodoc:
mls: Neurodoc, I will answer you in the same helpful way you did me: Prove it. There, didn't that address the merits nicely?
Prove what, that you offered what amounted to a defense for Wright that didn't stand up to scrutiny?

(Did I miss where you came back to tell us what of non-hateful Wright might have had in mind when praising Farrakhan, as Wright did, for "'astounding and eyeopening'" analysis of the 'racial ills of this nation,' a 'perspective' that is 'helpful and honest?'" And did I also miss where you came back to tell us exactly what parts of the hateful Farrakhan Reverend Wright had explicitly rejected? That would be evidence we could weigh, but I don't see where you ever presented any evidence in support of whatever case you might be trying to make.)
1.18.2008 2:54pm
MDJD2B (mail):

But there is a record of Pat's beliefs. Fewer people may find them problematic than say Farrakhan but they are not always easy to defend.

I wasn't trying to make a point about Pat Robertson's beliefs as comparted to Farrakhan's. I was trying to say that Giuliani's extensive public record of statements and actions provide a context for his distasteful or controversial associations than does Obama's.

Obviously, anyone is free to hold either candidate's associations, friendships, or endorsements against him. The less concrete stuff we have to go on, the more important this sort of stuff becomes.
1.18.2008 2:58pm
neurodoc:
Billy Graham -- the pastor to the Presidents -- was on record making anti-Semitic remarks yet I don't recall any outcry...

The remarks were made in a recorded conversation with Nixon 30 years or so before the tape was released. There was an outcry, Abe Foxman for one loudly reproaching Graham for the antisemitism expressed.

When the tape was released, Graham was ill with advanced Parkinsons, out of the limelight, and not closely associated with any particular politician, though he had certainly been close to many over the years. Which politician would have been obliged to step forward to publically reproach Graham at that point in time?
1.18.2008 3:01pm
MDJD2B (mail):

If you really want to know more about him, read his books. Unlike tea leaves, they're filled with lots and lots of words. He also speaks publicly quite often.

Rather than statements, I had votes and actions more in mind. I consider those to be more predictive than books and speeches.
1.18.2008 3:02pm
MDJD2B (mail):

MDJD2B: Are you saying we should be looking for another Cheney? Experience is overrated.

With Cheney, we knew what we had before we voted for him. Like him or hate him, nobody is surprised.

That was my point about experience.

I would go further, though, and say that (all other things being equal) doing well at running something big is a good predictor of doing well at running something else big. If their philosophy were similar, I would vote for a well-regarded big-state governor before I would vote for a log-time state legislator with a couple of years in the Senate.
1.18.2008 3:06pm
JM Hanes (mail):
David:

"There is, however, a further development, which I suspect will lead some Obama defenders to regret relying on the ADL as authoritative on this issue...."

Right, and the Clintons are worried that Republicans are going to attack him for his drug use too. It certainly won't be Foxman's remarks that precipitate the wave of buyer's remorse you're looking for, when you have a hard time treating them as much of a "development," yourself:

"I don't think that Obama necessarily has to leave his church, or even "confront" Wright."

This just in: Obama and Romney join hands to confront their racist, anti-semitic religious roots together on PBS and sail away with their partys' nominations.

Maybe you should rewrite this column when you figure out what you do want Obama to do, because you leave me wondering about your sincerity, not his. You sound like Henry Waxman wailing that Bush promised to be a uniter, not a divider.
1.18.2008 3:08pm
hattio1:
Professor Bernstein now says that he never made any comment about how Obama should handle this or whether he should make a statement. He invites me to look at his posts. But, he didn't encourage Obama to make statements in his posts, but rather in his comments in responses to comments.

Here a few exxamples;

None, since you asked, how about something like this: "I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. Trumpet Magazine erred in honoring Farrakhan, who has made blatantly false statements about Jews and others, for his purported commitment to truth. The Rev. Wright similarly erred in his praise of Wright. I am of course not responsible for every action undertaken by my church or my minister, but as a member of the congregation and a religious follower and friend of Dr. Wright's I have made my displeasure known to the relevant parties, in private correspondence that I think would be inappropriate to share."


and

What I did say is that someone campaigning as a uniter will and should have to answer questions about close associations with people who endorse the likes of Farrakhan, and that I don't want such people to be close to the levers of power.



So, you didn't encourage him to make a statement denouncing Wright, you just thought he should have to "answer questions." And when he did make a statement you has specific ideas as to HOW that statement could have been better and more complete. You may see encouragign someone to "answer questions" as being materially different. I have a feeling most people would see it as you taking a "typical politician" response to getting caught being dishonest.
1.18.2008 3:12pm
MDJD2B (mail):

Why isn't Hillary Clinton being asked to renounce or chastize Billy Graham or to explain why she accepted spiritual guidance from someone with enormous world influence who is recorded to have made anti-Semitic remarks.

1. Because the country has had 17 years to observe Clinton, and most of us think we know what she is about.

2. Because her relationship with Graham is not nearly as close as Obama's with Rev. Wright.

3. Because Graham is not as overtly political as Rev. Wright, and almost nobody really thinks he was trying to influence Bill Clinton in policy matters.
1.18.2008 3:13pm
MDJD2B (mail):
M

DJD2B: Nice job setting up and knocking down the strawman. Both of your examples involve a candidate who is directly involved with someone who is accused of bigotry, subtly suggesting that Obama is "playing footsie" with Farrakhan, who is the counterpart to Pat Robertson and Arafat's wife in your construct.

The analogy is false - no one has suggested that Obama has ever supported Farrakhan; on the contrary, the reality is that Obama has pointedly criticized Farrakhan's racist and reprehensible positions.

Your argument is the straw man.

My concern isn't about Farrakhan; it is about Wright. And yes, I know Write didn't say the things Arafat's wife said.
1.18.2008 3:20pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Now I want to know: Who is the pastor of Hillary's church? What does he believe? Who has he honored? Who have been Hillary's spiritual influences? What are their flaws? Why did she send Chelsea to a Quaker school? Is HRC a pacifist? How will her pacifist associations affect the war in Iraq?
1.18.2008 3:39pm
Yankev (mail):

There were many Germans who opposed Hitler, and some were brave enough to attempt his ouster/death. Point out one, yes, even one Mohammedan who has condemned 9/11 or the Munich Olympics slaughter.

I am embarrassed that I do not know his name, but it was a Muslim American who tried to come to the physical defense of several Jews in NY last month when a gang of of anti-semitic hoodlums started beating them up and making taunts of deicide.

There was also a recent statement from an American Muslim organization taking CAIR and similar groups to task for charging the US with waging war on Islam and for defending terrorism. Again, I'm am embarrassed not to know the name of the group or its leaders.
1.18.2008 3:45pm
Elliot123 (mail):
This should be quite easy to deal with.
1) List Farrakhan's silliest statements about whites, Jews, race, etc.
2) ListWright's endorsements.

3) List Obama's praise of Wright.
4) Ask Obama if he has any comment on Farrakhan's or Wrights ideas.

But, don't stop there. Then ask Hillary and Edwards. And given Bill Clinton's recent red-faced responses, ask him, too.

Perhaps the NYT would be a fitting venue for an ad?
1.18.2008 3:46pm
Yankev (mail):
So what you're asking me, Dilan Esper, is who have anti-semites in the US killed lately? And until they kill someone again, one should not publicly expose and object to anti-semitic groups and their leaders, and those opportunists who may or may not hold anti-semitic beliefs but who make anti-semitic speeches or charges? And this is because doing so makes it more difficult to fight anti-Semitism? Pardon me while I ponder that one.

And to all, have a good Shabbos. I need to leave now.
1.18.2008 3:51pm
Mark Field (mail):

Now I want to know: Who is the pastor of Hillary's church? What does he believe? Who has he honored? Who have been Hillary's spiritual influences? What are their flaws? Why did she send Chelsea to a Quaker school? Is HRC a pacifist? How will her pacifist associations affect the war in Iraq?


Are we yet to the point where we want to hear Fred Thompson condemn David Bernstein?
1.18.2008 3:55pm
sjalterego (mail):
Someone help me out here. So Obama attends/is a member of this church. The church publishes a magazine. The minister of this church "honors" Farrakhan" with some award through this magazine.

So we are supposed to question Obama's sincerity and/or antisemitic attitudes based on the company he keeps.

To which I question, what do we know about Obama's knowledge of all of this?

When did Obama join this church, how often does he attend, what is the content of the sermons? To what extent can/does the allegedly stupid/insensitive/antisemitic attitude of the minister be attributed to Obama.

ONLY if the minister's attitude can be attributed to Obama by an argument that Obama has explicitly affirmed them, or implicitly affirmed them by being aware of them and not distancing himself from them, do I believe that Obama is obligated to denounce the church, minister or magazine.
1.18.2008 4:01pm
Please Man:
Dear Professor Berstein:

Kindly STFU, please. Stop the Jew-baiting. Seriously. Usually you're a great, informative and thought-provoking read. This is way below your level. This is more like Fox News.

If everyone had to apologize for the actions of everybody who is in some way connected to them...it would not only be wasteful but meaningless since there is absolutely no moral culpability there. Are you going to publicly distance yourself from Yale University (I demand you renounce your diploma!!!) because a clinic connected to it is wrongfully suing John Yoo and threatening the integrity of independent legal advice to public officials (an interest of far great importance than Farrakhan, since than loon will never have serious sway)?

Please, rise above this red-herring, slime politics bullshit. Stop dragging the VC down.
1.18.2008 4:02pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Procrastinator, Lindbergh may have been suspect about some of his fellow-travelers, but he got nailed on one remark at one time (the Des Moines speech).

That was enough to confirm, in the minds of many, the doubts they had entertained about his affiliations at least since his trip to Germany about 4 years earlier.

Obama hasn't made a slip of the tongue like Lindbergh's (as far as I've heard), but it has now been demonstrated that his associations with Jew-haters have lasted for longer and are far deeper than the ones that caught up Lindbergh.

Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. I don't believe him any more than my father believed Lindbergh.

Politics ain't beanbag.
1.18.2008 4:06pm
krodjr:
I am embarrassed that I do not know his name, but it was a Muslim American who tried to come to the physical defense of several Jews in NY last month when a gang of of anti-semitic hoodlums started beating them up and making taunts of deicide.

There was also a recent statement from an American Muslim organization taking CAIR and similar groups to task for charging the US with waging war on Islam and for defending terrorism. Again, I'm am embarrassed not to know the name of the group or its leaders.

Thanks for you comments, Yankev.

Yeah, habibi, yeah.

You can be embarrassed all you want: the fact remains that many negroes and/or mohammedans are inherently anti-Semitic.

Why, in the name of Christ, would we want someone with one or both of these characteristics to be our supreme leader?

There was some concern about John Kennedy's taking his orders from the Pope: perhaps a more pertinent concern would have been whether he was was influenced by his dope dealer or pander.
1.18.2008 4:19pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Please--can we be reasonable here?...Mr Obama is born and bred a Mohammedan--his posited embracing of an anti-Semitic church should come as no surprise."

Well, how much more reasonable can you get?

I'm reminded of a friend who always responds to questionable gossip with the same remark, for example:

"Is so-and-so gay??"

"He is now."
1.18.2008 4:37pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Also, apparently how evil someone is depends on whether what someone says is true or not. Yeah, because Robertson cannot "be proven true or false" in his homophobic ravings that makes him less bad than Farrakhan. That makes sense.


Farrakhan and Robertson both say bizarrwe things about what God thinks and why he does the things he does. I was raised Catholic, and under that philosophical system they are both blasphemers. I am now an atheist logical positivist, and under that philosophical system they are both making meaningless statements about a fictional character, not unlike the perrenial dispute over who would win a fight between Batman and Spiderman.

I have caught Farrakhan telling significant lies about the historic record. I have not yet caught Robertson doing so.

I know that intellectual poison of the type Farrakhan spreads has inspired people to kill. I have not yet found a documented instance of Robertson's brand of poison being explicitly cited by the people who started a riot or committed a crime in which people were killed.

Whether by luck, energy or design, Farrakhan has been more effectively evil in his life than Robertson.
1.18.2008 4:39pm
Platonisto:
Yeah, when a white candidate chooses to bea member of and goes to a church where the minister praises the Grand Wizard of the KKK, the liberals won't care. Yeah, right.
1.18.2008 4:40pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"If everyone had to apologize for the actions of everybody who is in some way connected to them...it would not only be wasteful but meaningless since there is absolutely no moral culpability there."

Thankfully, everyone doesn't have to do that. But it is reasonable to ask presidential candidates about the nutty things said by those they identify as their mentors. We already ask them all kinds of questions that everyone else doesn't have to answer. How hard is it to say, "I completely disagree with Wright about Farrakhan. Farrakhan is a nutcase, and Wright is wrong to support him?"
1.18.2008 4:53pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"I have not yet found a documented instance of Robertson's brand of poison being explicitly cited by the people who started a riot or committed a crime in which people were killed."

Gay-bashing aside, of course.
1.18.2008 4:53pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Tony Tutins (mail):
Now I want to know: ... Who have been Hillary's spiritual influences?

Hillary, like most people I know, is not a convert. Like Giuliani, Romney, and my Catholic sister-in-law, she is following the philosophical path of least resistance by staying with the faith she was raised in. Understanding that most people don't consider philosophy an interesting hobby, I don't hold this against any of them, nor do I think the details are at all important in predicting their behavior.

Converts are a whole 'nother story. George Bush and Barack Obama claim to have had spiritually transforming experiences that turned them into someone fundamentally different than the drunken and/or stoned wastrel they used to be. The details of such transformations are important in understanding such people, and the ideology they chose to build their new identity around has much more predictive power than a non-convert's would.

Obama credits Wright with totally transforming his life. So far as I know Hillary doesn't credit anyone in particular with making a similarly radical change in hers. If she ever does, that person's influence on her will become a legitimate subject of inquiry.
1.18.2008 4:53pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"How hard is it to say, 'I completely disagree with Wright about Farrakhan. Farrakhan is a nutcase, and Wright is wrong to support him?'"

Of course he said that, but no one cares.
1.18.2008 4:56pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Gay-bashing aside, of course.
Gay bashing is motivated by many things. I doubt blaming them for 9/11 because they annoyed God so much that he allowed Muslims to crash airplanes into our skyscrapers is even among the top ten.
1.18.2008 4:58pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"How hard is it to say, 'I completely disagree with Wright about Farrakhan. Farrakhan is a nutcase, and Wright is wrong to support him?'"

Of course he said that, but no one cares.


Cite please?
And not the quote from a campaign staffer - I want to hear Obama say it. If he has the stones to flip off the loonier part of the black community, he can be a President for all Americans, black and white. If he can't, he can't.

And he doesn't even have to say "nutcase." "Radical fringe figure" would suffice.
1.18.2008 5:03pm
Kevin!:
I think my problem with this post is that it's perfectly legitimate to question Obama's ties to this Church. It says questionable things. Its role in the community is debatable. We know so little about Obama that these kind of things are sort of important.

But to criticize him based on his public pronouncements? He's attacked Farrakhan. He's already criticized his pastor. Bernstein can't even clearly enunciate what he wants Obama to do in a series of followup comments to his own post.

What he really seems to want is to push the story of this Church in order to concretely tie Obama to their beliefs. But to do that he has to find a hook. Hence an intellectually lazy attack on the current action in order to keep it alive as a "controversy."

I'm again reminded of Kaus' push of the Edwards' stuff. He had no evidence besides the National Enquirer. So here comes a bunch of posts about "Edwards fails to deny! Edwards denial lacks critical adjective!"

A rewrite of this post would start from a series of questions about what would satisfy suspicions about Obama. It can be done in a worthwhile way. Ask some co-bloggers for advice. The present effort is just a series of insinuations.
1.18.2008 5:04pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
"Professor Bernstein now says that he never made any comment about how Obama should handle this or whether he should make a statement." I guess the problem is not intellectual honesty or lack thereof, but of reading comprehension. What I actually wrote was "I raised the issue of the praise by Wright, and the honor by the magazine. I didn't say what Obama should do about it. Cohen then wrote his column." That is, I didn't say what Obama should do about it until before Cohen wrote his column and Obama responded with an unsatisfying statement. That is NOT the same thing as saying I "NEVER made made any comment..." Geez.
1.18.2008 5:06pm
hattio1:
Sorry Professor Bernstein;
I also didn't notice the importance distinction that your comments were made on a Tuesday afternoon after 2pm. Clearly, my reading comprehension is lacking....Geez indeed.
1.18.2008 5:17pm
Waldensian (mail):

Please, rise above this red-herring, slime politics bullshit. Stop dragging the VC down.

Too late.
1.18.2008 6:06pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So what you're asking me, Dilan Esper, is who have anti-semites in the US killed lately? And until they kill someone again, one should not publicly expose and object to anti-semitic groups and their leaders, and those opportunists who may or may not hold anti-semitic beliefs but who make anti-semitic speeches or charges? And this is because doing so makes it more difficult to fight anti-Semitism? Pardon me while I ponder that one.

Yankev:

What I am telling you is that if you are going to scaremonger about anti-semitics in the black muslim movement, you are going to have to point to things that didn't happen decades ago. And I am further telling you that there IS anti-semitic violence which is a DIRECT threat to Jews, and it isn't coming from the Louis Farrakhans of the world.

Finally, what I am telling you is that there is a HUGE difference between people who use anti-semitic rhetoric and people who are harming or killing Jews. Getting your knickers in a twist every time someone associates, even indirectly, with someone who used anti-semitic rhetoric in the past both diverts resources from the real threats and also increases the likelihood that when real threats are identified, it will be perceived as crying "wolf".

Indeed, there are many people who don't pay attention to a thing Abe Foxman says at this point exactly because of these factors.
1.18.2008 6:31pm
Baseballhead (mail):
What I actually wrote was "I raised the issue of the praise by Wright, and the honor by the magazine. I didn't say what Obama should do about it. Cohen then wrote his column." That is, I didn't say what Obama should do about it until before Cohen wrote his column and Obama responded with an unsatisfying statement.


That's a bit disingenuous. You raised the issue because you clearly wanted Obama to do or say SOMETHING. It's easy (and expected) that after Obama made his statement that his statement was inadequate*, but let us not pretend that you thought Obama should do nothing.

*And again, I'm still not understanding why the statement was inadequate. The only thing I can gather from reading all the Bernstein posts on this matter is that the degree of scree wasn't high enough.
1.18.2008 6:37pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Gay bashing is motivated by many things."

Like this?

"[Homosexuals]want to come into churches and disrupt church services and throw blood all around and try to give people AIDS and spit in the face of ministers."

But wait--there's more!

http://www.hatecrime.org/subpages/hatespeech/robertson.html

If you don't think that persistently blaming a minority group for the ills of society doesn't lead to violence, I've got news for you, Ralph.
1.18.2008 6:40pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Come on, Dilan, I don't think any of us Obama-bashers are suggesting he's going to lead the mob creating an American Kristallnacht in Skokie.

He probably hates Illinois nazis, or thinks he does.

I'm holding him to a little higher standard than that.

Some people think that the soft antisemitism of FDR and, more so, of some of his appointees in the State Department did get Jews killed.
1.18.2008 7:03pm
wfjag:

Kevin!:
I think my problem with this post is that it's perfectly legitimate to question Obama's ties to this Church. It says questionable things. Its role in the community is debatable. We know so little about Obama that these kind of things are sort of important.

But to criticize him based on his public pronouncements? He's attacked Farrakhan. He's already criticized his pastor. Bernstein can't even clearly enunciate what he wants Obama to do in a series of followup comments to his own post.

What he really seems to want is to push the story of this Church in order to concretely tie Obama to their beliefs. But to do that he has to find a hook. Hence an intellectually lazy attack on the current action in order to keep it alive as a "controversy."

***

A rewrite of this post would start from a series of questions about what would satisfy suspicions about Obama. It can be done in a worthwhile way. Ask some co-bloggers for advice. The present effort is just a series of insinuations.


I agree that Sen. Obama's associations are more troubling since he has such a thin record. One of the more troubling parts of this particular matter is that what little record he has includes accepting the 2006 Joseph Award from Sojourners, and Sojourners refusal to disavow Hamas' actions. See, e.g., "Sojourners for Hamas" By Mark D. Tooley, FrontPageMagazine.com Tuesday, July 03, 2007. It's not merely a question of concluding that Sen. Obama isn't overly racist or anti-semetic (which I don't think he is), or even softly so (possible, since he tends to invoke the rhetoric of victimhood quite a bit). It's also (and more importantly) a question of his judgment on the company he keeps, and whether he looks into their background and ideology before associating with them.

As far as looking at the vague pronouncements that are the subject of this post that may shed some light on these issues, it isn't like Sen. Obama can't be quite pointed and clear in his criticisms when he so chooses. His speech when he accepted the 2006 Joseph Award was very pointed as to some people, like Pat Robertson. And, he's pretty good at sarcasm. See, "Obama Debuts New Act in Vegas" By NEDRA PICKLER (AP Jan. 18, 2008), in www.breitbart.com So, being evasive or obtruse on the Rev. Wright issues indicates that for some reason Sen. Obama is choosing to be evasive or obtruse.

As far as the criticisms that Prof. Bernstein hasn't also raised questions about other candidates, that isn't true. See, e.g., "REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES BATTLE FOR THE LAW PROFESSOR VOTE" David Bernstein, November 18, 2007 http://volokh.com/posts/1195358198.shtml (which drew some sharp responses from some of the supporters of those candidates). And, while Prof. Bernstein hasn't said much about Huckabee, after Ilya Somin's blog on the "Fair Tax" and the comments made to it, it's pretty clear that anyone who buys into a candidate that believes in it can expect to be taxed into poverty. P.T. Barnum was right about a fool and his money.

In response to the criticism that Hillary Clinton isn't being held to the same standard — the answer is simple. There's both an established history on her, including both her version and responses showing her lack of candor. Compare, e.g., "Living History" by her with Morris' "Rewriting History."

Sen. Obama is proceeding too much as a Stealth Candidate himself, and also as to his associates and advisors. In 2000 and 2004, you knew Bush 43 was accompanied by Cheney and Rove, and you knew who was accompanying Gore and Kerry. The primary season for 2008 has been pushed up so far that there isn't much time to find out about Sen. Obama and his associates and advisors. Choosing between the devils you know vs "well we don't know much if anything, so let's just hope he won't screw up too bad" isn't an informed choice when looking to decide who will become the world's most important leader.
1.18.2008 7:19pm
huxley (mail):
Being a member of a church is more than attending a social club now and then. It means sharing beliefs at a deep level.

Only a tiny number of Christian churches mention race upfront as Obama's church does, yet this is the kind of church that Obama chose to join and he claims to have developed profound religious convictions in his experience of this church and this pastor.

It's now clear that this church and this pastor have wacko, quasi-racist views and align themselves at times with the likes of Louis Farrakhan. This is completely incongruous with the unity campaign that Obama is running. He has only begun to answer the hard questions about this IMO.

To those who defend Obama here, I ask, would you gloss over these matters with a white candidate who found the spiritual meaning of his life at a White Race Christian church?
1.18.2008 7:47pm
MarkField (mail):
Now that Prof. Volokh has defended Huckabee, I demand that he disavow Huckabee's Christianist associations, his FairTax idiocy, and Huckabee's son. Oh, and he must disavow deep fried squirrels too.
1.18.2008 8:04pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
I still don't think this is a big deal but now that Obama has publicly critiscized his church on one issue it does put a certain pressure to do it on another.

So in short, yah I would prefer that but ultimately I hardly think this is a big deal compared to the general pandering and straight out lying that is necessary to win election in this county. Frankly that's one reason I don't want Obama to win. Given that it would be amazingly unlikely that a serious person who took the time to really read and reflect on the evidence wouldn't find a single issue where the strong but uninformed sentiment of the majority of the electorate seemed ignorant and misguided I find the whole talk of idealism and disdain for washington insiders a little off putting.

Given that any smart person is either going to have to lie or convince themselves stupid but popular policies are right (e.g. no Yucca mountain) I'd prefer someone whose primary campaign message wasn't so centered around being uncynical and fresh.
1.18.2008 8:35pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Finally, what I am telling you is that there is a HUGE difference between people who use anti-semitic rhetoric and people who are harming or killing Jews."

Are these exclusive sets, or do they intersect? Is there movement from the set that uses the rhetoric to the set that does the killing? Does the set that does the killing receive support and encouragement from the set that uses the rhetoric? Do they have different color ID cards?
1.18.2008 9:29pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
BBH 1.18.2008 1:37pm,

Can you even read? You quoted me as liking Fred T. and then went on a rant about me liking Fred P.

You are illiterate or insane. Probably both.

Obama belonged to a Church based on Black resents for 18 years. He was best buddies with the minister for 18 years. The title of a book he wrote was taken from a sermon by that minister. And you say we should take him at his word that he has no animosity towards Jews or Israel. (I guess not - he needs their votes).

Actions speak louder than words.

BTW he was best buddies with Nation of Islam member Tony Rezko. Until ole Tony got in trouble for ripping off the government, his black tennants, and his connection with the current Governor of Illinois' fund raising scandals.

You are known by the company you keep. Obama is a Chicago Machine Politician. And Chicago is as crooked as they come.

Of course there is that little thing about the politicians from Arkansas.

As my mother always says - she likes Edwards - "they are all crooks".
1.18.2008 11:25pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Some people think that the soft antisemitism of FDR and, more so, of some of his appointees in the State Department did get Jews killed.

Harry, even if we assume that tot be true, it doesn't constitute an argument for raising hell anytime anyone has a relationship with someone who has a relationship with Farrakhan.

Are these exclusive sets, or do they intersect? Is there movement from the set that uses the rhetoric to the set that does the killing?

Elliot, one of the reasons it is very important to have groups like the Anti-Defamation League is to discern those anti-Semites that actually constitute a threat.

You think you are identifying a fallacy in my argument, but in fact, you are ignoring the fallacy in your own. If black muslim anti-Semitism really automatically led to violence against Jews, don't you'd think we'd be seeing a bit more of it given the fact that Farrakhan is powerful enough that he was able to get hundreds of thousands of black men to leave their communities and come to Washington to March?

Where's the beef here?

Look, you just can't run around assuming that everyone who ever says something bigoted is a threat. That would be like if gay rights groups assumed that all the Republicans who ever condemned homosexuality as sinful were going to beat up on gays and kill them a la Matthew Shepherd. Of course not!

So it is with anti-semitism. It's worthwhile to condemn Farrakhan. It is very worthwhile to keep tabs on his followers so that if any real threat of violence materializes, it can be stopped. But demanding that anyone who is friends with anyone who is friends with Farrakhan issue ritualistic condemnations is the type of thing that can go on for 40 years without saving a single Jewish life (and possibly costing some, if it creates the "crying wolf" effect or diverts resources from monitoring actual threats).

As I said above, I understand why people feel this way. Millions of Jews were killed in part because polite socities tolerated and encouraged anti-Semitism. But demanding these condemnations is not a zero-sum game. It comes at the cost of making us less effective at fighting more pertinent threats.
1.18.2008 11:25pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
What I am telling you is that if you are going to scaremonger about anti-semitics in the black muslim movement, you are going to have to point to things that didn't happen decades ago. And I am further telling you that there IS anti-semitic violence which is a DIRECT threat to Jews, and it isn't coming from the Louis Farrakhans of the world.

So true. It is coming from Al Sharpton. Who Obama embraced. I have pictures.
1.18.2008 11:53pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
M. Simon: Rezko is a Christian Arab from Syria. He is on the Board of Directors of Danny Thomas's (Lebanese Arab Christian) St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. His business partner is Jewish. These are all incompatible with membership in the Nation of Islam. You may dislike him but please keep your smears accurate.
1.19.2008 12:45am
Henry679 (mail):
What a surprise--America's Bickersons are at it again (yawn).

So, what is the final solution of the very obvious problems Jews have with blacks, and vice versa?

Whatever it is, get it over already--you are all boring the living hell out of the rest of us.

I suggest a closed cage match, with chain saws strapped to each right arm, between Foxman and Farrakhan. Winner gets to have the West Bank.
1.19.2008 1:35am
Zyzzogeton:
Obama's comfort in consorting with anti-Israel people, click here.
1.19.2008 10:01am
SenatorX (mail):
What's up with the "black liberation theology" being such a collectivist philosophy? Nasty piece of work that church is. Why does Obama go there again?

Regarding Huckabee (though the tu quoque is getting old) at this point for me, unless Obama comes forward with clearer repudiation of his church and personal advisor, Huck is probably the only person Obama could run against that would have me pick him(Obama). Obama vs Romney would be a tough one too though and I would probably have to vote for Obama in that case.

It's clear now that unfortunately Obama has become the "black candidate" which likely means he has no chance of winning. Is our first black president going to belong to a black collectivist church and be advised by bigots? Though it is apparent Obama supporters will blame it on the Jews, nobody made him choice that church, his advisor, or made him keep going there. I can't wait for the riots. :(
1.19.2008 10:30am
Astonished Christian:
I'm back to this threat because I have been troubled by the anti-Obama smears that are roiling the internet and now float without refutation on a respected legal blog. An email campaign has been circulating for some time making false claims about Obama's chuch and his religion. The website "fact check" has examined these smear emails in detail, and I recommend readers of this blog to the fact check discussion, titled, appropriately enough: "Sliming Obama"... The web address is: factcheck.org/elections-2008/print_sliming_obama.html. An excerpt from Fact check's analysis is given below:
"It is true that Trinity describes itself as "a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian" and which "does not apologize for its African roots." The church's Web site specifies a commitment to Africa and to "historical education of African people in diaspora." The congregation is overwhelmingly black; few if any whites can be seen in the photographs and videos of the congregation posted on the church's Web site. But none of that makes the church "racist" or anti-American.
And in fact, a professor of theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Martin E. Marty, wrote this in April 2007, rebutting Rush's claims on Fox News:
Prof. Marty: To those in range of Chicago TV I'd recommend a watching of Trinity's Sunday services, and challenge you to find anything "cultic" or "sectarian" about them. More important, for Trinity, being "unashamedly black" does not mean being "anti-white." My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed. Regarding this renewed attack on Trinity, Prof. Marty told FactCheck, "That kind of e-mail is vicious and lying, and makes my blood boil. ... Many civic officials, public school teachers, etc. are members at Trinity; [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright has been on TV with his services for years, and no one found them racist -- it's smear politics."
1.19.2008 10:33am
Tony Tutins (mail):
For everyone who thinks Obama's church is appallingly racist, would this web site description frighten you equally?

'It is true that Congregation Beth Israel describes itself as "a congregation which is Unashamedly Zionist and Unapologetically Jewish" and which "does not apologize for its Holy Land roots." The church's Web site specifies a commitment to Israel and to "historical education of Jews in diaspora."'
1.19.2008 11:32am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Well, Tony, is there such a Congregation Beth Israel, or did you make that up?

Would your imaginary Congregation Beth Israel have given awards to, say, Meir Kahane?

That would have bothered me.
1.19.2008 12:06pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"But demanding that anyone who is friends with anyone who is friends with Farrakhan issue ritualistic condemnations is the type of thing that can go on for 40 years without saving a single Jewish life (and possibly costing some, if it creates the "crying wolf" effect or diverts resources from monitoring actual threats)."

Observation shows that nobody is being asked to issue a ritualistic condemnation. It further reveals that only Obama is being asked about the issue. Nobody has cried wolf; they have simply asked Obama about the views of a man he claims had a significant influence on him. If the man was a significant influence, then it's reasonable to ask which of the man's views Obama embraced, which he rejected, and if the man is still a significant influence.

If the man remains a significant influence, and if he supports the nutty ideas of Farrakhan, it's reasonable to question Obama's judgement in selecting advisors.

This is easy for Obama. Just say, "Farrakhan is nuts, and I am surprised, dismayed, and disappointed that Wright supports him."
1.19.2008 1:55pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Well, maybe not 'surprised.'
1.19.2008 2:29pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Elliot:

He already said that.

Indeed, Obama has answered the questions about the influence that this person had on him, as well as what Obama thinks of his views.

What is left is a demand for ritualistic condemnation, with a lot of people in this thread pretending that if Obama doesn't do it, it's going to lead us straight into a second Holocaust.

The whole thing would be silly if it didn't serve to trivialize efforts to expose violent anti-semitism.
1.19.2008 7:48pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Well, is Wright still an influence? Is he still a mentor? What does Obama think of Farrakhan? What does he think of Wright now? Will Wright continue to be a strog influence on him? If Obama becomes president will he value the advice of a man who supports the notions of Farrakhan.

Answering these questions requires neither time, thought, nor ritual. Time should be about one minute. It shouldn't take any thought. And he can chant his answers if he thinks ritual is important.

Are these unfair questions when Obama says Wright has been a strong influence? The guy wants to be President of the United States. Is he too fragile, special, or wimpy to face the heat on a minor thing like this?

And I missed the part about the Second Holocaust. Who says Obama's stonewalling is leading to a Second Holocaust? You are the only one who has used the word in this thread.
1.19.2008 8:17pm
huxley (mail):
When I first heard that there was something off about Obama's church, I assumed that was the usual exaggerated horror people have for candidates they don't support. I was quite shocked when I looked at the Trinity church website and discovered that the church and its members seem more committed to their identity as blacks rather than Christians, and see American society as a captor society that subjugates blacks, forces them into "concentration camps," kills blacks and encourages them to kill each other. (See The Black Value System.)

This is wild, wacko stuff, right in line with the Nation of Islam. It is perfectly congruent that this church honors Louis Farrakhan with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Out of hundreds of mainstream Christian churches in Chicago, Obama chose this quasi-racist church as his spiritual vehicle and its pastor as his spiritual mentor for the past 20 years. It's not a casual association.

I encourage all Americans to examine the Trinity website and draw their own conclusions as to whether Obama is fit to be President of the United States. Speaking for myself, unless Obama distances himself from the entire church, it rules him out as a viable candidate--especially one running on a unity platform.
1.20.2008 6:04am
Yankev (mail):
Kjodr,

Why, in the name of Christ, would we want someone with one or both of these characteristics to be our supreme leader?
The characteristic of being, to use your terms,negro, mohammedan or anti-semitic? Other than negro, I'm not convinced that Obama meets any of these characteristics. I am concerned about his fondness for an apparently racist and anti-semitic preacher that Obama considers his spiritual mentor, and with whom Obama claims a close personal relationship. Then again, I also think that Obama's economic and foreign policy proposals would be disastrous for the US. Those concerns make me a racist in the eyes of some commentators, who have convinced themselves against all evidence that anyone who mistrusts Obama would never vote for a black candidate. As to the two incidents I pointed out, I was merely responding to the remark that Muslims are not prostesting the militant Islamists. I agree that too many of them are remaining silent. Finally, adding an appeal to the name of that certain man certainly does not increase the chances of my accepting your proposition.
1.20.2008 11:47am
Yankev (mail):

Finally, what I am telling you is that there is a HUGE difference between people who use anti-semitic rhetoric and people who are harming or killing Jews. Getting your knickers in a twist every time someone associates, even indirectly, with someone who used anti-semitic rhetoric in the past both diverts resources from the real threats and also increases the likelihood that when real threats are identified, it will be perceived as crying "wolf".
Which is exactly what the New York Times, the Christian Century and other mainstream non-Jewish voices were saying about warnings from the Jews (and a handful of non-Jews) about the Nazis in the 1930s. Then again, that was decades ago, so I guess that pointing it out now merely distracts from the real battle against the real anti-semites. But thank you for confirming that I read your post correctly.
1.20.2008 11:58am
Yankev (mail):
Dilan Esper, I guess I should nopt worry about this either:

Nor did anti-Semitism of another fundraiser seem to ruffle Obama or his campaign. A fundraiser was held at the home of Allan Houston, formerly of the Knicks, and a man who had previously very publicly proclaiming that Jews had Jesus' "blood on their hands" and were "stubborn". The American Jewish Congress protested and noted that Obama would not take any money from someone who had expressed the same sort of remarks about African-Americans. The very same spokesman who addressed the Soros controversy blithely dismissed the concerns of the Jews and said the campaign would not return the money or reject any of the contributions made by Houston.

(Sorry, having a lot of trouble posting the link to American Thinker)
Trues, as recently as last month, a group of Christians attacked and viciously beat several Jews in the NYC subway for the offense of being Christ killers. Then agin, it's not like any of the victims were killed, rather than injured. And when is the last time a Jew was killed in the US by a pro-basketball player?
1.20.2008 12:18pm
Yankev (mail):
American Thinker article for prior post.
1.20.2008 12:19pm
Astonished Christian:
Just the facts please:

First, Obama has unequivocally condemned Farakkan's anti-semitic statements. He 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.

Second, just for perspective, below is a quote from an essay by Rabbi Steve Conn, ("Focus on Faith" column), published in The Signal, 21 August 2000, discussing the Lieberman VP nomination. The Rabbi said: Lieberman's nomination is just another sign that anti-Semitism, which has dogged the Jewish people throughout American history, has finally faded. We Jews have become full partners in the American Dream, in practice as well as in theory. We can only hope that African-Americans, Latinos, women and other groups will soon be able to say the same.

Third, it appears (and unfortunately so), that some folks writing on this blog are all to ready to second guess the religious convictions of the first viable African-American candidate for the Presidency. One wonders, really, how many white candidates could have run a gauntlet of demands from black folks that they detach themselves from ministers and churches that had been unshamedly racist. Indeed, many of the posters here seem to be clueless about America's long, ugly tradition of white Supremacy and race-baiting. Our current and relatively enlightened state has been achieved only because we have constantly sought to seek our better angels. Posters worry about Wright's influence on Obama. Wright has made no anti-Semitic statements. Wright, apparently, was the minister who brought Obama into the church, and, for goodness sake, it is obvious that he did not do so by preaching hatred for anyone. Hatred is not the currency of the United Church of Christ or of any denomination that (in my view) deserves to call itself Christian. Some posters here seems to question core Christian ethical approaches to those who do preach hatred . Let's get real here: There is a virulent smear campaign against Obama, and the only way to respond to it is with factual information and a certain pity for folks who believe that they can further their own causes by spreading lies.
1.20.2008 2:37pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Third, it appears (and unfortunately so), that some folks writing on this blog are all to ready to second guess the religious convictions of the first viable African-American candidate for the Presidency."

Of course we are willing to second guess the religious convictions of an African American. Should we refrain because the convictions are religious, or because the candidate is African American? The guy has a primary advisor who is a nutcase.

Perhaps one of these days we will get to the point where we don't have to offer the fact that someone is African American as a reason to give him a free pass. The idea that Obama should be spared scrutiny because he is African American is an implicit endorsement of the notion that he can't handle the presidency because he is African American. And that is nonsense.
1.20.2008 2:54pm
huxley (mail):
Astonished Christian -- I have been posting "just the facts" on Obama's church. Trinity United Church of Christ is one of the very, very few Christian churches that proclaims race, a commitment to a geographic homeland, and wacko paranoid politics in its mission and value statements. Honoring Louis Farrakhan is entirely consistent with this peculiar, fringe church.

I ask you, if a white Presidential candidate found his spiritual home and spiritual mentor in a white race Christian church (they do exist) that honored David Duke, would you gloss over it?
1.20.2008 3:44pm
Baseballhead (mail):
Leave for the weekend, and this thread still lives. That's something. This, from Obama today. Even the haters are going to have to ask themselves: If Obama is really a pawn of anti-semites, what's he doing bringing it (and homophobia) in front of a religious black audience, where such a speech could easily backfire?
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others -- all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face -- war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.
1.20.2008 3:55pm
Astonished Christian:
I second the post above from 'baseballhead.' Note the article in the New York Observer , headline "Obama attacks homophobia, anti-semitism in black community" (or some such, I don't have the link)--a headline drawn, as was the above, from the remarks made today by Obama at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. I recommend the speech to any reader who wonders what the big deal is about Obama.

And, I should clarify my comment above about "second guessing" the religious convictions of the first viable African American candidate. I did not mean to say (and I admit that I did not choose my words as carefully as I might have) that Obama's religious convictions are beyond scrutiny because he is African American. What I did mean to stress was that the measures being used to judge Obama seem unlike those applied to candidates in the past. Further, I believe the characterizations of Obama's church, are insulting to both Christians and blacks. I would recommend that those who want to condemn the church first attend the church and thoroughly study its teachings before passing judgment. As a feminist, I certainly have difficulty with the teachings of--for example--any number of religious orthodoxies, including orthodox Judaism. Poke beneath the surface of any religion, any church, any group of congregants and I am sure that many troublesome biases will emerge. But, please, one has to be way off the deep end of paranoia to believe that Barack Obama is someone who for one second would promote intolerance for any group. I suspect the opposition to him has less to do with the whole church brohaha and more to do with his opposition to the war and his generally progressive agenda. Conservatives don't want to have to run against him.
1.20.2008 5:38pm
huxley (mail):
Astonished Christian -- Neither you nor other TUCC defenders will answer the hard question: If a white Presidential candidate found his spiritual home and spiritual mentor in a white race Christian church (they do exist) that honored David Duke, would you gloss over it?

No one forced TUCC members to post their values and mission on their website. No one forced Obama to join this church or accept Rev. Wright as his spiritual mentor. No one forced this church to honor Louis Farrakhan.

Personally I am offended that Trinity church smears the United States as a "captor society" "subjugating" blacks, killing blacks, forcing them into "concentration camps" and "fostering a social system that encourages [blacks] to kill off one another."

I say let all Americans examine TUCC's website and come to their own conclusions.

Obama is running for President. If he wants to associate with this radical, fringe church, fine, but at the very least he shows poor judgment in doing so, if he wishes to campaign or President on the basis of unity.
1.20.2008 5:57pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"If a white Presidential candidate found his spiritual home and spiritual mentor in a white race Christian church (they do exist) that honored David Duke, would you gloss over it?"

Yes, because the purpose of most white supremacist organizations is to exclude others. For instance, here's the latest pamphlet from the National Alliance:

http://www.natall.com/leaflets/amnesty.pdf

I don't think it leaves any doubt as to what they ultimately want. Trinity Church, OTOH, is not exclusionary, but they make no secret of the fact that their main focus is supporting and improving the black community.

"Personally I am offended that Trinity church smears the United States as a 'captor society' 'subjugating' blacks, killing blacks, forcing them into 'concentration camps' and 'fostering a social system that encourages [blacks] to kill off one another.'"

Why? Do you think they're talking about *you*? Drug wars, gangs, rampant consumerism, housing projects--these are all ways that many blacks feel their communities are manipulated by others. The concept of the "talented tenth" is from W. E. B. Dubois. These are the leaders who will pull up the others of their race. This statement decries the loss of this "talented tenth" to crime, drugs or manipulation by society. It's really only points 1 and 2 that you have a problem with, I think.

You probably think they're just "blaming whitey" here, but it's a little more complicated than that. Basically all they're saying is that blacks shouldn't buy into a value system that harms and divides their community.

"If he wants to associate with this radical, fringe church..."

News flash--it's not a "fringe" church.

Apart from the peroration on "middleclassness" (of which I suspect only points 1 and 2 really bother you), what is wrong with their statement of "black values"? Do you disagree with their encouragement of family values, education, a work ethic and the "dignity of all humankind"? How is what they're saying any different from one of Bill Cosby's "rants"?

http://tiny.cc/ZrMQn

Are you offended by Cosby? Would you chide a candidate who associated with him?
1.20.2008 9:03pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Huxley, the next time you read about one black kid murdering another over a designer coat or a pair of sneakers, go back and read Trinity's "Black Values" statement and see if you still think it's so "radical."
1.20.2008 9:09pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Drug wars, gangs, rampant consumerism, housing projects--these are all ways that many blacks feel their communities are manipulated by others."

That's a very interesting feeling. Can you tell us who in particular they feel is manipulating them?
1.20.2008 9:45pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Can you tell us who in particular they feel is manipulating them?"

Oh, I don't know--the government, organized crime, Madison Avenue, slum lords, the welfare state, the mortgage industry, professional sports, etc. etc. etc. I'm not *agreeing* with any of it, mind you, and I'm not going to get into some stupid argument defending the notion. There are plenty of crazy conspiracy theories out there--and some not so crazy ones as well. But Google is your friend here, Elliot. Or better yet, ask a black person.
1.20.2008 11:15pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Basically all they're saying is that blacks shouldn't buy into a value system that harms and divides their community.'

That's gonna be hard to square with a 'unifying' platform, if the idea is that they reject just about everything that the people to be unified with value.

I don't believe Obama. I think he's lying.

But even if I believed him, I cannot figure out how to make his two messages cohere.

That if not, I'll grant you, a problem for a political candidate. One thinks of Ronald Reagan and deficits, for example.
1.20.2008 11:24pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"That's gonna be hard to square with a 'unifying' platform, if the idea is that they reject just about everything that the people to be unified with value."

Like Rod Dreher, for instance?

"I don't believe Obama. I think he's lying."

About what?

"But even if I believed him, I cannot figure out how to make his two messages cohere."

What two messages of Obama's are you talking about?
1.20.2008 11:33pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Oh, and obviously I mean, "NO, I would NOT gloss over a candidate's affiliation with a white supremacist church."
1.20.2008 11:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Yankev said:

Which is exactly what the New York Times, the Christian Century and other mainstream non-Jewish voices were saying about warnings from the Jews (and a handful of non-Jews) about the Nazis in the 1930s.

And I say to Elliot, here's your "Second Holocaust" argument. You see, if we don't make Obama answer numerous detailed questions about the associations of his minister, or he doesn't give the right answers, according to Yankev, the Jews are going right to the gas chambers again!

Seriously, if you think that the anti-semitism among some of the leaders of the black muslim movement is EVER going to lead us anywhere near the Nazi horrors, it's time to seek treatment for paranoia and delusions.
1.21.2008 12:16am
Elliot123 (mail):
Were the warnings of the 1930's right or wrong?

The parallel Yankov is making is to the responses to anti-Semitic rhetoric. It appears to be an accurate parallel.

That is hardly, as you said, "a lot of people in this thread pretending that if Obama doesn't do it, it's going to lead us straight into a second Holocaust."

Is it possible you are overreacting?
1.21.2008 1:23am
Elliot123 (mail):
"There are plenty of crazy conspiracy theories out there--and some not so crazy ones as well. But Google is your friend here, Elliot. Or better yet, ask a black person."

This is exactly the problem. Blacks don't seem to know either. Neither does Google. I can only conclude that nobody knows who is manipulating the black community towards some nefarious ends.
1.21.2008 1:32am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Blacks don't seem to know either."

Really? Ever heard of Tony Brown?

How about Harry Edwards?

Or Sidney Willhelm?

Or Manning Marable?

Or Robert Weems?

Or Amos Wilson?

Or Claude Anderson?

"Neither does Google."

Gee, my first hit:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/us/08baltimore.html

Gee, my second try:

http://tiny.cc/mQ5Wl

Oops, a third:

http://tiny.cc/aIH4N

And so on and so on. That took a minute.

Feel free to dismiss all this. I don't care. But if you want evidence that blacks feel manipulated by the system/whites/the government/whatever, you don't have to look very hard to find it. It's not a particularly "radical" view, and the exploitation of the poor and minorities is hardly an uncommon topic for economists and sociologists to explore.
1.21.2008 3:11am
Yankev (mail):

Wright has made no anti-Semitic statements.


Unfortunately not true. Among other things, Wright has said that the very idea of there being a self-governing Jewish state is racist. I give Obama credit for his statement in the Observer, but I still question his choice of Wright as a spiritual mentor.

Dilan, given your standard for objecting to anti-semitism, I guess we can't object to white racism until it rises to the level of Jim Crow laws, lynchings and wholesale denial of voting rights.
1.21.2008 10:48am
Harry Eagar (mail):
'What two messages of Obama's are you talking about?'

His stump message and his behavioral/associational message over many years.

If somebody wants to unify with me, cozying up to people like Farrakhan is a curious way to go about it.

I have a lot of problems with the way racial politics has played out over the past 40 years, and not only Obama's. When I marched with the SCLC, we sure weren't looking for a new kind of segregation. We were integrationists.
1.21.2008 11:09am
Yankev (mail):

Or better yet, ask a black person.

Because after all, Grover, all black persons think alike. Just like all white persons, all female persons,all Jewish persons, all disabled persons, all Christian persons, all Muslim persons, and all GBLT persons.

I thought Obama was being sold as an alternative to identity politics.
1.21.2008 11:13am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Because after all, Grover, all black persons think alike."

No, because if you want to know how black people feel, ask them. I thought I made it clear I was only relaying things I've heard or books I've read.

"I thought Obama was being sold as an alternative to identity politics."

I haven't followed Obama's campaign, and I'm not all that interested in him as a candidate, so I don't have much of an opinion about it. I was responding to accusations against Trinity UCC, which I think are exaggerated.
1.21.2008 12:30pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"When I marched with the SCLC, we sure weren't looking for a new kind of segregation. We were integrationists."

I understand, Harry. It's been more complicated than we thought it would be. It seems to me (and again I'm just going by what I've experienced and read) that there's a complicated dynamic between total integration and the maintaining of a unique identity, between the notion that we're all Americans and we all want the same things, and the fact that the black community experiences certain problems and holds certain values or cultural norms that I (for one) can't really relate to or understand.

Which brings me back to Yankev's remark about "identity politics." Don't you think there's always some element of "identity politics" in any election? Candidates court certain segments of the population by appealing to their specific desires and needs--be it Latinos, blacks, Jews, Muslims, Christian fundamentalists, immigrants, the poor, the middle class, liberals, conservatives, what have you. There are issues that we all share in common, and other issues that divide us as a nation.

Basically it's my opinion that you have to take the black identity and empowerment movement for what it is, try to understand where it comes from, and not confuse it with separationism or racism. Perhaps I'm mistaken or being overly generous, but that's my take.
1.21.2008 1:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Were the warnings of the 1930's right or wrong?

The parallel Yankov is making is to the responses to anti-Semitic rhetoric. It appears to be an accurate parallel.

The warnings of the 1930's occurred in the context of a government that controlled the German military machine, was expanding through Europe, and obviously had the power to act on its anti-semitism.

In contrast, Farrakhan has no nation, has no military, and isn't even the most prominent leader of black Americans.

Look, the surest way to another Holocaust is for groups-- for fundraising purposes or to prevent criticism of the occupation of the West Bank or other base reasons-- to scream "Holocaust" every time there is a peep of anti-Semitism until the public is so inured to it that when the evidence is actually there, they don't believe it.

Dilan, given your standard for objecting to anti-semitism, I guess we can't object to white racism until it rises to the level of Jim Crow laws, lynchings and wholesale denial of voting rights.

Yankev, read my first post in this thread. I have nothing but support for criticizing Farrakhan. The issue here is criticizing people for associating with people who associate with Farrakhan. And arguing that THAT is the same as the 1930's is off the scales of idiocy.
1.21.2008 1:20pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'It's been more complicated than we thought it would be.'

I never expected it to be uncomplicated. On the other hand, I don't see anything complicated in Farrakhan's politics.

Just as, as my posts on the Reagan/state's rights thread indicate, I didn't find much complicated about the antibusing arguments of the '60s. I knew them for what they were.

Obama seems to have a real problem on his hands, similar in kind, if you like, to the former leftists who finally figured out Stalin wasn't such a Great Guide after all.

They made their peace by writing 'The God that Failed.'

I don't see Obama's statements in that light. Apparently, he's still going to cell meetings.
1.21.2008 1:53pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Feel free to dismiss all this. I don't care. But if you want evidence that blacks feel manipulated by the system/whites/the government/whatever, you don't have to look very hard to find it. It's not a particularly "radical" view, and the exploitation of the poor and minorities is hardly an uncommon topic for economists and sociologists to explore."

I have indeed heard of all those luminaries you list. And I don't dismiss the existence of their feeling; I'm questioning the correctness of their view that someone is manipulating the black community. But, I notice you didn't list the people who are manipulating the black community. Neither does Google. I'm asking a simple question: who is doing the manipulating. Is it reasonable for all these folks to say the black community is being manipulated, but nobody knows who is manipulating?

Maybe it's not a radical view, but that hardly qualifies it as a correct view. So, do you know? Who is manipulating the black community? And, while we are on the subject, exactly what is the black community?

"Look, the surest way to another Holocaust is for groups-- for fundraising purposes or to prevent criticism of the occupation of the West Bank or other base reasons-- to scream "Holocaust" every time there is a peep of anti-Semitism until the public is so inured to it that when the evidence is actually there, they don't believe it."

You're still the only one here talking about the Holocaust.
1.21.2008 2:46pm
Yankev (mail):
Look, the surest way to another Holocaust is for groups-- for fundraising purposes or to prevent criticism of the occupation of the West Bank or other base reasons-- to scream "Holocaust" every time there is a peep of anti-Semitism until the public is so inured to it that when the evidence is actually there, they don't believe it.
1.21.2008 3:44pm
Yankev (mail):
Please ignore my last post, which contains Dilan Esper's comment, not mine. What I meant to post was this:

Look, the surest way to another Holocaust is for groups-- for fundraising purposes or to prevent criticism of the occupation of the West Bank or other base reasons-- to scream "Holocaust" every time there is a peep of anti-Semitism until the public is so inured to it that when the evidence is actually there, they don't believe it.
As Elliott pointed out, no one except you said anything about a Holocaust. If your standard is that no one can object to anti-Semitism unless and until it rises to the level of a Holocaust, you have set an impossible standard -- by definition, by the time things reach that point, it is far too late. Is someone who is murdered by one of Sharpton's thugs any less dead than someone who was murdered by state actors? What about the people who were murdered by the Brown Shirts before the Nazis took power --would that have been okay had the Nazis never taken power?

Nice nod to Norman Finklestein, Alex Cockburn and other anti-Semites and assorted cranks, by the way, with your crack about crying "Holocaust" in order to raise money and
distract people from Israel's actions.
1.21.2008 3:54pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"And I don't dismiss the existence of their feeling; I'm questioning the correctness of their view that someone is manipulating the black community."

I guess it depends on how you define "manipulation."
1.21.2008 4:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I guess it depends on how you define "manipulation."

That may be the case. So, I'll amend my question. What do they mean by manipulating, and who is manipulating? Is this an unreasonable question? It seems very basic, and something anybody claiming manipulation should know. Alas, Google fails.

"The issue here is criticizing people for associating with people who associate with Farrakhan."

It's a bit more. Wright shares some of Farrakhan's nutty ideas. Obama identifies Wright as a primary advisor. So, Obama has a primary advisor with nutty views on race. He credits Wright as being an important influence. Once we associate Wright with nutty views, we can forget about Farrakhan, and ask Obama about the nutty views of his primary advisor.

There would be no basis for criticism of either Wright or Obama if the association between Wright and Farrakhan was limited to golf, membership in committees to provide jobs, or Friday night poker. But it is Wright's embracing of the nutty views that makes it legitimate to ask Obama about both Wright and those views.

I'd suggest Obama has wasted a golden opportunity here. Clinton was smart enough to take advantage of the Sister Souljah moment, but Obama is doing poorly in his first real challenge.
1.21.2008 4:36pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"What do they mean by manipulating, and who is manipulating?"

If you're familiar with the names I mentioned, and their writings or research, I should think that would be the place to find your answers.
1.21.2008 4:59pm
Yankev (mail):

So, I'll amend my question. What do they mean by manipulating, and who is manipulating? Is this an unreasonable question? It seems very basic, and something anybody claiming manipulation should know.

Of course, as Vance Packard pointed out more than 40 years ago, we are all being manipulated to want certain goods and services, or to behave in certain ways. A recent column pointed out how Seventeen Magazine, TV, popular music and movies are manipulating teenage and pre-teenage girls into thinking that refraining from extra-marital sex is abberational, unrealistic and cheating yourself. These are not healthy messages for anyone. But anyone who thinks there is a single united conspiracy pushing these messages for the purpose of holding down Black people probably shares the same mental instabilities common to conspiracy theorists in general.

A few decades ago the auto and advertising industries told us that if you did not drive the latest model Detroit status symbol, you were a failure. CAIR, the UN, the ACLU and other groups (each for its own reasons) try to manipulate us into believing that it is racist to criticise and oppose violent terrorists who claim to speak for Islam.
1.21.2008 6:55pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"If you're familiar with the names I mentioned, and their writings or research, I should think that would be the place to find your answers."

That would be a good place to look, but I have failed to find who the manipulators are in their writings. So, I ask the question whenever the subject arises. It's strange; many people really don't like the question, and think we should simply accept the assertion without question. Sadly, nobody here appears to know who the manipulators are, either. In fact, nobody anywhere seems to know.

So, maybe it's time to determine what we mean by "myth." Maybe Google can help.
1.21.2008 8:22pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"That would be a good place to look, but I have failed to find who the manipulators are in their writings."

Which books, exactly, did you read?
1.21.2008 11:33pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Perhaps you can do us all a service and just tell us what the luminaries you list mean by manipulate, and who is manipulating the black community? Is it a secret? Google just doesn't seem up to the job.

On the other hand, perhaps the manipulation doesn't exist, nobody knows what the black commnity means, nobody knows what manipulation means, and nobody really gives a hoot. Perhaps we have actually accepted Daniel Moynihan's recommendation. Let's see if Google has an opinion.
1.22.2008 12:12am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"On the other hand, perhaps the manipulation doesn't exist, nobody knows what the black commnity means, nobody knows what manipulation means, and nobody really gives a hoot."

Could be, Elliot. But you haven't read any of those books, you've already conceded my point, and I'm not interested in arguing about it any further.
1.22.2008 1:23am
Yankev (mail):

Sadly, nobody here appears to know who the manipulators are, either. In fact, nobody anywhere seems to know.

It's obviously the Hidden Persuaders, who appeal to the Status Seekers, all for the benefit of the Waste Makers.
1.22.2008 8:24am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Could be, Elliot. But you haven't read any of those books, you've already conceded my point, and I'm not interested in arguing about it any further."

I believe your point was that there are people who feel the black community is being manipulated. No problem there. I agree there are people who feel the black community is being manipulated. I have been asking who is doing the manipulating. Do you know? No need to argue. If you know, just tell us.
1.22.2008 12:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
As Elliott pointed out, no one except you said anything about a Holocaust. If your standard is that no one can object to anti-Semitism unless and until it rises to the level of a Holocaust, you have set an impossible standard

Yankev, if your only way of arguing against a position is to misrepresent it, you really need to reevaluate your methods of argument.

I did not say "no one can object". I do object to Farrakhan, and I don't think he is going to cause a Holocaust.

My point is twofold:

1. No Nazi comparisons. Period. Whatever this silly issue about Barack Obama is, it is not comparable to the 1930's. Anyone who thinks it is is either an idiot or is being disingenuous to try and overstate the threat.

2. There is a difference between endorsing Farrakhan and going to a church that has a minister whose daughter endorsed Farrakhan. And that latter scenario is what we have here, and it is NO threat to Jews.
1.22.2008 12:48pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Nice nod to Norman Finklestein, Alex Cockburn and other anti-Semites and assorted cranks, by the way, with your crack about crying "Holocaust" in order to raise money and
distract people from Israel's actions.


Yankev, I receive solicitations from ADL and other similar groups on occasion. Like it or not, they DO use the threat of a second Holocaust in fundraising. Most recently, they did it with the rise of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

And it is well known that right-wing Likud-supporting groups use Palestinian anti-Semitism-- again, a completely real and despicable phenomenon-- to distract attention from the abuses of the occupation.

It is absolutely despicable that you would compare me to anti-Semites for simply truthfully alluding to two things that do happen. Apparently, in Yankev's world, anyone who truthfully discusses anything bad that any right-wing Jew ever did or does is an anti-Semite. Again, you prove my point about crying wolf.

Further, A LOT OF JEWS OPPOSE THE RIGHT-WING TILT OF MANY OF THE LEADING JEWISH ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS AND SUPPORT A MORE DOVISH POSITION ON THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION. So it is not in any way "anti-Semitic" to condemn pro-Likud hawks. Indeed, by the same logic, the Likud supporters would THEMSELVES be anti-Semitics-- after, all, they criticize more dovish Jews, right?
1.22.2008 12:54pm
Yankev (mail):

There is a difference between endorsing Farrakhan and going to a church that has a minister whose daughter endorsed Farrakhan. And that latter scenario is what we have here, and it is NO threat to Jews.

Actually what we have here is a candidate for president who says that one of the greatest spiritual influences in his life is the minister of his church, when that minister has himself publicly praised Farrakhan for some of the latter's most outrageous statements, traveled with Farrakahn to Libya to pay tribute to anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic mentally unstable and murderous dictator Qaddafi, promulgated anti-Israel and anti-Semitic canards in speeches and interviews.

As to your interesting proposition that

Indeed, by the same logic, the Likud supporters would THEMSELVES be anti-Semitics-- after, all, they criticize more dovish Jews, right?
I can but conclude that you have no more understanding of what anti-Semitic means than you have of the fact that anti-semitic is an adjective rather than a noun.
1.22.2008 1:41pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"A LOT OF JEWS OPPOSE THE RIGHT-WING TILT OF MANY OF THE LEADING JEWISH ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS AND SUPPORT A MORE DOVISH POSITION ON THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION."

Does this mean Jews are not all marching in lock-step and actually exhibit independent thought? Is it possible they have a variety of opinions on different matters, support opposing viewpoints, and even disagree with each other?
1.22.2008 3:45pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Actually what we have here is a candidate for president who says that one of the greatest spiritual influences in his life is the minister of his church, when that minister has himself publicly praised Farrakhan for some of the latter's most outrageous statements, traveled with Farrakahn to Libya to pay tribute to anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic mentally unstable and murderous dictator Qaddafi, promulgated anti-Israel and anti-Semitic canards in speeches and interviews.

And it is perfectly clear that the spiritual influence of said minister HAD NOTHING to do with Farrakhan, whom the candidate specifically condemned.

I can but conclude that you have no more understanding of what anti-Semitic means than you have of the fact that anti-semitic is an adjective rather than a noun.

You obviously don't have an answer to the argument; that's the only reason you would seize on the typo.

Does this mean Jews are not all marching in lock-step and actually exhibit independent thought? Is it possible they have a variety of opinions on different matters, support opposing viewpoints, and even disagree with each other?

Darned right. Which is why Yankev's position that it smacks of anti-semitism to criticize right wing Jewish groups doesn't make sense.

Look, I see neither of you have addressed the main point, which is that comparing this stupid guilt-by-2nd-degree-association charge against Obama to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930's was an idiotic argument that should be retracted.
1.22.2008 3:58pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Look, I see neither of you have addressed the main point, which is that comparing this stupid guilt-by-2nd-degree-association charge against Obama to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930's was an idiotic argument that should be retracted."

I thought the main point was that Obama said Wright is a major influence on him, Wright has nutty views on race, and Obama has dodged questions about both Wright and his views.

It's not second degree association. These are Wright's views. He may share those views with Farrakhan and others, but they are still Wright's views.

So, now Obama has a major advisor with nutty racial views. Will he still be an advisor if Obama is elected president? Is he now an advisor to the junior senator from Illinois.
1.22.2008 4:54pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Most recently, they did it with the rise of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.'

A very well-taken concern, too, if you ask me.

Anyhow, there are some groups I worry about more than others: Jews, Armenians, Assyrian Christians, Bahais, Copts.

People who speak hate speech about white guys -- and there are plenty of them -- concern me less.
1.22.2008 4:57pm
Yankev (mail):

Which is why Yankev's position that it smacks of anti-semitism to criticize right wing Jewish groups doesn't make sense.

Funny, I don't remember ever saying that it smacks of anti-semitism to criticize right wing Jewish groups. For the record, I do not believe that it smacks of anti-semitism to criticize right wing Jewish groups. Or for that matter left wing Jewish groups such as the ADL.

Nor do I do think it smacks of anti-semitism to criticize Israel. I do think it smacks of anti-semitism to criticize Israel in ways that apply a double standard, demonize Israel and attack the very legitimacy of Israel. Wright has done that, and so has Farrakhan. I also think it smacks of anti-semitism to claim that Jews or Jewish organizations have exaggerated the Holocaust in order to extort money or serve as a smokescreen. Or to say that pointing out the genocidal goals and methods of terrorist organizations amounts to using the Holocaust to deflect attention from Israel's actions. Finally, with reference to the hypothetical Beth Israel posts above (which I hasten to acknowledge were not perpertrated by you, Dilan) I also think it smacks of anti-semitism to level or imply charges of disloyalty at American Jews who support the existence and safety of a Jewish state.

Look, I see neither of you have addressed the main point, which is that comparing this stupid guilt-by-2nd-degree-association charge against Obama to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930's was an idiotic argument that should be retracted.

Actually, we both have. No one is saying that Frrakahn will lead directly to another Holocaust. Elliott and I have both said that warnings about anti-semitism are often ignored, discouraged, objected to or deemed no cause for concern, that those who dismissed or objected to the warnings have often been seriously and tragically wrong, and that those who are willing to tolerate anti-semitism have a seriously flawed moral compass. And Obama as candidate seems perfectly willing to tolerate the anti-semite Wright, even if popular outcry has led him to disavow anti-semitism. I do not suspect Obama of being anti-semite himself. This incident is only one of many that lead me to suspect his moral compass or lack thereof.
1.22.2008 5:06pm
neurodoc:
Yankev: Or for that matter left wing Jewish groups such as the ADL.
??? You lost me there. What pray tell makes the Bnai Brith Anti-Defamation League a "left wing" group in your book? Are those who support the ADL mostly "left wingers"? (Maybe while we are at it, we should also ask which major Jewish organizations you count as "right wing" and why.)
1.22.2008 8:09pm
neurodoc:
Yankev: Or for that matter left wing Jewish groups such as the ADL.
??? You lost me there. What pray tell makes the Bnai Brith Anti-Defamation League a "left wing" group in your book? Are those who support the ADL mostly "left wingers"? (Maybe while we are at it, we should also ask which major Jewish organizations you count as "right wing" and why.)
1.22.2008 8:10pm
neurodoc:
Dilan Esper: There is a difference between endorsing Farrakhan and going to a church that has a minister whose daughter endorsed Farrakhan. And that latter scenario is what we have here...(italics added
If you are in front of a jury, it is not wise to advance every possible argument that comes to your mind. Rightly or wrongly, they may see each of your arguments as links in a chain, reason that a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and decide against you because you have unwisely included at least one very dubious argument.

Sure, it must be allowed as "possible" that the daughter went off on her own in chosing to honor Farrakhan and her father then had no choice but to provide cover for her, but it is very improbable that it happened that way. You would have us believe that it isn't really about Obama's minister, it is about the daughter of the minister in a church that Obama happens to attend?! It was the Reverend Wright himself who praised Farrakhan for his "astounding and eyeopening" analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" that is "helpful and honest." (I suppose if Reverend Wright had made a grandchild the editor of his church's magazine, you would argue there was still another degree of separation, so we should see it as being about the child of a child of the minister of the church Obama happens to attend.) You aren't going to convince any but the truly credulous with bogus "degrees of separation" here.
1.22.2008 8:59pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So, now Obama has a major advisor with nutty racial views. Will he still be an advisor if Obama is elected president? Is he now an advisor to the junior senator from Illinois.

He's not an advisor. He's a minister. He influenced Obama just like lots of people are influenced by their pastors.

There's no there there! Just a bunch of right wing groups who want to mau-mau Obama into a ritualistic denouncing of his own minister. It's sickening.

'Most recently, they did it with the rise of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.'

A very well-taken concern, too, if you ask me.

This is another discussion, but the threat of Iran was grossly overplayed. For this discussion, however, it is sufficient to note that despite his Holocaust denial, he is not Hitler. And pro-Likud groups fundraised as if he was.

Anyhow, there are some groups I worry about more than others: Jews, Armenians, Assyrian Christians, Bahais, Copts.

I share this view. But that's why this controversy is so stupid. There's no evidence that an Obama presidency is going to be bad for Jews. And there are plenty of actual anti-Semitic threats out there. So why are we wasting time on a phony controversy about Obama's minister's daughter honoring Farrakhan (who himself despite his hateful rhetoric isn't a serious threat to Jews)?

Nor do I do think it smacks of anti-semitism to criticize Israel. I do think it smacks of anti-semitism to criticize Israel in ways that apply a double standard, demonize Israel and attack the very legitimacy of Israel. Wright has done that, and so has Farrakhan.

As far as I know, you have produced no evidence of Wright making anti-Semitic criticisms of Israel. And of course, no evidence whatsoever that OBAMA (who is the issue, after all) is anti-Semitic. Farrakhan is an anti-Semite, most certainly. That is all you have.

Actually, we both have. No one is saying that Frrakahn will lead directly to another Holocaust. Elliott and I have both said that warnings about anti-semitism are often ignored, discouraged, objected to or deemed no cause for concern, that those who dismissed or objected to the warnings have often been seriously and tragically wrong, and that those who are willing to tolerate anti-semitism have a seriously flawed moral compass.

I agree with you, Yankev, that we have to be on the lookout for anti-semitism, as long as you don't bring up the 1930's. Warning us not to ignore anti-Semitism is important and the ADL does great work in that regard. But part of this is also keeping things in perspective. What I object to is the claim that any time anti-Semitism is uncovered it is just like the 1930's.

But this isn't an issue of anti-Semitism. Obama is NOT an anti-Semite. Indeed, he is so obviously not an anti-Semite that one has to wonder about the good faith of the people making these charges.

The charge seems to be that anyone who was ever influenced by anyone who had any connection with Farrakhan has something to answer for, no matter how obvious it is that the person is not an anti-Semite. That's just sillyness, and it has nothing to do with the important task of fighting anti-Semitism.

Sure, it must be allowed as "possible" that the daughter went off on her own in chosing to honor Farrakhan and her father then had no choice but to provide cover for her, but it is very improbable that it happened that way. You would have us believe that it isn't really about Obama's minister, it is about the daughter of the minister in a church that Obama happens to attend?! It was the Reverend Wright himself who praised Farrakhan for his "astounding and eyeopening" analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" that is "helpful and honest."

And we are still a few degrees of separation from Barack Obama.

Again, this is a complete smear when it comes to Barack Obama. And it is a trivialization of the actual-- and horrible-- threats that Jews face.
1.22.2008 10:20pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"He's not an advisor. He's a minister. He influenced Obama just like lots of people are influenced by their pastors."

No. Lots of people are influenced by a pastor, some to a small extent, and some to a large extent. Obama tells us Wright was one of the most significant influences in his life. That makes him a primary advisor.

"This is another discussion, but the threat of Iran was grossly overplayed. For this discussion, however, it is sufficient to note that despite his Holocaust denial, he is not Hitler. And pro-Likud groups fundraised as if he was."

I suppose we could give points to people who advocate wiping out the Jews, with Hitler at the top, and everyone else ranked somewhere below. I'd agree that nobody else rises to Hitler's level. It's interesting to speculate on where we choose to give someone a pass for their advocacy of genocide. I hope the nuts of the world don't have to rise to Hitler's level before we take notice.

"So why are we wasting time on a phony controversy about Obama's minister's daughter honoring Farrakhan (who himself despite his hateful rhetoric isn't a serious threat to Jews)?"

We're not. I acknowledge you are concerned with the minister's daughter, but nobody else is. I'm concerned with Obama's reluctance to give straight answers to questions about having a major advisor who has nutty views on race.

"Obama is NOT an anti-Semite. Indeed, he is so obviously not an anti-Semite that one has to wonder about the good faith of the people making these charges."

I haven't heard any chargs against Obama. I have asked, and I have heard questions, about the man he identifies as being a major influence on his life.

"Again, this is a complete smear when it comes to Barack Obama. And it is a trivialization of the actual-- and horrible-- threats that Jews face."

Is the leader of Iran one of those threats, or shall we give him a pass because "he is not Hitler?"
1.22.2008 11:56pm