Saturday, January 12, 2008

Obama Fest:

I ruminated here upon Obama's serendipitous ascent.

Hitchens' point is clear enough. He is questioning Obama's affiliation with a certain church:

All this easy talk about being a "uniter" and not a "divider" is piffle if people are talking out of both sides of their mouths. I have been droning on for months about how Mitt Romney needs to answer questions about the flat-out racist background of his own church, and about how Huckabee has shown in public that he does not even understand the first thing about a theory—the crucial theory of evolution by natural selection—in which he claims not to believe. Many Democrats are with me on this, but they go completely quiet when Sen. Obama chooses to give his allegiance to a crackpot church with a decidedly ethnic character. (Hitchens, here)

I seems that Hitchens' misgivings about Obama's choice are indeed on target:

Farrakhan Wins 2007 Lifetime Acheivement Award From Obama's Church

The Trumpet magazine is published by Barak Obama's Church in Chicago. Every year they give out awards at a charity banquet.

Trumpet connects the dots between the fight for social justice and the role music has played and continues to play in the lives of Africans living in the Diaspora, during the Sounds on the Shore gala. Trumpet pays tribute to musical artists who served and continue to serve on the frontlines of the civil rights movement, in efforts to EDUCATE, NURTURE and EMPOWER our youth.

Africans living in the Diaspora? Next year in Nairobi?

In addition to celebrating the music of our ancestors, and because of our commitment to enhancing the lives of our readers, Trumpet Newsmagazine will honor recipients of the 2007 Sounds on the Shore (SOS) ~ Contributing to Saving the Lives of Africans in the Diaspora Award. The honorees will be awarded in three sections, each having their own individual category...

Trumpet will donate proceeds, from the Sounds on the Shore Gala 2007, to the Luck Care Center, the only HIV/AIDS clinic independently operated by African Americans in the state of Illinois. We thank William A. Johnson, MD and his nurse practitioner wife, Bathsheba Johnson, for their ability to Educate, Nurture and Empower those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

This year’s socially conscious giants, who allow us to see more clearly what it means to be educated, nurtured and empowered are: Educate - Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick ~ Torch, Tony Wafford ~ Lifeline, Cliff Kelley ~ Community; Nurture - Nancy Wilson ~ Sounds of the Struggle; Empower - Congresswoman Maxine Waters ~ Civil Rights, Father Michael Pfleger ~ Empowerment, Dr. Iva Carruthers ~ Social Justice.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement “Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Trumpeter” Award.

(Via: The Iconoclast)

So who is this Louis Farrakhan?

Farrakhan has been the center of much controversy, and critics have, among other things, said that his views are racist, homophobic, and antisemitic. Farrakhan denies these charges, and frequently insists that his controversial comments are taken out of context by critics...

"... Here the Jews don't like Farrakhan and so they call me 'Hitler'. Well that's a good name. Hitler was a very great man. He wasn't great for me as a Black man but he was a great German and he rose Germany up from the ashes of her defeat by the united force of all of Europe and America after the First World War. Yet Hitler took Germany from the ashes and rose her up and made her the greatest fighting machine of the twentieth century, brothers and sisters, and even though Europe and America had deciphered the code that Hitler was using to speak to his chiefs of staff, they still had trouble defeating Hitler even after knowing his plans in advance. Now I'm not proud of Hitler's evil toward Jewish people, but that's a matter of record. He rose Germany up from nothing. Well, in a sense you could say there is a similarity in that we are rising our people up from nothing, but don't compare me with your wicked killers."

Farrakhan was censured unanimously by the United States Senate for the speech

At an NOI-sponsored event in February 2006, Farrakhan provoked accusations of antisemitism in Illinois by stating that "These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood. It's the wicked Jews, the false Jews that are promoting lesbianism, homosexuality, [and] Zionists have manipulated Bush and the American government [over the war in Iraq]"

I should think that Obama might want to re-consider the church he frequents and maybe his breathless admirers would do well to signal their disapproval of their star candidate's connection with such a person as Farrakhan. But of course none of this will happen. The democrats will continue to remain tongue-tied when asked about Obama's church, and others may even publish this piece of information by way of increasing Obama's popularity and appeal at certain quarters.

Here is some more information about Obama's spiritual mentor:

At a recent Sunday service, following media coverage of Obama's last-minute decision not to have Wright speak at the senator's presidential announcement last month, Wright warned his flock not to believe any reports of a rift between him and the church's best-known member.

"Barack and I are fine," Wright, 65, on an out-of-state trip, said in a recorded message played to about 2,000 attendees. "The press is not to be trusted. ... Don't let somebody outside our camp divide us.".... Obama had taken "some bad advice from some of his own campaign people who thought it would not be a good idea for me to be in front of the cameras on the day he announced," ....

But in an interview with PBS's "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" recorded just before Obama's February announcement, Wright said he warned the senator that their association could pose political problems, partly because of his history of supporting Palestinian causes.

Wright also told The New York Times in an interview published March 6: "When his (Obama's) enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli" with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to visit Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, "a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell."

The roughly 8,000-member church has often championed liberal causes, from gay rights to opposition to the Iraq war. It also emphasizes its African roots and asks parishioners to accept the "Black Value System," which includes tenets such as "commitment to the black family," "dedication to the pursuit of education" and one critics have seized upon _ "disavowal of the pursuit of 'middleclassness.'"...

For nearly two decades, Obama has identified strongly with Trinity and hasn't been shy about discussing his closeness to its pastor.

Wright's use of "audacity of hope" in one sermon inspired Obama to borrow those words as the title of his best-selling book, "The Audacity of Hope."

In an earlier memoir, "Dreams From My Father," Obama also tells how he was moved to tears during that sermon by Wright, an early proponent of the black liberation and black theology movements that gained ground in the 1960s.

Obama describes what he calls "a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters" and how he "felt for the first time how that spirit carried within it, nascent, incomplete, the possibility of moving beyond our narrow dreams."

... he (Obama) was drawn to activist churches like Trinity because, in them, "I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world."

Trinity's critics, though, say it emphasizes black causes to a fault....

"I would feel uncomfortable with a church that used the word 'white' instead of 'black' when it talked about these things," she said. "It seems to me we are going backward if we're basing our churches and the help they give on skin color."

Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a politics and African studies professor at Princeton University and an Obama supporter ... added that pinning Wright's left-leaning politics on Obama isn't fair.
"The question is what Barack Obama believes, not what Reverend Wright believes," she said, "because Barack Obama and Reverend Wright may be in agreement on some issues and deeply in disagreement on others."

Well, there is something schizophrenic about a church that considers itself liberal and advocates gay rights but then goes on to award a humanitarian accolade to Farrakhan, who considers homosexuality as a threat to Blacks. and whose pastor paid public homage to someone like Gadhafi.

Reverend Wright's choice of words in this statement should also provoke profound unease:

"When his (Obama's) enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli" with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to visit Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, "a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell."

Obama's critics are a-priorily defined as "enemies". And who are those "enemies"? He doesn't say, but he does make a bee-line connection between those ominously nameless "enemies" and Obama's "Jewish supporters".

I consider this a preparation, a warning, a conditioning; If Obama's project fails to get him to the White House, Black people should know who to point the finger at for this failure. The honourable Reverend is doing Obama great disservice by expressing himself in these terms of disdain and lack of compassion, on Obama's behalf.

I'm thinking of Cass Sunstein's first public endorsement of Obama (that I know of), expressed in a short article he wrote in April 2007.

Cass Sunstein wrote about the way presidential candidates interact with their opponents. His points can easily extend to any discussion:

The antonym of respect is disdain or (better) contempt; the antonym of charity is selfishness or (better) stinginess. It is much worse to bedisrespectful than to be uncharitable. Politicians who show respect--SenatorMcCain is a good example--tend not to attack the competence, the motivations, or the defining commitments of those who disagree with him. Politicians who show charity as well as respect--Senator Obama is a rare example--tend to put opposing arguments in the best possible form, to praise the motivations of those who offer such arguments, and to seek proposals that specifically accept the defining commitments of all sides.

If true, and I believe Sunstein knows what he he talking about, since Obama was both his student and colleague, then I have to wonder at the bond that seems to attach Obama to his church and its pastor. As they say, it does not compute...


More on the same issues:

From Seattle's alternative weekly magazine (code word for Left of Left), The Stranger:

The Church of Obama by Jonathan Raban

In Obama's sacralized version of the "United States of America," folk sit down with folk they thought they couldn't stand, whether Republicans with Democrats or Americans with Iranians and Syrians. He's managed to articulate this so persuasively that poll after poll shows his support mounting among registered Republicans (the few Republicans I know personally have rejected their own candidates in favor of Obama), despite the fact that all his declared policies—like those he championed, to impressive effect, in the Illinois State Senate—are far to the left of those of the present Republican party. In a speech in Iowa on December 27, he announced that he was out to "heal a nation and repair the world." It says a lot about the grievously damaged state of America now that even lifelong Republicans hunger to take Obama—on his good days—seriously.

Why I'm Glad Hillary's Still in It by Erica C. Barnett

Obama Pays Lip Service to Good Ideas, But Doesn't Follow Through


At 3:53 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Media bias, Leftwing double standards, Political Correctness.

Oh my.

At 4:04 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Gee, NWO, I wish you would speak and think in a more individual voice than just trotting out a list of cliches.

At 4:38 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! Im not as eloquent as you.

Check out the video of Ezra Levant at his Alberta Human Rights Commission hearing.

Up next, Mark Steyn. Seems to me that the Canadian Human Rights Commission has turned Orwellian, suppressing Free speech and free thought, but in a focused anti Western manner. Who could have anticipated that? ;)

At 6:11 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

These threads are Steyn related. You might want to check them out:

Truth is, I have not yet begun to wrap my mind around this issue of Steyn vs. Canadian Human Rights Commission.

At 9:01 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Canadians who have anything that might be deemed offensive are going to be put up before the Canadian governments Human Rights Commission.

This doesnt bode well for liberalism, democracy, liberty, or modernity in Canada.

Frivilous government hearings cost money and time defending yourself, and that will put a chill on what Canadians should value most.

Why has the Left lost its way, its distortions are a danger to us all?

At 9:06 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS - This silencing of thought and expression will hasten the vapid consumerism that Leftwingers love to blame America for. When you lose unifying culture, all you have is prosperity to hold a country together. The US is at this stage, half of our population no longer holds "these truths to be self evident."

At 9:08 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS - DSTFW's little rant, lashed out at the wrong people. But who can blame people for lashing out indiscriminately in today's Leftwing induced moral and social chaos.

At 10:54 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I am not an Obama supporter as he is way too inexperienced for the job. Hillary is my first choice among Democrats and I like McCain and Giuliani in the Republican field.

To your points, I expressed concerns about his church to friends quite a while back. It does appear that Wright is a bit of a wing-nut. While more attention is placed on the political orientation of conservative churches (given their influence and membership), progressive churches have worldviews of their own. In the case of African American churches, the influence of Afro-centrism, black nationalism and a blatantly pro-“Third World” perspective. Generally speaking, exponents of these views have often not tended to think highly of Jews or Israel.

Which brings me to Farrakhan. Outside of Chicago (and limited pockets of NYC), Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam are not taken so seriously. The organization has declined from a peak of 600,000 in the 1960s to less than 100,000. But the vast majority of those members live in Chicago. By flying to Libya with Farrakhan he was displaying a commitment to African independence and pan-Africanism and acknowledging Farrakhan’s place as leader in the African American community. I’m not trying to justify Mr. Wright’s behavior merely pointing out that Farrakhan has sizable influence in Chicago. The closest parallel I can think of in NYC is Reverend Al Sharpton.

To anyone considering voting for Obama, I encourage them to take his faith into consideration. However, in fairness he's hardly out there wearing his religion on his sleeve like some of the other candidates. Of more concern to me is having Zbigniew Brzezinski as one of the stars of his foreign policy team.

At 1:02 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi NC. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

I agree with your misgivings about Zbig. I found Obama's choice of FP advisor a bit worrying.

As for Obama not wearing his religion on his sleeve, right. But that was the point of Hitchens' article: Why isn't there a more vigorous media investigation into Obama and religion? There are a few unusual circumstances there and if Romeny was grilled and pointed at for his Mormonism, why isn't there the same rigorous engagement with Obama on this subject?? In the end, it will not be in his favour if the subject is suppressed for PC reasons.

At 6:49 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again.

"Why isn't there a more vigorous media investigation into Obama and religion? There are a few unusual circumstances there and if Romeny was grilled and pointed at for his Mormonism, why isn't there the same rigorous engagement with Obama on this subject?? In the end, it will not be in his favour if the subject is suppressed for PC reasons."

If you (and Hitchens) are saying the press should do their job and bring up controversial elements of the candidates backgrounds, their bases of support, and so forth I am 100% in agreement with you. Full disclosure on all candidates.

However, my understanding of most of the mainstream media is they spend most of their time repeating and occasionally challenging a politician’s narrative about her or himself. For example, Romney and Huckabee both make direct appeals to socially conservative Republicans based on their own religiosity. So the media focuses on their respective religious backgrounds, who they will (and will not) appeal to, etc. Obama, by contrast, is not making much of an effort to woo religious or “values” voters. Since he isn’t focusing on religious voters or mentioning religion in his speeches, the media isn’t focusing on his religious background either. Instead he is focusing on his ancestry and background so you have pundits talking about “is he black enough,” the role of Oprah in his campaign, etc.

If this all sounds facile, it’s because the level of analysis in the United States mainstream media is pretty weak.

These are side comments to Hitchens:

The tremendous emphasis placed on a religious man, MLK, Jr., need not “lead to a crude rewriting of history that obliterates the great black and white secularists.” This is a false dichotomy created by Hitchens.

The two—secular and religious—do not need to be mutually exclusive. One of the strengths of the American civil-rights movements was the pluralism of participants in terms of ideology, faith (or lack thereof), and skin color.

Also, Bayard Rustin is listed as a secularist but he was affiliated with the Society of Friends (Quakers), the African Methodist Episcopal Church and co-organizer (with King) of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

“[W]hy is a man with a white mother considered to be "black," anyway?”

Unlike other countries (I’m familiar with Latin America and Cuba) the notion of race in the United States has been dominated by the “one-drop rule.” Simply stated, if you have any African ancestry, you are considered “black.” Now, that obviously does not mean that there were no people who could “pass” as white in the United States. There were (and are) plenty of light skinned black folks in U.S. However, in a legal and political sense, these individuals were considered black for the vast majority of the country’s history. It’s a fairly recent development in the U.S. that “bi-racial” individuals are not only able to embrace “both sides” of their ancestry i.e. not be forced to make a choice between one or the other, but that the entire notion of mixture between peoples is a good thing.

At 7:20 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

That reminds me of something I read long ago somewhere, that in America a white woman can give birth to a black child but a black woman can never give birth to a white child...


Post a Comment

<< Home