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Obama Dodges Farrakhan Issue

Ronald Kessler By Wednesday, 05 March 2008 07:48 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

It’s one thing for Barack Obama to have a minister, friend, and sounding board who supports and admires Louis Farrakhan and whose church gave him an award.

It’s another thing for Obama to dissemble about it.

That’s what Obama did recently when he told Jewish leaders in Cleveland, “An award was given to Farrakhan for his work on behalf of ex-offenders, completely unrelated to his controversial statements.”

In fact, the award, named for Obama’s minister Jeremiah Wright Jr., was given for “lifetime achievement” and for Farrakhan’s “influence on the African-American community.” The presentation of the award last December and the accompanying article in Trumpet, Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ magazine, never mentioned ex-offenders.

On the contrary, the article in the November/December issue of Trumpet begins by calling Farrakhan — who refers to Jews as bloodsuckers and whites as blue-eyed devils — an “icon.” It ends by saying that he “truly epitomized greatness.”

The article quotes Wright heaping praise on Farrakhan, whom he helped in organizing the Million Man March in Washington in 1995. Wright lauded Farrakhan as one of the giants of the African-American religious experience in the 20th and 21st centuries.

“When Minister Farrakhan speaks, black America listens,” Wright said. “His depth on analysis [sic] when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye-opening. He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest.”

Hailing Farrakhan’s “integrity and honesty,” Wright went on to say, “His love for Africa and African-American people has made him an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change, and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose.”

Obama has said he found religion through Wright in the 1980s and consulted him before deciding to run for president. He prayed privately with Wright before announcing his candidacy last year.

After Newsmax broke the story of the award to Farrakhan on Jan. 14, Obama issued a statement purportedly addressing the issue. However, Obama ignored the main point: that his minister and friend had spoken adoringly of Farrakhan and that Wright’s church was behind the award to the Nation of Islam leader.

Instead, Obama adroitly 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.”

In fact, not only is Trumpet owned and produced by Wright’s church out of the church’s offices, Wright’s daughters serve as publisher and executive editor.

Entranced by Obama, the media largely ignored the story. Having gotten away with sidestepping Wright’s adoring comments about Farrakhan, Obama went further on Feb. 24 when he spoke to Jewish leaders in Cleveland. This time he flatly said that the award was because of Farrakhan’s work with ex-offenders. To date, no news outlet has pointed out that Obama’s claim is false.

While Tim Russert asked Obama during the last Democratic debate about Farrakhan’s support of him, he never pressed him about his relationship to Wright. In his comments to Jewish leaders in Cleveland, Obama continued to tiptoe around Wright and what he stands for. As in the past, without specifying how he disagrees, Obama said he does not “necessarily” share Wright’s views, which include blaming America for the 9/11 attacks because of what the minister calls its racist and violent policies.

Obama told the Jewish leaders that the award to Farrakhan “showed a lack of sensitivity to the Jewish community.”

That is an understatement.

If John McCain’s minister, friend, and sounding board gave an award to white nationalist David Duke, would Obama have said the gesture showed “insensitivity” to blacks, or would he have issued a searing condemnation expressing outrage?

Obama went on to explain away Wright’s anti-Zionist statements as being rooted in his anger over the Jewish state’s support for South Africa under its previous policy of apartheid. As with his claim that the award to Farrakhan was made because of his work with ex-offenders, Obama made that up out of thin air. Wright’s statements denouncing Israel have not been qualified in any way.

Wright has equated Zionism with racism and has compared Israel with South Africa under apartheid.

“The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now,” Wright has said. “Divestment has now hit the table again as a strategy to wake the business community and wake up Americans concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.”

Those views run parallel to Farrakhan’s, who has said that there will be “no peace for Israel, because there can be no peace as long as that peace is based on lying, stealing, murder, and using God’s name to shield a wicked, unjust practice that is not in harmony with the will of God.”

Much as most of us would appreciate the symbolism of a black man ascending to the presidency, what we have in Barack Obama is a slippery politician whose closeness to Wright underscores his radical record. Aside from showing poor judgment, it is inconceivable that Obama could be so close to Wright for more than two decades and not share at least some of his views.

Obama’s longtime ties to Wright, his failure to forthrightly condemn him, and his dissembling on his church’s award to Farrakhan only confirm that Obama is not to be trusted in the White House.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
e-mail. Go here now.

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It’s one thing for Barack Obama to have a minister, friend, and sounding board who supports and admires Louis Farrakhan and whose church gave him an award. It’s another thing for Obama to dissemble about it. That’s what Obama did recently when he told Jewish leaders in...
Wednesday, 05 March 2008 07:48 AM
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