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Obama's Minister Honored Farrakhan

Ronald Kessler By Monday, 14 January 2008 07:49 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Barack Obama’s longtime minister, mentor, and sounding board has been a key supporter of Louis Farrakhan and last month honored the Nation of Islam leader for lifetime achievement.

Farrakhan has repeatedly made hate-filled statements targeting Jews, whites, America, and homosexuals. He has called whites “blue-eyed devils” and the “anti-Christ.” He has described Jews as “bloodsuckers” who control the government, the media, and some black organizations.

“Do you know some of these satanic Jews have taken over BET [the Black Entertainment Network]?” Farrakhan said in a speech on Nov. 11, 2007. “Everything that we built, they have. The mind of Satan now is running the record industry, movie industry, and television. And they make us look like we’re the murderers; we look like we’re the gangsters, but we’re punk stuff.”

The month after that speech, Obama’s minister and friend, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. and his Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, honored Farrakhan at a gala, bestowing on him its Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer award.

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.

In the November/December issue of his church’s magazine, Trumpet, Wright heaped 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 said, “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.”

A video quoting some of Wright’s opprobriums ran at the gala at the Hyatt Regency Chicago and appears on YouTube. However, while the mainstream media have hammered Mitt Romney over his religion, they have ignored or else downplayed Obama’s ties to Wright. No stories have appeared on Wright’s award to Farrakhan in December.

Wright’s church occupies a brick building at 400 West 95th Street near a public housing project and railroad tracks. Since becoming pastor in 1972, Wright has seen the church’s membership grow from 80 to more than 8,500. The church is the largest congregation in the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white denomination known for its liberal politics. Obama’s church runs an outreach program to attract gay and lesbian singles.

Born in Hawaii, Obama is the son of a white Christian mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father who was a Muslim but was not religious. From age 6 to 10, Obama lived in Indonesia, where he went to a Catholic school. For a year, he went to a public school where he attended Islamic religion classes.

Obama says he found religion and Jesus Christ through Wright, whom he met in the mid-1980s. Obama has been attending Wright’s church regularly since 1988. Wright warned Obama that getting involved with Trinity, with its radical reputation, might turn off other black clergy. But in 1991, Obama joined the church and walked down the aisle in a formal commitment of faith. Wright later married Obama and Michelle Robinson and baptized their two daughters.

The title of Obama’s bestseller “The Audacity of Hope” comes from one of Wright’s sermons. Wright is one of the first people Obama thanked after his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

For a Jan. 21, 2007 story in the Chicago Tribune, Obama said that Wright keeps his priorities straight and his moral compass calibrated.

“What I value most about Pastor Wright is not his day-to-day political advice,” Obama told the paper. “He’s much more of a sounding board for me to make sure that I am speaking truthfully about what I believe is possible and that I’m not losing myself in some of the hype and hoopla and stress that’s involved in national politics.”

However, Obama has said that in the fall of 2006, he broached the subject of a run for the presidency with Wright, who encouraged him to go ahead.

As noted in a Jan. 7 Newsmax article, “Barack Obama’s Racist Church,” in sermons and interviews, Wright has equated Zionism with racism and has compared Israel with South Africa under its previous policy of apartheid. On the Sunday following 9/11, Wright characterized the terrorist attacks as a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later, Wright suggested that the attacks were retribution for America’s racism.

“In the 21st century, white America got a wake-up call after 9/11/01,” Wright wrote in Trumpet. “White America and the Western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.”

In one of his sermons, Wright said to thumping applause, “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run! ...We [in the U.S.] believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”

In an op-ed in the Philadelphia Tribune, Wright said that war is about “making the world safe” for American business interests. “When one goes against the war, one tampers with the financial institutions and the financial system that was put in place by the Founding Fathers of this country to keep the rich, rich!” he said. “The rich can only stay rich by keeping the poor, poor.”

As for Israel, “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 said in an interview this month with 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.”

Just before Obama’s nationally televised campaign kickoff rally last Feb. 10, the candidate disinvited Wright from giving the public invocation. Wright explained: “When [Obama’s] enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli” to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, “a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell.”

According to Wright, Obama then told him, “'You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we’ve decided is that it’s best for you not to be out there in public.” Wright is retiring as senior pastor of the church in May. He asked his successor, Otis Moss III, to speak instead, but he declined. However, Obama and his family prayed privately with Wright just before the presidential announcement.

The media blackout on Obama’s radical minister is in striking contrast to the coverage of Romney. Nearly half the references to Romney in the media include a discussion of his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

If Romney’s church proclaimed on its Web site that it is “unashamedly white,” the media would pounce, and Romney’s presidential candidacy would be over. Yet that is what Obama’s church says on its web site -- except in reverse.

“We are a congregation which is unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian,” says the Trinity United Church of Christ’s Web site. “We are an African people and remain true to our native land, the mother continent, the cradle of civilization.”

Moreover, the church has a “non-negotiable commitment to Africa,” according to its Web site, and the church and its pastor subscribe to what is called the Black Value System.

While the Black Value System encourages commitment to God, education, and self-discipline, it refers to “our racist competitive society” and includes the disavowal of the pursuit of “middle-classness” and a pledge of allegiance to “all black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System.” It defines “middle-classness” as a way for American society to “snare” blacks rather than “killing them off directly” or “placing them in concentration camps,” just as the country structures “an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jails and prisons.”

In two exceptions to the media blackout, Tucker Carlson of MSNBC described Trinity as having a “racially exclusive theology” that “contradicts the basic tenets of Christianity.” Sean Hannity of Fox News confronted Wright on TV and asked how a black value system is any more acceptable than a white value system.

If a white presidential candidate’s church had a similar statement and “you substitute the word black for white, there would be an outrage in this country,” Hannity said. “There would be cries of racism in this country.'”

In response, Wright repeatedly asked Hannity how many books he had read by James Cone and others about black liberation theology. Cone, who is widely admired at Wright’s church, was quoted in the May 29, 2007, issue of The Christian Century as saying, “Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man ‘the devil.’... Any advice from whites to blacks on how to deal with white oppression is automatically under suspicion as a clever device to further enslavement.”

On a few points, Obama has sought to distance himself from Wright’s teachings or to explain them away. While Wright is his pastor and friend, Obama has said, they do not see eye to eye on everything. Without addressing Wright’s denunciations of Israel and Zionism as racist, Obama has said he “strongly disagrees with any portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that advocates divestment from Israel or expresses anything less than strong support for Israel’s security.”

As for Wright’s repeated comments blaming America for the 9/11 attacks, Obama has said it sounds as if the minister was trying to be “provocative.”

But Obama’s close association with Wright over more than two decades and the minister’s close ties to Farrakhan cannot be explained away so cavalierly. If Obama rejects Wright’s warped view of this country, why does he continue to attend his church? If Obama disagrees with Farrakhan and his anti-Semitic and anti-white statements, why doesn’t he denounce him rather than continue to associate with a minister and friend who is one of his advocates and who gave him an award for lifetime achievement? Does Obama secretly agree with some of their hate-filled, radical statements while publicly avoiding race-specific appeals as part of his candidacy?

That comports with Obama’s habit of not showing up for controversial votes or tackling tough policy issues, allowing him to broaden his appeal through charisma alone. Farrakhan himself recently spoke approvingly of Obama’s strategy, which is crucial to inviting whites to support him.

“Barack Obama has been very careful not to position himself as Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton as a promoter of ‘The Black Cause,’” Farrakhan said in the interview with “He has been groomed, wisely so, to be seen more as a unifier, rather than one who speaks only for the hurt of black people.”

At the least, Obama’s membership in Wright’s church and close ties to Wright himself suggest a lack of judgment and an insensitivity to views that are repugnant to the vast majority of white Americans who are not bigots or anti-Semites.

That same lack of judgment has shown up in Obama’s gaffes -- threatening to invade Pakistan and offering prompt negotiations with anti-American despots. More frightening, Obama voted last August to give Osama bin Laden and other terrorists the same rights as Americans when it comes to intercepting their overseas calls in order to pick up clues needed to stop another attack.

To evaluate what Obama’s ties to Wright mean, picture America’s reaction if President Bush’s minister, mentor, and moral compass had the views of Wright and was an admirer and supporter of Farrakhan.

“He that lies down with dogs, shall rise up with fleas,” Benjamin Franklin said.

Obama may be a gifted orator, but his choice of a friend and advisor suggests he is masquerading as a moderate. While the liberal media have already decided Obama will be our next president, Americans may have a different view when they consider what his ties to Wright tell us about the presidential candidate’s true opinions and character.

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

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Barack Obama’s longtime minister, mentor, and sounding board has been a key supporter of Louis Farrakhan and last month honored the Nation of Islam leader for lifetime achievement. Farrakhan has repeatedly made hate-filled statements targeting Jews, whites, America, and...
Monday, 14 January 2008 07:49 PM
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