Tuesday, April 29, 2008
April 29, 2008
Many years ago, a great hitter named Paul Waner was nearing the end of his long career. He entered a ballgame with 2,999 hits — one hit away from the landmark total of 3,000, which so many hitters want to reach, but which relatively few actually do reach.
Waner hit a ball that the fielder did not handle cleanly but the official scorer called it a hit, making it Waner’s 3,000th. Paul Waner then sent word to the official scorer that he did not want that questionable hit to be the one that put him over the top.
The official scorer reversed himself and called it an error. Later Paul Waner got a clean hit for number 3,000.
What reminded me of this is the great fervor that many seem to feel over the prospect of the first black President of the United States.
No doubt it is only a matter of time before there is a black president, just as it was only a matter of time before Paul Waner got his 3,000th hit. The issue is whether we want to reach that landmark so badly that we are willing to overlook how questionably that landmark is reached.
Paul Waner had too much pride to accept a scratch hit. Choosing a President of the United States is a lot more momentous than a baseball record. We the voters need to have far more concern about who we put in that office that holds the destiny of a nation and of generations yet unborn.
There is no reason why someone as arrogant, foolishly clever and ultimately dangerous as Barack Obama should become president — especially not at a time when the threat of international terrorists with nuclear weapons looms over 300 million Americans.
Many people seem to regard elections as occasions for venting emotions, like cheering for your favorite team or choosing a Homecoming Queen.
The three leading candidates for their party’s nomination are being discussed in terms of their demographics — race, sex and age — as if that is what the job is about.
One of the painful aspects of studying great catastrophes of the past is discovering how many times people were preoccupied with trivialities when they were teetering on the edge of doom.
The demographics of the presidency are far less important than the momentous weight of responsibility that office carries.
Just the power to nominate federal judges to trial courts and appellate courts across the country, including the Supreme Court, can have an enormous impact for decades to come. There is no point feeling outraged by things done by federal judges, if you vote on the basis of emotion for those who appoint them.
Barack Obama has already indicated that he wants judges who make social policy instead of just applying the law. He has already tried to stop young violent criminals from being tried as adults.
Although Senator Obama has presented himself as the candidate of new things — using the mantra of “change” endlessly — the cold fact is that virtually everything has says about domestic policy is straight out of the 1960s and virtually everything he says about foreign policy is straight out of the 1930s.
Protecting criminals, attacking business, increasing government spending, promoting a sense of envy and grievance, raising taxes on people who are productive and subsidizing those who are not — all this is a re-run of the 1960s.
We paid a terrible price for such 1960s notions in the years that followed, in the form of soaring crime rates, double-digit inflation and double-digit unemployment. During the 1960s, ghettoes across the countries were ravaged by riots from which many have not fully recovered to this day.
The violence and destruction were concentrated not where there was the greatest poverty or injustice but where there were the most liberal politicians, promoting grievances and hamstringing the police.
Internationally, the approach that Senator Obama proposes — including the media magic of meetings between heads of state — was tried during the 1930s. That approach, in the name of peace, is what led to the most catastrophic war in human history.
Everything seems new to those too young to remember the old and too ignorant of history to have heard about it.
(c) 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.
Monday, April 28, 2008
In Umberto Eco's wonderful book Foucault's Pendulum a character says that terrorists plant bombs on trains because they are searching for God. The desire to give oneself over, to meld with another, is underneath everything we do, it is the driving lifeforce. We must choose wisely. Becoming one with a beneficent God is very different than disappearing into an entity that only seeks our souls to acquire power.
As we silence artists, writers and critics of Islam; give Islamic customs special preference in our public schools, gyms and even our public bathrooms, we are only paving the way for our own cultural destruction. We are not tolerating their cultural practices, we are suborning our own so as not to give them offense. And, much of this behavior comes about because of an unconscious fear of their violence and threat of violence.
Thus we surrender Western civilization, not with a bang, but a whimper.
Organizations like CAIR are nothing more than an advance recon units for Al Qaeda-style jihad, disguised as self-righteous and terribly oppressed muslim moderates crying that Islamophobia is the root cause of their unhappiness. They have taken the pulse of the enemy infidel, and know that it is weak--particularly on the left.
They must be disabused of the notion that their crusade to obtain special status for Islam under the law--by eliminating free speech protections--has any chance of success. Only the the useful PC idiots of the left are sympathetic with their efforts, but that is exactly the problem.
Both CAIR and the left have made a mockery of our most precious freedoms and the think they can get away with it. But in Europe and here, they are only succeeding in hardening the resolve of people like myself to actively oppose their coercive and cynical manipulation of our free society.
Once upon a time, I could have cared less about Islam and what any Muslim believed or how they lived--as long as they left me alone. Now I have a strange and compelling desire (my "difficulty dealing with authority" personality, I guess) to organize groups to "Flush the Quran" and write mockingly of the idiotic prophet to whom they have sold their souls and the even more idiotic religious leaders who are steeped in paranoia and ignorance.
All sorts of possible non-PC civil disobedience flash through my mind; because quite frankly, submission has never been either a personal trait; nor a common American character trait.
Islam may find our lack of faith in Allah disturbing, but they have no magical powers to make me or anyone else conform to their religion unless we ourselves give it to them.
It is time to firmly reject this creeping sharia and tell the primitive throwbacks who demand us to submit to their medieval ways to take their religious beliefs and religious law an stick them where the sun don't shine.
And, for the record, I feel the same way about anyone who expects me to behave as if I were a member of their religious cult. Screw that. Civilization has come a long way, baby.
As for the creeping leftism that supports, encourages and enables this slow destruction of our values and freedoms in the name of 'multiculturalism' and 'peace' and all things politically correct--you people already have a lot to answer for; and sometime soon, you will either have to come to terms with the fear and hate that motivates your appeasement; or you will finally have to admit that the submission and selflessness offered by Islam is the religion you have been searching for all along.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
It's like Barry threw a Race Bomb into our midst. I never saw anything like this before 2008 and the bad part is now I think it's appropriate.
Earlier today I likened the muslim demand for jizya to the demands of Jeremiah "G-d Damn Amerikkka" Wright and Al "I Used Tawana Brawley To Bash Whites" Sharpton.
"Convict the cops who shot Sean Bell or I'm shutting down New York City," Sharpton ranted this week. That's just the wrong thing to say to me.
I believe in the goodness and generosity of Americans (all Americans) but I don't like being held up for ransom. I don't know how much we can be pushed without pushing back. That antipathy thing for people who are not exactly like us and all will probably come out. Geewillikers, what American is exactly
like the next American? We're the most diverse country on the planet.
Unlike Michelle Ma Belle, I'm proud of America and grateful to be an American.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
By Mary Grabar
Sunday, April 20, 2008
We know who you’re talking about, Barack Obama, when you talk about Pennsylvania and the Midwest, about small towns where the jobs have left. We know who you’re talking about when you talk about those who “get bitter” and “cling to guns or religion.”
You’re talking about “those people.”
You’re talking about white people who have neither the family connections nor the racial credentials to gain entrance to the world that you inhabit. Many of the people you’re talking about are those whose parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe who came to these places to work in steel mills, coal mines, and factories. We know the code words.
You’re talking about people whose culture is little known. We have been pretty quiet. We never tried to impose our culture on everyone. We never insisted on putting pictures of ourselves in our native dress into schoolbooks or mandating that our stories and songs be part of the curriculums.
We tried to maintain our culture without government aid, by forming our own churches and groups, and building Polish, Ukrainian, and Slovenian halls.
We never wore buttons declaring “Slav Power” or grouped together for purposes of intimidation or violence.
The power we asked for was the power of the paycheck which we earned in factories, steel mills, coal mines, or by cleaning houses. Yet, we were taken aside and told that because of affirmative action it was no use trying to advance off the assembly line; we were told in “diversity workshops” that people of color had to be promoted over more qualified white people. I know this, Barack, because I have family members and friends who worked in factories.
We used to trudge in to work and change into work clothes, like my father did. He began by knowing only one word of English, “Okay,” which he found to be the most useful one in the language. When the boss man handed him a broom or pointed to a piece to be welded, he fairly leapt to the task. My uncles were injured in construction and mining accidents, and went back to work.
But what did we get for that, Barack? We paid cash for our houses and kept impeccable yards, yet saw the value of our homes plummet after marauding hoodlums came into our neighborhoods in riots that were celebrated by the intelligentsia in Manhattan penthouses, who saw such violence as justified expressions of outrage over past discrimination.
We went to public schools in those same neighborhoods only to be accosted for our skin color and the presumed “privilege” that teachers said we had. Rather than teach us what was good and beautiful about Western Civilization and the country to which our parents had fled, teachers gave us Marxist nonsense, if they bothered to teach at all. Our schoolmates saw the evening news, mimicked their elders by wearing “Black Power” buttons and felt justified in roughing the white kid who didn’t seem tough. Because we were “privileged”—despite washing our fathers’ sooty work clothes while our mothers went off to clean offices and houses in the suburbs—we were not eligible for scholarships, not even to the Catholic schools. Teachers never cut us any slack. Guidance counselors told us to be secretaries or work in the factory, despite our volunteering and demonstration of academic abilities. Our brothers, cousins, and uncles went off to fight in Vietnam, while those from your class took up arms against their campus administrators.
True, we had our problems, as all people do, with such things as alcoholism and family violence, but we handled those ourselves, and never blamed “society” or a history of oppression. Still, many of us did carry legacies from the old country, of hunger and persecution, of watching family members and villagers murdered by atheistic regimes. So we were grateful for the opportunity to work and buy our own little patches of the American Dream.
We were happy to use a welding torch, shovel, or broom to get them. We didn’t insist that we should all get college degrees. We didn’t have our documents translated for us or get bilingual instruction. If we didn’t know English we made sure our children did and we relied on them.
Your white friends in San Francisco, Barack, probably had cleaning women like my mother (and me when I accompanied her and then had my own cleaning jobs from age 12). As white people from a certain class and with certain connections, your donors knew that their futures would be secure because of their inheritances and the connections they could make in the media, politics, and business. In fact, it would benefit them in the world of “radical chic” to hang around those like you and support your policies. (Great opportunity to be photographed next to a black person!)
Your black friends there, like your wife, see no end to the amount that this country owes them because of what happened to their ancestors. It makes no difference that many of the whites in previous generations also had experienced persecution and hunger and worked in dangerous, dirty, and degrading jobs. Or that blacks and Native Americans were among the slave owners.
In fact, you and those wealthy donors sneer at white people who have had to do manual labor and who have paid for tuition at community colleges with the money earned that way, while our classmates received special scholarships and government grants—from our taxes.
You sneer at those like us who put our faith in God and not in those like you who would presume to know what’s good for us and tell us what to do with our money and our children, and leave us with no ability to defend ourselves.
Well, Barack, coming from your Ivy League world, you would not know much about us. You would not have learned that because we come from people who, rather than letting their communist benefactors redistribute the food, burned the crops in their little fields before they were forcibly “collectivized.” In Slovenia, they fought Tito’s Partisans from the woods and held mass at night when the Communists banned church services. They remember what it’s like to be hungry, ill, and living in little more than huts, while Marshall Tito and his communist cronies lived in villas. Now you live in a Chicago mansion and sneer at those like us who simply want to keep and defend our little three-bedroom ranches. You don’t know what it’s like to have family members die for the right to attend mass.
I know your liberal cronies, Barack; they make me check off my skin color on job applications and ask me during job interviews of how I teach multiculturalism, yet don’t know where Slovenia is on the world map. They couldn’t care less about my culture, nor about Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, or Lithuanian culture. Your supporters often feel free to mock my Slovenian heritage in letters and comments on the Internet when they disagree with me. I guess it’s like being called a “dumb Polack”—something that has never gained quite the opprobrium of other ethnic epithets.
See, Barack, we know the system: Some are more “equal” than others.
And we know how you really feel about the “proletariat.” We know this from our experience either directly or as an inheritance from our parents and grandparents. And that is why we came to America.
Addendum: Many of my non-European correspondents, like those who came from Cuba, agree—as their letters to me indicate.
Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in the Atlanta area. She is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and published fiction writer. Visit her website and get on her mailing list at marygrabar.com
Friday, April 25, 2008
Inside the Obama mind.
By Victor Davis Hanson
“They”? Who in the hell is “they”?
— Lyle Gorch in The Wild Bunch
Recently Barack Obama got into trouble by explaining to an affluent San Francisco audience why the cash-strapped, mostly white, working classes in Pennsylvania and the Midwest do not logically vote for his brand of economic populism, but instead cling to issues that sophisticates can see are extraneous to their economic plight.
And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
That sentence has been analyzed to death. But a single word struck me — who are Obama’s distant they?
Are they basically decent people, without a lot of education, who turn to religious and national superstitions like guns and church, or to primordial passions like racism and xenophobia, in lieu of Obama’s nostrum of “hope” and “change”? “They,” then, turn out to be the nice, but deluded folk — and yet sometimes dangerous people when riled by immigrants and other races that don’t look like them?
But the bitter, they can’t be the same they that Obama also said are jacking up the cost of his condiments in the store?
“Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula? I mean, they’re charging a lot of money for this stuff.”
Perhaps this nebulous and ever changing they evokes the same forces that Michelle Obama says are now thwarting her husband’s phenomenally successful campaign. Sometime they seem to be politicos, or media pundits, or hostile rule keepers who do all they can to sabotage the Obamas: “They tell you to raise money, you raise money. “They tell you to build an organization, and you build an organization.”
But at other times they for Michelle Obama can apparently also mean faceless government officials who likewise conspire against the American public as soon as it makes any progress — perhaps like achieving the Obama’s 2007 $4 million annual income, or $1.6 million home: “We live in a nation where they set the bar and you try to get over the bar and they move the bar.”
On rarer occasions, Michelle Obama becomes somewhat more specific with her they, and so names them as “folks.” But who and where these folks are, we are never told: “Folks set the bar, and then you work hard and you reach the bar — sometimes you surpass the bar — and then they move the bar!”
The multifarious use of they tells us a great deal about the Obamas. In one of the many manifestations of they, there is a sort of resentment here, the evocation of someone or something to blame when it is time to buy high-priced arugula or send the kids to summer camp or explain why you will lose Pennsylvania. This whiny they serves a psychological need, and relieves them of any introspection like, “Buy lettuce at Safeway instead of arugula at Whole Foods.” Or “Try harder to appeal to the working classes of Iowa and Pennsylvania by spending more time out of, rather than in, Whole Foods and San Francisco mansions.”
There is, as has been pointed out, also condescension aplenty. The unsympathetic hoi polloi they is not the powerful, but the impotent — not those who know everything about the arugula price-gougers that thwart the fast-rising Obamas, but those who know nothing and ignore the Obamas’ wisdom. Or as Michelle puts it, “The question is not whether Barack Obama is ready. The question is, are we ready for him?”
There is also a closely related conspiratorial they. If the Obama campaign hits a rough patch, they changed the rules. If the Obamas find that their own appetites have increased with their incomes, and the higher they live, the greater the debt they accrue, then someone or something — more powerful, more wealthy — has surely changed the rules of finance and economics to do in the Obamas.
The conspiratorial they is far more worrisome than the elite liberal’s condescending they or the nouveau riche’s whiny they, since it seems to evoke the dark forces that Rev. Wright articulated, the “white folks’ greed” that is responsible for everything from bombs on poor Japanese and weapons that target Arabs and blacks to planting AIDs viruses and holding the black man down by three-strikes laws.
The Obamas are not that crude in the Wright sense (“typical white person” is not quite “rich white people”). But when they talk of a self-serving, paranoid Middle American as they, or an all-powerful government as they, or manipulative financial forces as they, then the Obamas evoke the same sense of conspiratorial resentment and scapegoating as does a Wright.
From time to time, all Americans, of course, blame they who raised the price of gas, or started a war, or jacked up their taxes, or ruined their schools and neighborhoods.
But the next stage in the public evolution of the use of they is critical: The demagogue takes they up even more promiscuously to fire the passions of the crowd, thereby alleviating it of any responsibility for its own unhappiness. To the hothouse intellectual they are either the unwashed, or the more evil and powerful that only the learned and sophisticated can understand and mock, but ultimately navigate around.
Yet for the true statesman, they is rarely used, since the interest is not in finding generic culprits for the past problem, but in offering specifics for the future solution — requiring the use of the now rare “we” and “us.”
— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.
Plouffe: McCain has the racist vote anyway
David Plouffe tells Linda Douglass that real racists are probably voting Republican in any case:
"[T]he vast, vast majority of voters who would not vote for Barack Obama in November based on race are probably firmly in John McCain's camp already," he says.
Plouffe also made a four-pronged case for Obama's electability. One, primary-focused, is that Clinton has big problems too.
He also pointed out that Obama's actually been winning white men and younger white voters.
And looking ahead, he pointed to the issues: "They won't agree with John McCain on issues like the economy and health care. And so I think that we are going to get the vast, vast majority of Democratic voters," he said.
Finally, the Obama campaign is counting on its ability to change the electorate -- a powerful argument, if one with real limits.
"If Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, I think turnout amongst African-Americans, turnout amongst all voters under 40, and our ability to register new voters is going to be a very important piece of the puzzle," he said.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
What Wright said.
By Stanley Kurtz
What did Jeremiah Wright actually say in the “Audacity of Hope” sermon that so famously led to Barack Obama’s conversion? It seems clear that the sermon text posted by PreachingToday.com and reposted on many blogs during the height of the Wright controversy in March is not, in fact, a complete text of what Obama heard on that fateful day. A longer and decidedly more political text, can be found in What Makes You So Strong? Sermons of Joy and Strength From Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. The “Audacity to Hope” sermon reprinted in that volume may not be precisely what Obama himself first heard, but it does seem significantly closer to the original than the text posted last month at PreachingToday.com.
In any case, the book version of the famous “Audacity” sermon, like the other sermons reprinted in What Makes You So Strong? provides a fascinating window into Reverend Wright’s political and social worldview. Out of this collection come passages equating Zionism with racism, offering criticism of the Catholic practice of Holy Communion, defending Louis Farrakhan, and attacking American military interventions in Panama, Grenada, and the first Gulf War.
Sorting Out the Texts
It’s difficult to draw firm conclusions about the relationship between the “Audacity of Hope” sermon described in Obama’s book, Dreams from My Father, the sermon-text posted on PreachingToday.com, and the text printed in What Makes You So Strong? The sermon described in Obama’s book appears to have been delivered sometime in the late winter or spring of 1988. The text posted at PreachingToday.com dates from 1990, and the version in What Makes You So Strong? was delivered in early 1991.
Although the So Strong version is the latest of the three, it matches much more closely to the 1988 sermon described in Obama’s book than the supposedly complete text posted at PreachingToday.com. Obama’s book speaks of Caribbean cruise ships that throw away more food in a day than poor Hatians see in a year, and unlike the text at PreachingToday, the sermon in So Strong mentions the same detail (with some slight differences of wording). Obama’s book notes a comparison between our actions in Hiroshima and the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa, and that point is also made in the So Strong text. In contrast, the PreachingToday text leaves Sharpeville out altogether. Obama’s book includes a powerful detail about Reverend Wright himself being “busted for grand larceny auto theft” at age 15, which again we also find in the So Strong anthology, but which is softened considerably in the PreachingToday text.
All this suggests that the longer text reprinted in the So Strong anthology is significantly closer than the PreachingToday text to what Obama actually heard in 1988. On the other hand, a number of the most political passages in sermon reprinted in So Strong may have been either added or reworked to reflect the fact that this 1991 version of the “Audacity” talk was delivered as part of a series of guest sermons in Houston honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Obama’s description of the original Audacity sermon of 1988 notes that the comments about Sharpeville and Hiroshima were followed by talk about “the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House.” Since the 1991 text doesn’t mention the “State House,” the political passages in the 1988 sermon Obama heard may well have been reworked to fit the occasion in 1991. Nonetheless, the 1991 sermon, like the other sermons reprinted in the So Strong collection, would appear to give us a far more realistic and complete indication of the Reverend Wright’s sermons than the short, relatively apolitical and “sanitized” text posted at PreachingToday.com.
The sermon text in the So Strong collection was apparently drawn from tape recordings and slightly modified for purposes of writing by the collection’s editor, Jini M. Kilgore. In a sermon titled, “When God is Silent,” Wright tells a revealing story from one of his three trips to Cuba. Talking about his Cuban translator’s nervous desire to see his sermon text ahead of time, Wright says: “...sometimes there are things too hot for paper, and you’re going to be looking around trying to figure out where I am in that manuscript, and I am not going to be on that manuscript.” So it’s obvious that all of these printed sermon texts are imperfect (and probably toned down) versions of what Wright actually says in his sermons.
The Audacity to Hope
Here, then are some of the political passages from the fuller version of “The Audacity to Hope” text reprinted in What Makes You So Strong?:
In order for a people to have taken a negative and turned it into a positive, surely somebody had to have had the audacity to hope. In order for a race held in bondage to slavery to have taken a proclamation not worth the paper it was written on and to have turned it into a proposition that produced a race full of giants, somebody had to have had the audacity to hope. Abraham Lincoln is remembered as the “Great Emancipator” of the slaves, but in reality, he did not see black Africans as equal with whites. (The issue of slavery was paramount for him because it threatened the unity of the country. The primary reason that the Civil War was fought was not to free the slaves, but to save the United States.... [p. 104])
A bit further on, Wright says that when Martin Luther King Jr. went beyond working for integration alone and, “had the courage to call the sin of Vietnam exactly what it was — an abomination before God — he had to have the audacity to hope.” Wright goes on to list prominent black leaders (Senator Brooke, Jackie Robinson, Carl Rowan, Roy Wilkins, and the Urban League) who turned against King over Vietnam:
It was all right for this preacher to protest against North American apartheid and segregated lunch counters, but when he dared speak the message God gave him against our racist, militaristic posture in South Vietnam and our racist involvement in South Africa, he was iced and isolated by all the establishment blacks. And in order for him to hang in and hold on, in order for him to have the audacity to hope, he had to have a vertical hookup that assimilated Negroes had forgotten all about. It was a hookup that said “before I’d be a slave [a slave to conservative theology that enslaves and preaches love], before I’d be a slave [a slave to right-wing ignorance that wears black robes on Sunday morning and white robes on Sunday night], before I’d be a slave [a slave to white America’s corporate dollars that hold and pull the purse strings of so many national black organizations], before I’d be a slave, I’d be buried in my grave, and go home to my God and be free.”....Martin was a man who integrated the buses of Montgomery and the streets of Selma, yes, but Martin also took on the unjust economic system of our country. He took on the iron-fisted military system....
[N.B.: The brackets in this passage were inserted by Wright himself, as a way of updating the meaning of an old anti-slavery spiritual. Also, “vertical hookup” here means “connection to God.” (p. 105)]
These political comments in Wright’s 1991 “Audacity to Hope” text may well have reworked and/or substituted for the remarks in the 1988 sermon chastising what Obama calls “the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House.” But they are clearly echoed throughout the many sermons reprinted in What Makes You So Strong? Wright here is sounding attacks on American foreign policy, corporations, “assimilationist” blacks, and America’s founding icons and presidents that permeate both the body of his sermons, and black liberation theology more generally.
Zionism as Racism
For example, in the sermon “When God is Silent,” Wright launches a systematic attack on America’s military interventions:
We have no money to educate our inner-city children who happen to be black and brown, but we do have money to wage war in the Persian Gulf. We do have money to send those same black and brown children to an early and unnecessary grave, wearing the uniforms of a country that will not make funds available for making geniuses, only for making war. This country will exterminate them, but not educate them. And God is silent.
Martin gave his life for the cause of a more humane and just society and a reordering of an economic priority in a society gone insane with self-interest and sick military solutions for every problem. Twenty-two years later, none of those issues have gotten better by one iota; if anything, they have gotten worse. African Americans are still at the bottom of the economic ladder. There is a resurgence of racism. We have traded Vietnam for Grenada in the Reagan years and for Panama in the Bush years. Martin’s dream has turned into a nightmare, and God is silent.... [What Makes You So Strong, pp. 117-118.]
Perhaps most striking here is the apparent equation of military service with “extermination.”
Over and above the first Persian Gulf war, Wright is clearly opposed to America’s Middle East policy more broadly. In his sermon, “Ain’t Nobody Right but Us,” Wright equates Zionism with racism. More than this, Wright goes on to suggest that, while not literally racist, the Catholic practice of denying Holy Communion to non-Catholics is an overly exclusivist practice. (Wright hits Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baptists for too much exclusivism as well.) Here is the key passage:
But right on the heels of the ego issue there surfaces what I call the flip side of the coin and that is this whole notion of the “in crowd,” “our group,” or what I call the “our gang” mentality. If you’re not a part of our gang, then you’re not a part of anything, cause “ain’t nobody right but us.”...You can see that kind of circling of the wagons mind-set clearly when you look at the Dutch Afrikaaner Church and the white racism that is so open and blatant in the doctrines of apartheid or in Zionism. That’s ain’t nobody right but us kind of thinking.
We can see the “our gang” mentality clearly when there is racism involved, but there are other places where this same kind of thinking rears its ugly head. When, for instance, Catholicism teaches that Protestants and Catholics can work together, worship together, pray together, walk together, do everything together except take Holy Communion; when it teaches that Catholics can share only among themselves the body and blood of Jesus Christ, then what Catholicism in effect is saying is “ain’t nobody right but us.”
[What Makes You So Strong?, pp. 13-14.]
It’s already well known that Wright traveled to Libya with Louis Farrakhan in 1984 to meet with Qaddafi. In a sermon titled, “Full of the Holy Spirit,” Wright defends Farrakhan, and connects his refusal to repudiate Farrakhan with his refusal to repudiate Malcolm X. (This is also a major theme within black liberation theology — the determination to laud not only King, but also the more radical Malcolm X):
Don’t let anybody trick you into thinking Minister Louis Farrakhan is your enemy. He ain’t the enemy. Any African man who can clean folks up, get them off of dope, get them in school, get them reading instead of rapping, get them building each other up, is not the enemy. He isn’t the enemy. The enemy is the one bringing the drugs into your country, into your community, your block, and your house. Some folks are tricky. They will try to make you choose between Malcolm and Martin. Don’t you let them. No, no. If you have been helped by both, say “hallelujah!” for both of them.
And they are not going to make me choose between Minister Jackson and Minister Farrakhan.
[What Makes You So Strong?, pp. 87-88.]
Although the version of “The Audacity to Hope” reprinted in the So Strong collection may not be precisely the same as the 1988 sermon heard by Barack Obama, it appears to contain many passages closer to that original than the supposedly complete text posted at PreachingToday.com. Although the most political passages in the 1991 sermon may have been either reworked, added, or both, to reflect the theme of honoring King, it’s clear from a broader reading of this sermon collection that the themes of the 1991 “Audacity to Hope” sermon are echoed throughout Wright’s broader corpus. If the 1988 sermon’s attacks on “the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House” have not yet been recovered with certainty, the general drift of Wright’s views on these subjects seems clear. It also seems most unlikely that Obama could have failed to pick up on these themes, which are echoed throughout Wright’s sermons.
It also appears highly likely that the version of the “Audacity” sermon posted at PreachingToday.com gives an unrepresentative and sanitized view of Wright’s sermons. Obama’s own account of the original “Audacity” sermon indicates significantly greater political content than what we see in the PreachingToday text. And again, even if it may not take us back to 1988 with complete precision, the So Strong collection makes the overall political character of Wright’s sermons of that era fairly obvious.
More discoveries remain to be made, no doubt. Yet the texts already uncovered raise serious questions about what Barack Obama heard, what he thought of it, and why he remained so close to Reverend Wright.
— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and an NRO contributing editor.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Obama the Savior
By Caroline B. Glick
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Speaking in February of the man she knows better than anyone else does, Michelle Obama said that her husband, Illinois Senator and candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination Barack Obama, is the only candidate for president who understands that before America can solve its problems, Americans have to fix their "broken souls."
She also said that her husband's unique understanding of the state of souls of the American people makes him uniquely qualified to be President. Obama can do what his opponent in the Democratic race Senator Hillary Clinton, and Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, cannot do. He can heal his countrymen's broken souls. He will redeem them.
But then, saving souls is hard work, and Mrs. Obama won't place the whole burden on her husband. He'll make the Americans work for him. As she put it, "Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zone. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."
At base, Mrs. Obama's statement is nothing less than a renunciation of democracy and an embrace of fascism. The basic idea of liberty is that people have a natural right to live their lives as usual and to be uninvolved and uninformed. And they certainly have a right to expect that their government will butt out of their souls.
IN CONTRAST, fascist societies, as Jonah Goldberg notes in the latest issue of National Review, are all about the notions of "unity" and "change" and melding our broken souls into a fixed, united will for change that Obama has made the core theme of his campaign. Goldberg compared "unity" with "patriotism," and explained that while the latter connotes the willingness to defend the moral values of a society, unity is bereft of any moral content. "The only value of unity is strength, strength in numbers - and... that is a fascist value. That's the symbolism of the fasces, the bundle of sticks that in combination are invincible."
Many commentators have argued that Jews in both Israel and the US have a specific reason to fear an Obama presidency. Much attention has been paid to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the anti-Semitic, black supremacist preacher who has served as Obama's spiritual guide for the past 20 years. Then too, there are Obama's foreign policy advisors who range from the viscerally hostile towards Israel (Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert Malley, Samantha Power, Merrill Tony McPeak) to the messianically hostile towards Israel (Dan Kurtzer). Obama's close associations with Palestinian and pan-Arab champions and jihad apologists like the late Edward Said and Prof. Rashid Khalidi, and his stated intention to have open negotiations with Iran about the mullocracy's nuclear weapons program, his monetary ties to anti-Israel donors like George Soros and to anti-Israel organizations like Moveon.org are similarly pointed to as reasons for concern.
But the fact is that for all his associations with Israel-bashers, Obama's stated positions on the Palestinian and Arab conflict with Israel are all but indistinguishable from those of his opponent Senator Hillary Clinton. Both democratic candidates assert that the Palestinian conflict with Israel is the root of the pathologies of the Arab world. Like President George W. Bush, both embrace the Fatah terror group as a legitimate organization and acceptable repository of Palestinian sovereignty. Both have hinted that they may be willing to open negotiations with Hamas. Both argue that the establishment of a Palestinian state will be a key foreign policy objective of their administrations.
While Sen. Clinton rejects Obama's desire to openly appease the Iran's mullahs, her announced strategy for contending with the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran would not necessarily be more effective than Obama's plan to appease the ayatollahs. Last week, Clinton explained that she believes that the US's position on Iran should be based on a credible threat of "massive retaliation" in the event that the mullocracy develops and uses nuclear weapons.
THERE ARE two reasons that a deterrence model will be as ineffective in curbing Iranian aggression as Obama's appeasement model. First, as last week's 25th anniversary of the Iranian-sponsored bombing of the US embassy in Beirut recalled, Iran has been attacking the US and its allies both directly and through proxies since 1979. To date, not only has the US failed to deter such attacks, it has never made Iran pay a price for them. With this abysmal track record against a non-nuclear Iran, it is hard to see how the US can threaten a nuclear-armed Iran with sufficient credibility to make a deterrence-based strategy successful.
The second reason that basing US policy towards Iran on a deterrence model will likely fail is because Iran's leadership has made clear that is not necessarily concerned about the survivability of Iran. From Ayatollah Khomeini to Ayatollah Khamenei to Ali Rafsanjani to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's leadership has made clear that they are not Iranian patriots but global Islamic revolutionaries. Given their millenarian, apocalyptic view of their country's purpose in world affairs, there is good reason to believe that a strategy based on some form of mutually assured destruction would have only marginal impact on Iran's decision-makers. So from a foreign policy perspective, there is little to distinguish Sen. Clinton from Sen. Obama. Indeed, there is little that distinguishes the two candidates from a domestic policy perspective. But that gets us back to the messianic business.
OPPONENTS OF Clinton claim that she is a soulless woman who will do whatever is necessary to have power, because she likes power and wants it. But if this is true it is hard to see why a power-hungry president is worse than a president who believes that he is the people's redeemer. It is hard to see why a leader who wants power because she likes power is less reasonable than a president who thinks he has a right to demand that the American people follow his lead and fix their souls in the name of unity. In the former case, opposition to the leader is a policy dispute. In the latter case, it is apostasy.
When someone wants power for power's sake, that person tends to be fairly pragmatic. In his first term of office, when former president Bill Clinton - another consummate pragmatist who liked having power - understood his wife's healthcare plan was about to be defeated overwhelmingly by Congress, he shelved the plan and cut his losses.
A messianic wouldn't do that. When a messianic leader is faced with failure, his tendency is to castigate the people, or his political opposition, or the media as evil and to continue on unmoved and bring his country down with him. President Woodrow Wilson's unpopular and unsuccessful championing of US membership in the League of Nations and former president Jimmy Carter's wooing of American enemies in the name of peace are examples of what happens when messianic redeemer types are confronted with reality.
So with this distinction between the two senators in mind, the question is, how will a President Hillary Clinton or a President Barack Obama respond after being shown that appeasement of the Palestinians has once again failed and that appeasement or deterrence of the Iranian regime has also failed once again? Given their distinct emotional makeup, it can be assumed that Obama will argue that reality is wrong and continue on - Carter-like - into the abyss and drag his country and Israel down with him. Acting in a Clinton-like way, Clinton on the other hand, would be more likely to pick a fight with Serbia - or call for a federal ban on chewing tobacco in a bid to change the subject.
What is most interesting about the danger that Obama constitutes for Israel is how un-unique it is. It is no different than the danger the prospect his presidency constitutes for America. The reason that pseudo-realist Israel bashers and messianic peace mongering Israel bashers support Obama is because they naturally gravitate towards a man on a mission to save the free world from itself.
An empowered, free citizenry will question the realism behind their decision to pretend that the global jihad is the figment of the Jewish lobby's imagination. A cowed, on its way to being redeemed by Obama's cult of personality citizenry will be in no position to argue with them.
The same is as true of domestic issues as it is of foreign policy. When the Obama/Clinton tax hikes and economic protectionism exacerbate the current US recession, under an Obama presidency, rather than debating the merits of the administration's failed economic policies, the American people will be told that they need to have more "discussions" about race to remind them how mean they are and how much they are in need of President Obama's spiritual healing. If they are again attacked by jihadists, they will be lectured by Rev. Wright's longtime follower, their president, about how black enslavement, his white grandmother, Israel, anti-abortion senators and their own "cynicism" played a role in convincing the jihadists to kill innocents.
US Jews have always had a weakness for messianic leaders and movements. Sometimes, as in the case of the civil rights movement, that tendency towards utopianism has had good results. More often it has not. In the current presidential race, American Jews, like all their fellow Americans, would be wise to consider if they are truly ready to accept Obama as their savior.