The list of objectionable figures — Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and Father Michael Pfleger — surrounding Barack Obama is growing. But the one who is the most infamous garners the least attention: Louis Farrakhan.
Let’s admit that Obama does not agree with Farrakhan that Judaism is a “gutter” or “dirty” religion and finds his comments that whites are “blue eyed devils” and Jews are “bloodsuckers” to be objectionable. When asked about Farrakhan in a presidential debate Obama stated that he had been “very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible.”
But let’s conduct a 30-second thought experiment: If John McCain went to a David Duke rally, belonged to a church which, through its magazine, gave Duke an award and had close colleagues who celebrated Duke’s achievements would McCain still be a presidential candidate?
Time’s up. The reason for the obvious “no” is that we expect presidential candidates to disassociate themselves from incendiary characters without reservation, not immerse themselves in the stew of their bigotry and hate.
Yet that is the cardinal failing of Obama when it came to Farrakhan. He never took affirmative steps to reject Farrakhan and halt Farrakhan’s influence in Obama’s community.
In a Chicago Reader profile on Obama, Hank De Zutter writes that Obama “took time off from attending campaign coffees to attend October’s Million Man March in Washington, D.C. His experiences there only reinforced his reasons for jumping into politics.”
In fact, Obama told De Zutter: “What I saw was a powerful demonstration of an impulse and need for African-American men to come together to recognize each other and affirm our rightful place in the society. There was a profound sense that African-American men were ready to make a commitment to bring about change in our communities and lives.”
THIS OCCURRED IN 1995, when Obama was no college kid, but rather a candidate for state senate in his mid-30s. And the Million Man March was no ordinary rally.
The Anti-Defamation League had pleaded with African American leaders not to attend, citing not only Farrakhan’s role but that of Malik Zulu Shabazz, head of the New Black Panther Party, as co-convener of the March. Shabazz had a long history of anti-Semitic spewing as well, having told a university audience that Jews bear special responsibility for the slave trade and consider blacks to be “cursed.”
As A.M. Rosenthal of the New York Times wrote at the time, “To march with Louis Farrakhan in Washington is to strengthen a man who leads a crusade against whites and for resegregation, to march with his goon squads, to march with anti-Semites — to march straight into that swamp of hatred.”
Yet into the swamp went Obama.
More recently in 2007, Trumpet magazine, the publication of Obama’s Trinity United Church, presented Farrakhan with its “Trumpeter Award” for someone who “truly epitomized greatness.” In January 2008, the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen pondered why it was that Obama could not muster any “outrage” over the award.
Obama issued the most tepid of responses, saying that “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.”
More telling than the lame humor (equating Farrakhan with the “ex-offenders”) was Obama’s failure to remove himself at that point from the church where Farrakhan was lionized. Obama instead affected the passive role of a cynical observer, disclaiming any responsibility for events swirling around him.
Farrakhan’s expression of support for Obama’s presidential candidacy in February 2008 brought a nonchalant reaction from Obama’s campaign the day before the presidential debate.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online