This is truly troubling.
Gunshots have been fired at the campaign headquarters of U.S. House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, the number two in the GOP Caucus.
And the response from the United Church of Christ is: silence.
The United Church of Christ, of which I am a member, a church council president and a board member of my Conference, was, however, quick to issue a statement after the alleged spitting incident with Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. New video appears to show a man, hands cupped around his mouth — yelling at Cleaver as Cleaver enters the Capitol through the crowd of Sunday’s health-care protestors. There is no evidence produced that his conduct was encouraged much less approved by Tea Party leaders. While it doesn’t appear the man spit on the Congressman, clearly Cleaver is seen a few seconds later wiping his face off. Whether the man actually spit on Cleaver in a deliberate fashion or simply sprayed the Congressman while yelling is, at this moment at least, unclear. Here’s the video and you can draw your own conclusions. There were also said to be shouts of the “n” word , (Cleaver is black) and the “f” word hurled by someone at Congressman Barney Frank.
In response, UCC President Geoffrey Black issued a statement that was included with those of other religious leaders, all condemning this. Here’s the link to the UCC site and the joint ecumenical statement. Below is this from the text of President Black’s statement:
Yesterday’s events in which members of the Tea Party spit upon a Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and shouted names that we have not heard in the public square since the days of the Civil Rights movement. Names like “nigger” directed at members of the Black Congressional Caucus and “faggot” at Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) are a disgrace to our nation’s civility.
However, I must say that I am not surprised because I have long suspected that racism and homophobia are some of the underlying motives that I have questioned.
What’s appalling here is the unproven and wildly nutty assertion that racism and homophobia are at the root of opposition to ObamaCare. But to stay on point, there is no place in American political life anywhere for such conduct. Period.
President Black, who will be officially installed next month with members of my own Conference there to celebrate, has been silent on the Cantor shooting.
What troubles here is that the United Church of Christ at the hierarchal level has continually tried to link the name and reputation of the denomination with the far-left wing extremists of American politics. Glenn Beck’s mistake is assuming the people at the top and who construct the church website represent the people in the pews. This is not so. But the UCC has, among other things, repeatedly been cited by a number of American Jewish organizations for alleged anti-Semitism because of this addiction by some to left-wing politics. Last June, when the Reverend Jeremiah Wright was in the news for an interview he gave to the Hampton Roads Daily Press, saying that he couldn’t get to his famous ex-parishioner President Obama because “them Jews aren’t going to let him talk to me,” the then-UCC President John Thomas issued a statement that was disturbingly vague.
Efforts here to get Thomas to specifically condemn Wright went unanswered, adding concern that there is an anti-Semitic problem. As you can see, Wright wasn’t even mentioned in this non-denial-denial response from Thomas to the issue of concerns over anti-Semitic problems with the denomination
What’s the connection here?
Congressman Cantor is both Republican — and Jewish.
I have to believe that President Black is somehow either unaware of this incident or…well, I don’t know.
But, again, his silence troubles. There is no place for any of this kind of thing in American politics. Period. There certainly is no excuse to be silent on gunshots fired at a Congressman who is also Jewish. Does it really need to be said that if the UCC President has — correctly — a problem with obscenities and spitting on Congressman Cleaver, a black Democrat, he should be the first to speak up when gunshots — not saliva — are fired at Congressman Cantor’s headquarters.
If President Black is going to inject himself — and therefore the UCC — into partisan politics, than respectfully he needs to be both evenhanded and forthright. Here’s my suggestion for the kind of words that should be forthcoming:
The United Church of Christ believes there is no room for violence in American politics. Whether someone is protesting at a health care rally, as was the man accused of spitting on Congressman Cleaver, or is a member of the SEIU beating up a non-violent townhall protestor (the beating of this African-American man was captured on videotape) or someone firing shots at Congressman Cantor’s headquarters or the home of former CNN commentator Lou Dobbs.
Violence , racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism are unacceptable. The United Church of Christ forthrightly condemns these despicable acts, regardless of the politics of their perpetrators.
Over to you President Black.
We wish you well.