Project yourself nearly one year from now.
It is noon on Jan. 20, 2009.
At the Capitol of the United States, the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama of Illinois is about to begin.
And what clergyman has been selected to give the invocation for this national event – which is being watched all over the world? None other than the president-elect’s famed pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ.
And which member of the clergy would be asked to pronounce the inauguration’s benediction?
Why, who else other than that religious leader that Obama pastor Wright has, in writing, applauded for: “depth of analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation” and for “his integrity and honesty” and for being “an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose.”
Who is this paragon on ministerial virtue so hailed by the pastor of Sen. Obama, just before the Illinois senator announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States?
Well, just imagine that inauguration with invocation by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright – and the benediction by Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, in a column headlined “Obama’s Farrakhan test,” asked, will he (pastor Wright) pray with him (Obama) just before his inaugural?
And if so, I ask why not Farrakhan for the benediction – as a nod to religious variety?
Columnist Cohen takes strong issue with Wright’s Trumpet Newsmagazine salutation of Farrakhan as having “truly epitomized greatness”:
“Maybe for Wright and some others, Farrakhan epitomized greatness. For most Americans, though, Farrakhan epitomizes bigotry, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism. Over the years, he has compiled an awesome record of offensive statements, even denigrating the Holocaust by falsely attributing it to Jewish cooperation with Hitler. …
“It’s important to state right off that nothing in Obama’s record suggests he harbors anti-Semitic views or agrees with Wright when it comes to Farrakhan. Instead, as Obama’s top campaign aide, David Axelrod, points out, Obama often has said that he and his minister sometimes disagree. Farrakhan, Axelrod told me, is one of those instances.
“Fine. But where I differ with Axelrod and, I assume, Obama is that praise for an anti-Semitic demagogue is not a minor difference or an intra-church issue. The Obama camp takes the view that its candidate, now that he has been told about the award, is under no obligation to speak out on the Farrakhan matter. It was not Obama’s church that made the award but a magazine. This is a distinction without much of a difference. And given who the parishioner is, the obligation to speak out is all the greater. He could be the next American president. Where is his sense of outrage?”
Columnist Cohen also notes that the editor and publisher of Obama-pastor Wright’s Trumpet Newsmagazine – which so hailed Farrakhan – were the Rev. Dr. Wright’s daughters. It is therefore time to ask how in the name of human decency can presidential candidate Obama remain in any way connected with a church that publishes and preaches such anti-Semitism?
Those of us who marched into downtown Montgomery, Ala., on the final day of the Selma March can remember numerous Jewish fellow-marchers. I can recall seeing no sign of Farrakhan or any of his fellow race-haters of the so-called Nation of Islam.
And columnist Cohen notes: “The New York Times recently reported on Obama’s penchant while serving in the Illinois Legislature for merely voting ‘present’ when faced with some tough issues. Farrakhan, in a strictly political sense, may be a tough issue for him. This time, though, ‘present’ will not do.”
For the Rev. Wright has said: “The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now.”
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Jewish Week that Obama should confront Wright, whom he described as someone who “embraces, awards and celebrates a black racist.” If Obama is unable to change Wright’s mind, he should leave the church, Foxman said.
Obama’s failure to do so and his close relationship with Wright for more than two decades suggest that he not only condones much of what Wright says, he agrees with it.
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