Wednesday, March 19, 2008
A tale of two pastors. posted by Richard SeymourI am not, as you know, an Obama enthusiast. But we have to thank Obama's campaign for making the Rev. Jeremiah Wright famous - and what better fame could he ask for than statements like these?:
• "The government gives them [African Americans] the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."
• After September 11, 2001: "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
• "It just came to me within the past few weeks, y'all, why so many folks are hating on Barack Obama. He doesn't fit the model. He ain't white, he ain't rich, and he ain't privileged. Hillary fits the mold. Europeans fit the mold, Giuliani fits the mold. Rich white men fit the mold. Hillary never had a cab whiz past her and not pick her up because her skin was the wrong colour. Hillary never had to worry about being pulled over in her car as a black man driving in the wrong… I am sick of Negroes who just do not get it. Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single parent home, Barack was. Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain't never been called a nigger. Hillary has never had her people defined as non-persons."
A lot of Americans have an exaggerated sensitivity to this kind of thing, especially that 40% of them that would like to see Muslims have to bear special ID. Barack Obama took a risk in using Wright as part of his campaign, presumably to reach out to more radical grassroots voters, but nevertheless kept him safely in the background. The other campaign teams were bound to hit on this one, and the media were never going to let it go in a million years, especially since Obama is Osama's main man. The result is that Obama's huge lead over Hillary Clinton has almost evaporated, and both Democratic candidates would on present showing lose to McCain. That's right - the crazy old cracker looks like he could win for the first time because of this right-wing onslaught. He'll be singing 'Bomb Iran' down the White House telephone, and Americans will be asking themselves how they managed to fuck themselves in the ear again.
Do I even need to apprise you of the punchline? One of McCain's favourite backers, whose support he publicly welcomed, is Pastor John Hagee. Hagee is a Christian Zionist, televangelist, antisemite, Islamophobe, homophobe and racist. Here is a list of his statements:
• "It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, God's chosen people, to their covenantal responsibility to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day... Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come.... it rises from the judgment of God upon his rebellious chosen people."
• "All Muslims are programmed to kill and we can thus never negotiate with any of them".
• "I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that"
• "Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist."
• "Hagee, pastor of the 16,000-member Cornerstone Church, last week had announced a 'slave sale' to raise funds for high school seniors in his church bulletin, 'The Cluster.'
"The item was introduced with the sentence 'Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone" and ended with "Make plans to come and go home with a slave.
A charming man, and actually a rather popular one. AIPAC loves him. Senator Lieberman thinks he is Moses and Joshua. McCain is proud to have his support. The San Antonio B'nai B'rith council called him "Humanitarian of the Year". He has become wealthy and powerful by stirring America's filthiest prejudices, by getting in with the Republican Right, by getting on television, and by allying with the most opportunistic, cynically racist Zionist groups. Little phoney commentariat outrage over this chap. If this were just about Obama, then it would hardly be worth pointing out. He has never really sought to challenge racism in any way - quite the contrary, his sole message seems to be that it's time to 'move on'. He has been quite happy to pander to warmongering and is as much a child of the establishment as the other candidates. But clearly this isn't about Obama. It is about a rightist witch hunt, tapping into the deadly combination of racism and sanctimony in American political discourse. It is about the fact that a relatively small-time preacher is catching hell for comments that were largely indisputable statements of fact, while a religious right scumbag with millions is pretty well left alone by some and encouraged by others, because his bigotry is directed against people who have no clout, and because it serves the interests of the political class for it to be that way.