30 May 2008

The Company One Keeps, Part III

Yesterday, recordings were released of the Sunday service at Senator Obama’s Trinity United Church. A visiting speaker, one Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina’s Catholic Church, Chicago, provided quite a dish of words for the enthusiastic congregation.

What is really most striking about this man’s words, and what I suppose what would get under most people’s skin, was not the oft repeated stand-up comedy bit about Senator Clinton’s supposed shock and despair at being beaten by a black man. What is really shocking is what I heard at the end of the Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Thursday evening; a transcript of which you can find here. Quoting from that website, Pfleger’s words:

“I must now to address the one who says, 'don't hold me responsible for what my ancestors did.' But you have enjoyed the benefits of what your ancestors did! And unless you are ready to give up the benefits — Throw away your 401 fund! [sic] Throw away your trust fund! Throw away all the money that been put away in the company you walked into 'cause your daddy and your granddaddy and your great grandaddy —

(screaming at the top of his lungs)

Unless you are willing to give up the benefits, then you must be responsible for what was done in your generation! 'Cause you are the beneficiary of this insurance policy!”

Regardless of Obama’s knowledge or desire for Pfleger’s endorsement, Pfleger was invited to the church that Obama has chosen to attend for the last 20 years. This was done, I can only assume, knowing that Pfleger would stoke the fires of rhetorical bombast. From ABC News: “The tape…then cuts to Moss thanking Pfleger: ‘We thank God for the message, we thank God for the messenger, we thank God for Father Michael Pfleger.’”

Anyone who has seen or heard the tape of Pfleger can attest to the enthusiasm with which his message was met. This, again, leads me to believe that this kind of message was and is commonplace for the Trinity United Church. Perhaps some folks thought that it would be less noticeable if the message were given by a white male. Far from it.

So here we have serial messages of blame and victimization, of revulsion and loathing, given by “men of the cloth” with whom Mr. Obama has chosen to associate himself with over a long period of time. Only now – as Mr. Wright reminded everyone – that these ties are a political encumbrance are they shed, or hidden, by Mr. Obama. We can, I think, trust that an elected Obama would bring these ties back into the light, or at the very least allow them to more openly influence his policy.

Yet the electorate will be told endlessly by Mr. Obama and his campaign that talk about ties between Obama and a growing host of far-Left types are really “distractions” from the “real issues.” The electorate will be asked to focus on Mr. Obama’s own words, not the words of those who have inspired him. Given the real emptiness of Mr. Obama’s sloganeering (“Yes, we can.” “We are the change we’ve been waiting for.” etc.) it would be prudent for the public to judge Mr. Obama before casting a final vote which could elevate the man to the most powerful political position in the world.

In making a judgement on Mr. Obama and given his many empty statements (those concerning Iraq and foreign leaders notwithstanding), the electorate will have to look at those people who Mr. Obama has chosen to keep close over the last two decades – the bulk of his adult life.

Mr. Pfleger insists that I, as a white person, must give up the things that I have worked for my entire life simply because I am white. What is under the surface of Mr. Pfleger’s message is an equally urgent insistence that the folks within the church – most of whom I assume are black – are eternal victims. Anyone who does not see the double-sided racism of Mr. Pfleger and to be sure the Trinity United Church’s message, is deaf to reason. Indeed, that’s just what the Trinity United Church, Mr. Pfleger and Mr. Wright want. No thought, just emotion, thus so easily led.

It is truly scary that Mr. Obama, the man who chose to be shaped by the Trinity United Church and those who push race hate within it, may be our next president.

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