Saturday, January 19, 2008

Obama Responds to the Farrakhan Issue: It Was Only a Matter of Time

by Eric Walters

A while ago I blogged about Senator Obama's membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) in Chicago, and his relationship with its Pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Trumpet Magazine, a publication of TUCC, recently honored Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam as one who "truly epitomizes greatness". This evoked the criticism of some groups who claim that Farrakhan has been the source of "anti-Semitic" remarks. These groups also called upon Obama to respond to the "Farrakhan issue" (read a related Washington Post article here), given his relationship with TUCC and Wright. The following article is from Religion Today/Crosswalk:

Obama Criticizes His Church's Honoring of 'Anti-Semitic' Farrakhan
Monisha Bansal
Staff Writer

( - Jewish groups welcomed presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) statement condemning Rev. Louis Farrakhan - a move that he made in response to news that his spiritual adviser honored the Nation of Islam leader, despite "anti-Semitic" comments he made.

Barack Obama is a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, whose minister - and Obama's spiritual adviser - is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Last year Wright, along with the church's magazine, Trumpet, honored Farrakhan as a man who "truly epitomized greatness" at their awards ceremony.

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a group that works to end anti-Semitism, "Farrakhan has repeatedly made hateful statements targeting Jews, whites and homosexuals. Farrakhan's bigoted and anti-Semitic rhetoric has included statements calling whites 'blue eyed devils' and Jews 'bloodsuckers' that controlled the slave trade, the government, the media and various Black individuals and organizations."

"I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan," Obama said in a statement. "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."

Obama has not said whether he will continue his affiliation with Wright. His campaign did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment for this article.

"This is of great concern in large part because he's not only a member of this church but maintains a close relationship to his minister," Herb London, president of the conservative Hudson Institute, told Cybercast News Service. "Since the minister has praised and even honored Farrakhan through the church, it raises questions about his affiliations as well as his true sentiments."

Ken Bandler, a spokesman for the American Jewish Committee, told Cybercast News Service that Obama's statement was "sufficient."

"We welcome Barack Obama's condemnation of the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Minister Louis Farrakhan, and his making clear that he did not agree with his church's decision to honor Farrakhan with the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award," added Abraham Foxman, ADL national director.

"Issues of racism and anti-Semitism must be beyond the bounds of politics," he said. "When someone close to a political figure shows sympathy and support for an individual who makes his name espousing bigotry, that political figure needs to distance himself from that decision.

"Senator Obama has done just that," Foxman said.


Stay tuned: it's likely that this is only the beginning of a number of inquiries about Senator Obama's relationship with TUCC and its affiliated activites. I'm sure it will get quite interesting in the near future.

Eric Walters is Co-Founder of TheoSyst Group.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obama is correct in objecting to hate or hurtful statments especially by public figures. However, he will continually be baited to distance hisself from everything that smacks of negative affiliation and questions raised about his "true (unAmerican)sentiment". Wait until they get him to disassociate from black folks, etc. There will be more gameplaying and dirty politics attempting to dig up dirt, using code words and sending subtle messages to ignorant Americans like "let's get real". Did I fail to mention the ultimate mother of them all, the fear factor or race card? This brother will tried and tested over and over again and be beat up by racists, racist Republicans, racist media and even spooky black folks. With God's protection, we pray he will have the will and strength left to be president.