Saturday, March 15, 2008

An Unacceptable Response

Many years ago, having had to relocate to a small Midwestern town, we chose to buy a house in a particular area because it had an established orthodox shul which we would be able to walk to on Shabbat. Within nine months of living there we decided to sell the house and move to a neighboring community where the orthodox shul was more to our liking. It really didn’t take nine months to come to that conclusion. In truth I had arrived at that decision with in a few months of having attending services. The rabbi’s speeches were offensive, filled with anger and violated my understanding of Judaism.

The rabbi wasn’t tolerant of life styles that didn’t meet his standards. Homosexuals were freaks and sinners, who because of them caused Los Angeles to suffer an earthquake. According to the rabbi, due to the liberal attitudes exhibited towards the gay community in Los Angeles, it had become the epicenter of “tumah”; thus not surprising that God had visited upon them an earthquake. Speaking with veteran members of the shul it was apparent that this was the kind of rabbi they wanted and appreciated. Realizing that we didn’t identify with this kind of intolerance and hateful speech, we decided that we couldn’t remain in this community, so we did the only thing we could. We moved.

I recall this chapter of my life to point out how hollow Obama’s response is to his pastors tirades against whites, Jews and America. For Obama to say that he had never heard those particular speeches may be true, but he can’t deny that he had heard about them at one time or another. If he is part of a community, no doubt the parishioners must have talked about the pastor’s sermons, and undoubtedly they must have trickled down to Obama. Unless he was an absentee church member, one who rarely attends services, and is marginally associated with the community. But this we know isn’t the case. Obama has said on various occasions that the pastor is very close to him, his spiritual advisor, married him and Michelle and baptized their daughters, and that Trinity Church is his second home. If he is that close to the pastor and so involved in the life of the church, then he surely must have been privy to his feelings on the subjects of 9-11, Israel, whites, Jews and his endorsement of Louis Farakhan.

I would think that alone would have caused Obama to distant himself from Trinity Church and that bitter, hateful minister, as I had found necessary to do many years ago. Not only hasn’t Obama done that, but in realty he hasn’t even fully repudiated his minister now even after being “caught”. All he has said is that he repudiates certain comments and remarks that the minister has made.

That isn’t good enough. For Obama to show his sincerity in his repudiation he will have to renounce his minister, not the remarks he made. Louis Farakhan, not his remarks have been repudiated universally. He, not his remarks, has been renounced as a racist, a black supremacist and an anti-semite. For Obama to do less than that regarding Wright falls very short of the mark. One can excuse an isolated remark. When hateful speech, however, becomes a pattern, such in the case of Rev. Wright, than one has to believe that it is the man, and not an unfortunate thought, slip of the tongue or error in judgment that is in need of total repudiation.

On a side bar, Obama has referred to Wright as an outstanding theologian. How would Obama know that, and what is his standard for assessment? For Wright to have said that Jesus was a black man is about as ignorant as one can get. After all, Jesus came from Judea, and as far as I know the Judeans weren’t Black. For Wright to say that Rome was “European” at the time of Jesus (repressing a black man) hardly deserves comment. I hope that Obama’s understanding of history isn’t understood through the lense of a bitter revisionist.

No, Obama, I expect more from you because you may be the president of this great country and we deserve the best. I wouldn’t want my president seeking spiritual counseling from a bitter, hateful man, who sees the world as divided along the fault line of color and who would revise history to serve his own twisted purpose, so much so that he could say from the pulpit that it was America, who was responsible for that perfidious act of terror on 9-11.