In the candidate's debate last night, Tim Russert raised Louis Farrakhan's recent support for Sen. Obama, and even mentioned Obama's spiritual advisor's recent award to Farrakhan. But, of course, the entire fairly lengthy discussion was approached purely from the standpoint of Farrakhan's anti-Semitism rather than from his more general anti-whiteism (is that even a word?). There was nothing, for example, about the Nation of Islam dogma that evil Dr. Yacub on the Isle of Patmos genetically engineered Europeans to be a race of human wolves. These days, anti-Semitism is absolutely disqualifying, but anti-whitism (in fact, I don't even know how to spell the word, if it is a word) is not worth mentioning.
For example, for Greg Cochran's benefit, here's a transcript from the New York Sun, "In Cleveland, Obama Speaks on Jewish Issues." After an earlier question from the audience at a Jewish gathering about Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. and Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Obama distances himself from Zbigniew Brzeziński, Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser. While Brzeziński was born in Poland, like no doubt some in the audience, he was born to the wrong kind of parents in Poland (see "Borat" for details).
"There is a spectrum of views in terms of how the US and Israel should be interacting. It has evolved over time. It means that somebody like Brzezinski who, when he was national security advisor would be considered not outside of the mainstream in terms of his perspective on these issues, is now considered by many in the Jewish Community anathema. I know Brzezinski he's not one of my key advisors. I've had lunch with him once, I've exchanged emails with him maybe 3 times. He came to Iowa to introduce for a speech on Iraq. He and I agree that Iraq was an enormous strategic blunder and that input from him has been useful in assessing Iraq, as well as Pakistan, where actually, traditionally, if you will recall he was considered a hawk. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party was very suspicious of Brzezinski precisely because he was so tough on many of these issues. I do not share his views with respect to Israel. I have said so clearly and unequivocally."
In contrast to the anti-Semitism non-issue, Obama's feelings about whites in general are very complex, as he explains at vast length in his autobiography. And they don't much fit in with the Oprahesque image he has been pushing on the campaign trail.
His denunciations of Farrakhan in public this week over Farrakhan's anti-Semitism differ sharply from his much more nuanced discussion of the anti-whiteism of Blacks Muslims and Farrakhan on pp. 195-204 of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. On p. 200, Obama writes:
"If [black] nationalism could create a strong and effective insularity, deliver on its promise of self-respect, then the hurt it might cause well-meaning whites, or the inner turmoil it caused people like me, would be of little consequence."
But, after a discussion of the failure of the Nation of Islam's attempts to sell black-only toothpaste and other consumer products, Obama rejects Farrakhanism as being unable to "create a strong and effective insularity."
In front of the Cleveland Jewish group, Obama addressed a question from the audience about the Farrakhan-Wright connection in greater detail
"It is true that my Pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who will be retiring this month, is somebody who on occasion can say controversial things. Most of them by the way are controversial directed at the African American Community and calling on them start reading books and turn off the TV set and engage in self help. And he is very active in prison ministries and so forth. It is also true that he comes out of the 60s he is an older man. That is where he cut his teeth. That he has historically been interested in the African roots of the African American experience. He was very active in the South Africa divestment movement and you will recall that there was a tension that arose between the African American and the Jewish communities During that period when we were dealing with apartheid in South Africa, because Israel and South Africa had a relationship at that time. And that cause - that was a source of tension. So there have been a couple of occasions where he made comments with relation, rooted in that. Not necessarily ones that I share. But that is the context within which he has made those comments.
"He does not have a close relationship with Louis Farrakhan. Louis Farrakhan is a resident of Chicago and as a consequence he has been active in a range of community activities, particularly around ex-offenders and dealing with them. I have been a consistent, before I go any further, a consistent denunciator of Louis Farrakhan, nobody challenges that. And what is true is that, recently this is probably, I guess last year. An award was given to Farrakhan for his work on behave of ex-offenders completely unrelated to his controversial statements."
Obama is lying in this last sentence. The Wright family in 2007 put together an elaborate video tribute to Farrakhan that they presumably showed at their gala Hyatt Regency bash on 11/2/07 when they gave Farrakhan the newly concocted "Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Trumpeter Award" for "Lifetime Achievement."
The video praises Farrakhan for all sorts of things, but not for "his work on [behalf] of ex-offenders." Nor did they distance themselves from his "controversial statements." I gave Obama a break on this excuse of his back in January when he first responded, thinking he might not have known the truth, but he has since had plenty of time to review the copious materials the Wrights put together honoring Farrakhan, so now he is being deliberately misleading.
"And I believe that was a mistake and showed a lack of sensitivity to Jewish community and I said so. But I have never heard an anti-Semitic made inside of our church. I have never heard anything that would suggest anti-Semitism on part of the Pastor. He is like an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don't agree with. And I suspect there are some of the people in this room who have heard relatives say some things that they don't agree with. Including, on occasion directed at African Americans that maybe a possibility that's just - I am not suggesting that's definitive."But Obama is, as always, highly vague about what exactly he disagrees with Wright about other than Wright publicly praising Farrakhan.
The implication is that this Farrakhan stuff is just Wright going senile. (Wright is all of 66 years old.) In reality, Wright also went with Farrakhan to Libya to visit Col. Muammar Gadaffi in 1984, at the height of Libyan-sponsored terrorism, four years before Obama chose Wright's church out of all the many he had come in contact with on the South Side of Chicago as a Saul Alinsky-style "community organizer." Wright, Obama's most important role model in the 1980s and 1990s, is simply a radical far outside the American mainstream. And that's one reason Obama carefully selected him when he needed to join a church to further his career.
So, to sum up, we see Obama working harder to distance himself from Zbigniew Brzeziński than from Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.