From a JTA News Alert today:

Obama listed falsehoods that appeared in an e-mail campaign aimed at Jewish voters.

“I never practiced Islam. I was raised by my secular mother. I have been a member of the Christian religion and an active member of a church,” he said. “I was sworn in with my hand on my family Bible and have said the Pledge of Allegiance since I was 3 years old.”

Obama, who also answered questions about his Iran and Israel-Palestinian policies, as well as noting that he had rebuked his church’s past association with Louis Farrakhan, concluded: “My strong and deep commitment and connection to the Jewish community should not be questioned.”

You can read more from the JTA and listen to the conference call here. This Washington Post column by Richard Cohen does a good job of detailing Obama’s church’s recent identification with Louis Farrakhan, whom the church said, “epitomized greatness” and why it feels problematic to some people.

As I’ve been trying to choose between the Democratic primary choices, I’ve spent more time looking at their statements and positions on Jews, Israel and the Middle East. Here’s Obama in today’s call on his church’s connection to Farrakhan:

Asked why it was sufficient for him to denounce his church’s recent praise for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan but not resign from the church itself, Obama repeated his condemnation of Farrakhan’s “reprehensible” anti-Semitic views. Then he added what sounds like a promise: “My church has never issued anti-Semitic statements, nor have I heard my pastor utter anything anti-Semitic. If I have, I would have left the church.”

Are we okay with this stance? Would not resigning from a group led by individuals who laud someone like Farrakhan be good enough for other politicians or civic leaders, or have we, in the past, demanded that such people more firmly condemn a person who is considered by some to be homophobic, anti-Semitic and racist? Is there more Obama should be doing vis a vis ensuring his church’s “clean hands” or should we just not impute any uncleanliness to Obama?

I ask, because I’m not sure. What do you expect?

JILL MILLER ZIMON
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Holly_in_Cincinnati
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Holly_in_Cincinnati
8 years 7 months ago

I’ve read Pastor Wright’s utterances, so this is not acceptable.

Jill Miller Zimon
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8 years 7 months ago

What, then, is the appropriate response from Obama? Should he be leaned on for a further repudiation? Why isn’t that happening, if it should?

T-Steel
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8 years 7 months ago
Well I had associations with Louis Farrakhan. Met him in Chicago back in 2003. Shook his hand. Asked a few questions. Socialized some. Laughed at a joke about the Chicago Cubs. So I’ve been closer to Minister Farrakhan than Barack Obama. And I disagree with much of what Farrakhan says and believes. So should I get on TMV and denounce him with the harshest of language possible? I guess I could. But I haven’t had my oatmeal yet. So since I’ve been technically closer to Farrakhan and I don’t have an anti-Semetic bone, fiber, or tendon in my body, Obama’s… Read more »
shika_one
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shika_one
8 years 7 months ago

And you were just positively chummy with the Ol’ Demagogue too, T-Steel (T-Steel and I have known each other for 10 years and I was there at his Farrakhan chance encounter).

I don’t like these type of “associate of an associate associations so they better dis-associate strongly” games. A person is a racist, bigot, anti-Semite by their words and deeds. And somehow, this issue seems to try to associate Obama with anti-Semtism albeit lightly. Add the whole stupid “HE’S A MUSLIM INFILTRATOR” nonsense and you get ugliness. Icky!

PaulSilver
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PaulSilver
8 years 7 months ago

Everything I have heard from Obama indicates that he is as blind to color, creed, race, gender, and class as anyone I have ever known. Perhaps his example will inspire his church to act likewise.

T-Steel
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8 years 7 months ago
And you gave me the cold shoulder for two days because of my “chumminess”. Sheesh! Forgot you were commenting here now. I better watch myself! What, then, is the appropriate response from Obama? Should he be leaned on for a further repudiation? Why isn’t that happening, if it should? As my good friend Shika says “a person is a racist, bigot, anti-Semite by their words and deeds”. So I don’t think he should be leaned on for a further repudiation. I don’t think anyone should be subject to that be it Democrat, Republican, or Independent. These type of issues can… Read more »
Slamfu
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Slamfu
8 years 7 months ago

How many Catholics use birth control? People can’t be held responsible for what their religous leaders say and do, and often live their lives in spite of the more foolish proclamations of their faith.

cosmoetica
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cosmoetica
8 years 7 months ago

Jill:

Was there any real purpose to your post, save for demagoguing in the fashion you disdain Farrakhan for?

Jill Miller Zimon
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8 years 7 months ago
Holly – you read the Pastor’s words and seem to feel a little differently. Will I be able to coax you to say a little more about that? While I agree about not stretching associations ad nauseum, I’ll stick my toe in a little deeper as far as what Holly might be intimating just for the sake of argument – and I really mean this to apply to anyone, in any analogous situation: If a leader of faith espouses certain positions, admires and demonstrates admiration for certain qualities, is it really that unreasonable to infer that he would like his… Read more »
cosmoetica
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cosmoetica
8 years 7 months ago

So, Jill, in answer to my query; that would be a ‘yes.’

Jill Miller Zimon
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8 years 7 months ago
I must have started the comment before yours showed up, but finished it afterwards? Sorry about that – Your question was: “Was there any real purpose to your post, save for demagoguing in the fashion you disdain Farrakhan for?” I don’t think that’s a very fair question, to be honest. It’s kind of insulting, really. Why do you assume I WAS “demaogoguing in the fashion” I disdain Farrakhan for? Even in the few posts I’ve written and comments, that hasn’t been my style – I’m much more the asks questions no one else asks or asks the stupid questions type… Read more »
G_Hendricks
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G_Hendricks
8 years 7 months ago

Please. Farrakhan is an unpleasant fart at worst. He does not pose the threat of a Hitler or an Osama bin Laden.

And why is it so hard to recognize that re: this issue, Farrakhan is just Willie Horton. If Hillary were opposing Dukakis, she’d be calling him a rapist and convicted murderer.

Jill Miller Zimon
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8 years 7 months ago
I don’t know if I agree that Farrakhan is Willie Horton. Willie Horton stood for the fact that we do risk assessments and sometimes we’re wrong – that’s the risk. Where it was misused against Dukakis was to imply that the one with whom he got the risk wrong should be considered emblematic of ALL furloghed folks – and of course that’s not the case. Farrakhan doesn’t really stand for anything like that, I don’t think – or not that I see. As I’ve indicated, I haven’t followed this issue from the start – I’m asking a more academic question… Read more »
Idiosyncrat
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Idiosyncrat
8 years 7 months ago

Jill, you look at these things on a case-by-case basis, based on the person and the circumstances. Bottom line — do you think that Obama is an anti-Semite? I don’t. This guy has seemingly done everything possible to keep the race-baiting Sharptons and Jacksons out of this world… I can’t imagine he’s a Farrakhan fan. When he condemns the guy, I believe he means it.

Obama’s gift is “soft power”… We shouldn’t confuse it with lack of conviction and make him jump through more hoops.

Idiosyncrat
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Idiosyncrat
8 years 7 months ago

oops — a bit of a typo. Meant “out of HIS world” and not “this” world. Y’all have a field day with Freudian analysis on that… :-)

Jill Miller Zimon
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8 years 7 months ago
I completely agree, Idiosyncrat – Freudian slip notwithstanding. And like you, I do not think that Obama is an anti-Semite – whether he is or isn’t was never a concern to me – it’s his following this particular religious leader that has me asking questions. I think maybe this one is hitting the one-dimensional wall with me, on a new blog for me, only in my second week. On my own blog, an astonishing number of readers have either met me or seen me or heard me and so I know that many of them can hear and see me… Read more »
cosmoetica
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cosmoetica
8 years 7 months ago
Jill: When one uses a tactic of guilt by association, twice removed- i.e.- Farrakhan’s a bigoted nut who has a follower who’s not all there, and this guy knows and/or preaches to Obama’s congregation, therefore. is Obama as bad as the first guy, that’s classic demagoguery, going back to the 18th C. in this nation. There are real issues in this campaign: healthcare, the war, immigration, the economy, etc. Things like is Obama a Moslem, is he a bigot because he knows bigots, etc., are silly, and you should be a) smart enough to know it’s a silly issue, and… Read more »
Polimom
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8 years 7 months ago

Jill (and everybody) — perhaps I’m missing something. You said:

“…detailing Obama’s church’s recent identification with Louis Farrakhan, whom the church said, “epitomized greatness”…”

But it was not “his church”, was it? My impression is this entire issue stemmed from an award given via a magazine published and edited by Rev. Wright and his daughters.

Is the concern here that Rev. Wright, as a spiritual leader, is bringing his approbation of Farrakhan into the pulpit? That he’s exhorting his flock to follow his lead on this? Because I haven’t read that anyplace at all.

elrod
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elrod
8 years 7 months ago

Good God, this is such a ridiculous exercise. I am a Jew. I hate Louis Farrakhan for the obvious reasons. And Barack Obama owes NO more genuflection over his pastor’s remarks on Farrakhan. My guess is that the people who raise these sorts of “questions” about Obama are the same ones who used to complain about all the “schwaaaartzes” in the neighborhood (and there were plenty in my distant family).

Jill Miller Zimon
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8 years 7 months ago
Cosmo: Ok – see – this is very tough for me. I understand what you’re saying, and I can tell you with as much sincerity as I can muster that this whole demagoguery thing fits nowhere within what I was asking about, but I can’t force you to accept that. So – you can shake your head and not believe me, or you can give me the benefit of the doubt. Up to you. I asked what people think – we got what people think. Why must my asking equal demagoguery or Oprah puffery (I don’t watch her, at all,… Read more »
Jill Miller Zimon
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8 years 7 months ago
Polimom – what you wrote is my understanding as well: “My impression is this entire issue stemmed from an award given via a magazine published and edited by Rev. Wright and his daughters.” And as I re-read all these comments and the original articles over and over, well – maybe I am naive/have been naive. It wouldn’t be the first time – won’t be the last. Maybe I’ve done exactly what it was hoped I would do – that’s a sucky feeling – to think at first that I’m asking something I really want to get input on and discover,… Read more »
Jill Miller Zimon
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8 years 7 months ago

Elrod – I guess I can’t say it’s ridiculous. First of all, there’s nothing wrong in asking these questions and second of all, a lot of people sure were interested in giving answers!

But now you have me wondering – is Richard Cohen one of those people “who used to complain about all the “schwaaaartzes” in the neighborhood”?!

cosmoetica
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cosmoetica
8 years 7 months ago

Jill: It does not matter to me whether you were seriously demagoguing or slipped into it. The Internet does not convey inflection, etc.

However, the very post, and asking, as you do within it, ‘Are we okay with this stance?’ is political style rhetoric. I didn’t say it (in so many words) although y’all were smart enough to know what I meant.

But, style aside, and again, this is simply a bullshit ‘issue.’

Jill Miller Zimon
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8 years 7 months ago
Well, look – I can see why you say you think it’s a bullshit issue. But I wouldn’t have thought that before I asked the question I did – obviously. Other than you believing me versus your gut, I don’t expect that I can’t write anything that will convince you that I didn’t ask if we’re okay with Obama’s response other than to elicit the very comments that indicate – “hell yes his response is not only fine but pretty much unnecessary.” As I wrote before, I wanted to elicit how others feel, precisely to help nail something down that… Read more »
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