Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama's Other Jeremiah Wright


The illustrious Jeremiah Wright was not invited to Barack Obama’s coronation. But the Rev. Joseph Lowery is an apt substitute.

Lowery, who is scheduled to deliver the benediction when the new president is installed January 20, has paled around with Yasser Arafat and promoted a hodgepodge of leftist causes over the years. The Alabama native won’t outright call Arafat a terrorist but he likens George W. Bush to George Wallace.

Although the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation was widely scrutinized because of his opposition to the gay rights agenda the press has ignored Lowery’s well-documented PLO slumming and fancy for Marxist dictators. The January 14 Washington Post profile of the Methodist minister entirely omitted his far left endeavors.

This is par for the course. Conservative white preachers are generally treated much harsher by the media than their black counterparts. Indeed, the media almost never uses the term Christian left for the likes of Jesse Jackson. He gets the non-ideological label “civil rights leader.”

It would be more accurate to call Lowery a hardcore leftist. In 2006, Lowery turned the funeral of Martin Luther King’s widow Coretta into an anti-Bush rally--with Bush seated on the stage behind him.

Lowery said in his eulogy that, "We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor!"

Like many civil rights leaders Lowery, who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King in 1957, started off fighting for equal rights under the law for blacks but then drifted off to all sorts of causes entirely disconnected from--and in the case of affirmative action contradicting--Martin Luther King’s goal of a color blind society.

Lowery and other career civil rights activists, whose power and prestige depends on fighting “injustice,” like to say that the country has made progress but has a long way to go before Martin Luther King’s dream of a color blind society. Actually, we don’t.

The nation long ago ended legal discrimination. The 1964 Civil Rights Act barred discrimination in employment and public accommodations. The next year the Voting Rights Act ended the disenfranchisement of blacks. In 1968 housing discrimination was outlawed.

So civil rights leaders sometimes need new causes and one of their favorite in the 1970s was the PLO. In 1979, Andrew Young, the United Stats ambassador to the United Nations a former lieutenant for Martin Luther King, secretly met with the PLO’s representative to the United Nations in violation of US policy that forbid any talks with the PLO. Young was fired. To show their solidarity with Young, Lowery and other civil rights leaders ventured to Lebanon to meet Yasser Arafat.

At their meeting in West Beirut Arafat and the civil rights leaders linked arms to sing the movement’s signature song, “We Shall Overcome.”

Afterwards Lowery told the Washington Post that he was pleasantly surprised by Arafat’s charm and charisma. "I expected a mean, brutal, gruff and rough fellow," said Lowery. "In fact, he's a very charming fellow -- very informed, intelligent, an engineer by vocation. He gave us a history of the struggle. He started out softly, and then when he warmed to his task, he got emotional."

Lowery declined to label Arafat a terrorist. But the PLO chieftain himself was a bit more candid in the meeting with Lowery and his comrades. He vowed to continue “our struggle and confrontation inside the occupied territories.”

Lowery and the other ministers then invited their warm and fuzzy friend to visit the United States but Arafat never showed. Instead, in the 1980s Lowery turned his attention to Nicaragua where he supported the Marxist Sandinista government that was battling the US-backed Contras. Lowery even held a reception for Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega in Atlanta, according to religious left expert Marc Tooley.

When not busy schmoozing with Ortega Lowery served on the board of the Christic Institute, which peddled all sorts of conspiracy theories about the United States involvement in Latin America. Lowery took up that cause. In 1996 he called for a Congressional investigation to determine if the US government tried to sell drugs in black neighborhoods to raise money for the Contras.

Arrested outside the DEA headquarters to protest the alleged connection Lowery said "There is evidence inside those buildings that confirms that the CIA helped to destroy black folks. That's called genocide.

Rev. Wright, of course, also traffics in these kind of conspiracy theories. Now wonder that Lowery has told reporters he’s the same kind of preacher as Wright.

These days, Lowery’s heads the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda, an advocacy group that seems to take the politically correct view on most every issue. The group claims to favor education empowerment but ignores school choice. It wants shorter sentences for criminals but overlooks the sad spectacle of black on black crime.

Lowery doesn’t seem to focus on much overseas anymore but his prior dalliance with Arafat still makes Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, jittery “To have Lowery as part of the inauguration only plays into” concern by Israel supporters “that Obama is going to be less friendly and less sympathetic to Israel’s difficult situation than other presidents have been. I am concerned that a person who is so hostile to Israel is going to participate in a visible way in the inauguration ceremonies.”

Lowery did not respond to interview requests.

Evan Gahr has written about race for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and American Spectator.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama's anti-American Essay

by Evan Gahr
Posted 01/09/2009

You won’t find it in his memoir or any of the oodles of words written about him during the campaign, but this reporter has discovered a strikingly naive article Barack Obama wrote about the anti-war movement as a Columbia University senior in 1983.

If Obama still has this sensibility, he could be poised to take American foreign policy sharply to the left, notwithstanding the centrist foreign policy team he has assembled. Moreover, since Obama didn’t recognize the Soviet menace during the Cold War and blamed the possibility of war entirely on the United States, there’s good reason to think that today he could lack the moral clarity needed to fight radical Islam.

The article, “Breaking the War Mentality,” published by the Columbia magazine Sundial, is a wholesale endorsement of all sorts of leftist claptrap fashionable at the time.

Obama deems the Reagan era defense buildup a “distorted priority” and “dead end track.”
Writing in the midst of the Cold War, Obama was nevertheless oblivious to the threat the Soviet Union then posed to the United States. Indeed, he does not even mention the Soviet Union in his article. Instead, Obama blames -- you guessed it -- America and its “twisted” world view for the “growing threat of war.”

If only Americans would change their thinking, he argues, the threat would subside. Give re-education a chance.

“Most students at Columbia do not have first hand knowledge of war,” he begins. “Military violence has been a vicarious experience, channeled into our minds through television film, and print . . . We know that wars have occurred, will occur, are occurring, but bringing such experiences down into our hearts and taking continual, tangible steps to prevent war, becomes a difficult task.”

That’s why campus peaceniks are so important. “Two groups on campus, Arms Race Alternatives (ARA) and Students Against Militarism (SAM) work within these mental limits to foster awareness and practical action necessary to counter the growing threat of war. Though the emphasis of the two groups differ, they share an aversion to current government policy.

“These groups, visualizing the possibilities of destruction and grasping the tendencies of distorted national priorities, are throwing their weight into shifting America off the dead end track.”

“The thrust of ARA is towards generating dialogue which will give people a rational handle [on the threat of war]. . . this includes bringing speakers like Daniel Ellsberg to campus.’’

Note here for Obama that rational means liberal. It’s a safe bet the ARA’s endeavors to foster dialogue in 1983 didn’t involve bringing Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger to campus.

The group, much to Obama’s delight, also agitated in favor of the Nuclear Freeze movement and opposed the deployment of Pershing II and Cruise Missiles. These positions, of course, put them against the Reagan Administration and in favor of policies congruent with Soviet interests.

Sounds very leftist, but Obama says the group is actually non-political. Like other party line liberals Obama thinks have ideology, everyone else is just working for the common good. “By taking an almost apolitical approach to the problem ARA hopes to get the university to take nuclear arms issues seriously.”

For Obama, the only thing wrong with the nuclear freeze movement is that it’s not ambitious enough. One “is forced to wonder whether disarmament or arms control issues, severed from economic and political issues, might be another instance of focusing on the symptoms of a problem instead of the disease itself.

Turning to the other group, Obama casts his lot with draft dodgers. “Students Against Militarism was formed in response to the passage of registration laws in 1980 [that required 18-year-olds to register for the draft].”

“At this time the current major issue [for SAM] is the Solomon Bill, the latest legislation from Congress to obtain compliance to registration. The law requires all male students applying for federal financial aid to submit proof of registration” or be denied financial aid.

So Obama sided with a group that wanted students to not register for the draft with impunity. That would strike a blow against warmongers. “By organizing and educating the Columbia community, such activities lay the foundation for future mobilization against the relentless, often silent spread of observing the SAM meeting last Thursday night, with its solid turnout and enthusiasm, one might be persuaded that manifestations of our better instincts at least match the bad ones.”

Obama concludes by placing the two anti-war groups in the tradition of America’s greatest thinkers. “Indeed the most pervasive malady of the collegiate system specifically and the American experience generally, is that elaborate patterns of knowledge and theory have been disembodied from individual choices and government policy. What the members of ARA and SAM try to do is infuse that they have learned about the current situation, bring the words of that formidable roster on the face of Butler Library, names like Thoreau, Jeffferson and Whitman to bear on the twisted logic of which we are today a part.”

The twisted logic of these right-wing meanies who pushed for the deployment of missiles and implemented an arms buildup is widely credited with playing a role in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Obama was on the wrong side of history. Does Obama still hold to the views he expressed in his essay? If not, when did he change his opinion?

During his presidential bid, Obama seemed to echo some of the themes of the article. College student Obama believed war could be avoided through better understanding. Candidate Obama promised to restore America’s image in the world that supposedly suffered because of the Iraq War.

Both formulations disregard the threat posed by our country’s enemies -- the Soviet Union when Obama was a Columbia undergraduate and radical Islam today. Anti-American sentiment does not turn on the nuances of foreign policy; it’s a function of fundamental moral differences between America and its detractors or enemies. Lots of nations and people hated us long before the Iraq War.

In any event, it remains to be seen if the “change” Obama has promised includes a sharp departure from the morally obtuse and simplistic left-wing views he espoused at Columbia 25 years ago.

Mr. Gahr has written about liberal apologists for the Soviet Union for the New York Post, Washington Times and Wall Street Journal.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Ann Coulter's Jewish Problem

The National Jewish Democratic Council wants NBC to cancel conservative firebrand Ann Coulter's appearance tomorrow on the "Today Show."  She is scheduled to hawk her new screed, Guilty: Liberal 'Victims' and Their Assault on America.

It's hard to tell whether this is simply a cheap publicity stunt or a manifestation of genuine outrage by the NJDC,  which launched an online petition that asks the peacock network not to host her. Either way,  it's unlikely to convince NBC to dump her but could provide Coulter more fodder to caricature all liberals as intolerant.  

The NJDC complains that Coulter "has a rich history of inflammatory and inappropriate remarks," such as saying  that Jews need to be "perfected" and calling Al Gore "a total fag."

"Let's be clear,"  the NJDC said in a January 2 email, "Coulter has a constitutional right to 
'free speech' but a prestigious network such as NBC is not obligated to amplify her outrageous message."

Let's examine the NJDC's  argument (at the risk of violating the adage never to argue with a fool because people watching won't be able to tell who is who.)  Nobody says bouncing Coulter would be the equivalent of government censorship.  The issue is whether NBC should give her a forum.  The "Today Show" has every reason to feature Coulter. She is a prominent public figure and author of many best-selling books. 

She is an obvious guest.  It is incumbent on NBC, however, to grill Coulter. For all her carping about the liberal media the reality is that journalists often treat her with kid gloves. Time magazine did a favorable cover story on her.  Previously on the "Today Show" she got softball questions.

Coulter is never at a loss for words but the "Today Show" could ask Coulter about some matters that would leave her genuinely uncomfortable.   For example, how can someone who is unmarried and childless defend family values against liberals?

The "Today Show" should also ask Coulter what she says about Jews behind closed doors. It's an open secret in conservative circles that Coulter indulges anti-Semitism. 

Conservative apostate David Brock,  in his 2002  memoir/apologia,  Blinded by the Right, says that Coulter regularly made anti-Semitic comments to him. She also did to Weekly Standard founder John Podhoretz when they dated.

Podhoretz  and Coulter don't say otherwise.

Coulter did not respond to this reporter's repeated email inquiries about Brock's charge.  Podhoretz said it's "none of your business."   

Moreover, Coulter pals around with conservative writer Joe Sobran, who was fired by National Review after years of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel invective.  Coulter even wrote the introduction to one of her books. 

Instead of trying to silence Coulter the NJDC should challenge her to a debate.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant--especially for Coulter's stench of anti-Semitism.       

--EVAN GAHR has written for most every major conservative publication.