Saturday, March 29, 2008

Like JFK, Obama Lacks Spine to Repudiate Racists Whose Support He Needs

JFK made nice speeches about civil rights, but knew that he needed the support of racist Southern Democrats in the U.S. Senate, so he was relatively inert during the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement.

He also understood that Blacks were inalienably Democratic, and therefore would remain in his column despite his flirtations with white racist demogogues like James Eastland, Orville Faubus, William Fulbright and Sam Ervin.

Likewise, Sen. Obama has generated some soaring rhetoric about unity and racial reconciliation, but he understands as a prosperous biracial man that his bona fides with the resentful Black underclass are not secure enough to permit him to repudiate Black racist demogogues and economic hypocrites like his Chicago pastor.

Just in case Obama wavers, ideological enforcers like the Washington Post's Colbert King are at the ready with columns like the one below.

Why Obama Stands With His Church
By Colbert King

All they wanted to do was pray with the rest of the congregation. But that was asking too much.

To be sure, Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, two leaders in Philadelphia's black community, enjoyed great success in bringing African Americans into the Christian fold. But the steady growth in black membership at St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church distressed the white congregation that owned the church.

At first, black Christians were moved to seats along the wall. That still allowed for too much mingling. So one Sunday morning as Allen, Jones and the other black worshipers knelt to pray, white church elders tapped Jones and Allen on the shoulders and told them to take their praying upstairs to a recently built balcony.

Rather than submit to such humiliation, Jones, Allen and the rest of the black worshipers walked out. The two men formed their own congregations.

Jones gained permission from the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania to establish America's first black parish, St. Thomas African Episcopal Church. He eventually became the Episcopal Church's first African American priest.

Allen formed a Methodist congregation that eventually became today's multimillion-member African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

The walkout in the City of Brotherly Love occurred in 1787 -- a year that marks the beginning of America's independent black church, a theological movement born out of racism.

This history comes to mind as I listen to conservative commentators, chief among them MSNBC's Pat Buchanan, brand as "racist" the slogan adopted by Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago: "Unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian."

Trinity is Barack Obama's church and the place where the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. -- a gift to all who would bring down Obama -- served as pastor until his recent retirement.

Buchanan and his ilk look at Trinity's slogan with horror. They label the church's theological values "Afro-centric" and "racially exclusive." Trinity is beyond the pale of Christianity, at least their version of it. Psst: Trinity has plenty of company, coast to coast.

Many black congregations, from storefronts to mega-churches, are in sync with the Trinity slogan. They, too, see no need to apologize for their African roots. Nor are they ashamed of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But hey, what's with this newfound concern about African Americans worshiping among themselves in their own way? More important, who forced that separation?

As sociologist Kenneth Clark noted in his book "Dark Ghetto," ministers and lay leaders of white Christian churches historically were unwilling to incorporate large numbers of blacks into their houses of Christ. That's still the case today with some churches.

Truth is, folks like Buchanan don't really care that America's Christian congregations don't look like salt and pepper on Sunday mornings. The reality of blacks and whites worshiping apart doesn't disturb them. If anything, Buchanan thinks African Americans are ingrates -- that we should be satisfied with our station in life.

"America has been the best country on earth for black folks," Buchanan wrote in his column, " PJB: A Brief for Whitey," posted on his Web site yesterday.

"It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known," he wrote.

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