God Bless Pharoh!? Or What’s a Jew To Do With A Black Preacher’s Rage?

When asked about the issue before a gathering of Jewish philan- thropists, Ari Fleischer states, “He says he doesn’t agree with what Rev. Jeremiah Wright but he does not break with the man. He still has a fondness for the man. How can you have a fondness for a man who says G-D [explicative] America?”

Though not surprising, Ari’s comments are disappointing and typify the position a vast number of American Jews, Republicans and Democrats, now hold. That is, they identify completely with the the dominant U.S. narrative of liberty and opportunity. From this position, it is logical to demand Obama show he’s not “one of those” angry Black men. At root, Obama is asked that he affirm a sense of reality which Wright so emphatically challenges.

That the campaign finds itself at this place now is strange. Obama has run the most optimistic and patriotic campaign in decades. His early appeal to a broad national sentiment confused journalists – is he Black enough? No one’s asking that now. Apparently his hair has grown six inches and his right hand cannot unclench. And apparently Obama is Christian enough now. But does his Church have too much influence over him?

Reject! Denounce! The Repudiation Game is common to all politicians. Does McCain accept Rev. Hagee’s support and therefore his anti-Catholicism? Does Clinton agree with fundraiser Ferraro’s statement about Obama? Does Obama reject advisor Samantha Power’s comment about Clinton’s tactics? But there seems to be something more demanded of Black leaders — denounce other Black leaders. These demands, so easily expressed, are particularly distasteful to Black folks due to the cultural anxiety about Black leaders only getting ahead if they sell out their own people.

What’s a Jew to do in this silly political swirl? First, don’t add more debris into the whirlwind. Next, remember this: Whereas America represents a type a Promised Land to Jews it is and will always remain to some degree Egypt for Black Americans. As Tocqueville predicted 180 years ago, dark skin will continually remind later generations of US slavery’s existence. And that reminder will make each of us uncomfortable among one other.

It would be interesting to parse the sermons, writing and associations of Philip Wogaman, minister of the Foundry Methodist Church which the Clinton’s regularly attended when in the White House. But I don’t think a congregant running for office need explain affiliation in such detail.  Campaign staff and, to a lesser extent, supporters are legitimately under the candidates control.

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One Response to “God Bless Pharoh!? Or What’s a Jew To Do With A Black Preacher’s Rage?”

  1. Doug Floyd Says:

    Interesting post Scott. I think you’ve touched a great theme in relation to the cross of reality and speech. Folks living in the same land are still speaking different languages and creating self-contained worlds that fail to interact–but only through verbal missiles into the other world. Big challenge for all of us to listen..and speak.

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