Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Rev. Wright v. Jews

Instapundit links to serval comments about Reverend Wright’s latest sermon (if that’s the right word for it). In particular, he points us to this piece by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post (no conservative he), which highlights Wright’s praise of Louis Farrakhan and the belief that Zionism is racism.

Two questions: How can Zionism be racism when any Palestinian (or anyone else for that matter) may become a Jew if they choose? On the other hand, it is impossible for a Jew to become a Palestinian. Perhpas it’s more proper to say that Palestinian nationalism (or even Arab nationalism more broadly) is racism. After all, the latter are, or, at least, they seem to have come to be, genetic groups.

Second question. In an earlier sermon, Wright suggested that he subscribes to the belief that Jesus was black. Is that belief inherently anti-Jewish? Unless I am mistaken, it is an implicit denial that Jesus was a Jew.

One final unrelated point. By raising his profile, and portraying himself as a representative of the Black church in America, does Wright strengthen Obama’s place in the Democratic party? Has Wright made it harder for the party elders pick Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Obama, because he has helped to make it harder to do so without alienating the most loyal part of the Democratic base?

Discussions - 10 Comments

I want to see someone ask Obama if he too subscribes to the historically false notion that Christ was a black man. If he says no, then that opens the question of what he was doing in Wright's congregation. If he says yes, he stands convicted by his own words as someone warping Christianity to suit his own political ideology. If he hesitates, if he so much as performs a quick mental calculation of the political pros and cons of answering the question, then he stands before the American people as just one more calculating politician, and not the false messiah he's holding himself out there as.

Wright's view of Christianity is so warped as to be way outside the realm of mainstream Christianity. So much so that I think it opens up the whole issue of what exactly is Obama's religious belief, and what are the specifics thereof. Obama shouldn't be allowed to say he's a Christian without being queried as to the particulars, the particular tenets, the particular theological doctrines.

Wright's Christianity opens the door for Obama's Christianity. Since Wright's is so belligerent, so bitter and vitriolic, so keen on supremacy that it resembles more islam than it does any Christian denomination. That being so, Obama needs to be grilled on the subject.

The msm is scrupulously avoiding the subject, because they suspect that his answers would drive away Democrat and independent votes. Republicans should sense the guy's jugular, and go for it in a major way.

Is that belief inherently anti-Jewish? Unless I am mistaken, it is an implicit denial that Jesus was a Jew.


There are black Jews, so that seems like a stretch.

I've noticed that for people like Wright, black often means "non-Caucasian". I suppose Jesus would have met that standard.

Wrights's about as Christian as Osama Bin Laden of course.

How can Zionism be racism when any Palestinian (or anyone else for that matter) may become a Jew if they choose?

I have to tell you that I've met some outright racist Jews. I'm pretty sure that converting to Judaism would not alter their opinion of the "goyim", a word I've been called to my face. Jewishness is ethnic rather than religious, or so Jews themselves think. That's why we have so many Jewish athiests.


By all accounts the same is true in Islam, where the Arabs look down on non-Arab Muslims. That's human nature for you. It's a bent world.

How can Zionism be racism


Not to belabor the point, but Zionism was a term coined by Jews in the late nineteenth century to describe ethnic Jewish nationalism, as distinct from the practice of the Jewish religion. It's a useful distinction, even if the word itself has been made toxic. In that sense the word is as racist as any other form of ethnic nationalism. Which is some, but not a lot.

I'm not sure I understand the points above. That there are black Jews does not answer the question fully. Presumably there were some 2,000 years ago too. But were they lineal descendants of King David? Perhaps. Or is Wright among those who deny that the Jews who are walking around today are the heirs of the community into which Jesus was born?

I don't understand the relevance of the example of Jews who are racist. The relevant fact is that Jewish law demands that converts be treated as Jews--full and equal members of the Jewish community. That some Jews don't quite live up to that standard is beside the point.

Finally, that brings us to "ethnic nationalism." Unless I am mistaken the early Zionists allowed that converts were Jews. Ethnic Zionism could not be quite the same as other ethnic nationalisms--even if some people wanted it to be. Secular Zionists (and there were always Zionists who were not secular) never managed to get "religion" (perhaps not the right word for it) out of the Jewish community. Their definition of who is a Jew was not, and could not be, based simply upon blood and/ or heritage. One could always choose to join the community. (And I am not sure that the infamous "Zionism is racism" UN resolution of the 1970s, to which Wright aluded, was talking about ideas that were popular in the 19th century. The UN was talking about the Israel as it was then.)

To sum up, the difference between Zionism and the other nationalisms that were invented in the 19th and 20th century is that by the 19th century the Jews had nearly 2,000 years of treating themselves as a community bounded by law, even though they were spread over the world. Other ethnic nationalisms don't have the same kind of tradition. One cannot convert to an ethnicity or a culture. How can one who is not an Arab become an Arab? Unless I am mistaken, it cannot be done. By contrast, there is an ancient set of laws which govern how anyone may choose to become a Jew.

I cannot speak on behalf of Obama, nor would Obama agree with what I am going to say because he probably couldn't politically.

I am not suggesting the following because it would be good political wisdom, I am suggesting it because I honestly believe that it is in the end of the day what Obama is about in a dramatized way.

My Theory is that Obama is partially Hegelian. I can't see Obama's soul but if I could pretend to I would hazzard a guess that his belief in God is one and the same with the view that God is in history and works to unfold the consciousness of freedom, that this is the promise of America and also the will of God. That God is compatible with slavery and the holocaust and all those who see only evil in the world and doubt God...because and only because all of this has came about for a reason, a reason that is ultimately in the wisdom of God to know completly but that is the promise of the United States and all peoples to fullfill at least partially. That the promise of the United States is not yet fullfilled because it has embraced Locke and Hobbes and a stunted view of citizenship and freedom that is only negative and even then a cover for liscense and corporate interests who seek to feed what Augustine called libido dominandi, what Fukuyama called Megalothymia, what Americans call lust and greed. In its place he offers Isothymia in the form of empathy and the golden rule and a view that government can help even if not always efficiently, but that efficiency itself is an incomplete ideal, without citizens comming together to answer how we ought to order our lives together. He goes on to admonish liberals for getting squemish and hidding behind David Hume, and like Hegel suggests that what we ought to do is always apparent to us as duty unless we wish to ignore it, an ignorance he accuses conservatives of when they bring up Lockian conceptions of freedom. For Obama God is in the unfolding of history...God cannot exist in a world with slavery and genocide and hate and fear and brutality and all without a promise, and that promise is in Hegel, it is in the promise that the unfolding of the consciousness freedom, Martin Luther's dream...the true dream of all who have come before us and died not in vain? The Audacity of Hope is in the end about the potential for the unfolding of freedom in accord with nothing less than the will of God. This is why he is a Democrat and why he is a Christian.

Obama surrounds himself with radicals and he found God with radicals, because radicals are in the words of Hegel those who "when I have an idea I am greatly interested in transforming it into action, into actuality....We assert that nothing has been accomplished without an interest on the part of those who brought it about. And if "interest" be called "passion"-because the whole individual is concentrating all its desires and powers, with every fiber of volition, to the neglect of all other actual or possible aims, on one object-we may then affirm without qualification that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion."(Reason in History, The idea in History)

Obama's uncle Wright is a passionate man, in many senses an ignorant man as are all men who let passion get the best of them. But it is precisely this passion and this hunger that brought Obama to him when he was a secular man interested only in helping out his community...Obama didn't change he just found a church that accorded with his Hegelian view of Freedom, a church that like Hegel didn't recognize the existance of principle or faith appart from its activity and actualization. Obama was willing to put up with whatever the passionate Wright said as long as Wright fed the sick, clothed the hungry, visited those in prison, helped the elderly, because as Obama believes actions speak louder than words(bare words indeed have no actualization) which is why Obama cares little for theology itself in assuring us that his mother will be in heaven despite her non-belief.

In addition to this Obama agrees with Hegel in the role to be played by passionate men when discussing the abolitionists whom he disagrees with only provisionally. That they said that the constitution was a pact with the devil was forgivable ignorance in light of the deeds they undertook. The world spirit uses passionate men, sometimes for ill and sometimes for good but always for good in the most audacious hope of all, the hope that God is in history and works progress in the form of the consciousness of freedom.

the difference between Zionism and the other nationalisms that were invented in the 19th and 20th century


Now there's an eye-opening statement. I'm sure the Irish, for instance, will be interested to know that they "invented" their nationalism in the 20th century.

That seems to be a very parochial view of history, Richard Adams. Do people at the Ashbrook Center ever crack a history book?

I don't understand the relevance of the example of Jews who are racist.


I was making an observation about human nature. "A bent world', and all that. Of course my remarks are predicated on the assumption that Jews are members of the human race. I'm beginning to get the feeling that you consider them separate from and above it.

That there are black Jews does not answer the question fully. Presumably there were some 2,000 years ago too. But were they lineal descendants of King David?


You know, if you had not just told me that Jewishness is NOT ethnically derived, I'd swear that you were making an argument for Jewishness being ethnically derived. As it stands I can only say that I'm confused, and I think you are too.


How can one who is not an Arab become an Arab? Unless I am mistaken, it cannot be done. By contrast, there is an ancient set of laws which govern how anyone may choose to become a Jew.

You cannot become an Arab, any more than you can become an ethnic Jew. You can of course convert to Islam, just as you can convert to the Jewish faith. The practice of using the word Jew to describe both an ethnicity and a religion causes a lot of problems. Can we rehabilitate "Zionism"?


Other ethnic nationalisms don't have the same kind of tradition.

I read this sort of thing, and I wonder if you hate the Jews. At least, your casual dismissal of non-Jews seems calculated to stir resentment. On the bright side, you did make a positive reference to "tradition", which is rare at Ashbrook.

Rather than answer in full, I'll simply say that we're talking past each other. We're both speaking English, but we are not using words the same way.

A few points:

1. I understand that contemporary genetic studies reveal that Jews whose immediate ancestors come from very different parts of the world (Central/Eastern Europe, North Africa, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Greece, Turkey) have more genes in common with each other than any of those Jewish groups do with the gentiles of the place their ancestors came from.

2. As noted in a prior comment, Zionism is primarily a movement of ethnic nationalism, not religious nationalism. Herzl was an almost entirely assimilated Viennese Jew, and most of the founders of the State of Israel (e.g., Ben Gurion, Golda Meir) were not just nonobservant, but had emphatically rejected the Jewish religion (which continues to be the stance of most secular Ashkenazi Jews in Israel). Of course, there are religious Zionists, but they have no interest in converting gentiles, Palestinian or otherwise, to Judaism. Americans may disdain ethnic nationalism as atavistic (as many Israelis do), but Zionism is Jewish ethnic nationalism (which is why many leftwing Israelis now consider themselves post-Zionist). In my view, we Americans should be glad to have moved beyond ethnic nationalism, but for the Jews of Israel, there is no alternative to it if they want to survive.

3. So far as I know, Israelis of all stripes are baffled by gentiles who want to convert to Judaism. A few years ago, I read that one member of the Israeli cabinet announced that Israel had no desire to extend citizenship to converts to Judaism seeking to immigrate to Israel from other countries. That may not be official policy, but I suspect that it reflects the opinion of most Israeli Jews.

4. Presumably, the Jews of Judea at the time of Jesus looked similar to contemporary Jews from Arab countries (who are not physically distinguishable from Arabs) and to indigenous people of the Levant, i.e., dark-skinned, dark-haired, dark-eyed Caucausians (most Arabs are Caucasians).

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