Friday, March 7, 2008

Will McCain Denounce & Reject Rod Parsley?

With all the flapdoodle about Barack Obama having to reject Louis Farrakhan's endorsement, it will be interesting to see if other candidates are going to be brought under that same spotlight. For example, consider this write-up from Anastasia Pantsios, associate editor of the Cleveland Free Times.

One of the low points of the Democratic presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday was the harping of moderator Tim Russert on the issue of Barack Obama's repudiation of Louis Farrakhan. Although Obama firmly stated his denunciation of Farrakhan's anti-semitic remarks, Russert wouldn't let it go, worrying the issue until it devolved into a parsing of the difference between the words "denounce" and "reject." It will be fascinating to see whether Russert pursues John McCain this doggedly during the general election debates. The very day that the Obama and Clinton campaigns were preparing for the Cleveland debates, McCain was campaigning at the other end of the state in Concinnati. At his side (captured in an AP photo published in the Columbus Dispatch among other places) was the Rev. Rod Parsley of Columbus's World Harvest Church.

Those of you with moderately keen memories will remember the Rev. Parsley, even though he has been off the political radar recently. In 2004, Parsley actively campaigned throughout Ohio with then Secretary of State Ken Blackwell on behalf of Ohio's "Defense of Marriage" amendment. Parsley was at Blackwell's side when Blackwell made his remark comparing gay people to "barnyard animals." When Blackwell ramped up his gubernatorial campaign the following year, Parsley and fellow Columbus-area pastor the Rev. Russell Johnson were two of his most vocal supporters, promising to activate thousands of "patriot pastors" to turn out hundreds of thousands of new "values voters" for Blackwell. Sometime during that year, for unclear reasons, Parsley slipped off the political radar, not even appearing with Blackwell when he announced the formation of his "Pastors for Blackwell" late that summer.

In spring, 2005, Parsley published a book called "Silent No More." Chapter 5 of that book contains some assertions you'd think any presidential candidate would want to "denounce" and "reject". In that chapter, titled "Islam: The Deception of Allah" (and in a sermon of the same name delivered at World Harvest that May), Parsley claimed that "Muhammad received revelations from demons and not from the true god," "Islam is an anti-Christian religion that intends, through violence, to conquer the world" and "Islam is responsible for more pain, more bloodshed and more devastation than nearly any other force on earth at this moment." He talks about the "persecution" of Christians by Muslims whom he dismisses as deluded illiterates.
At that time, in an interview I did for my paper, the Cleveland Free Times, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told me, "The man is inciting hatred, there's no plainer way to say it. When you say an entire group of people are demonic and anti-Christian, that's hate speech, yes." And Ahmad Al-Akhras, who was then president of the Council on American Islam Relations-Ohio said to me, "The message of Jesus is the message of peace and the message of embracing other people. Apparently, he [Parsley] does not seem to understand this. I think those politicians who are being courted by him need to be called upon and they should denounce his hatred."

Certainly any aspiring president who expects to have any chance at forging diplomatic relations in the Middle East would have to condemn -- to both "denounce" and "reject" -- such ideas to be effective. And any candidate who even tacitly endorses such beliefs cannot expect to convince leaders of Muslim countries of the trustworthiness and good faith of the US. Unlike Obama, whose campaign never involved Farrakhan, McCain in Cincinnati on February 26 praised Parsley, according to the Columbus Dispatch, as a "spritual guide," while Parsley praised McCain as a "strong, true, consistent conservative." Undoubtedly, campaigning with Parsley was McCain's way of trying to signal his acceptability to the evangelical base that has had issues with him. But if Obama owes repeated apologies for the mere fact that he received unsolicited compliments from a man who has said ugly things about Jews, then McCain would seem to need to atone even more for openly embracing on the campaign trail someone who has said equally ugly things about Muslims.

My guess is that the answer will be "No"... McCain will not be called to task for Parsley, just like he is not being questioned adequately about John Hagee's support. Why? One word: racism. IMHO it is because America is more scared of black bigots (like Farrakhan) than of white bigots (like Hagee and Parsley). And it is still OK to slam Islam because it is mostly those "brown people" over in the Middle East who are Muslim. I mean, what else could it possibly be?

22 comments:

Ceroill said...

I think another reason is McCain still courting the 'religious right', many of whom seem to share Parsley's outlook on things.

csm said...

I'm sure you're correct Bob, but I think Parsley is a bit "out there" even in terms of the religious right.

Ceroill said...

True, I'd agree that he's the far fringe. But I suspect a fairly large proportion of the population has general feelings that fall into that area: Islam is evil, etc.

csm said...

You are probably correct that many folks in the USA feel that way. Xenophobia is rampant, especially toward people with brown skin (middle east, Mexicans, etc.)

Ceroill said...

Heck, it's a tried and true political/religious tactic in this country since even before it was America per se. Have you read about what happened to the first batch of Quakers that William Penn brought over?

Chris said...

"Xenophobia is rampant, especially toward people with brown skin (middle east, Mexicans, etc.)"

White skin Christians, Mormons & Catholics, etc...

BAWDYSCOT said...

Wait a minute, aren't Catholics and Mormons Christians? Isn't a Christian just a person who takes Jesus Christ as their personal saviour? Talking about bigotry....

BAWDYSCOT said...

McCain is in trouble and he is acting like it. He lost me when he let GWB railroad him without a fight in 2000. But as you know, I don't find the answer in the other camp either. Just waiting for the Libertarians to pick their candidate or Ron Paul to declare as an independent.

BAWDYSCOT said...

This xenophobia you guys are talking about reminds me that I have agreed with Geraldo Rivera for maybe the first time that I can remember. He has just written a book about the Latin immigrant experience and he traces the current situation and compares it with all the other immigrant movements to this country in the past. America has always had problems with newcomers, the Irish, the southern Europeans, it doesn't matter. I don't know about you guys, but I get e-mails from time to time talking about how immigrants did it in the "good ol' days" and I have to laugh at the reconstruction of history. These bigots don't realize immigration keeps this country dynamic and keep us out of the demographic potholes most other industrialized countries now find themselves in. And they find themselves in these problems just because of xenophobia. Cutting off their respective noses in spite of their faces.

BAWDYSCOT said...

Hey, csm, how about some equal time. Let's see something about Elliot Spitzer.

csm said...

Spitzer is a hypocrite and should be impeached if he does not resign. Anyone who trumpets loudly about ethics and then gets caught frequenting prostitutes deserves his fate.

That said, I think we'll see Spitzer resign, probably soon. Also, I'd like to add that I find it ridiculous that prostitution is illegal. Name something else you can give away for free that you can not sell? Of course, it is illegal today and a governor caught doing something illegal should be removed from office.

To me, the bigger problem is the hypocrisy.

csm said...

Chris? Do you know what the word "xenophobia" means? Look it up, please.

derF said...

Do you think there is any connection?

csm said...

I doubt it, derF. And even if there is a connection, it isn't that relevant because he first had to be going to prostitutes in order to be caught going to prostitutes.

In other words, it is usually easier to catch a guilty man than to frame an innocent one.

csm said...

By the way, Larry Craig is still in Congress. So I wouldn't fault Spitzer one but if he decided not to resign.

Of course, both should go, but what is good for the elephant is good for the donkey - knowhwatimean?

Ceroill said...

I am reminded of the idea that prostitution is the second oldest profession. Begging is the oldest: Someone had to ask.

derF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
derF said...

If prostitution is the second oldest profession and begging is the oldest then pandering must be in the top ten. I ask about the connection because there seems to be a trend in America to subvert issues to personality politics. For instance, when the issue of McCain's relationship with Vicki Iseman was brought up, the main focus of interest rested on whether he, McCain, was a horn-dog. The issue became sexual. This appealed to the prurient interest we all feel (we all have sex and it stimulates our libidos). Yet, concentrating our attention in this fashion allows the greater significance of Iseman's role as a lobbyist for Paxson Communications to be lost. What was key in that story was McCain's letter as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, on Paxson's behalf, influencing the board of the FCC.

BAWDYSCOT said...

Some of that kind of thinking, derF, might have to do with our citizenry having little interest in how things get "done" in our corridors of power. The story is much more interesting if it involves sex or drugs rather than underhanded dealings concerning money and power. I think the light goes off in the brains of most if it doesn't involve some scandalous behavior.

As far as Spitzer is concerned, I was listening to Alan Dershowitz on NPR yesterday and his take is that some very important people took him down. Spitzer definately made some enemies on Wall Street and other areas of power concnetration and he thinks somebody followed him or at least tracked his path financially, got the feds on his trail and then leaked it to the press. Makes sense to me. Ultimately, Spitzer did this to himself, but it looks like he might have had some help in his downfall.

As far as prostiution is concerned, I am sure no one would be surprised, I find it absolutely ludicrous that it be illegal. This ends up being one more way governments or religions of all stripes use to control individual freedoms. When the few feel they know better than the masses and have the power to do something about it the loser ends up the individual; in this case consenting individuals. I am surprised we haven't waged a "War on Prostitution" lately, but it might just be around the corner(maybe not though because I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of male political actors didn't make use of the services of prostitutes, kinda comes(sorry for the pun) with the territory in other words).

Ceroill said...

This is going to start out a bit far from the point, but bear with me. Just recently I managed finally to see The Golden Compass. Not bad. Fun action flick with cute girl hero and great visuals. Unfortunately, the author let it get diluted so much (to avoid even more notoriety I think) that the storyline becomes quite muddled and a bit hard to find at times. In fact, the dreaded Magesterium, the organization loosely based on the Catholic church, only gives a few nods to being a religious group in the movie. The way a couple of them dress is suggestive, and the word 'heresy' is tossed out a few times. Anyway..getting back somewhere close to the point, there is a time when the Wicked Church Lady is talking to /trying to seduce the girl hero. The girl is commenting about how the woman hates being told what to do, so why does she put up with the Magesterium? Her rebuttal is that the Magesterium doesn't tell people what to do in a mean or nasty way, but in a nice kindly way, so they don't get themselves hurt or in trouble. The girl doesn't buy it any more than we do.
Um..I hope I managed to make a point of sorts in there somewhere...

BAWDYSCOT said...

I just heard something interesting on NPR. Apparently, there is some question as to McCain's eligibility to run for President. He was born in Panama(when it was an U.S. territory)when his father was serving in the military there. This probably will end up being nothing, but can anyone say Huckabee for President?

csm said...

Actually, Ron Paul is the only candidate still running against McCain, right?

Anyway, if the Panama canal Zone was a US territory way back when Grandpa Munster McCain was born, why wouldn't he be allowed to run for president?