Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just Asking: Where Were the Jews When Farrakhan’s Priest Buddy Got the Award Last Night?

         Feast of St. Julie Billiart* 
                                   Pfleger Controversy.
           At the heart of the controversy over the radical Fr. Michael Pfleger’s selection for a “racial justice” honor by the Chicago Catholic archdiocese was the white Pfleger surrounding himself with a black mob and threatening a legally constituted white shopkeeper with hate language and  death (“we’ll snuff you out! Come out or we’ll drag you out like the rat you are!”)…but even more significant, the priest’s determinedly close support of Minister Louis Farrakhan who has taunted Jews, lauded Hitler and swims up to his neck in anti-Semitism—while a Catholic priest applauds…uncritical.  
            But all this we know.   My question now is this:  
            Why have the Jews been so silent in all this…while conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants have been so aghast at the black preacher’s hated of Jews and Pfleger’s patronizing of him? . Why haven’t Jews been outraged at the white preacher’s evident tolerance of it—and at the Archdiocese for rewarding him?. Moreover, why aren’t the so-called “mainstream media” aroused by this evident transference of a bigot’s number one fan to the role of defender of social and racial justice?  
            I’ll give my view of why this is in this…the first of a two-parter.  
            FIRST THE RECORD. On April 3,2007, Pfleger was quoted by Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor” as saying this about Louis Farrakhan: 
            “…I stick up for Louis Farrakhan because he is another person that the media has chosen to define how they want to do it…I know the man Louis Farrakhan. He is a great man. I have great respect for him.  He has done an awful lot for people and this country—black, white and brown.  He is a friend of mine.” 
           Accordingly, Farrakhan has spoken at Pfleger’s church, Saint Sabina’s, the latest being May 25, 2007 with Pfleger standing by, applauding, revving up the crowd and serving as a cheerleader for the militant minister’s views.  
          The record is replete with Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism.  The first recorded eruption was in 1984 when after returning from Libya he delivered a sermon in Chicago (not at Sabina) which was recorded on tape by a Sun-Times reporter. He said: 
          “Now that the nation of Israel never has had any peace in 40 years and she will never have any peace because there can be no peace structured on injustice, thievery, lying and deceit using the name of God to shutter your gutter religion under His Holy and righteous name…” My emphasis. 
            Appearing on a black radio station in Chicago on March 11, 1984 he responded to charges that some were calling him “a black Hitler”: 
            “Well that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man. He wasn’t great for man as a black man but he was a great German and he rose Germany [sic] up from the ashes of her defeat by the united force of all Europe and America after the First World War.  Yet Hitler took Germany from the ashes and rose her up [sic] and made her the greatest fighting machine of the 20th century, brothers and sisters, and even though Europe and America had deciphered the code that Hitler was using to speak to his chiefs of staff, they had trouble defeating Hitler even after knowing his plans in advance.  Now I’m not proud of Hitler’s evil toward Jewish people, but that’s a matter of record.” 
            In other words, so what? 
           On November 11, 2007 at Mosque Maram, Chicago: 
            “Do you know that those satanic Jews have taken over BET [Black Entertainment Television]?...Everything that we built, THEY have. The mind of Satan now is running the record industry, movie industry and television.  And they make us look like we’re the murderers; we look like we’re the gansters, but we’re punk stuff.”  
             October 16, 2003 at Mosque Maram, Chicago: 
            “You say I hate Jews. I don’t hate the Jewish people. I never have. But there [are] some things I don’t like. What is it you don’t like, Farrakhan? I don’t like the way you leech on us. See—a leech is somebody that sucks your blood, takes from you and don’t give a damn thing.  See, I don’t like that kind of arrangement. You become our manager, you become our agent. Every one of us that got talent, we can’t make it because you opened the door—and when you opened the door, you get and we end up with nothing, owing the IRS.” 
             There are other examples of his anti-Semitism and Pfleger’s tolerance of it…almost too numerous to mention. On the “gutter religion” phrase, Pfleger denies Farrakhan said it—but his denial is weak and fruitless since the words and Farrakhan’s own words are on tape and have been reported in the Sun-Times and The New York Times. 
           It is a fact that Pfleger’s award last night and his closeness to Farrakhan are dismissed by the Jews…as is Pfleger’s excuses for them.  The constituencies which are inflamed by Pfleger and Farrakhan’s speeches are conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians.  
        It leads to the question: 
      Where are the Jews?  Where in the name of God was Elie Wiesel last night as Farrakhan’s good buddy..who doesn’t deny Farrakhan but draws him to his bosom… received accolades from the Catholic Church and the Cardinal-Archbishop of this archdiocese?  
        Specifically, why are Jew silent when Lefty bigots attack? 
          Norman Podhoretz has the answer.  A deeply observant Jew who just celebrated his 80th birthday, he is a former editor of Commentary, a magazine of rich insight to which I have subscribed for many years—and still serves as editor-at-large. The child of immigrants, he received degrees from Columbia and Oxford plus studied under Lionel Trilling at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.  
        For many years he was extremely active in liberal causes and in the Democratic party but moved to the right when he observed that the Left was becoming hotly anti-patriotic…long about the time of George McGovern. A book that describes his gravitation to conservatism is one of his best Breaking Ranks.  
         Podhoretz is one of the key intellectuals of conservatism.  His most recent book is terrific. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to absorb a modern history of our times.  It is entitled Why Are Jews Liberals?  [Doubleday: 2009].  As such he is the godfather of a small…but influential…group of Jews who have become conservatives.  They are called by some “neo-conservatives” meaning that they still retain elements of liberalism—but I have found that if that was the case when they originally broke away from the Democratic party, it is not so now.  
       A number of them including Podhoretz aided greatly in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and have stayed with conservatism ever since—and have enriched its intellectuality by their contributions.  In essence, without this small but powerfully influential coterie of Jewish thinkers and writers, conservatism would have very little intellectual ballast. 
        In that number are Podhoretz, his wife who is a gifted writer herself, Midge Decter, their son John Podhoretz et al. Then you go to Podhoretz’s good friend the late Irving Kristol whom I knew somewhat… 
         …Kristol’s widow, Gertrude Himmelfarb a fine analyst and historian, their son Bill Kristol, founder of The Weekly Standard and one deeply influenced by both the Podhoretz’s and Kristols: Charles Krauthammer who appears every weeknight on Fox News…on and on.  You may debate whether or not you are a “neo” but that is almost academic today. Today in the drive to replace Obama, it is essential we harness the intellectual and moral energy of people like the Podhoretzes, the Kristols, the Krauthammers et al. 
       What does Podhoretz say as to why so many Jews are liberals?  Which goes to the heart of the matter on Pfleger.  We have Neil Steinberg writing in the Sun-Timesmentioning his Jewish heritage, Lynn Sweet writing from Washington and a host of liberal Democrats with The Squid…she a close buddy to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod… who are either Jewish and professedly sympathetic to any and all hints of bigotry and racism,   Jewish or not—where were they last night when Farrakhan’s buddy Pfleger basked in the spotlight generated by the Catholic archdiocese hearing the warm accolades from the Cardinal?  Where were the media to draw the anomaly of a Catholic priest who has defended and continues to defend a raving anti-Jewish racist? 
           Answer: Jews only get excited about bigotry if and when Republicans and/or conservatives say the same thing…or close to the same thing…that Farrakhan has and Pfleger stand for.  
      Suppose, for example, the archdiocese had a meeting last night to give an award to Catholics Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran.  What would the reaction of Jews, liberals and the media be then?   
            They’d say: What the hell?   The same Pat Buchanan who said this  in a 1977 syndicated column? “Hitler was an individual of great courage…Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone.  His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.” Do you not want to bet that Steinberg would devote his usual full page to excoriating this as an example of pro-Hitler anti-Semitism? Followed by Mark Brown, Richard Roeper, the editorial board of the Sun-Times?  Walter Jacobson’s “Perspective on Channel 2?  
            See what I mean? Two statements about Hitler—one from Farrakhan, one from Buchanan: and guess which one would infuriate the Jews, liberals, the Sun-Times andTribune editorial boards as well as the patty-cake Archdiocesan politically correctors?  It would be the Buchanan statement.  And I grant you if the archdiocese had honored Buchanan, , Pfleger would be outside the auditorium picketing it—instead of inside the auditorium having played patty-cake with Farrakhan … saying his good old pal Farrakhan helps everybody: black, white, brown.  
             Why the contradiction?  Why are the Jews likely to be inflamed when conservatives say just about what Farrakhan is saying…but are bored, ho-hum when Pfleger gets an award standing in theological solidarity with Farrakhan…who said earlier whitey is going to get the president killed? 
           O what hypocrites these liberal Catholics be.  They condemn bigotry from the right but tolerate it…wink at it…when it comes from the left. 
           Isn’t bigotry and racism the same, whether it comes from right or left?  
            More tomorrow.  Stay tuned. 
        *: St. Julie Billiart [1751-1816]. She founded and was the first Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.  Born at Cuvilly, a village in France, she knew her catechism at age 7 and gathered her companions around her to explain it to them. At the age of 22, she suffered a freak accident. A pistol-shot, fired at her father by an unknown enemy, induced a trauma that brought a paralysis of the lower back limbs. After a few years she was confined to her bed where she remained for twenty-two years, receiving the Eucharist daily, engaged in contemplation for hours, the rest of her time making linens and laces for her parish altar.  
       When the French Revolution began she was compelled to take refuge with Countess Baudoin. It was then that she met Francoise Blinde Bourdon, Viscountess of Gizaincourt.  The Viscountess had been imprisoned with her family of royal blood during the Reign of Terror and was spared from the headsman’s axe only by the death of Robespierre.  She grew to love the invalid for her wonderful gifts. Julie taught her how to live an interior life and the two women gathered other women around the invalid’s bed for lessons.  Then with the support of the local bishop, the two women laid the foundation for the Institute of the Sisters of Notre Dame.  The first pupils were eight orphans.  On the Feast of the Sacred Heart, June 1, 1804, Mother Julie made a novena in obedience to her confessor—and was cured of paralysis. 
       Thereafter in the space of twelve years—1804-16—Mother Julie founded 15 convents, made 120 journeys and carried on a close correspondence with her spiritual daughters.  In 1816 she was taken ill and after three months of pain borne in silence and patience, she died with the Magnificat on her lips.  She was beatified by Pope Pius X and canonized in 1969 by Paul VI.  

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