June 9, 2008
Obama, Black Liberation Theology and AntisemitismBy Kyle-Anne Shiver
I admit it: in certain ways I have led a very sheltered life. My circle of acquaintances may have led me astray in understanding American antisemitism.
As an American, who grew up in the two decades just after World War II, I have long had a strong repugnance for even the slightest hint of antisemitism. During my lifetime, and in my own experience, the American gentiles I've known have had only the most unabashed love and respect for Jews. To be perfectly honest -- though it may make me seem incomparably naïve -- I didn't really think antisemitism could rear its ugly head in our Country ever, ever again.
Until I started following the threads of Obama's Chicago history, his church, his other associations, especially the religious ones, I honestly didn't think anyone but the scantiest few fringe neo-Nazis or throngs of Middle-Eastern Muslims still harbored Jew hatred.
I assumed Farrakhan got his antisemitism from the Koran. The Koran, after all, is pretty explicit about Mohammed's hatred of the Jews, most likely because the Jews stubbornly clung to the wisdom of their own prophets and refused to convert.
But when I read the Black Liberation Theology books of James H. Cone, I saw a subtly disguised, resentful kind of antisemitism which I had never encountered before.
The Gospel of Envy
Perhaps Winston Churchill was absolutely correct when he called socialism the "gospel of envy." It has always struck me as odd when populist politicians, posing as Christians, perpetually tempt people to envy, driving home the notion that some are poor only because others are rich.
It somehow never seems to dawn on either the politicians or those they are tempting that this flies directly in the face of the Tenth Commandment, "Thou shalt not covet..." Nor do these so-called Christians seem to remember that Jesus condemned the tempting of others to sin as far worse than the sin itself. "Woe be unto the tempters," Jesus admonished.
Nevertheless, black power preachers who ascribe to Black Liberation Theology seem to be masters at provoking envy in the name of Christianity.
One of Cone's earliest books, Black Theology & Black Power, was first published in 1969, only 24 years after the end of WWII. At the War's end, photographic and cinematic evidence of the Holocaust was spread worldwide and was met with horrific incredulity at what the Nazis had done to the Jews. Yet, Cone embeds within his call to black liberation a diabolical resentment that Jews, not blacks, could lay claim to the Holocaust. When I first read his words, they caught in my throat and I could barely believe they were on the page before me.
Cone is writing of "negro hatred of white people" not being in the least "pathological," but a "healthy human reaction to oppression, insult, and terror." He remarks that white people seem surprised by this hatred, but that they shouldn't be, because it's just a natural response to the horrors black people face.
This audacious vindication of hatred within a theology which claims Christian roots is absurd. But then Cone actually seems to express an inverted diabolical envy of Jews, precisely because of the Holocaust:
Truly, without belittling or discounting in any way the valid claim that African-Americans have suffered more than their share owing to their race, the above statements by Cone seem to me like nothing short of a perverse Holocaust Envy. As a man utterly committed to the concept of black unity and power, Cone seems to express here true resentment that he can't lay claim to a Holocaust of his own to unite the black communities in the interest of his revolution.
Having been a curious reader about both the Holocaust and the American Civil Rights movement, I found these paragraphs of Cone's downright outlandish. If there ought to be one group of people, completely excluded from any resentment by blacks, it ought rightly to be the Jews.
During the Civil Rights movement, more than half of all lawyers, who came down South to represent blacks in the precedent-setting civil rights cases were Jews, even though Jews represent only 2% of the population.
Jews, along with blacks, founded the NAACP. Synagogues burned, right along with black Christian churches during that era.
And of all the peoples of the world, the Jewish people seem to have been the very first to abolish slavery. According to historian, Paul Johnson, "slavery among the Jews disappeared during the Second Commonwealth (530 BCE - 70 CE), coinciding with the rise of Pharisaism, because the Pharisees insisted that, as God was the true judge in a court of law, all were equal there: king, high-priest, free man, slave."*
If slavery is indeed the issue, then I must conclude that if the whole world had only paid heed to the wisdom of the Jews, an incalculable amount of human suffering in the developing world could have been completely avoided.
Africans would never have enslaved other Africans and sold them to slavers from Europe. Europeans would have stuck to the bartering of crops, instead of people. Muslims might not have considered conquered people mere fodder for profit. The United States would have been spared its birth defect of accepting slavery and the resulting Civil War. And on and on and on.
So, if any people, anywhere, anytime in the modern era ought to be completely exonerated in the eyes of blacks, it surely ought to be the Jews.
But this simply is not the case in the gospel according to Cone.
Chosen People Envy
Cone's black theology seemingly rests upon a single premise, the assumed mantle of most oppressed people. He even states emphatically, again and again, that God has chosen black people because they have borne the brunt of racial oppression more than any other people throughout history.
Therefore, God's Word or reconciliation means that we can only be justified by becoming black. Reconciliation makes us all black. Through this radical change we become identified totally with the suffering of the black masses. It is this fact that makes all white churches anti-Christian in their essence.
Unfortunately, this flies in the face of the very Bible that Cone claims as the foundation for his theology. The Jews are God's chosen people. Blacks are gentiles just like the rest of us, who are not Jews.
And to single out black people as the most oppressed of all time defies any reasonable reading of acknowledged history. Blacks in sub-Saharan Africa ran their own affairs unmolested by whites for millennia while Jews were being enslaved, exiled and persecuted. If any group is going to get that "prize," it is most likely the Jews, not blacks.
The black-power preachers, whether Christian or Muslim, have all been influenced by Cone's re-write of the Bible around Marxist political philosophy, so it really should come as no surprise when one of them brazenly hurls antisemitism into the public fray.
Marx pulled no verbal punches when it came to his desire to create a society "emancipated" from Judaism:
Karl Marx; "The Jewish Question"; 1844
What should surprise -- and frighten -- every American, however, is when antisemitism does rear its beastly head, and others sit by and do nothing.
The question that personally haunts me now, perhaps more than any other I have about Barack Obama, is whether he has imbibed antisemitism as part of his 20-year training under the tutorial of Jeremiah Wright, using Cone's books for his entire foundation of faith.
Could it possibly be Cone's influence that has shaped Barack Obama's views on Israel, the Jews and the Palestinians?
I shudder at the implications of this possibility, as I believe should every American of conscience.
*Paul Johnson; A History of the Jews; p. 156.
For more on Obama, Black Liberation Theology and Karl Marx, please read the foundational columns for this article, part 1 and part 2.
Kyle-Anne Shiver is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. She welcomes your comments at commonsenseregained.com