President Obama has never mentioned black liberation theologian James Cone, despite his longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright's devotion to his work. While on Fox News Channel's Hannity and Colmes, Rev. Jeremiah Wright was asked about his church's mission statement. He implied that he could not have an intelligent conversation with Hannity about Black Liberation Theology.
"If you're not gonna talk about theology in context," he said, "if you're not gonna talk about Liberation Theology that came out of the 60's, systematized Black Liberation Theology that started with Jim Cone in 1968, and the writings of Cone and the writings of Dwight Hopkins, and the writings of Womanist theologians and Asian theologians and Hispanic theologians, then you can't talk about the black value system."
He went on to ask, no less than three times, how many of Cone's books Hannity had read. From this interaction, it is apparent that Rev. Wright considers Cone's writings pivotal in comprehending his own teachings.
If that is true, isn't it likely that, at some point during the twenty odd years he mentored Obama, Rev. Wright had suggested the young man read Cone's publications? Don't pastors usually encourage members of their congregation to read books they consider central to understanding the faith they espouse? If Wright thought that Hannity, whom he denounced as ignorant and arrogant, was capable of reading Cone's books, then surely he didn't think they were too hard for Obama to grasp, did he? Not the one of whom Oprah repeatedly raved, "He's brilliant!"?
Actually, it's difficult to imagine that Obama had never taken the initiative to acquire such material. Being a graduate of Columbia and Harvard Law School, as well as the president of Harvard Kaw Review, he was obviously geared to books as a means of illumination. Hasn't Obama indicated that his religion has been very important to him? Furthermore, would he have continued for twenty years under a man's authority without making sure he agreed with that person on relevant issues? Is such slothful subjection characteristic of someone who has gained so much power so rapidly?
But is there any objective evidence to support the assumption, however logical, that Obama has indeed read Cone's writings? Perhaps there is, if we can pinpoint idiosyncrasies in Obama's behavior that are consistent with someone who holds to Cone's teachings. To that end, I refer (with pagination) to the second edition of A Black Theology of Liberation, released in 1986, but a few years before Obama started to attend the church on W. 95th Street. I realize that reading one book on the subject does not make me an expert. But, considering the title and date of reprinting, it seemed like a logical choice for Wright to recommend. Besides, one of Cone's books is about all I can stomach for now.
The black American who has embraced the theology in this book would, first of all, tend to be very proud, not only of their race, but also of themselves as a member of that race. The pride I'm referring to far exceeds mere lack of racial shame. It is an attitude of exclusiveness and, yes, superiority, especially toward whites. According to Cone,
"Because God has made the goal of blacks God's own goal, black theology believes that it is not only appropriate but necessary to begin the doctrine of God with an insistence on God's blackness." (63)
More specifically, God the Son is black.
"Jesus as the Black Messiah...is...the most meaningful christological statement in our time. Any other statement about Jesus Christ is at best irrelevant and at worst blasphemous." (114)
Furthermore, blacks can know the truth, while whites cannot.
"If there is one brutal fact that the centuries of white oppression have taught blacks, it is that whites are incapable of making any valid judgment about human existence." (61-62)
In fact, throughout Cone's book, "whites" are synonymous with "oppressors," whose only hope of salvation involves "joining the revolution of the black community," whereby
"they would destroy themselves and be born again as beautiful black persons." (103)
Thus, in America at least, blacks are God's chosen race. And what is the work that God has given them? It is to fight oppression. According to Cone,
"In America, the Holy Spirit is black persons making decisions about their togetherness, which means making preparation for an encounter with whites." (64)
Now, who has brought the black community together, however superficially, more than the rising political star who now reigns as America's first black president? Thus, assuming he adheres to Black Liberation Theology, who would have greater reason for pride?
Moreover, if Obama agrees with Cone's ideas, at least in his heart, he would consider bringing down white society to be a holy venture. According to Cone,
"Black theology seeks to analyze the satanic nature of whiteness and by doing so to prepare all nonwhites for revolutionary action." (8)
"To be black," he asserts, "is to be committed to destroying everything this country loves and adores." (20) And that destruction includes its economic and political structures. In the book's foreword, Cone states that,
"Anyone who claims to be fighting against the problem of oppression and does not analyze the exploitive role of capitalism is either naïve or an agent of the enemies of freedom." (xix)
He also declares that
"The Constitution is white, the Emancipation Proclamation is white, the government is white, business is white, the unions are white. What we need is the destruction of whiteness, which is the source of human misery in the world." (107)
A follower of Cone's theology would consider the present American system an evil to be annihilated rather than reformed.
Obama's presidential actions are strikingly consistent with someone who covertly holds to Cone's Black Liberation Theology. With the aid of the Democrats ruling Congress, the president is growing the federal government at a monstrous rate, taking over banks, insurance companies, auto companies and, if he gets his way, eventually the entire health care system, thereby trampling on the Constitution's limitation of executive branch powers. That Obama is simultaneously burying this country in a tsunami of debt, while threatening to drown its citizens with new taxes and capsize the small businesses that would employ them demonstrates his contempt for capitalism.
Finally, there is the president's arrogance, which many have noted before me. That his excessive pride is partially racial is most apparent in his refusal to publically apologize to the Cambridge Police, and, in particular, the white officer who arrested his black friend, Prof. ‘Skip' Gates. An apology for explicitly assuming, on national TV, that the police had "acted stupidly," and for linking the arrest to racial profiling, would clearly have diffused a situation that was distracting the American public from his crucial campaign on health care reform. Yet he declined. One has to wonder why.
Is Obama a closet Conehead? I'll let you decide. But you would be foolish to merely take his word for it. After all, Cone has encouraged the followers of Black Liberation Theology to lie about their mission, if necessary.
"What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power," he said, "which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal." (70)
Any means. And that includes deception, one of Obama's favorite weapons