Chicago Sun-Times
Discussions across the racial divide

Column: Jerome R. Corsi's book an abomination

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Jerome R. Corsi's book about Barack Obama is a good example of the right wing's racial fear-mongering.

Corsi is the Harvard Ph.D. who is credited with launching the attack that weakened Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign and led to the infamous "swift-boating."

Unfit to Command was largely discredited, but not before it had done huge damage to Kerry's campaign because it distracted voters from the issues and distorted truth.

By now, I think I've heard just about every lie and smear Obama-haters have used in an attempt to scare white Americans away from his campaign.

If nothing else, they are extremely prolific, and cling to the most bizarre stories about why Obama is scary.

But Corsi's tome The Obama Nation takes the cake.

Let's start with the cover and its title. Corsi's play on words is sure to be a big hit with conservative talk show hosts and Internet chat room commenters.

In reducing Obama's race for the presidency to an "abomination," Corsi is using the same tired tactics that were used when it became clear that the late Harold Washington would likely become the first black mayor of Chicago.

Corsi's words are meant to warn skittish white folks that an Obama in the White House would be the beginning of the end.

And the racial cues are obvious.

Instead of a warm and smiling Obama peering from the cover, Simon & Schuster and its editor, Mary Matalin, a former Republican operative, chose a menacing and noticeably darker photograph of Obama.
Origin of black churches ignored

Corsi's book made the front page of Wednesday's New York Times even though the reporters acknowledged that several of the book's charges are "unsubstantiated, misleading or inaccurate."

But because there is such intense interest in Obama, Corsi's book is a No. 1 New York Times best seller despite the fact his sole purpose for writing the book is to defeat Obama.

Obviously, it won't do any good for the Obama campaign to go blow for blow with Corsi over his claims that Obama has "extensive connections with Islam and radical politics," or for him to refute other outrageous claims Corsi makes about Obama's life.

A rebuttal would only fuel more interest in the book and put more money in Corsi's bank account.

That's a lowdown dirty shame since it would mean that Corsi and the book's publishers are being rewarded for their exploitation of racial fears.

I was especially offended by Chapter 7: "Meet Reverend Wright," where Corsi talks about black-liberation theology as if he is talking about a gathering of Ku Klux Klansmen instead of a ministry dedicated to fighting injustice here and abroad.

And Corsi's distortion of the roots of the brand of theology taught in many black churches is alarming because it ignores how black churches came into existence in the first place.

Black people didn't have a choice.
Ludicrous argument

Indeed, the first black African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1794 when angry white church officials snatched Richard Allen, Absolom Jones and Williams White from their knees during a worship service because they would not pray in a segregated area of the church.

It was mainly the black church that helped launch the civil rights movement, and the black church that gave blacks and whites involved in that movement a safe haven from the hordes of racists determined to keep America a separate and unequal nation.

To hear Corsi tell it, black-liberation theology is a threat to white America because teaching black people to worship a black Jesus sends a dangerous message.

"Put simply, black-liberation theology reinterprets the biblical history and teachings of Jesus Christ to advance a revolutionary racial message," Corsi wrote.

Simply put, that is ludicrous.

There's nothing revolutionary or racial about a black child getting on his or her knees and praying to a black Christ, any more than it is for a white child to get on his or her knees and pray to a white one.

But that is not why Corsi is picking this bone.

He's hoping his book will give credibility to the smears you can read for free on the Internet.

Only now -- it'll cost you.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on August 15, 2008 11:20 AM.

Column: Obama, McCain and race was the previous entry in this blog.

Column: School funding inequity a civil rights issue is the next entry in this blog.

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