Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Obama distances himself from Farrakhan
Posted by Scott Helman, Political Reporter January 15, 2008 08:06 PM
The friction between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over Clinton's words about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may have ebbed, but Obama today found himself in another delicate situation involving race and a prominent black leader.

In this morning's Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen took Obama's church, Trinity United Church of Christ, on Chicago's South Side, to task for giving an award last year to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The church, through its magazine, bestowed on Farrakhan its Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award -- named for its pastor -- saying Farrakhan "truly epitomized greatness."

"Maybe for Wright and some others, Farrakhan 'epitomized greatness,' Cohen wrote. "For most Americans, though, Farrakhan epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism."
The column caught the attention of the Anti-Defamation League, which was preparing to publicly press Obama to distance himself from the award and from Farrakhan. But Obama's campaign, before the ADL could act, put out a statement doing just that.

"I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan," Obama said in a statement released by his aides. "I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL's national director, welcomed Obama's words.

"Issues of racism and anti-Semitism must be beyond the bounds of politics," Foxman said in a statement. "When someone close to a political figure shows sympathy and support for an individual who makes his name espousing bigotry, that political figure needs to distance himself from that decision. Senator Obama has done just that."

This isn't the first time Obama's church, and his minister, have created a hiccup for his campaign. In February, Obama disinvited Wright from giving the invocation at his campaign kickoff in Springfield, Ill., apparently fearing controversy from Wright's Afrocentric teachings.

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