“I agree with Senator Warner that the message should
be ‘we really mean business, Iraqis, get on with it.’"
– Sen. Barack Obama, on the Senate floor.
It is always a bad sign when Democrats publicly proclaim
agreement with Republicans. Lately Senator Barack Obama has given
pause to progressives every time he makes one of his over rated
and endlessly praised statements. If he isn’t supporting the occupation
of Iraq he is campaigning for his mentor, the right wing Democrat
in name only, Joe Lieberman. Most recently he gave credence
to GOP talking points about progressives and religion.
According to Republicans, the lap dog corporate media,
and now Barack Obama, the Democrats give religious Americans short
shrift. In his keynote address at the Call to Renewal Conference
Obama lectured us in typical Democratic Leadership Council style.
He argued for the truthfulness of phony Republican premises, in
this case, that Democrats don’t have enough of that old time religion
and are mean to church people.
Obama was hopefully speaking for himself when he referenced
“Our failure as progressives to tap into
the moral underpinnings of the nation…” Progressives have
never been shy about making moral arguments and have never been
shy about referencing religion. The groveling pundits and opportunistic
politicians who claim a progressive bias against religion can never
seem to actually quote anyone who wants to send religion packing.
They hope that making a specious argument often enough will make
The plea to “acknowledge the power of faith” is very
one sided. It is only made on behalf of religious conservatives
and now Obama has joined in the piling on. The notion that
religion has been kicked out of the public square is not only false
but has long been used to put and keep right wing political policies
in place. The very existence of religious progressives is rarely
even acknowledged and now that they are out of political power even
Democrats give them the back of their hand.
Religious progressives are constantly advised to submit
to right wing dictates when the subject of political debate is served
up with religious piety. The triangulators use religion as their
excuse to keep us in line and keep us quiet.
his speech Obama said that progressives shouldn’t automatically
reject conservative Christian views on abortion, and public school
prayer meetings. He completely ignored the biggest moral elephant
in America’s living room. For all his religious speechifying and
testimony of his own spiritual journey, the Senator acted as though
the occupation of Iraq was of no importance as a religious issue.
When he isn’t ignoring the topic at convenient moments Obama continues
the insulting Hillaryesque double talk about Iraq, no open ended
commitment, but no talk of leaving until the traumatized Iraqis
clean up Uncle Sam’s mess.
He always claims the high ground, pointing out that
he was opposed before the blood shed began. Obama’s argument seems
to be that the U.S. has to keep killing Iraqis because it already
started the job. He was against it before he was for it.
The United States invaded Iraq, bombed its homes,
incarcerated and tortured its people, destroyed its infrastructure,
stole from its treasury, poisoned its environment with depleted
uranium, and enriched private corporations at its expense. Even
chief war propagandist Colin Powell famously said, “You break it,
you bought it.” Obama tells Iraqis, “We broke it, just suck it up.”
It is amazing that Obama is the recipient of so much
praise when he says so little. He is just less clumsy than Hillary
Clinton with the “yes this, but on the other hand that” routine.
He is very articulate and photogenic, so he gets more mileage than
he deserves with his empty statements, obvious triangulations and
lame put downs of progressives who for some reason insist on fawning
Clinton isn’t as slick as she thinks but she knows
where she needs help. Obama would be a great asset to her. His ability
to appear enlightening would be invaluable. It is unfortunate that
he doesn’t really live up to his billing.
If the junior Senator from Illinois wants to talk
about God, he should certainly be obliged. Where does Barack Obama
stand on the continued killing of Iraqis by the American government?
Are his policies relating to the occupation informed by his spiritual
beliefs, and if so how? Thousands of Americans have protested against
this crime precisely because of their religious beliefs. Should
those beliefs be respected, or are only Christian conservatives
to be placated when religion is an issue?
Perhaps Obama should talk about the willingness of
religious America to endorse government killing. Millions of people
who want to end abortion and promote school prayer either shrug
their shoulders or heartily endorse the killing of Iraqis, or Iranians
or whomever else their government tells them should be eliminated.
School prayer and abortion are easy outs. Questioning the faith
that says murder is good as long as government is the perpetrator
would be truly heroic. Of course, neither Obama or any other politician
will raise that issue. People of faith will have to take that on
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears
weekly in BC. Ms. Kimberley is a freelance
writer living in New York City. She can be reached via e-Mail at
You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at freedomrider.blogspot.com.