02 April 2008

McCain's mad pastor

With all the noise the media has made about Barack Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright and his anti-American sermons, they seem to have overlooked ranting Rod Parsley, bosom buddy of John McCain. Parsley is senior pastor of World Harvest Church, a not inconsiderable outfit that includes 12,000 members, 400 staff, a bible college and a television studio. He has recently endorsed John McCain for president, to which McCain gratefully responded by referring to Parsley as "one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide."

One of the hobbyhorses of this moral compass and spiritual guide is a war against Islam. In one of his books he declares, "
I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. ... The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed." He claims that Islam is an "anti-Christ religion," predicated on "deception," and the Prophet Muhammad "received revelations from demons and not from the true God."

Whereas Obama took pains to publicly distance himself from Wright's radical comments, McCain makes no such effort in dealing with Parsley. Although McCain is only addressing extreme Islam, he nonetheless seems to take off on Parsley's militant musings when he claims, "
We face the transcendent challenge of the 21st century. That is the threat of radical Islamic extremism. My friends, I know you know that this is an evil of transcendent and unbelievable magnitude. You can see other times when our nation and our way of life was threatened, but this ranks among the greatest."

Demagogues need, above all, an enemy. It seems that Islam is serving the purpose for both Parsley and McCain. Parsley we can pass off as just another flaky preacher, albeit an influential one, but McCain may become president of the United States. His war-mongering cannot so easily be dismissed.

When Pastor Wright raved against the United States, he was expressing black rage, an understandable emotion considering the centuries of persecution his people have suffered in their native land. And, in any case, all that is strictly an American issue. Parsley's cry for war against Islam, on the other hand, is not only religious hate-mongering but it has international implications.
Why, therefore, is the American mass media not making an even bigger issue out of McCain and Parsley's friendship than they did out of Obama and Wright's? Have they become too inured to war? Or is Muslim-baiting not that big an issue?

1 comment:

  1. Muslim-biting is very nearly government policy. Besides, Obama is black, and Wright's message, true whether you construct an anti-American tone around it or not. The US is struggling with its foundational mythology these days. Slavery and the vilification of "merciles Indian savages" in the Declaration of Independence undermine attempts to dismiss Bush's belligerence as an isolated aberration.

    "What will happen to us?"

    Stripped of the authority to preach morality to the rest of the world, Americans who think their core values were best articulated by militant Puritans *need* to find someone worse than they are.

    I worry more what will happen when they realize how much they have in common with other self-righteous hate-mongers around the world.