Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Hagee-Farrakhan double standard

Glenn Greenwald has another excellent post up today in which he calls attention to what I would call the Hagee-Farrakhan double standard in our political discourse.

Why is Louis Farrakhan deemed by our political establishment to be so radioactive as to not be fit for good company -- black candidates are required to repudiate his support even when they haven't sought it and denounce his views even when they've never advocated anything close to those views -- but John Hagee is a perfectly acceptable figure whom mainstream GOP politicians are free to court without any consequences or media objections?

John Hagee is the pastor of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church which is just down the road from my house. The first thing you should know about Hagee is that he is a hypocrite. Like many religious right preachers, Hagee loudly denounces people who commit sexual infidelity (especially the homosexual kind) and says that “Christians... don’t get divorced...”
And yet, Hagee’s first marriage of 15 years ended in divorce in 1975 as a result of his own infidelity. Rather than acknowledge this, Hagee tries to cover it up today as he does on his web site where he claims that he and his current wife Diana “have five married children.”
But two of those children were actually with his first wife who has apparently been excised from his memory.
In addition to being an adulterer, Hagee reportedly rakes in millions of dollars each year through his tax-exempt television ministry.
But Hagee is most controversial when it comes to his extreme views on the Middle East. He is downright racist when it comes to Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular - having claimed that all “who live by the Koran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.”
Hagee also claims that there is a Biblical imperative for the U.S. to attack Iran and supports a pre-emptive strike on Iran as a first step toward fulfilling his twisted interpretations of Biblical prophesies.

But, as Greenwald notes, none of these extremist views have made Hagee (or Robertson or Falwell or Dobson) the kind of political pariah that Louis Farrakhan has become.
Farrakhan has made many controversial statements over the years that have been deemed both racist and anti-semitic. The difference that I can tell, however, is that today Farrakhan denies having said many of these things or simply does not say them anymore, whereas Hagee continues to make the same controversial statements again and again without consequence.
Thus we have the situation we saw just the other day where on the one hand Barack Obama is being hounded by Tim Russert to denounce Farrakhan despite never having sought his favor or endorsing his views; while at the same time John McCain is openly accepting the praise and endorsement of Hagee at his church in San Antonio.
A shameless double standard if ever there was one.

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