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The Politics of Hate: Rod Parsley and John McCain

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A conspiracy of “international bankers” was responsible for the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, and a host of other ills. Who said that? And who are those “international bankers,” anyway?

I just spent the last ten minutes watching a YouTube video of a well-known Christian preacher and "moral compass" of a particular presidential candidate spew forth with incendiary words — words of a "Christian patriot" that sent chills down my back. As his fiery rhetoric spewed forth about the "international banking conspiracy" and its manipulation of financial markets, I physically recoiled at the all-too-familiar code words that hearken back to the darker side of history and into hateful anti-Semitic diatribes like Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Words that can be found on neo-fascist and "Christian patriot" websites cultivating hate and suspicion of Jews, Muslims, and other minorities. And who said these words? Shouted them in a packed-to-the-gills church? His name is Rod Parsley, and he is head of the World Harvest Church.

This is what one presidential candidate said of this man, introducing him at a campaign event event just a couple of months ago: “I am very honored today to have one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide… thank you for your leadership and your guidance. I am very grateful you are here.”

Who would say such nice things about a hate-spouting preacher? None other than John McCain, presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Backtracking later, McCain insisted that he didn't mean that Parsley was his (McCain's) spiritual guide; just a spiritual guide — drawing a distinction between his relationship with Parsley and Barack Obama's with the Reverend Wright. But, if not his own, then just whose spiritual guide might Parsley be? Much was made at the time on the Internet, on the mainstream news, and in other corners of the political world of the difference.

But never mind the “a/his” controversy. I’m much more concerned that McCain has called this guy anyone’s moral compass at all. And a “great man.” Like John Hagee, another of McCain’s spiritual soul mates, Parsley uses the international money-lenders diatribe to great effect as thousands of rapt congregants hang on his every word, every week.

And even though Parsley may prefer euphemisms and code words about Jews, he uses outright incendiary language speaking about Muslims. In his book Silent No More Parsley says: “The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion (Islam) destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.”

As I consider Parsley's rhetoric, I wonder then, for whom McCain believes the Reverend Parsley is a “great man” and “moral compass.” Did he mean for this country? Because if so, we’re in a whole lotta trouble. Is this the direction McCain wants the country to travel? Really? Or was McCain simply pandering to the right? I only imagine what the reaction would have been if Obama introduced his old pastor as a "great man" and "moral compass" in the heat of this presidential campaign.

Interestingly, much has been made of Obama’s “choosing” Wright as his pastor. Obama has explained himself well, and has called Wright’s heinous remarks for what they are. McCain can choose to associate himself with a lot of different campaign and spiritual advisers along his presidential trail. And he has chosen to embrace hate-mongers like Parsley. Where’s the moral outrage for that? Where’s the 24/7 coverage of that? Those are my questions for the day.

Don't get me wrong. I’m not defending Reverend Wright. There should be no place for him within Obama's political framework. He is an old and bitter man who, now retired, has found new (and more public) pulpits from which which he can spread his bitter and cynical hatred. And he is no less to be disparaged and denounced than Rod Parsley and others like him, with his talk of America’s destiny to squash Islam and rid the world of Muslims. To quote Shakespeare: “a plague o’ both your houses.”

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • zingzing

    for fairness’ sake, i’m not going to judge mccain, who seems to be a decent republican… seems being the choice word, we shall see… for his connection to crazed religious bigotry any more than i’m going to judge obama’s.

    people can’t control what comes out of other people’s mouths after the fact, only their own. still, it’s probably a bad idea for a politician to stick to close to religion, as religious leadership continues to show itself for what it is.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Thanks zingzing for your comments. I agree with you, and that’s the whole point. Making the Reverend Wright an issue is a lose-lose situation. the unfairness comes from the press giving McCain a relative pass while skewering Obama with their coverage. This is another example of the press setting the agenda. Making the news, as it were. Elizabeth Edwards had a right on op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times.

  • bliffle

    Yes, the press sets the agenda of what the news is, and the agenda of the press itself is set by the press ownership, which is predominately republican. We are distracted from this fact by the fact that the employees are predominately democrat, but they don’t set the agenda. But they do provide distracting window dressing to convince people that the press is leftwing.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Bliffle–Corporations promote “what sells” which gives ut the sound-bite, low-attention-span news we’ve grown accustomed to these days. What Elizabeth Edwards (don’t know if she was the first) called in Sunay’s New York Times “strobe-light” journalism, where the outlines are accurate but the picture is not at all filled in.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    You call this guy well known…I’d have to say, he’s probably as well known as Wright was BEFORE Obama claimed him as his mentor and spiritual advisor…maybe if McCain had done the same this guy would be better known…

    Until I read this, I’d never heard of him…doesn’t mean he’s not well known…just not THAT well known.

    Do you really think it’s fair to call them soul mates just because he introduced him a few weeks ago and according to the link you provided says he only met him three weeks ago? I mean, did he sit in Parsley’s church for twenty years and not hear what was being said???

    I think the other big difference here is nothing you points to shows McCain defending him or saying things like…I never heard him say that…

    just a thought…

  • Franco

    Do you really think it’s fair to call them soul mates just because he introduced him a few weeks ago and according to the link you provided says he only met him three weeks ago? I mean, did he sit in Parsley’s church for twenty years and not hear what was being said???

    Excellent Point!

    One other small point on another of Barbars statements.

    “cultivating hate and suspicion of Jews, Muslims, and other minorities.”

    To classify Muslims a minority is misleading and a common mistake being made by many.

    The world wide total is reported to be 1.2 billion according to CAIR (Council on American-Islamic relations)

    This 1.2 billion represents about 22% of the world’s population. Furthermore, Islam is growing about 2.9% per year which is faster than the total world population growth, which increases about 2.3% annually. Thus it is attracting a progressively larger percentage of the world’s population each year..

    I think it is important to understand just how big this world wide encompassing movement is, and how little organized opposition movements there are among it that condems the extremist killers among them. I am not looking to foster Islamophobia, but I am suggesting we keep a healthy perspective on it, and part of that healthy perspective is recognizing it is not a minority.

  • Ruvy

    Barbara,

    What is this?

    All the Jews whining about the Jew haters lurking just under the multi-culti surface of American society? Come on dudes, that’s what y’awl get for staying in the fleshpots of exile when you don’t have to!

    Clinton hugs Suha Arafat, while her husband introduces Yassir to the cockroaches in the White House, she lies like a rug to get votes (and has a whole bunch of stupid American Jews wrapped around her finger, IN SPITE OF ALL THE DAMAGE HER HUSBAND DID TO THIS COUNTRY).

    Barack Obama has all sorts of Jew-haters for advisers and McCain has JIm (fuck the Jews) Baker on as his Middle East adviser.

    So, it is pretty clear that none of these goyisher princes/princess are good for Jews anywhere.

    So, now the question, is which one of these assholes to choose?

    I may even register to vote in the presidential election this year.

    And I’m throwing my vote to Barack Obama. That stinkin’ SOB has so many Jew-haters around him, they could all chorus the Horst Wessel Lied together with African American accents!

    Why is this prick so much better than Brand X or Brand Y Jew-hater?

    Because it will be so obvious to Yossi Yisraeli, the Israeli version of Joe Sixpack, that it is finally time to hang Peres, Barak, Olmert and Livni on butcher hooks and get them and their bought out American controlled puppets OUT of power – and get real Jews, men with spine, guts and imagination – running this country again!

    And when they do, it will finally be time for all you laggards Yidlech in exile to come home, because everybody will be swallowing our dust!

  • Barbara Barnett

    A couple of things. First, the status of Minority refers to minority in this country, not world wide, since the article is about domestic politics and the American election. I am aware of the number of Muslims worldwide.

    The use of “soul mate” was a bit of sarcasm, I admit. Clearly they’ve not known each other for a very long time, but at the least, his embracing of Parsley was done without vetting him at all, or actually believing what he said about the man. If it’s the former that says one thing. IF the latter, it’s pretty scary, either way, not good (in my not-so-humble opinion).

    The difference is that one can know certain aspects of a spiritual leader, but not know others, or be blind to them over the course of years. As with priests or rabbis who are secret pedophiles, their congregants may not want to believe the worst in their spiritual leaders and hence go into a sort of denial. Or be more forgiving of the bad things they’ve done in memory of the good. I think that’s what Obama’s problem is to an extent.

    McCain on the other hand “chose” to embrace Parsley, calling him a “moral compass.” Again, I ask what sort of a moral compass, a “great man” would spout the sort of hate he has and continues to do? Same with Hagee. Its a choice made of late, and, even (maybe especially) if it’s a political strategy to align himself with them,it doesn’t speak well of McCain.

    Again this morning McCain quoted Wright, saying that Wright connected the Marines with Roman Legionnaires, “who killed our Savior” (McCain’s words, not mine). “Our savior?” Not mine, certainly. And that my friends is the danger of mixing politics and religion and religious figures, at all. “Our savior?” Indeed.

  • Zedd

    McCain has been relatively quiet about he Wright thing for the reasons that you bring up Barbara. There are so many crack pots in the Fundy movement and making an issue out of a Black activist preacher will seem like nothing in comparison to these people.

  • Ruvy

    Barbara,

    Like I’ve told the Obnoxious American many times, living with the ambient Jew-hatred in exile is the price you pay for staying in exile. You have nothing to complain about; all these comments insulting Jews and Israel have the purpose, among other things, of reminding you, that no matter how much you want to run away from that fact, you are a Child of Israel, separate and apart from the other nations of the earth; that your home is HERE, NOT somewhere in the Galut.

    You may not like reading that (yet again) from me, but it is the truth, and these Jew-hating bastards are shoving that truth down your throat like a stick covered in boiling lard. You SHOULD be uncomfortable. That is the whole point.

    Maybe these pricks are being your savior, indeed, by being so up-front about their contempt for Jews. Pay attention. The life you save may be your own.

  • Baronius

    Barbara, I checked out the World Harvest Church website, as well as the Trinity UCC (Obama’s church) website. Trinity screams “crazy”. WHC looks mainstream evangelical. Believe me, I’m not recommending either of them, but it’s easy to see how WHC could fool someone.

  • sherry

    REPORT PAUL V CLINTON!!! YOU KNOW THE CASE THAT IS IN THE COURTS AS WE SPEAK!!

    LOOK FOR YOUR SELVES PEOPLE!!

    YouTube.com

  • http://blogcritics.org/ Phillip Winn

    Barbara, I’m sure most people would agree that Rod Parsley is on par with Jeremiah Wright. If not, then John Hagee certainly is. But there is a reason folks are talking about Wright and not Parsley or Hagee: McCain hasn’t spent time talking up his 20-year relationship with Parsley or Hagee.

    In fact, most people remember his description “agents of intolerance” from 2000, a statement that may have sunk his campaign. That he makes nice faces at Parsley and Hagee now seems to clearly be political, and not borne out of a long affinity for their views.

    On the other hang, Senator Obama went out of his way to play up his relationship with Wright, possibly to counter ridiculous assertions that Obama was a Muslim, and it backfired when it turned out that Wright held views at least as offensive as those of Hagee and Parsley.

    Tough spot for Senator Obama: downplay the church, get labeled a Muslim; play up the church, get saddled with the statements of the pastor!

    McCain has made a single glowing introduction about each of Parsley and Hagee, then specifically repudiated Hagee when his anti-Roman Catholic statements were brought to McCain’s attention. Whether he has repudiated Parsley, I don’t know, but since McCain has never claimed a long-time commitment to WHC or a warm relationship with Rod Parsley, I can’t imagine why it would be anywhere near the same kind of problem.

    Obama’s issue is that many people now wonder whether he agrees with Jeremiah Wright or not, and it makes them uncomfortable. Nobody seriously thinks McCain agrees with Hagee or Parsley.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Zedd, you are correct, and I’ve actually discussed this very thing with a colleague. McCain is beholden to a lot of far right loonies, if the press were half as thorough with Obama’s supporters…

    Baronius, we also agree. WHC looks pretty benign; but that sermon in the YOuTube video is just plan scary.

    Ruvy, as here we are at Yom Hashoah, and on the brink of Israel’s 60th birthday, I will give you my reasons for not moving to Israel (my 17 year old, who spent half a year there last year, and is going back in June as part of an advocay fellowship he won), despite my love for the land and my large extended family throught the country (in moshavim and kibbutzim). I cannot feel at home in a land where my own denomination of Judaism is consisdered by the religious heriarchy of the state to be illegitimate. In fact, I would find it hard to get a job in my chosen field. so we will stay here. and kvetch. Just like Israelis kvetch about politics and life in Israel. Only there they do it in Ivrit, speaking way too fast for me (although my biblical hebrew is quite fluent).

  • Ruvy

    I cannot feel at home in a land where my own denomination of Judaism is considered by the religious hierarchy of the state to be illegitimate. In fact, I would find it hard to get a job in my chosen field.

    Barbara,

    The masortí Moreshet Avraham shul in Armon haNetziv is the richest shul in the neighborhood! It’s jam packed with people dripping with money and protékzia. So are the other masortí shuls in J-lem. IN addition, in spite of the “official” disapproval of the masortí Judaism, there are plenty of influential Israelis who back its rights fully. You should have no trouble landing work in an English speaking environment where the only Hebrew you would need to know would be “éfo hasherutím?” (where’s the bathroom?). Granted, learning a foreign language takes time. But if I could do it, certainly you can.

    Hazák v’amátz!!

  • Janineyasko

    Elmer fucking Gantry. World Harvest is bullshit. Anyone who is part of this bullshit is really sad.
    A culture of hatred is sad.
    Be about yourself. That’s amazing.
    World Harvest…sad.