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In Defense Of Lieberman


If one really wanted to get a good indication of the racial divide in this country, instead of focusing on such polarizing subjects as racial profiling and O.J. Simpson, one needs to only ask Blacks and Whites how they feel about Senator Joseph Lieberman's references to the power and strength that he draws from his religion and faith tradition.

It has been a fascinating sight for many Blacks to watch the media brouhaha over how many times Joe Lieberman has invoked God's name during his campaign speeches. Many Blacks are viewing the controversy as a non-issue, and with good reason - without religion there would be no political leaders in the Black community.

To somehow surmise that Lieberman's references to what religion has done for him will somehow spill over to a governing strategy that will not allow him to treat non-religious Americans fairly is rather simplistic. And such thinking does appear to represent a bit of a double standard in light of the fact that all types of special interests are recognized by elected officials and the U.S, Government; and that policies are created which favor these special interests over the interests of the many.

Any student of the design and creation of the U.S. Constitution is aware of the fact that the founding fathers of this country were deeply religious men and while they worked to make America free of the religious persecution that they endured in Europe, they wrote and designed a governing document from their deeply-held religious convictions and intense study of the scriptures. This is a fact that those who argue vociferously for the separation of church and state conveniently ignore.

Why can't Joe Lieberman do the same as the founding fathers? Why can't he govern according to the principles of his faith, which in many cases are the very same principles that Americans say this country is founded upon? Certainly Senator Lieberman is capable in the opinion of most people, of making a positive contribution to U.S. politics when informed by the tenets of his faith. Many believe that he can even add a moral perspective and emphasis on family that is sorely lacking at times, in American politics - particularly among the liberals that claim Lieberman as one of their own.

It is peculiar to notice that those in the past week who have expressed concerns about Lieberman's faith have not done so in reference to the Senator's stand on what U.S. foreign policy should be toward the only Jewish state in the world - Israel. Isn't it simply logical to wonder if a Jewish Senator would in any way favor the only country in the world that is designed and established as a homeland for those who are of Lieberman's religion? The consideration of Lieberman's view of the proper role of U.S. foreign policy toward Israel juxtaposed to U.S. foreign policy toward non-Jewish nations, particularly Israel's Christian and Muslim neighbors, may be the only legitimate "religious" concern that one may have for a Lieberman vice-presidential candidacy. Yet few have raised that consideration.

The Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) statement urging Sen. Lieberman to take it easy with his religious references was baseless, in how it was framed.

I spoke to several Blacks over the Labor Day weekend about the ADL's concern that Lieberman may make non-Jewish Americans uncomfortable with his public embrace of faith and not one person that I spoke to expressed agreement with the ADL's position. I found that to be rather interesting, especially in light of the fact that the ADL claims that anti-Semitism runs highest in the Black community.

What Blacks realize and can admit quicker than some Jewish political leaders and those of other communities is that your politics are your religion. Advocating policies and governing according to your belief system from which you form your value system is only natural. Anything else would be phony and hypocritical.

Where would this country be if the arguments currently hurled at Sen. Lieberman had prevailed against Dr. Martin Luther King or the numerous Black elected officials who are deeply religious? There is no evidence in the Black community, in the last 30 years, that Black Christian Pastors are incapable of governing effectively - in accordance to their religious beliefs. There is no evidence that Black Christians have been unfair to other Americans because of their deeply held-convictions. Rev. Floyd Flake and other Black spiritual politicians have actually provided a breath of fresh air into a rather stale and decayed political climate in recent years.

If anyone has a problem with Sen. Lieberman's public witness of what his faith has done for him or when Governor George W. Bush expresses the same, the problem these individuals have may not be with Lieberman or Bush but possibly with Moses, Jesus Christ or God Himself.

If that is the case, they should just say so and stop using Senator Lieberman as their whipping boy or scapegoat.


Cedric Muhammad

Tuesday, September 5, 2000

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