Friday, November 14, 2008

There's Something About Barack: Minister Farrakhan Weighs In

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, during a Sunday sermon at Mosque Maryam on the South Side, says the hand of God was at work in Barack Obama's election victory.
(Al Podgorski/Sun-Times)

Video: Farrakhan On Obama, Saviour's Day 2008


Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan told his congregation Sunday he saw a "oneness of spirit" among the multitudes who rallied and celebrated Barack Obama's presidential victory at Grant Park and around the nation -- a victory, he contends, God directed.

But he stressed Obama's supporters have the responsibility to stay engaged and help his presidency be a successful one, particularly given the dire state of the nation's and global economies, continuing foreign policy challenges and a high national debt that he said has put the future of America's children at risk.

Farrakhan Supports Obama

While labeling Obama's upcoming responsibility of leading the nation a "horrible burden," Farrakhan said Obama has the vision to be successful, with God's help, and a "tremendous capacity to handle what God has put on his shoulders."

The controversial leader stayed quiet during the presidential campaign after voicing his support for Obama at a Chicago Saviors' Day event in February. Farrakhan said he didn't want any of his comments to hurt Obama's campaign.

But in a sermon at the packed Mosque Maryam on the South Side on Sunday, Farrakhan spoke of the joy he saw after Obama's win, reflected in the tears of Oprah Winfrey, which he said matched the tears of the young and old, black, brown and white, and also included the gang-banger.

Obama's campaign "unleashed a spirit that brought more hope" to the world among its diverse people, a hope that he'd never before witnessed in life, Farrakhan said.

But Farrakhan cautioned that America still remains polarized. While commending Sen. John McCain's concession speech, he said it was insufficient to relieve the strain of loss by some of McCain's supporters, many of whom reside below the Mason-Dixon line, "where racial attitudes and traditions die hard." He called on pollsters to examine how deep the divide is and said pastors, teachers and others should work to change those attitudes.

He also warned Congress and others not to "hamstring" Obama as he works to bring about positive change to the country and the world.

On the foreign-policy front, he said Obama should not be goaded into war with Iran because of unsubstantiated nuclear weapon fears.

"It would be suicide for Iran to entertain the thought of using any nuclear weapons against Israel or any other country," he said.

But if Iran truly is only seeking to use nuclear power as an alternative to oil, America should be able to verify that assertion, he noted.

He said the morning after he saw the Rev. Jesse Jackson crying on television following Obama's win, he called the civil rights veteran to thank him for helping lay the foundation for the victory. And Farrakhan thanked other civil rights leaders Sunday as he also noted the Nation of Islam and organizations like the Urban League and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People still have important roles to play to combat injustice.

Looking ahead, Farrakhan referenced Obama's plans to create millions of new green jobs to help wean America from its dependence on foreign oil. That presents opportunity, Farrakhan said.

"We have to double our effort to get our people ready for whatever opportunity can be provided . . . and not look for special favors," he said.

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