May 9, 2008

John Hagee: an endorsement America doesn't need


Outspoken though the Rev Jeremiah Wright may be, he isn't close to being as objectionable as the Rev John Hagee, the televangelist who endorsed John McCain. Hagee is CEO of Global Evangelism and senior pastor of the Cornerstone Church in Texas. It lists more than 19,000 active members. He is behind Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a Christian lobbying organization that pushes pro-Zionist views and promotes a hard line approach to Iran.

Hagee makes no secret of his support for an American attack on Iran. After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans he claimed it was an act of God directed at the city to punish it for its tolerance of homosexuality. He only retracted these comments after McCain denounced them.

Even though McCain has distanced himself from Hagee's more extreme statements, he hasn't backed away from the endorsement - although that may come. Quite the contrary, he is on record saying he's "glad to have the endorsement." McCain has also praised Hagee in media interviews: "I admire and respect Dr. Hagee's leadership ... I admire and appreciate his advocacy for the state of Israel, the independence of the state of Israel."

McCain's has high praise for a conspiracy nut who believes that bodies such as the UN, the National Education Association and the Council on Foreign Relations are all part of the work of the Antichrist and his coming "one-world order". Moreover the senator 'admires' a man who views Israel and war with Iran in the context of a coming end-time apocalypse. Doesn't this merit serious scrutiny? Yet the media is fixated on Jeremiah Wright!

The truth is evangelical preachers who hype their patriotism and pro-Israel credentials can get away with outspoken bigotry and the worst type of jingoism in America today. If they represent millions of members, viewers and subscribers, politicians on the right will hold their nose and thank them for the endorsement. These religious hard liners are the very worst advertisement for America on the international stage, and yet none of these high rollers is ever subjected to the type of negative attention reserved for a Jeremiah Wright - unless they screw up in some major way and draw attention to themselves as was the case with Ted Haggard.

John McCain is being endorsed by an extremist whose grasp of the political realities in the Middle East is predicated on his prejudices. Hagee has referred to Iranian Shia fundamentalists as "Wahabbists" which is complete nonsense. Wahabbism is a movement within Sunni Islam. Iran is predominantly a Shiite nation. Hagee has also been raving about the nuclear capability of Iran, deliberately exaggerating in order to spread fear and alarm among his listeners.

War mongers like John Hagee are committed to a politics of confrontation based upon delusional end-time prophesies. The man who McCain admires, represents a form of right-wing lunacy that America should categorically reject this coming November when voters go to the polls to choose the 44th president of the United States.