Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock is trying to run away from his radical left-wing record in his campaign to persuade Georgia voters to elect him and hand Democrats unified control of Congress and the White House. But no one should be fooled.
In a November 9 interview, Warnock dodged questions about whether he would vote for legislation increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court and vote for legislation adding two new states (and likely four new Democrats to the U.S. Senate). That Warnock continues to dodge the question even after the issue of Court-packing may have cost Democrats Senate seats on November 3 is telling.
A more troubling sign of Warnock’s radicalism is his clear record of anti-Israeli rhetoric. Warnock, a Baptist pastor in Atlanta, issued a joint statement with other religious leaders in 2019 likening America’s ally Israel to “apartheid South Africa” and Communist East Germany. “We saw the patterns that seem to have been borrowed and perfected from other previous oppressive regimes,” read the statement signed by Warnock and others following a trip to Israel. “The ever-present physical walls that wall in Palestinians in a political wall reminiscent of the Berlin Wall. . . . The heavy militarization of the West Bank, reminiscent of the military occupation of Namibia by apartheid South Africa.”
Now that he’s running for the U.S. Senate, Warnock has issued a new statement asserting he does not believe Israel is an apartheid state, but the new statement doesn’t offer any explanation for signing his name to a statement that plainly said Israel borrows practices from “oppressive regimes” such as apartheid South Africa.
“Without reservation, you can count on me to stand with the Jewish community and Israel in the U.S. Senate,” Warnock says in his 2020 statement.
The Democratic candidate’s 2020 campaign promise is impossible to reconcile with his anti-Israeli rhetoric that goes beyond the 2019 letter. “We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey,” Warnock said in a 2018 sermon. “It is wrong to shoot down God’s children like they don’t matter at all.” Warnock issued that denunciation of Israel after Hamas led a mass incursion of the Israeli border, and the Israeli military responded with the justifiable use of lethal force. But in Warnock’s telling, Israelis are “birds of prey” who viciously kill innocent Palestinians, who are “brothers and sisters.”
Combine Warnock’s dehumanizing rhetoric that compares Israelis to animals with his praise of the notoriously anti-Semitic and anti-American pastor Jeremiah Wright and an even more troubling picture begins to emerge.
The name Jeremiah Wright might ring a bell: A former pastor to Barack Obama, Wright was at the center of the biggest controversy of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary after video of the pastor’s infamous 2003 “God Damn America” sermon surfaced. Obama said he hadn’t heard that particular sermon and condemned it; weeks later, Obama severed ties with Wright and Wright’s church. In 2009, Wright complained that “them Jews” wouldn’t let Obama speak to Wright.
But in 2014, Warnock was still defending Wright and praising Wright’s “God Damn America” sermon. “You ought to go back and see if you can find and read, as I have, the entire sermon. It was a very fine sermon,” Warnock said in a 2014 speech.
Very fine? The sermon in question was chock-full of anti-American rhetoric and conspiracy theories.
In the 2003 “God Damn America” sermon that Warnock called “very fine,” Wright likened America to al-Qaeda: “We cannot see how what we are doing is the same thing that al-Qaeda is doing under a different color flag — calling on the name of a different God to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem!”
In the sermon that Warnock called “very fine,” Wright suggested the U.S. government distributed illegal drugs in America’s cities: “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America!”
In the sermon that Warnock called “very fine,” Wright claimed that the U.S. government was guilty of “inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.”
Warnock’s Republican opponent, Kelly Loeffler, isn’t in the best position to criticize conspiracy theories, having welcomed the support of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the newly elected Georgia congresswoman notorious for promoting QAnon lunacy, but Warnock’s conspiracy-tinged radicalism should be a bridge too far for Georgia voters.
If he’s a moderate and friend of Israel, as he insists, so is Jeremiah Wright — and words have no meaning.