This is not a throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater article. Father Pfleger’s commitment to ridding the community in which he lives and works of evils that take the lives of the innocent and not so innocent and break the backs of families and even communities is unquestionable.
This article is about personal responsibility. Father Pfleger, who for years, has been highly motivated to hold others accountable, has to take full and unqualified responsibility for violating the same principles of dignity, respect and positive regard he espouses when he publicly and dramatically demeaned Hilary Clinton.
If the media and others use Father Pfleger’s comments as an excuse to question Barrack OBama’s fitness to be president, we won’t have to discuss the real issues: the implications of Father Pfleger’s word and behavior, the response of some of the people to whom he was speaking and the silence of African-American leaders. Where Father Pfleger made his comments is irrelevant. If he had been walking on water, his words would still be divisive and still pose an unnecessary challenge for Barrack Obama who has already paid, and will continue to pay a big price for someone else’s words. And, his comment and behavior would still send a message to children that’s says, “this is how you treat someone with whom you disagree.”
Father Pfleger was not performing at the Eye-for-an-Eye Comedy Club. He was in a sanctuary adorned with beautifully crafted stained glass windows and other symbols of love, peace and understanding when he raised and waved the flags of sexism, racism and classism. The people to whom he was speaking had participated in religious activities that probably included praise and worship and inspirational singing. And yet, they stood and clapped and cheered and waved their hands at him the way people do when the preacher says, “Somebody ought to give me an A-men.”
Father Pfleger’s church has very active children and youth ministries. He has earned an honorable reputation among the young in his church and in the community. What message did his “buffoonish” performance coupled with his anti-Hillary Clinton words send to our children about mocking others? What can he say, when a child says, “I didn’t kick her, I just stomped on her toe? How will he respond to a child who says, everybody else was doing it?” What will he do when I child says, “What difference does it make? What about the silence of African-American leaders? What would have been the response of some of the African-American clergy, political and community leaders if a non-brotha white person had mocked Barack Obama the same way Father Pfleger mocked Hillary? So where is everybody – Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev; Al Sharpton, to name two of the people who were 21st century Paul Reveres when Don Imas’ loose lips defamed female basketball players?
I get it that Father Pfleger has been deemed an honorary brotha. But, is this behavior we want modeled for our children by any brotha – real or honorary? Our children need to hear from the African-American “horse’s mouth” that while we appreciate all Father Pfleger has done, he cannot model that kind of behavior for our children. And, I hope other African-American adults will tell children that they disapprove of what Father Pfleger’s said and that they are ashamed of their response.
Words are powerful and have the potential to cause violence. Understanding that, people across the State of Illinois are working with our children to teach and model effective communication and conflict resolution. The goal is to prevent the violence that can erupt when someone feels demeaned. So, when Father Pfleger and other adults defend, justify and laugh at what he said, they mock us all.