On June 22, readers of the Chicago Sun-Times were treated to a report by columnist Michael Sneed about “activist priest” Father Michael Pfleger, a well-known figure in the Windy City. In May, at his invitation, Louis Farrakan had preached from Pfleger’s pulpit at St. Sabina Church. Unsurprisingly, the appearance had not gone down well with some members of the Jewish community, and now, as a result, wrote Sneed, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), sponsor of a planned “concert for peace” at the church by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, had canceled the event – or maybe just postponed it; the CSO Association’s president, Jeff Alexander, said he wanted to “give things time to settle down, give everyone some space, and try to do it next season after everything gets resolved.” It wasn’t clear exactly what any of that might mean. In any event, Pfleger was not happy. The concert, he said, had been intended “to draw people together.” It was meant to be “a celebration of love and unity and peace” by “people from ZIP codes all over the city.” At a time when America is “a divided nation,” said the priest, he had wanted to do something to “unif[y] the human family.” One sermon by Farrakhan, he lamented, and “44 years of my ministry was put aside.”
Pfleger spoke as if his invitation to Farrakhan had been a one-off. And Sneed, for whatever reason, chose not to provide his readers with information that might have helped them to recognize that picture of the situation as disingenuous. In fact, as we noted here in April 2017, Pfleger and Farrakhan – who has called Judaism a “gutter religion,” urged his supporters to murder white people, and told Jews that “when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever” – are old pals. Pfleger himself has described them as “very close friends,” referred to Farrakhan as his “Brother,” and praised Farrakhan for “his Prophetic and courageous Voice.” They’ve dined at each other’s homes “many, many times.” When he allowed Farrakhan to preach from his pulpit in May, it wasn’t the first time; it was at least the fourth.
Pfleger’s affection for Farrakhan isn’t some fluke. He’s also chummy with Jeremiah Wright, the Obamas’ notorious former minister who accused white scientists of creating HIV to kill blacks and summed up 9/11 by saying that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.” He’s buddy-buddy with Al Sharpton. Shortly after 9/11, he let Harry Belafonte take to his pulpit at St. Sabina to blame the terrorist attack on the U.S. itself. On one of the anniversaries of 9/11, the preacher at St. Sabina was an imam named Kareen Irfan, who has defended and befriended terrorists. Never had Pfleger expressed regret for his association with any of these people. Once, when challenged on TV about his friendships with Farrakhan and Wright, Pfleger didn’t get defensive but went on the attack: “I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back while you tear down Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright. How dare you. How dare you. How dare you seek to reduce Jeremiah Wright, who’s one of the greatest Biblical scholars this nation has, to a 30-second sound bite and try to demonize him and trivialize him. You cannot do that.”
Given all this, it’s rather puzzling that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma agreed to the “concert for peace” in the first place. Or is it? The very fact that Alexander spoke of “giv[ing] things time to settle down” suggests that the CSO was less concerned about being associated with a despicable piece of work like Pfleger than about the bad publicity. Alexander’s remarks to the contrary, there’s no way to “resolve” this ugly situation and make everything nice; if one thing’s clear from Pfleger’s vile history, he’s one leopard who’s not about to change his spots.