Monday, January 28, 2008

Hillary Clinton and Sun Myung Moon: A Strategic Catastrophe

Sun Myung Moon's Universal Peace Television web site has a video with testimonials for the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) from several prominent politicians and world leaders. The dignitaries are mostly foreign leaders: President Umaru Yar'Adua of Nigeria; President Pratibha Patil of India; President Óscar Arias of Costa Rica; Speaker of the Philippines House of Representatives, Jose de Venecia, Jr.; and former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. The video included one prominent American politician, Senator Hillary Clinton who is quoted as expressing the following sentiments: "I applaud the Universal Peace Federation's global networks of individuals and organizations committed to peace building through dialogue, education, and service." (hat tip to John Gorenfeld for the screen shot). Apparently, this quote was culled from the letter of support that Senator Clinton sent praising Moon's 2007 Universal Peace Federation Assembly (I reported on this last September).

Destructive Cults and the Insatiable Quest for Credibility
Destructive cults thrive on receiving plaudits from influential people, namely celebrities, industrialists, journalists, and politicians. There are many reasons for this--the most important is that an influential person's imprimatur is worth its weight in gold in terms of giving credibility to the group. The Church of Scientology is noted for recruiting Hollywood celebrities (the cult also uses politicians; when I visited the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition, at the end of the tour was a display of letters and proclamations from prominent politicians). Amway has a rich history of cultivating close ties with Republican politicians (Of course with a business-related cult like Amway, there is the additional incentive of receiving corporate welfare from grateful legislators).

However, regarding the cultivation of ties with influential politicians, the Church of Scientology and Amway are pikers compared to Moon and the Unification movement. Not only has Moon established ties with the aforementioned world leaders, but he has made significant inroads in the American political system over the past thirty years. It would not be an exaggeration to posit that Moon is the most powerful lobbyist in the United States (quick note: Moon doesn't feel the need to register and report under the Lobbying Disclosure Act or the Foreign Agents Registration Act).

The Problem with Hillary
Hillary represents the worst of both worlds. The American right has demonized her as a ruthless political strategist who will do anything, including mass murder, to achieve her political goals. This was largely done by right-wing talk radio in order to discredit the Clinton presidency and to appeal to the latent misogyny of its listeners (Rush Limbaugh has led the pack in terms of paranoid accusations--also here).

The truth is that Bill and Hillary Clinton are not only not the ruthless politicos the right portrays them as but they have left a lot of political capital on the table needlessly. When Bill Clinton entered the White House in 1993, he wrapped up investigations of George H.W. Bush's administration to disastrous results; Hillary is hinting that she will do the same for George W. Bush if she were to gain the presidency. It just isn't the Clintons but the Democratic Party that has failed to address vulnerable targets on the right. What makes this latest episode with the Unification movement particularly appalling is that this isn't the first time that the Unification movement exploited Hillary's political gullibility. As I reported, in 1997, Hillary approached one of Moon's operatives--Josette Sheeran Shiner, then the managing editor of Moon's Washington Times--and proposed that her syndicated column be included in the Times.

The simple fact is this: according legitimacy to Moon or any of his front groups constitutes aid and comfort to an totalistic movement that exploits people financially, psychologically, and sexually.

Addendum: Misc. Notes. . . What's in the Holy Juice? As John Gorenfeld witnessed, at Universal Peace Federation events, there is a strange communion-like ceremony: "The hosts persuaded a ballroom full of people to drink special packets of "Holy Juice" symbolizing the blood and body of Reverend Moon, provided in transparent plastic cups the size of dairy creamer at Denny's. I couldn't get a straight answer about what's in the Holy Juice." The Unification movement has a history of including noxious and potentially biohazardous substances in their ceremonial drinks. The "holy wine"--used in marriage ceremonies--contains Moon and his wife's blood. After Moon's wife, Hak Ja Han, gave birth, her "breast milk was cut with cow's milk and ceremonially served to Church members.". . . Richard Bartholomew, who has a notable blog on religion, has a new blog that addresses the Universal Peace Federation and Moon's Ambassadors for Peace.

1 comment:

Kenneth Gordon Neufeld said...

I believe that the Holy Wine has not contained foreign substances such as blood since the early days of the Unification Church in Korea. When I was a Unification Church member from 1976 to 1986, the Holy Wine was only served once, to symbollize becoming "Blessed", that is, freed from the Original Sin. The Holy Wine was rumored to contain drops of Reverend Moon's blood but this was never confirmed by church authorities and probably this practice had ceased by the time I received the Holy Wine (1980). It is a bizarre departure from their practices of the 1980s that they now serve the Holy Wine regularly to non-members, believing it confers a blessing to those people.