The most disturbing thing is not that U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D.-Ill.) attended an elaborate coronation ceremony in Washington for the controversial Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife.
And it’s not that Davis took an active role in the ceremony, carrying to the dais on a velvet pillow one of the jeweled crowns that were placed upon the heads of the robed Moons.
More than half a dozen other congressmen and senators also were in attendance, according to several reports, including one in the Washington Times, a newspaper Moon owns.
The event took place March 23 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building under the banner of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, a Moon-led organization.
“People crown kings and queens at homecoming parades all the time,” Davis said when I called him Friday to ask for his thoughts now that the story, which had been incubating for months in Web logs, has gathered momentum. “We do a lot of things in our society that are simply symbolic.”
Davis said it was his understanding that the crowns represented the Moons’ achievements as “true parents, both to their own children and I guess to lots of children and other people. I think they were being feted for their promotion of parenthood, of family values and family traditions.”
That’s quite a thought. In its heyday, Moon’s cultlike Unification Church was famous for separating adherents from their families and promoting mass arranged marriages that violated American family traditions.
And the “Crown of Peace” honor that Moon in effect bestowed upon himself that day in the federal office building was no mere Good Daddy prize.
As he made clear toward the end of his speech to the gathering, Moon believes himself to be “God’s ambassador, sent to Earth with his full authority.”
He said, “I am sent to accomplish his command to save the world’s 6 billion people, restoring them to heaven with the original goodness in which they were created.”
Moon went on to tell the gathering in simultaneously translated Korean that he’s been in communication with the spirits of Hitler, Stalin, Marx, Lenin and “the founders of five great religions,” and that these men and other notables have unanimously “declared to all heaven and Earth that Rev. Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity’s savior, messiah, returning lord and true parent.”
Rep. Davis said: “I think he was simply saying that he’s a promoter of a message and that he thinks his message of peace and world peace make sense, not that he’s a messiah in the traditional sense.”
It’s disturbing that Davis, who has spoken and appeared at numerous other Moon-sponsored gatherings in his seven years in Washington, would have missed the plain assertion in Moon’s speech, an assertion Moon has made frequently and that Davis says conflicts with his own Christian beliefs. But it’s not the most disturbing thing.
No, the most disturbing thing is that, to this day, Davis expresses no regret about assisting in the pageantry designed to burnish and inflate the reputation of a man who, divine or not, wants to abolish Western-style democracy, compares gay people to dung-eating dogs, and in exhorting Jews to convert and follow him, told them: “You have to repent. Jesus was the King of Israel. Through the principle of indemnity, Hitler killed 6 million Jews.”
San Francisco-based magazine journalist John Gorenfeld did early and extensive reporting on the coronation story for his Web log (www.gorenfeld.net) devoted to Moon watching. Thanks in part to the astonishing photos of Davis playing white-gloved courtier to the unconventional clergyman, it spread to other sites and, in the last week, to publisher Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax, a news and commentary service devoted to Illinois politics, and to the Chicago Reader.
I asked Davis whether in retrospect and in light of the flabbergasted tone of this coverage, it had been a mistake for him to lend his good name and credibility to Moon?
“A mistake?” he asked, chuckling in that distinctive, friendly baritone. “No, not a mistake. This was about the promotion of peace. That’s all. We were recognizing Rev. and Mrs. Moon as parents. I find it difficult to see that as far out in any way.”
As I said–disturbing.