Raphael Warnock called Castro’s legacy ‘complex’ in 2016 sermon

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The Rev. Raphael Warnock described Fidel Castro’s legacy as “complex” in a remembrance from the pulpit two days after the Cuban strongman’s death, as shown in a newly unearthed 2016 sermon.

The Georgia Democratic Senate candidate has sought to distance himself from Castro, but a video posted Wednesday shows Mr. Warnock offering his thoughts on the communist dictator from the pulpit in a sermon dated Nov. 27, 2016, two days after his death.

“We pray for the people of Cuba in this moment,” said Mr. Warnock, senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. “We remember Fidel Castro, whose legacy is complex. Don’t let anybody tell you a simple story. Life usually isn’t very simple. His legacy is complex, kind of like America’s legacy is complex.”

Mr. Warnock has avoided answering questions about whether he attended Castro’s 1995 speech at a church in Harlem, where he served as a youth pastor, but insists he had no role in inviting the communist dictator, who was greeted with chants of “Fidel!”

“I never met him, I never invited him. He has nothing to do with me,” Mr. Warnock said at Sunday’s Senate debate.

In the 2016 sermon, however, he discussed Castro’s legacy and raised the subject of “political prisoners in Cuba,” comparing them to U.S. inmates.

“If some people get slapped on the hand for the same crime and others go to federal prison, then we too have our own political prisons, because politics more than the crime—the politics of race and class—and in that sense, many of us have sisters and brothers who are political prisoners,” Mr. Warnock said in the video, which was first posted by Breitbart.

National Republican Senatorial Committee press secretary Nathan Brand accused Mr. Warnock of attempting to “mislead Georgians” about his Castro history.

“Radical liberal Raphael Warnock has not only celebrated a communist, murderous dictator, but he’s tried to mislead Georgians about it,” said Mr. Brand in a Wednesday statement. “Voters continue to be appalled at Warnock’s praise of dictators, his celebration of Marxism, and his anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks. There is no question that Warnock is too radical for Georgia.”

 

 

Mr. Warnock has accused his opponent, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, of “trying to change the subject” by seeking to link him to Castro and Marxism.

“I’ve never met the Cuban dictator. I’m not connected to him. I’ll tell you whose names are on the ballot: Raphael Warnock and Kelly Loeffler,” said Mr. Warnock in a Nov. 15 interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Host Jack Tapper had asked whether Mr. Warnock attended the 1995 Castro speech, a question the candidate did not answer.

Mr. Tapper followed up by saying that Castro “was a murderous thug. I get that this is a distraction, but do you understand why people would be appalled by anybody celebrating Fidel Castro?”

Mr. Warnock replied: “Well, absolutely, and I never have. What I am putting forward in this race is American values.”

The Jan. 5 Georgia Senate double runoff will determine control of the Senate. Also seeking reelection is Republican Sen. David Perdue, who is being challenged by Democrat Jon Ossoff.

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