Was Obama’s speech enough? March 20, 2008Posted by koreanpower999 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
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Barack Obama faced an almost impossible task Tuesday morning when he set out to defuse the Jeremiah Wright scandal with a bold speech on race and politics. Even an orator as great as Obama was hard-pressed to accomplish all he needed to do with a single address.
First and foremost he faced the challenge of addressing the toxic legacy of racism and discrimination in our society — and our difficulty in discussing it honestly. That challenge was made greater by Obama’s very personal decision, as a biracial young man who struggled to forge his personal and political identity in Chicago, to choose Wright’s Afrocentric Trinity United Church of Christ as his cornerstone. Now that he’s running for president as a racially healing figure, appealing to hope and optimism, Wright’s old-time racial anger — a surreal amalgam of legitimate social commentary, paranoid conspiracy theories and reflexive anti-white rhetoric — is threatening his campaign.
Obama’s stirring talk — one of the most important addresses on race we’ve heard in recent memory — was brave and poignant. But it was also disturbing in places, and may not put the Wright issue completely to rest.
In his speech Obama tried to distance himself from Wright’s more outrageous remarks, while honoring and preserving the personal — and frankly political — strength he’s derived from his affiliation with the church and his spiritual mentor. It was a perilous move for Obama, and it’s not clear he succeeded. Describing Wright as “family,” Obama compared his incendiary views to the occasional racial insensitivity of his elderly white grandmother: “As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me … I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.” It was an intriguing leap, but I didn’t buy it. I don’t think Obama’s elderly grandmother, who still lives in Hawaii and is reportedly too frail to travel, who was a product of her time and place and yet did her best to raise her half-black grandson, deserved to be compared to Wright, a public figure who’s built his career around a particularly divisive analysis of American racial politics. It is easily the most tin-eared thing I’ve ever heard Obama say.
But most of the speech was deeply inspiring. He eloquently countered the profound racial pessimism of Wright’s preaching with the optimism of his own story: “I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible … It is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts — that out of many, we are truly one.”
And in a political season in which racism and poverty haven’t been much on the agenda (at a recent conference in New Orleans I listened as a multiracial audience applauded John Edwards for doing a better job on those issues than Obama or Hillary Clinton), Obama boldly acknowledged the searing legacy of racism, still especially visible in the prison of black poverty:
“Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education … Legalized discrimination — where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments — meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations … A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families — a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods — parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement — all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.”
It was also rare, and bracing, to hear a presidential candidate who seems to genuinely understand the link between divisive and corrosive black and white racial anger — that it’s grounded in a “zero-sum game” of racial politics, in which America tried to improve the lot of black Americans with social and educational programs and affirmative action just as the living standards of the white working class began to erode. While blacks are legitimately angry at the persistence of discrimination, Obama noted that “most working- and middle-class whites … worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor.” When they look at social programs like busing and affirmative action, or they’re called racists for being worried about urban crime, Obama observed, “resentment builds over time.”
Both black and white anger are often “counterproductive,” distracting attention “from the real culprits of the middle-class squeeze,” he said, while corporate “greed” and “economic policies that favor the few over the many” are actually to blame. “[T]o wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns,” Obama argued, “this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.” Ultimately, for all his bravery and clarity about racism in America, I’m not sure the speech settled questions about how much Obama knew about Wright’s divisive proclamations. It is worth saying there are many wonderful black churches in Chicago, and throughout America, with inspiring social ministries, where nobody preaches, as Wright did, that the U.S. directly introduced AIDS to black America “as a means of genocide,” where ministers acknowledge the awful history of slavery and persistent racism in this country but can still bring themselves to say “God bless America” and not “God damn America,” and where a legitimate critique of American foreign policy stops short of calling 9/11 “a wake-up call that “people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns.”
Obama’s claims to relative ignorance of such statements have always been disingenuous — from his first visit in 1987, when according to “Dreams From My Father,” Wright denounced the Sharpeville massacre and the bombing of Hiroshima, and declared “white folks’ greed runs a world in need,” Obama knew he was at a radical black church. (It’s worth noting that the Wright flap potentially hurts Obama not only by making his race front and center in the campaign, but also his liberalism, which has been obscured by his outreach to Republicans and independents — and I don’t think the speech countered that.) While I don’t doubt his campaign’s contention that he wasn’t in the pews when Wright made some of his more outrageous charges, immortalized on tape and video, it’s been hard to believe Obama was unfamiliar with Wright’s overall harsh and sometimes paranoid political analysis.
Clearly his account of how much he knew has evolved some. Where a few days ago Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I had not heard [Wright] make such what I consider to be objectionable remarks from the pulpit. Had I heard them while I was in church, I would have objected,” on Tuesday his story seemed different: “Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely — just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”
Yet I acknowledge the bind Obama was in: to go any further in distancing himself from Wright risked a political backlash from the pastor’s supporters, as well as charges of inauthenticity and political opportunism. For better or worse, Trinity United has been his church, his rock, for more than 20 years. I may wish he’d chosen a different place for his spiritual grounding, but he’s entitled to his choice. And there is absolutely no evidence that Obama shares Wright’s worst views.
Today the speech has gotten almost universal raves, but it will be days, even weeks before we know whether it worked to defuse the Wright crisis. The optimist in me thinks this is one of those moments we begin to have our long-overdue national conversation on race. The pessimist says that the flap over Wright’s extremist views, in the middle of an already tense presidential contest, is a terrible way to have it. And yet if it were left to us to choose the time and circumstances for painful debates about race, most of us would probably choose never. So here’s our moment. Today Obama laid out a racial worldview that tries to challenge the zero-sum thinking that’s pitted races against each other for too long. I don’t agree with all of it, but he’s given us plenty to talk about.
Doubt proves a dreadful foe March 20, 2008Posted by koreanpower999 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
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NY Daily News; by Micheal Goodwin
Wednesday, March 19th 2008, 4:00 AM
Barack Obama‘s speech on race yesterday was an eloquent, heartfelt dissection of America‘s original sin. He touched all the right bases, historic as well as contemporary, and drew on his own biracial heritage to vividly describe the anger blacks and whites often express about each other.
It was sober and intelligent, a vindication of the risks he took in confronting the hot topic in the first place. But the speech alone can’t and didn’t secure for Obama the Democratic nomination.
For one thing, there were some contradictions with earlier statements Obama made. For another, there were some problems with his logic, as when he seemed to equate his pastor’s outlandish allegations that the U.S. government created AIDS to kill nonwhites with white resentment over job losses and affirmative action.
More importantly, Obama’s political problems are bigger than race. Those problems can be summed up in a single word: doubts. They are growing about him at the worst possible time.
His campaign hasn’t had two good days in a row in several weeks, and questions about his ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright are only the latest reason. First, there was the report of an aide telling Canadian officials that his anti-NAFTA comments were more political than real. Then came a similar claim from another aide regarding Iraq, with theaide telling a BBC reporter Obama’s plans for troop withdrawal would likely have to be changed if he were elected.
Like a dog with a bone, Hillary Clinton seized on both events to argue that Obama doesn’t mean what he says. It’s an extension of her argument that his scintillating words do not prove presidential ability. Now she had ammunition to say even his words were false.
Her claims, along with that effective ringing red-phone ad, helped deliver the popular vote for her in Ohio and Texas. Even if they didn’t help her much in the delegate race, those victories kept Clinton alive and Obama on the defensive.
The results illustrated the doubts many Democrats already felt about Obama, which is why he has failed three times to deliver the knockout punch to Clinton. From New Hampshire in January to Super Tuesday in February through Ohio and Texas this month, the clincher has eluded him.
Comes now Rev. Wright and, for Clinton, he is a gift that has been giving for nearly a week. Apart from Wright’s many shocking comments, the problem for Obama is that the incident reinforces the pattern the NAFTA and Iraq issues established. Throw in Michelle Obama‘s recent remark that “for the first time in my adult lifetime I am really proud of my country” and you have a nasty brew of doubts that Obama is the authentic break from the past, racial and otherwise, he claims to be.
It was inevitable, of course, that he would face tests. No rookie could burst onto the stage and sweep to the nomination without near-death experiences. He is having one now that he might not survive.
His mood signaled as much yesterday. He looked uncomfortable, even unhappy, and his few attempts at soaring rhetoric never got off the ground.
There was also a hint of fatalism near the end when he warned against the usual narrow band of race talk, whether it was his relationship with Wright or what he called “some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card.”
If that happens, he said, “I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.”
Even in that self-serving scenario, his image of defeat was incomplete. For one man’s distraction is another man’s doubt. And right now, doubts about Obama are piling up faster than he can talk them away.
On Obama’s Speech March 19, 2008Posted by koreanpower999 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, race, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
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It took me several reads through Barack Obama’s speech to digest its full meaning. The man possesses a sharp intellect that cannot be encountered casually. Though I found myself disagreeing with his assertions at several points, I was mostly struck by the insightfulness of his thinking. My sense is that, for these reasons, the speech will help him in the short run by staunching the bleeding of the last few days.
While I was impressed by his argument, I could not help but return to the central question of his candidacy. He is a man endowed with impressive intellectual capacities – but what public goods have these capacities helped secure? To my mind, the speech points inevitably to this question, which existed long before the Clinton operation decided to exploit it for political advantage. And so, I am left wondering whether the speech will have any net benefit in the long run.
Here is how I read his speech.
Obama opened by arguing that the Framers had a radical vision for “America’s improbable experiment in democracy.” This vision was partially captured in the Constitution – but was incomplete. The first generation left it to subsequent ones “to continue the long march – for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring, and more prosperous America.” What is required for this journey is a recognition that out of many people, we are one nation – “that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction.” It is by unifying around common goals that America can achieve prosperity.
Obama understands this deeply. It is part of him, a vision “seared into (his) genetic makeup.” The fact that his candidacy has been so successful is a testament to “how hungry the American people (have been) for this message of unity.”
Unfortunately, it is easy for this country to be side-tracked by what divides it, and nothing divides it more than the effects of slavery – the “original sin” of the nation. Sadly, both sides have either intentionally or unintentionally made comments to divide the nation during this campaign. Obama identified Geraldine Ferraro by name and Bill Clinton by implication as those who have done this.
Reverend Wright has done this, too. His comments “were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.”
So, why hasn’t Obama “disowned” Wright? The answer is because Wright is part of him. As a man who stands at the nexus of black and white – Obama understands the deep complexity of a man the media has cast as a one-dimensional caricature. His vitriol is unacceptable, but there is so much more to him than this. He is a good man who has worked hard for his community, who has inspired many to faith in Christ and given them confidence to work to mend a tattered community. Having grown up when “segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted,” his incendiary opinions are understandable, but not excusable. In all, he is a man of deep conflict – much like the African American community of which he is a part. Wright “contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.”
Wright and the African American community are not alone. This duality of good and bad is identifiable in the white community. He can see it in his grandmother, who “sacrificed again and again for (him) – but (was) a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made (him) cringe.”
Because of who Obama is, both Wright and his grandmother, with all of their contradictions and conflicts, are part of him.
The persistence of these contradictions is a testament to the fact that “we’ve never really worked through (the complexities of race) – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect.” This tension exists not only because African Americans have not been made fully equal partners in the American dream, but also because many poor whites, Latinos, and Asians have been left out, too. It is easy to fall into patterns of blame and recrimination when everybody is left wanting.
The question is what to do about it. We could focus on the salacious spectacles that divide us. Or we could acknowledge that both sides are profoundly correct and profoundly incorrect – that their grievances are real, but they have failed to understand that progress can only be made by trying to achieve the Framers’ vision, e pluribus unum. Each of us needs to recognize that “your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.” This is what his candidacy is about. Obama wants to make real progress by uniting a divided America around a resolution to achieve the nation’s common good.
Here is my reaction to the speech.
As an argument as well as a campaign position, I find it to be subtle yet powerful, which is not to say that I am in full agreement with it. I think Obama offers a generally liberal interpretation of the Constitution and the Founding. I also think his prescriptions for the common good are plainly liberal. Accordingly, I think this unification will be harder to achieve than he is inclined to recognize. While most of us see the same “more perfect union” when we close our eyes, we are deeply divided over how to make the vision a reality. Obama’s biography, personality, and Hamiltonian enthusiasm for unity will not alter what remains a simple Madisonian fact: power is divided and changes are hard to make. Still, I think these are reasonable, defensible opinions. Usually, we do not see this kind of sophistication in contemporary campaign rhetoric.
I saw where Obama was going by creating the parallels between whites and blacks. You might say that he thinks both groups are “half right” and “half wrong.” Again, these are surprisingly insightful comments, given that we are in the fifteenth month of a presidential campaign. I find myself more in agreement with his evaluation of the state of race relations than his conviction that dramatic progress can be achieved by “unifying” the nation. Above all, I was mightily impressed by the courage required to make this argument. He challenged blacks and whites to do better, and he didn’t sugarcoat it. This is not a safe political tactic.
I thought it was a bit of a strain for him to compare Wright to his grandmother. Nevertheless, this is a minor quibble. Obama was making a rhetorical point about his personal identification with both group’s internal contradictions. It seems to me that, on that level, the comparison was valid – though I do think that this might be grist for his critics’ mill, which is why he should have been more careful on this point.
My concern with the speech is the following. I am not sure what I think about Obama’s claim that he never heard Wright make incendiary comments. I think that hinges on the definition of “incendiary.” More importantly, I have always thought this was a moot point. Incendiary comments make for great television – but the bigger concern, especially for somebody as smart as Obama, is the philosophy that undergirds them. Obama clearly understands Wright’s philosophy – even if he never heard Wright say what has generated this firestorm. If nothing else, yesterday he contextualized Wright into the broader narrative of the American racial division. He would not have been able to do that so ably if he had only learned about this philosophy last week.
This philosophy is divisive, and Obama was aware of it even if he had not heard its most extreme articulations. At the same time, this philosophy is clearly not the core mission of Trinity United Church of Christ. Jeremiah Wright does not wake up every morning dedicated to dividing people. However, the antipode of this divisiveness is the core mission of Barack Obama. He wakes up every morning dedicated to uniting people. This is why Obama thinks Wright is not just wrong, but “profoundly” wrong. Wright’s divisiveness constitutes a grievous mistake on what Obama takes to be the central question of American identity – are we one people or are we not?
Accordingly, this inclines me to ask what Obama did about this profound philosophical error. He has been a parishioner for twenty years, and he has been a strong believer in this philosophy of unity for at least four years, since his keynote address in 2004. I appreciate that he cannot walk away from Trinity because the church speaks to who he is. However, I must ask whether he worked to persuade Wright and the parishioners who applauded so jubilantly at his divisive words that they were wrong on a matter of existential importance. If he did, what was the consequence of those efforts? Did he succeed in bringing about change at Trinity?
These are reasonable questions to ask. They speak to the implicit warranty that a candidate offers when he or she runs for any office. Candidates make all kinds of promises about what they will do, and voters need to find some way to gauge whether they will keep their word. One way to do that is to look at what they have done. By contextualizing Jeremiah Wright in the broader dilemma of American divisiveness, Obama has identified his experience at Trinity as a small instance of a larger problem that plagues the country, the problem to which he intends to dedicate the 44th presidency. It is therefore reasonable to ask what he did – empowered as he was as a high-profile, long-standing parishioner – to change the viewpoint of Wright and Trinity, and whether those efforts were successful.
The essential problem of the speech is that it gives no answer to these queries. Obama recognizes the problem with Wright’s viewpoint, feels strongly that it is part of a problem in society that needs to be corrected, but offers no evidence of his work to correct it. Instead, he says, “Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.” But there are many ways to “disagree.” Did he merely shake his head quietly in the pews and complain to Michelle on the drive back to Kenwood? Or did he do something about it? Many parishioners in many churches or synagogues would do something if their pastors, priests or rabbis went astray on an important issue. Many more would expect a future president to do something.
What could be political trouble for him is that these are specific versions of the general question Hillary Clinton has been asking for weeks. Can’t you just hear her now, in the back of your mind, say in response to this speech what she has said dozens of times before? “I have been working on these issues for 35 years. My husband and I made real progress in the 90s. You can identify the problems, but what have you done about them?”
Hillary Clinton did not invent this question. She is just exploiting it. The question is a real one that each voter must answer and weigh for himself. That would be the case regardless of whether Mrs. Clinton ever uttered “35 years” or not. Thus, the speech returns us to the essential gamble of the Obama candidacy. It is simply true that his résumé is thin. It is not the thinnest of our past presidents. Chester Arthur probably gets that prize. However, it is thinner than what most Americans typically expect from a president. Obama is betting that voters have the same reaction to the Wright speech as they do to his candidacy itself: they are so persuaded by his insightful diagnosis of the national ailment that they are not bothered by the fact that he has done little to date to cure it.
On Wright, What Took Obama So Long? March 18, 2008Posted by koreanpower999 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
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By Richard Cohen; Real Clear Politics; March 18, 2008
Some questions: Why did Barack Obama take so long to “reject outright” the harshly critical statements about America made by his minister, Jeremiah Wright, not to mention the praise the same minister lavished on Louis Farrakhan just last November?
How is it possible that Obama did not know about these remarks when he is a member of Wright’s congregation and so close to the man that he likens him to “an old uncle”?
How is it possible that a campaign apparatus that sniffed out Geraldine Ferraro’s offensive statement to a local California newspaper (The Daily Breeze, 12th paragraph) did not know that Wright’s statements condemning America were all over the Internet and had been cited March 6 by the (reputable) anti-Obama columnist Ronald Kessler? The sermon was also available on YouTube.
In other words, how is it possible that a man who has made judgment the centerpiece of his entire presidential campaign has shown so little of it in this matter?
One possible answer to these questions is that Obama has learned to rely on a sycophantic media that hears any criticism of him as either (1) racist, (2) vaguely racist or (3) doing the bidding of Hillary and Bill Clinton. You only have to turn your attention to the interview Obama granted MSNBC’s fawning Keith Olbermann for an example. Obama was asked whether he had known that Wright had suggested substituting the phrase “God damn America” for “God bless America.”
“You know, frankly, I didn’t,” Obama said. “I wasn’t in church during the time when the statements were made.”
But had you heard about them? Did your crack campaign staff alert you? And what about Wright’s honoring Farrakhan? Had you heard about that? Did you feel any obligation to denounce those remarks — not Farrakhan, as you had done, but Wright himself? Don’t you consider yourself a public figure that others look to for leadership? Do you think you failed them here?
Olbermann asked none of those questions.
In a certain sense, I am sympathetic toward Obama. When he said of Wright, “Because of his life experience, (he) continues to have a lot of anger and frustration, and will express that in ways that are very different from me and my generation,” anyone who knows anything about the black experience in America has to nod his head.
The 66-year-old Wright was born when blacks were still being lynched, when Jim Crow ruled the South — and when raw bigotry prevailed virtually everywhere else. He knows a different America than the one familiar to most whites. I can also understand why Farrakhan has a following in black America. He may be a gutter anti-Semite, but he stands up to whites, and within parts of the African-American community, he is admired for, among other things, rehabilitating criminals.
So for Obama, Wright posed a dilemma. The minister is well-known and respected and, clearly, adored by Obama. His language of resentment, even of hate, has a certain context to Obama. It does not shock. I understand, really I do.
But a presidential candidate is not a mere church member and operates in a different context. We examine everything about him for the slightest clue about character. On Wright, Obama has shown a worrisome tic. He has done so also with his relationship with Tony Rezko, the shadowy Chicago political figure. Obama last week submitted to a grilling on this matter by the staff of The Chicago Tribune and was given a clean bill of health. I accept it. But that hardly changes the fact that Obama should never have done business with Rezko in the first place. He concedes that now, but it was still a failure of judgment.
After I wrote in January about Wright’s praise for Farrakhan, I was pilloried by Obama supporters who accused me of all manner of things, including insanity. But when I asked some of them what they would have done if their minister had extolled David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan official, or Rabbi Meir Kahane, the late anti-Arab racist, they either rejected the question entirely or simply didn’t answer. Don’t they think that everyone, particularly a public figure, has an obligation to denounce bigotry, as well as those who praise the bigots themselves?
As I wrote in that first column, the manifest abilities and stunning political talents of Barack Obama still recommend him to the presidency. But he has been less than forthright or responsible about Wright. This does not disqualify him for the White House, but it does suggest that if the vaunted red phone rings at 3 a.m., there might be times when he will simply not answer.
Obama and the Minister March 15, 2008Posted by koreanpower999 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
The Wall Street Journal; March 14, 2008; Page A19
In a sermon delivered at Howard University, Barack Obama’s longtime minister, friend and adviser blamed America for starting the AIDS virus, training professional killers, importing drugs and creating a racist society that would never elect a black candidate president.
The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., pastor of Mr. Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, gave the sermon at the school’s Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel in Washington on Jan. 15, 2006.
|Trinity United Church of Christ/Religion News Service|
|Sen. Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright|
“We’ve got more black men in prison than there are in college,” he began. “Racism is alive and well. Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. No black man will ever be considered for president, no matter how hard you run Jesse [Jackson] and no black woman can ever be considered for anything outside what she can give with her body.”
Mr. Wright thundered on: “America is still the No. 1 killer in the world. . . . We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers . . . We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Ghadhafi . . . We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”
His voice rising, Mr. Wright said, “We supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-Semitic. . . . We care nothing about human life if the end justifies the means. . . .”
Concluding, Mr. Wright said: “We started the AIDS virus . . . We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty. . . .”
Considering this view of America, it’s not surprising that in December Mr. Wright’s church gave an award to Louis Farrakhan for lifetime achievement. In the church magazine, Trumpet, Mr. Wright spoke glowingly of the Nation of Islam leader. “His depth on analysis [sic] when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye-opening,” Mr. Wright said of Mr. Farrakhan. “He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest.”
After Newsmax broke the story of the award to Farrakhan on Jan. 14, Mr. Obama issued a statement. However, Mr. Obama ignored the main point: that his minister and friend had spoken adoringly of Mr. Farrakhan, and that Mr. Wright’s church was behind the award to the Nation of Islam leader.
Instead, Mr. Obama said, “I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.” Trumpet is owned and produced by Mr. Wright’s church out of the church’s offices, and Mr. Wright’s daughters serve as publisher and executive editor.
Meeting with Jewish leaders in Cleveland on Feb. 24, Mr. Obama described Mr. Wright as being like “an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don’t agree with.” He rarely mentions the points of disagreement.
Mr. Obama went on to explain Mr. Wright’s anti-Zionist statements as being rooted in his anger over the Jewish state’s support for South Africa under its previous policy of apartheid. As with his previous claim that his church gave the award to Mr. Farrakhan because of his work with ex-offenders, Mr. Obama appears to have made that up.
Neither the presentation of the award nor the Trumpet article about the award mentions ex-offenders, and Mr. Wright’s statements denouncing Israel have not been qualified in any way. Mr. Obama nonetheless told the Jewish leaders that the award to Mr. Farrakhan “showed a lack of sensitivity to the Jewish community.” That is an understatement.
As for Mr. Wright’s repeated comments blaming America for the 9/11 attacks because of what Mr. Wright calls its racist and violent policies, Mr. Obama has said it sounds as if the minister was trying to be “provocative.”
Hearing Mr. Wright’s venomous and paranoid denunciations of this country, the vast majority of Americans would walk out. Instead, Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle have presumably sat through numerous similar sermons by Mr. Wright.
Indeed, Mr. Obama has described Mr. Wright as his “sounding board” during the two decades he has known him. Mr. Obama has said he found religion through the minister in the 1980s. He joined the church in 1991 and walked down the aisle in a formal commitment of faith.
The title of Mr. Obama’s bestseller “The Audacity of Hope” comes from one of Wright’s sermons. Mr. Wright is one of the first people Mr. Obama thanked after his election to the Senate in 2004. Mr. Obama consulted Mr. Wright before deciding to run for president. He prayed privately with Mr. Wright before announcing his candidacy last year.
Mr. Obama obviously would not choose to belong to Mr. Wright’s church and seek his advice unless he agreed with at least some of his views. In light of Mr. Wright’s perspective, Michelle Obama’s comment that she feels proud of America for the first time in her adult life makes perfect sense.
Much as most of us would appreciate the symbolism of a black man ascending to the presidency, what we have in Barack Obama is a politician whose closeness to Mr. Wright underscores his radical record.
The media have largely ignored Mr. Obama’s close association with Mr. Wright. This raises legitimate questions about Mr. Obama’s fundamental beliefs about his country. Those questions deserve a clearer answer than Mr. Obama has provided so far.
Obama’s Pastor: God Damn America, U.S. to Blame for 9/11 March 15, 2008Posted by koreanpower999 in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
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ABC News – Brian Ross – March 13, 2008
Sen. Barack Obama’s pastor says blacks should not sing “God Bless America” but “God damn America.”
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor for the last 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s south side, has a long history of what even Obama’s campaign aides concede is “inflammatory rhetoric,” including the assertion that the United States brought on the 9/11 attacks with its own “terrorism.”
In a campaign appearance earlier this month, Sen. Obama said, “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.” He said Rev. Wright “is like an old uncle who says things I don’t always agree with,” telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family.
Rev. Wright married Obama and his wife Michelle, baptized their two daughters and is credited by Obama for the title of his book, “The Audacity of Hope.”
An ABC News review of dozens of Rev. Wright’s sermons, offered for sale by the church, found repeated denunciations of the U.S. based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.
“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people,” he said in a 2003 sermon. “God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”
In addition to damning America, he told his congregation on the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001 that the United States had brought on al Qaeda’s attacks because of its own terrorism.
“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye,” Rev. Wright said in a sermon on Sept. 16, 2001.
“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” he told his congregation.
Sen. Obama told the New York Times he was not at the church on the day of Rev. Wright’s 9/11 sermon. “The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification,” Obama said in a recent interview. “It sounds like he was trying to be provocative,” Obama told the paper.
Rev. Wright, who announced his retirement last month, has built a large and loyal following at his church with his mesmerizing sermons, mixing traditional spiritual content and his views on contemporary issues.
“I wouldn’t call it radical. I call it being black in America,” said one congregation member outside the church last Sunday.
“He has impacted the life of Barack Obama so much so that he wants to portray that feeling he got from Rev. Wright onto the country because we all need something positive,” said another member of the congregation.
Rev. Wright, who declined to be interviewed by ABC News, is considered one of the country’s 10 most influential black pastors, according to members of the Obama campaign.
Obama has praised at least one aspect of Rev. Wright’s approach, referring to his “social gospel” and his focus on Africa, “and I agree with him on that.”
Sen. Obama declined to comment on Rev. Wright’s denunciations of the United States, but a campaign religious adviser, Shaun Casey, appearing on “Good Morning America” Thursday, said Obama “had repudiated” those comments.
In a statement to ABCNews.com, Obama’s press spokesman Bill Burton said, “Sen. Obama has said repeatedly that personal attacks such as this have no place in this campaign or our politics, whether they’re offered from a platform at a rally or the pulpit of a church. Sen. Obama does not think of the pastor of his church in political terms. Like a member of his family, there are things he says with which Sen. Obama deeply disagrees. But now that he is retired, that doesn’t detract from Sen. Obama’s affection for Rev. Wright or his appreciation for the good works he has done.”