Friday, March 21, 2008
Andrew Sullivan declares E.J. Dionne, Jr.'s apologetic column on the Jeremiah Wright kerfuffle "one of the best he has ever written." That it may be, but if Andrew is correct then Dionne is not the author he is reputed to be. Dionne's piece on Wright is full of very shoddy thinking, including its central thesis.
The first bit is this (bold emphasis added):
One of the least remarked upon passages in Obama's speech is also one of the most important -- and the part most relevant to the Wright controversy. There is, Obama said, a powerful anger in the black community rooted in "memories of humiliation and doubt" that "may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends" but "does find voice in the barbershop or the beauty shop or around the kitchen table. . . . And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews."
Yes, black people say things about our country and its injustices to each other that they don't say to those of us who are white. Whites also say things about blacks privately that they don't say in front of their black friends and associates.
The bolded paragraph, which stands alone, contains at least two sleights of hand. First, nobody with two brain cells to rub together has any problem if black people, or any people of any other pigmentation, say even derogatory and unfair things "about our country and its injustices," whether to each other in private or sung to the rafters in a church. It is transportingly disingenuous of Dionne to suggest that this controversy is about Rev. Wright's fulminations from the pulpit. The only question is whether Barack Obama's persistent interest in his sermons over two decades discredits his claim today that he does not subscribe to these opinions himself.
Second, the idea that "Whites also say things about blacks privately that they don't say in front of their black friends and associates" is in any way comparable to the preaching of hatred -- if that is what Wright was doing -- is absurd. Nobody considers preaching in a church or any other form of speechifying to compare to private conversations among friends. See, for example, the famous case of Trent Lott's implied defense of Strom Thurmond's segregationist presidential campaign and the outrage that followed from that. I do not recall anybody -- right, left, or crazy -- arguing that, well, "blacks say all sorts of racist things to each other that they would not say in front of whites" in apologetic defense of Lott. But maybe I missed it.
The thrust of Dionne's column, though, is that the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said things that were at least as anti-American as the Rev. Wright to black audiences, that this sort of inconsistent rhetoric is well within the tradition of black leadership, and that this ought -- somehow -- to relieve Obama from the requirement that he explain his attention to Wright:
An important book on King's rhetoric by Barnard College professor Jonathan Rieder, due out next month, offers a more complex view of King than the sanitized version that is so popular, especially among conservative commentators. In "The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me," Rieder -- an admirer of King -- notes that the civil rights icon was "not just a crossover artist but a code switcher who switched in and out of idioms as he moved between black and white audiences."
Listen to what King said about the Vietnam War at his own Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Feb. 4, 1968: "God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war. . . . And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation. But God has a way of even putting nations in their place." King then predicted this response from the Almighty: "And if you don't stop your reckless course, I'll rise up and break the backbone of your power."
If today's technology had existed then, I would imagine the media playing quotations of that sort over and over. Right-wing commentators would use the material to argue that King was anti-American and to discredit his call for racial and class justice. King certainly angered a lot of people at the time.
I cite King not to justify Wright's damnation of America or his lunatic and pernicious theories but to suggest that Obama's pastor and his church are not as far outside the African American mainstream as many would suggest. I would also ask my conservative friends who praise King so lavishly to search their consciences and wonder if they would have stood up for him in 1968.
The difference, of course, is this: King was the leader of a movement that sought a radical change in American law, society and culture but nothing else, and Obama wants to be President of the United States. It is essential that the President of the United States love this country, believe in this country, and defend the interests of this country with gladness and singleness of heart. King did not need to do any of those things, any more than (say) Al Gore does in his capacity as a champion of the environment. It did not matter to King's objectives in the 1960s or legacy today that he said palpably anti-American things in pursuit of his objective, just as it does not matter that Al Gore attacks the United States to foreign audiences in furtherance of his cause. But Barack Obama wants to be President, and it is therefore non-negotiable that he actually love this country. Voters are entitled and reasonable to demand that Obama reconcile -- credibly -- his attendence at Rev. Wright's church with his own professed love of country.
You have friggin rocks in your head...but at least you don't perpetrate the usual conservative cherry-picking of MLKs words and legacy.
Perhaps negroes more to your sanitized, nonthreatening liking--Michael Jordan with Lebron James as VP--are now de rigeur.
Grow up, Jack. And move on. For now we have a candidate who didn't come from a bubble or coccoon of sugar coated America. Your syllogism is insane. But let's indulge it for the sake of your fans here. If he didn't love his country, he wouldn't be running for President. Indeed...nor would Wright even bother to preach, you douchebag!
But I know, I know...those damn blacks! They just don't get it. They should be angry all right--at themselves.
FYI--Obama did reconcile things. He just had to sugar coat it and not say what he should say to white folks like you: "You'd never like me anyway lest I coon or be bought-off, so kiss my black ass."
Notice McCain hasn't said a thing? Indeed he fired that Ingraham flunky on his staff. Frankly I think the bloggers and radio spewers and "journalists" on Fox are going to find this sort of stuff backfiring--ironically it will be with him, not Barack. Barack apparently still wants to reach out to people like you to find solutions. God bless him for that. Makes him...mmmm...presidential.
Migrated over here when Chambers showed me this post. It works both ways--see this following excerpt about Sean Hannity. I am an "angry white male," by the way, and I am angry about issues facing the world and my country, rather than the feeding the almost prurient need to savage Senator Obama. Hopefully no "angry black males" start visiting this blog.
"Turner was once a prominent activist in New Jersey's Republican Party. To area conservatives, he was best known by his moniker for call-ins to the Sean Hannity Show, "Hal from North Bergen." For years, Hannity offered his top-rated radio show as a regular forum for Turner's occasionally racist, always over-the-top rants. Hannity also chatted with him off-air, allegedly offering encouragement to Turner as he struggled to overcome a cocaine habit and homosexual leanings. Turner has boasted that Hannity once invited Turner and his son on to the set of Fox News's Hannity and Colmes. Today, Turner lurks on the fringes of the far right, spouting hate-laced tirades on his webcast radio show. Hannity, meanwhile, remains mum about his former alliance with the neo-Nazi, homing in instead on the supposed racism of black and Latino Democrats.
…On WABC Hannity inherited (Bob) Grant's fan base of angry white males, who listened to his show in the New York City area. Hannity recognized his audience's thirst for red meat, racist rhetoric. However, he knew that if he wanted to avoid Grant's fate, he needed an air of deniability. When "Hal from North Bergen" began calling his show, Hannity found he could avoid the dangers of direct race-baiting by simply outsourcing it to Turner.
During an August 1998 episode of the show, Turner reminded Hannity that were it not for the graciousness of the white man, "black people would still be swinging on trees in Africa," according to Daryle Jenkins, co-founder of the New Jersey-based antiracism group One People's Project. Instead of rebuking Turner or cutting him off, Hannity continued to welcome his calls. On December 10 of the following year, Turner called Hannity's show to announce his campaign to run for a seat in the US House of Representatives from New Jersey, and to attack his presumptive opponent, Democratic Representative Robert Menendez, as a "left-wing nut."
By this time, according to Jenkins, Turner and Hannity had bonded off-air. In 1998 Hannity received an anonymous e-mail linking to an AOL discussion board on which Turner had allegedly confessed to a cocaine problem and alluded to past homosexual trysts. Turner (or someone claiming to be Turner) wrote in an August 4, 1998, Google discussion forum that Hannity called him to clear the air: "Just last week, Sean phoned me at home from his job at FOX News to continue a conversation we'd begun earlier while he was at WABC," Turner wrote. "Sean advised that one of you sensitive souls sent him an e-mail about 'revelations I had made' here on the internet. He told me it was obviously and [sic] attempt to 'poison the water.' " Turner continued, "I told him that I've done things I'm not proud of, and had dark times in my life; and those experiences helped shape the way I live today...the right way. He [Hannity] laughed and commented that he knew the feeling." Turner added that such chats with Hannity were "not unusual," often occurring while Hannity held his calls during commercial breaks."
Perhaps Chambers' exhortation to "move on" should be heeded?
To be clear, I do not listen to talk radio. I have literally heard Rush once, and have never heard Hannity's radio show. I occasionally stumble into Hannity's television show on Fox, and almost always feel sorry for his liberal sidekick Alan Colmes. Indeed, Colmes is known in our household as "the long-suffering Alan Colmes." So I am not even going to imagine defending Sean Hannity.
Look, pandering to racism or being racist is bad stuff, and I do not defend it. That is not the question, at least as I see it. The issue remains this: Why did Barack Obama subject himself to Jeremiah Wright's rants over a period of many years? As I have written in previous posts, there are any number of possible explanations that do not impeach Obama's patriotism. Unfortunately for Obama, some of those explantions do not reflect so well on him (he went to that church because his wife liked it, which is a very common reason that would still bother a lot of voters) or which leave him open to attack (he went to that church to gain political advantage among his constituents, which may be understandable but which now leaves him open to attack on the goose/gander principle).
[i]You[/i] ask the right question about Obama, TH, but the focus of the public controversy has indeed been on Rev. Wright's remarks.
I see it this way: Obama both needs the support of black Americans, and wants to lead black Americans and the nation as a whole toward a future less bitterly divided over race. In order to do so he cannot now, and certainly could not earlier in his career, seperate himself from important leaders of the black community and their occasionally controversial rhetoric, regardless of his personal beliefs.
I find his repudiation of Wright's most egregious remarks credible. Despite the meme that's been aggressively pushed on Fox and elsewhere, there is absolutely no contradiction between Obama's initial statements that he had never heard the specific comments that were featured in the recent videos, and the later acknowledgment that he had heard sermons where Wright said things that were controversial. In his own record, even going back to his days as an activist before he decided to attend law school, no one has been able to come up with any statements by Obama himself that reflect Wright's attitudes. Instead, he's spoken in favor of black American bootstraps and warned against dependence on government aid; I recall earlier in his campaign after making some comments along these lines the question in some quarters was whether he was "black enough."
This is not to say that Obama's association has with Wright and TUCC has been cynical, a mere union of political convenience. I take him at his word that Rev. Wright has been a key figure in his spiritual development. And anyone you hear from out of Chicago seems to agree that Wright's sermons were only a small facet of the whole TUCC, that it was one of the largest and most active organizations in the region for supporting social justice causes.
Beyond that, I suspect it's natural for a member of a minority that still faces some degree of discrimination (the exact degree is another debate) to show a greater bond of loyalty to an organization dedicated to the protection and empowerment of that group, than a white Christian might show to their own church.
When I left the Catholic church I mentioned in an earlier post, I was just leaving one church (not even the one where I'd been baptized, as an infant) for another. For Obama to repudiate TUCC would have meant removing himself from the church and community of worshippers where he first came to Christ as an adult, and furthermore a powerful organization which could help him affect positive change on issues he believed in, a base of support for a career via which he hoped to serve the community and the nation.
I can see where in Obama's position, I might have bit my tongue and overlooked the occasional flash of over-the-top rhetoric. I still would have drawn the line at "US of KKK," but then Obama says he never heard that, and everything in his own record indicates he doesn't believe anything like that.
[proofreading this it sounds a touch worshipful....just to be clear while I'm supporting his candidacy I don't think BO will be walking on water anytime soon.]
"Migrated over here when Chambers showed me this post"
How ironic -
“There were enough of us on campus to constitute a tribe, and when it came to hanging out many of us chose to function like a tribe, staying close together, traveling in packs,” he wrote. “It remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.”
- Mr. Obama in “Dreams from My Father,”
Mr. Obama is indeed an inspiration.
The issue on the table is not Rev. Wright's views or Dr. King's views or Sean Hannity's views (??) but Barack Obama's views and how, if any, those affect or influence his public policy stances.
On this point, the critics have not, for me, made such a connection. To be sure, questions about his judgment can be raised; but questions about how his exposure to these radical views has affected his public stances on issues still have no substance.
Anyway, Dr. King viewed America as a noble but flawed nation that was not living up to its principles. He wished to raise the nation. Nowhere do I see such similar sentiments coming from Rev. Wright.
I simply cannot see Rev. King calling on God to damn America.
I do not believe that Obama shares Rev. Wright's more noxious political views, as I have posted previously on other related threads.
I believe that the issue now goes to Obama's leadership skills and character -- why didn't he say, in effect, "Yo, Rev, icksnay on the AIDSray." As a community organizer and a community leader, and having a personal relationship with his pastor, he had the standing to go to Rev. Wright and at least provide him with credible information that may have persuaded Wright about the origins of AIDS or the urban drug problem.
Stephen Spruiell writes a good column today that touches on this line of thought.
It amazes me that you can shrug your shoulders at the Republican coalition, where batshit loonball rhetoric is heard everyday and everywhere, but muse knowingly that Obama's judgement over 20 years is deeply flawed because he never became a "moderating force" in his Church. Has the media ever called into question the judgement of a white candidate for their associations with a particular religion or minister? Has cable news ever held white politicians to the same standard as Obama?
Should we demand that John McCain produce evidence that he attempted to moderate religious intolerance of gays so we can be assured he doesn't hate gay people? Should George Bush insist on reforming the Catholic church by allowing women to become priests and reverse celibecy laws before we can trust his judgement? Should Hillary Clinton denounce anti-Semetic remarks day in and day out until we can be assured she's not a "closet Nazi?" She does look particularly Aryan, after all.
The standard Obama is being held to is ridiculous. Never have I ever witnessed in the news a white politician held accountable this way for the beliefs of his Church or his minister. That is why Obama had to make this speech. Political necessity. He met the incredibly high standard that the media created for him and went beyond it.
He joined Trinity probably for the political advantage of his then-young politcal career. It is a large, politically active church in Chicago. That's probably why he joined and why he stayed. It is the same political advantage John McCain gets with Hagee, evangelicals, and is largely given a pass for. White evangelicals can call abortion a Holocaust, say 9-11 and Katrina were dvine punishment, and think evolution does not exist and the Earth is 6000 years old, and by and large they are ignored or in conservative circles, embraced. Oh there may be some on the left who point out Hagee's loony views or bigotry, but white bigotry and ignorance is not newsworthy and political fallout is limited. On the other hand, there's no excuse for black ignorance or intolerance and it was Obama's responsibility to do something about it when he was confronted with it.
Look, talk about Obama being an empty suit or his thin political record or his nonexistent credentials in foreign policy, economy, government, or any kind of executive experience. But holding him to this ridiculous standard of judgement which no other (white) candidate is held to is foolish.
Obama doesn't think the government created AIDS to infect people of color? He doesn't think crack was brought to the US by the CIA to kill black people?
Then just say it. He doesn't think reasonable people should believe these things either? Then just say it.
After that he can give any reason for sticking with Wright such as: he is me friend and my family's friend.
He helped me get a start in the poor Chicago community I wished to serve(I believe he did a lot of good there also). He helped me in my career in politics.
I'm sure McCain can and would specifically disown any ideas which some of his supporters might have voiced in the past as unreasonable and beyond the pale.
I doubt very much if he would have disowned his own grandmother.
TH you make a great point about how any black man or woman can without provocation, make some unbelievably racist comment about a white person and nothing is said. Anytime you put the microphone in front of even really likable guys like Shaq O'Neill he regularly make comments about how "I would never let that White Boy dunk on me." Could you imagine if some famous white athlete ever uttered something about a "Black Boy?"
The broader question about Obama's speech has more to do with comments he made about the work that still needs to be done.
The "white community," said Barack, must start "acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination -- and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past -- are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds ... ."
Obama went on to say "The 'white community' must invest more money in black schools and communities, enforce civil rights laws, ensure fairness in the criminal justice system and provide this generation of blacks with "ladders of opportunity" that were "unavailable" to Barack's and the Rev. Wright's generations.
In each of his suggestions there were more government programs to help the poor underpriviledged black person. At what point, (may this white person who was raised by Irish immigrants, who along with his nine brothers and sisters all went to college and everyone of us got an advanced degree and not one government dollar helped us get there) do we realize that the last thing American inner-city blacks need is more of the same programs that have made them so dependent on the government?
I guess the broader question I ask and it is the same one that Dr. Shelby Steel asks, is "how long must we feel guilty for sins that happened a long time ago?" I would further ask the broader question of when do we start to ask the really tough questions of why are we continuing to pay for these types of programs when the end result is continued victimization beliefs by the same people who are getting the hand up?
Lastly, as for Obama himself when I saw him originally claim that he was not aware of the harsh language used by TUCC and the Reverend Wright and then to hear his speach the other day, I could not help but feel him parsing the truth to fit his reality. Similar to other politicians or famous people who try to soft-pedal really bad behavior. The bottomline for Mr. Obama is that he is supposed to be above all of this "divisiveness" and he is to be the candidate who bridges all divides; and yet he has chosen to attend this church, get married there, have his children be baptized, where the mere idea of crossing any bridges only works if the white man comes over to his side and even then that may not be enough...?
You talk of MLK, Jr. leading a movement but Obama looks to be President of the US. True. But Wright is the one who made comments that are being compared to MLK, Jr. not Obama.
You're equating Obama to Wright and just because he's his pastor does not mean he subscribes to the same thought. Is that the best you can do?
"Has the media ever called into question the judgement of a white candidate for their associations with a particular religion or minister?"
"Has cable news ever held white politicians to the same standard as Obama?"
No. They manifestly hold Obama to a lower standard. Which is probably why you've never heard of any other candidate cruise into the lead in a presidential race whose only solid policy proposal has been 'change.'
"Never have I ever witnessed in the news a white politician held accountable this way for the beliefs of his Church or his minister."
Must be deaf. Look back only a few months and examine Mitt Romney's candidacy. (Mormon) Before that, examine President Kennedy's (Catholic) who was actually pressured into publicly declaring that he wouldn't put the Church's interests before America's.
"White evangelicals can call abortion a Holocaust, say 9-11 and Katrina were dvine punishment, and think evolution does not exist and the Earth is 6000 years old, and by and large they are ignored or in conservative circles, embraced."
So all of this is comparable, apparently, to labeling white Christians as 'the Devil' and damning America? Odd, since I see one as a matter of theological opinion, which you labeled as 'white ignorance and bigotry,' and the other as ACTUAL ignorance and bigotry. Also odd, since pious Catholics (for example) of ALL races hold similar beliefs... you sure were quick to throw that "white" in there, weren't you? Hmm.
"But holding him to this ridiculous standard of judgement which no other (white) candidate is held to is foolish."
Nonsense. I'm sure that all the other candidates are held to the same standard; that of not attending a paranoid, hate-spewing, twisted excuse for a house of God for twenty fucking years before going in front of the nation claiming to be 'post-racial' and 'enlightened.'
But none of them have done that, and therefore none of them are suffering for it. Prove otherwise, before you try to deliver this 'double standard' argument.
"It is essential that the President of the United States love this country, believe in this country, and defend the interests of this country with gladness and singleness of heart."
I won't attempt to refute your entire thesis, but remind you that love and chastisement are not exclusive.
We love our children, yet we discipline them with corrective reminders, and a smack on the behind, when they step out of line.
If Obama must become some automaton who's expected to say on cue, "I love you America," with appropriate feeling and histrionics, and not call attention to its failings and faults, then I say he should immediately, and post-haste, abort the child (his candidacy) before it's born.
I would rather have someone who's "real", understands the country's past, and its future aspirations, in a dispassionate, and realistic light, than show reverence for all those who have gone before, who have caused the country severe damage and harm, while, at the same time, saying, "I love you America."
Love of country doesn't mean that one must love it's excesses, it's deplorable behavior (at home and abroad), or its intractable, unforgiving arrogance, by attempting to manage the world from the White House.
Love of country means that we will acknowledge what's best and what's worst about it; struggle to change the worst, while, at the same time, aspire to bring out the best.
Loving our country is like loving our children: we maximize what is good, and minimize what is bad, with careful and loving guidance, wisdom, and an occasional swat on the backside as a reminder that they're off course, and following a path that won't lead to their best hopes and highest ideals.
Re: Rev. Wright. He, too, is that kind of parent.
Should George Bush insist on reforming the Catholic church by allowing women to become priests and reverse celibacy laws before we can trust his judgment?
Point one: Bush is a Methodist, not a Catholic. Point two: with regard to Wright’s church, which Obama belongs to, we are discussing not theology, nor church administration, but political views expressed by Reverend Wright FROM THE PULPIT.
The standard Obama is being held to is ridiculous. Never have I ever witnessed in the news a white politician held accountable this way for the beliefs of his Church or his minister.
Consider the brouhaha over Bush’s speaking at Bob Jones University: just speaking. He wasn’t even a member of that church, yet the press raised a stink over Bush’s speaking there.
I am not a churchgoer, but I would imagine that most priests and ministers do not express political views from the pulpit to the degree that Reverend Wright does. The Christian tradition of “render unto Caesar” means that for the most part, theology and politics are kept separate in most churches. To the degree that a priest or minister involves himself or herself in politics, the political views of said priest and minister become fair game. Certainly Reverend Falwell received a lot of criticism for the political views that he expressed.
Obama has belonged to his church for two decades, and gave Wright’s church $20,000 in 2006. We are not discussing theological issues, such as transubstantiation or baptism by immersion. Theological issues are for each church to decide.From the church pulpit Wright made very definite political stands, and giving that church $20,000 implies a certain amount of agreement with the political stance expressed from that church pulpit. I for one would not have given a penny to a minister who had said what Wright said after 9/11. Do you think that Hamas raises funds from Jewish people? Contributing $20,000 says something.
Should Hillary Clinton denounce anti-Semetic remarks day in and day out until we can be assured she's not a "closet Nazi?" She does look particularly Aryan, after all.
To my knowledge the church that Hillary Clinton belongs to has not made anti-Israel remarks the way that Reverend Wright has. Reverend Wright has honored Farrakhan, a notorious Anti-Semite. Wright’s church bulletin featured a screed from Hamas, an organization whose goal is to wipe the State of Israel off the map. To my knowledge it has not “balanced” that with a statement from Olmert.
If a church plays politics, it is fair game to discuss, both for the minister and for the church member that belongs to it for 20 years and one year contributes $20,000 to that church.
"You're equating Obama to Wright and just because he's his pastor does not mean.... he subscribes to the same thought. Is that the best you can do?"
This is getting more and more boring.
At age 33, Obama wrote in Dreams from My Father that
he found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against his mother's race.
Obama vowed that he would
"never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela."
More? Obama writes -
"The emotions between the races could never be pure; even love was tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing in ourselves. Whether we sought out our demons or salvation, the other race would always remain just that: menacing, alien, and apart."
"To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists."
"To admit our doubt and confusion to whites, to open up our psyches to general examination by those who had caused so much of the damage in the first place, seemed ludicrous, itself an expression of self-hatred," he
"We were always playing on the white man's court - by the white man's rules. If the principal, or the coach, or a teacher wanted to spit in your face, he could, because he had the power and you didn't. The only thing you could choose was withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage."
"That hate hadn't gone away," he wrote, blaming "white people — some cruel, some ignorant, sometimes a single face, sometimes just a faceless image of a system claiming power over our lives."
Happy? But of course Obama has experienced personal growth under the tutelage of his spiritual advisor and mentor, Mr. Wright.
Susan Sontag too, is that kind of parent -
"The white race is a cancer on human history"
It's always great to be exposed to liberals attempting to make coherent arguments. I get worried that perhaps I am being too hard on them; then I hit a stream of comments like the ones here, where all 5 a) are unable to grasp what the topic is and b) raise false dichotomies.
Inspiring. One of my favorite contentions over the last two decades is that progressives simply do not understand what is being said to them. They merely recite talking points that include some of the subjects touched on. Thanks, again, guys.
Acropolis Review, Charles Murray and Drew Westen summarize some of the important points:
Obama went on to say "The 'white community' must invest more money in black schools and communities
They must, must they? The black community should fix itself, not call for stealing from others. Obama should be ashamed of himself. When I went to Sunday school were were taught "thou shalt not steal".
Added: March 20, 2008
Already 120,000 people have watched this video
Watch Rev. Jeremiah Wright's 9-11 sermon in context
Added: March 20, 2008
Already 33,000 people have watched this video
Rev. Jeremiah Wright's God Damn America in context
No one can cover up the truth
I applaud your efforts to put Rev. Wright's more inflammatory statements in full context. I suppose it would be even better to view the sermons in their entirety. Roland Martin on the CNN website has tried to do the same thing.
I am not sure, however, that providing full context actually helps the argument that what Rev. Wright said or how he said should be any less off-putting to a majority of Americans, or that it is a talk that most Americans would be interested in hearing from the pulpit.
Rev. Wright's "GDA" sermon seems to want to make the point that God does not change, but governments, being highly imperfect, do change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. He seems to be pointing to a particular passage of scripture that would basically state, "The Lord shall damn any king who mistreats his people," although I can't reference the chapter or verse, and then inserts America in place of a king. The context of the YouTube clip cites a litany of other governments and other historical wrongs and mistakes, which, taken to its logical conclusion, could be seen as an argument for anarchy. (I would also submit that there is at least one scriptural incident where God does in fact change -- immediately after Noah and the Flood, in Genesis 9:11, He makes a covenant that there will be no more wipe-out flooding in the future.)
Rev. Wright is of course entitled to express his views from the pulpit (up to the point of political advocacy for a specific candidate, at which point he risks TUCC's status as a 501(c)(3)), and the members of the church can react as they see fit. Rev. Wright's views are not all that different from a distinct segment of the political spectrum that indeed crosses racial boundaries. His beliefs are a product of his study of Liberation Theology, including the works of James Cone. In my view, Cone and Wright (along with many others belonging to numerous other Christian sects) make a fundamental error in understanding that Jesus is speaking only to their particular group, and thereby misses the universality of the message of Jesus. Biblical interpretation is always subjective, which is I guess why I am pretty secular.
Even if we assume that Sen. Obama is among the most politically conservative members of TUCC (and perhaps there are a handful of actual Republicans in the church), he would still be the most progressive modern Democrat ever to hold the presidency. He may well get there; I just don't know if the electorate has moved that far that fast. It's also plausible that the country has moved somewhat leftward and that a centrist and independent Republican such as McCain could win by meaningful margin.
Over at Real Clear Politics, Professor Charles Lipson has a good analyis Obama's current situation, cleverly titled "Between Barack and a Hard Place."
I love my country, but I think we ought to start seeing other people. That doesn't disqualify someone for the presidency, if a majority of American start to think the same thing. Your opinion about the matter is only that--there's no such requirement for jingoism in the American Constitution.