I learned more about staying on the narrow path and avoiding trouble from my grandmother in five minutes than Barack and Michelle Obama seem to have learned in their whole lives. This lesson in human nature and relationships is pretty darned simple. And it gives no quarter to anyone; it applies to all human beings.
"People will know you by the company you keep," my grandmother told me.
"So, be very careful how you choose your friends, because a person's most valuable possession is his reputation, and once lost, a reputation is nearly impossible to restore."
But the most valuable nugget of all:
"If you remain friends with people up to no good, you are bound to become like them. If you think you're above their influence, you are just fooling yourself. So, choose wisely."
Barack Obama chose Jeremiah Wright as his pastor, his spiritual mentor and friend. Obama has kept the relationship intact for more than 20 years now.
I've watched videos of only five of Wright's sermons, delivered in fiery oratory, and I've had to conclude that there is no way that Obama should not, or could not have known better than to keep going to that man's church and listening to his hate mongering, racist rants.
Barack Obama was not exposed to this as a young child, taken to hear Wright in the company of his parents.
Barack Obama freely chose this as an adult, as a well-educated adult, having garnered his education at prestigious institutions of higher learning.
Yet, Senator Obama, now close to grabbing the Democrat nomination for the Presidency of the United States of America, has said, "I don't think of my church as being particularly controversial."
Well, I paid a visit to Trinity United Church of Christ in January to see for myself. After reading just a few well-covered racist snippets from Wright's sermons, I needed to know if a man running for the highest office in the land was really exposing himself to this kind of hatred week after week and having the gall to call it Christianity. At that time, I gave Obama the benefit of the doubt because I didn't want to make a mountain out of a molehill.
What I discovered was, that up until then at least, our mainstream press had been reducing a mountain into a molehill.
Racism Ain't Rocket Science
The most universal message preached by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
The content of a man's character is not determined by the color of his skin.
And it's opposite ain't rocket science.
Making assumptions about a man's character based solely on the color of his skin is racism.
Any way one chooses to cut it, slice it, dice it or rationalize it, Jeremiah Wright preaches, and presumably practices, black supremacist racism.
Wright's racism is guileful, I'll give him that.
He cloaks his gospel in the mantle of eternal black suffering. Where in the white racism I grew up in down South, white might made automatic right, this preacher man, Wright, just inverses the equation. If your skin is black, you're good; if your skin is white, you're evil.
Reverend Wright's own admonition to his congregation on why they should vote for Obama is based solely on the candidate's skin color and presumed mantle of suffering at the hands of white oppressors.
Why vote for Obama?
"He ain't rich."
"He ain't white."
"And he ain't privileged."
And how did so many people get the idea that Obama is the long-awaited messiah of suffering black people? Perhaps it started with Wright. He has, on more than one occasion, compared Obama to Jesus.
Like Obama, Wright exhorts:
"Jesus was a poor black man in a Country ruled by rich white people."
Wright seems to be as confused about Jesus' Jewish ethnicity as he is about some of his other "facts."
Just one example of Wright's "confusion," which Obama presumably picked up in church is this:
"Fact #1: We've got more black men in prison than there are in college."
Obama has repeated this falsehood quite frequently, and evidently just took his pastor at his word. Even our mainstream media finally tracked down this lie and exposed it. The Washington Post fact-checker was getting downright frustrated by last November because in spite of its falsity, Obama kept on repeating it in public. Interestingly, I may have found the actual source of the lie. It is stated in print by Obama's mentor's mentor: James H. Cone.
"More black youth are in jails and prisons than in colleges and universities."
(Black Theology and Black Power; James H. Cone; p. ix)
The first edition of this book was published in 1969. But the quotation above is part of the newly added preface and dated 1997.
At the risk of seeming picayune about Obama's repeating this falsehood, I must insist that when a man of upright character learns that he has been deceived by a trusted advisor, he begins to question everything else the man has told him.
Senator Obama, however, has shown a rather arrogant refusal to do this regarding Jeremiah Wright's pronouncements.
Obama had nothing negative to say about Wright's honorific celebration of Louis Farrakhan until he was pressured repeatedly by the press and aggressively in a debate with his political opponent, Hillary Clinton. Even then, Obama persistently referred to Farrakhan with an honorific title: "Minister Farrakhan."
Louis Farrakhan likes being compared to Adolph Hitler, saying Hitler was a great man. Jeremiah Wright says Farrakhan will be known "as one of the 20th and 21st century giants of the African-American religious experience" and has praised his "integrity and honesty."
No one, that I'm aware of, is promulgating the assertion that Barack Obama thinks Hitler was a great man, simply because his minister thinks Farrakhan is a great man, and Farrakhan thinks Hitler was a great man.
To do so would be using the fallacious reasoning of guilt by association.
But racism ain't rocket science.
And it doesn't take an Ivy League education to spot it either.
David Duke is another admirer of Adolph Hitler. Duke used to make quite a spectacle of himself at LSU, dressing up in a Nazi uniform and holding parties on Hitler's birthday. To my knowledge, Duke has never been charged with committing violent acts against either blacks or Jews.
But I simply cannot think of a single nice thing to say about David Duke. I wouldn't put an ounce of credence in anything the man had to say on any matter whatsoever, even if he presided over pure and saintly missions to the unfortunate on the side.
His blatant racism and anti-Semitism automatically nullify whatever good traits he may have. I don't need anything more than the Bible to tell me so. The huge racist board in David Duke's eye can be clearly seen, even through all the splinters in my own eye.
And if Duke were the honored recipient of some grand award at the church of a white man running for President, I would run, not walk my vote away from that candidate. I could not trust my Country to a man who couldn't spot David Duke's stupid and hate-filled racism any more than I would trust the job to a six year old.
Word Leads to Deed
The most heinous actions of history began in mere words.
When Adolph Hitler was running for Chancellor of Germany, he plastered the towns with a poster that simply proclaimed:
Peace and Equal Rights
Adolph Hitler blamed the Jews for every German misery. And for a long time, he used just words.
Jeremiah Wright blames all whites, and sometimes especially the Jews, for every black misery.
Louis Farrakhan is even more outspoken than Jeremiah Wright; Farrakhan openly admires Adolph Hitler.
James Cone, Wright's own mentor, in his chapter on "Revolution, Violence and Reconciliation," vehemently denounced integration as the white man's silly notion of equality. He advocated ignoring the white man's Christian morals. He promoted a black man's Christianity.
To Cone, it was a simple matter of any means whatsoever justifying the goal of liberation.
To Cone, the choice was simple. Do you choose to be a black liberator or a white oppressor?
"Where is your identity? Where is your being? Does it lie with the oppressed blacks or with the white oppressors? Let us hope that there are enough to answer this question correctly so that America will not be compelled to acknowledge a common humanity only by seeing that blood is always one color."
History tells us that people who see themselves as unfairly treated underdogs often say things they don't mean in the heat of a moment.
But history also teaches that if and when persons who have spoken about violent retribution actually attain power, their words, once hastily disregarded, can take the form of heinous atrocities.
Which is precisely why, in my opinion, it is inherently dangerous to associate with people who think this way.
Because, as my wise grandmother used to say, "you are influenced by the company you keep."
Barack Obama persistently contends that he has not been influenced by the racist sermons of Jeremiah Wright or Wright's mentor, James H. Cone.
One must wonder now whether Obama is fooling himself, or us.