Reactions to Obama's speech
Shorter obama - "We're ALL victims."
I believe he did so. But at a price that opens him up to a charge he has been trying to avoid since he began his historic run for the presidency; that he is a far left Democratic liberal who sees the government as the solution to most of the nation’s problems.
Overall, where Obama succeeded was in his most interesting and incisive look at the state of race relations today. He said what needed to be said to both races in a way that didn’t come off as preaching, which it very well could have done. Where he failed was in his prescriptions to solve the problem which are nothing less than old fashioned liberal panaceas to be applied by government to cure society’s ills.
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.
We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
"But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."
Obama just went on a riff about all the complexities of race in America "that we've never really worked through." The upshot: Let's pick every scab off of every racial grievance in the history of the United States and "work through" those "complexities." Let's don't. It doesn't sound like a good idea[....]Blaming black America's problems on the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow isn't going to cut it, especially if you don't have some interesting, radical proposal to address those problems.
If you're looking for some comfort that Barack Obama wasn't trying to play it both ways-endearing himself to extreme and paranoid fringe members of Chicago's African-American community while preaching racial unity-his speech today won't help. [....]Notice how he now limits to "conversations" those instances in which Wright did not deride other racial and ethnic groups? I think the truth, buried in all this rhetoric and gloss, is clear: Obama sat there in church for twenty years, listening with his kids to a preacher vilifying his country, white people in general, and the state of Israel, and lacked the moral gumption to leave. I think the halo has slipped.
The utter implausibility of Senator Obama's "explanation" that he had not been in the pew when the "reverend' Wright's most infamous remarks were made and that had he known about them, he would have made it clear that he "strongly" and then "categorically" objects to them and finds them utterly unacceptable and then "reprehensible" can only elicit a reaction of amazement and contempt by most people who are church-going congregants of any Christian or Jewish denomination in this country.
I live in a "gated adult community" for over-55 year olds in Florida. A majority of the people who live here go to church regularly. Their church and pastor's character, sermons and activities are a major subject of frequent conversation. Many people I know here have changed denominations several times because they found their pastor just boring, or disagreed with what they believed was a political comment masquerading as theology. Some have found their church too austere, others too flashy. Some have explained to me that they found their original church too active in "pushing" a "social gospel" of help to the needy. Others would like their church to extend more of an outreach to the needy.
The vulgar and demented remarks made by Jeremiah Wright exceed by light years the most outrageous remarks anyone of my friends and neighbors have ever heard within the walls of a church or synagogue. If these friends and neighbors miss several consecutive services due to travel or illness, you can be sure that the first information they ask fellow congregants about upon their return is their health, how their children are doing and whether the minister/pastor/priest/rabbi said anything new, unusual, or worthy of note.
For Sherlock Holms to believe Barack Obama, he would need to get a report from a certified psychiatrist that during the last few months, the reverend Wright suddenly suffered from aggravated attacks of dementia. The video clearly shows the jubilation with which the congregants in Trinity United Church hang on the reverend's every word with their continual cries of encouragement. This supports the view that the reverend didn't suddenly change his tune but must have been preaching much the same message in the past. The only reason the commentators/pundits/analysts who have interviewed Obama and miraculously tend to accept his explanation is that they must be wholly secular in outlook, are under 55 and have no church/pastor experience of their own or even any association with people who attend church regularly.
Steve Gilbert, of Sweetness & Light
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.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
The profound mistake of Mr. Wright’s sermons is that he tells vicious lies about our country and its people, its history and its current activities.
The US was not founded on racism. America is not the number one killer in the world. It did not create AIDS to kill the black man. The US did not cause 9/11.
And these are damnable lies whether there is upward mobility for minorities or not. (And weirdly, these are lies calculated to spread hate and distrust for the very same government that these same people want to run everything.)
Moreover, the social dynamism that Mr. Obama speaks about is caused largely by our capitalist system, the selfsame evil corporations which he berates and wants to destroy.
“It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks’ greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere… That’s the world! On which hope sits!”
All the problems of the world are the fault of white greed.
However, the truth is exactly the opposite. Capitalism (greed) has solved and will solve most of the world’s problems — if we will only let it.
Obama points correctly to the fact that he’s been tagged as both too black and not black enough. It’s an interesting point because, inadvertently, it highlights that the obsession within the Democratic community has been with his race and not with his substantive virtues: experienced enough? too little experience? too liberal? just liberal enough? too corrupt? no more corrupt than the ordinary politician? less corrupt than Hillary? With the focus on race, no one’s been asking the questions that ought to be asked. [....]
The question is how did Obama handle these disagreements [with Wrtight]. Did he, in his own head, say to himself, “Well, I don’t agree with that.” Or did he do more — something he carefully doesn’t answer. Did he challenge Wright in private? He doesn’t say. Did Obama, a public figure, challenge Wright in public? Well, we know he didn’t. Did Obama, a sitting state and federal Senator, publicly disassociate himself from one who prays for America’s destruction? Not only did he not do so, he had Wright as a core member of his campaign team up until last week, when the guy was conveniently flushed down the memory hole. Obama’s “disagreements” can’t have been that strong. He’s lying.