These quotes are from a joint letter from Barack Obama's African American Religious and LGBT Leadership Teams, in response to criticism of him for sharing the stage with Donnie McClurkin — a pastor and a popular gospel singer who presents himself as saved from what he believes is the sin of homosexuality.
From the letter:
[A] great many African Americans share Pastor McClurkin’s beliefs. This... cannot be ignored.This sounds like to me like a specific example of the general idea that Obama has been purveying all along. Were you excited about the abstraction, but put off by the concrete manifestation?
[W]e believe that the only way for these two sides to find common ground is to do so together.
Not at arms length. Not in a war of words with press and pundits. Only together.
It is clear that Barack Obama is the only candidate who has made bringing these two often disparate groups together a goal. In gatherings of LGBT Americans and African Americans of faith, Obama has stated that all individuals should be afforded full civil rights regardless of their sexual orientation, and that homophobia must be eradicated in every corner of our nation. If we are to end homophobia and secure full civil rights for gay Americans, then we need an advocate within the Black community like Barack Obama....
We also ask Senator Obama’s critics to consider the alternatives. Would we prefer a candidate who ignores the realities in the African American community and cuts off millions of Blacks who believe things offensive to many Americans? Or a panderer who tells African Americans what they want to hear, at the expense of our gay brothers and sisters? Or would we rather stand with Barack Obama, who speaks truth in love to both sides, pulling no punches but foreclosing no opportunities to engage?
John Aravosis hates it:
Keep digging, Senator....Obama made his name as a brilliant, inspiring speaker. So why am I reading a verbose letter by his supporters and a rambling rebuttal by an angry blogger?
I'm aware that some people claim that there's a lot of homophobia in the black community - frankly, I wouldn't know - but Obama is now saying that a great many African-Americans agree with McClurkin? Meaning, they agree that gays are trying to kill our children, that America is at war with the gays, and that homosexuality is a "curse"? I'm willing to believe that we may have to do some educating of a lot of Americans of all races and creeds, but I'm having a hard time believing that a "great many" of them believe the kind of wacky stuff that McClurkin does....
[Are we] to believe Obama would not exclude anti-Semites or racists from his campaign either?...
I simply don't believe that Obama would have the same reaction, be just as welcoming, if we were talking about racists or anti-Semites. He wouldn't say that we're all one big tent. He would kick the racist or the anti-Semite to the curb....
I mean, we're to believe that the fact that Obama, alone among Democratic candidates, is willing to openly welcome bigots into his campaign, and that fact makes him the best candidate for voters concerned about civil rights. And the corollary, the worst candidate for someone who cares about civil rights is the candidate who actually stands up against the bigots. So the best way to promote tolerance is to tolerate and embrace intolerance. And I suppose the best way to tackle the issue of domestic violence is to not exclude wife beaters from your campaign either? That's just wacked.
I want to see Obama, on easily accessible video, putting in words exactly why he's doing the right thing, and I want to hear it and be able to say, yes, that's great.
If that doesn't happen, then the whole premise of Obama's campaign is delusional.
And I had a hard time even finding the letter I was looking for on Obama's website. Why don't they have a search function? After wasting time searching for a search function, I decided my only hope was trial and error hitting the buttons along the top of the page to get pull-down menus. The "Issues" button looked like a good bet, but no. I finally found it under "People."
People? "LGBT" appears on that menu. So does "Women." Just as I had to go to "People" to find out about gay rights, I would have to go to "People" to find out about abortion.
When is an issue not an "issue"? When it's associated with a particular interest group? But "Honoring our veterans" gets to be an "issue," as does "Fulfilling our covenant with seniors."
This is not great communication.