March 18, 2008

"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother."

Barack Obama gives his big speech in response to the uproar over Jeremiah Wright. Brief excerpts:
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy....

... Reverend Wright’s 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...

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough....

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man....

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me...

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother...

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up....

Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. [T]he anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
Missing here, I think, is an explicit acknowledgment that Wright is not merely expressing the anger he feels but that he is leading people into anger, keeping anger fresh and alive.
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.
Again, Obama speaks as if Wright were only expressing his beliefs, and he does not say that Wright was, from his powerful leadership position, instilling these beliefs in many others.

But the key question isn't whether Obama puts Wright down strongly enough. It's what Obama himself is. Would he, as a leader in the most powerful position, instill this destructive thinking in others? That doesn't at all seem to be what he does, and the rest of the speech is largely a demonstration that he does not:
I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
He ends the speech with a saccharine anecdote about a decidedly un-angry old black man who tells a young white woman — Ashley — that he's supporting Obama "because of Ashley." Mustard sandwiches were involved. Did that distract you from what he did and didn't do in the speech?

I'd say he did not do very much — other than to resist condemning Wright and to model his socially acceptable attitudes and generate a feeling — I'm sure you didn't all feel it — that we need unite behind this man if the terrible divisions over race are going to end.

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan felt it: "I have never felt more convinced that this man's candidacy - not this man, his candidacy - and what he can bring us to achieve - is an historic opportunity. This was a testing; and he did not merely pass it by uttering safe bromides." And it felt all Christian to him.

Jonathan Chait thinks it worked, but only because Obama is black:
My first reaction is that the speech was extremely smart and intellectually subtle....

He may be liberated to operate at a high intellectual level in public because he's black. I'm not trying to be Gerry Ferraro here; let me explain. Candidates like John Kerry and (even moreso) Al Gore were also very smart, but constantly forced to dumb it down lest they be tagged as out-of-touch elitists. Since the egghead image is so at odds with the prevailing stereotypes about African-Americans, he has much less to fear by speaking at a high intellectual level.
Oh, bullshit. You may not be trying to be Gerry Ferraro here, but the only nonsexual difference between you and Geraldine is that you're for Obama and she's on the other side. And here's a clue: John Kerry is not very smart.

Righty Paul Mirengoff delivers a left-handed compliment:
Although Obama's speech is not without its evasions, I consider it a courageous one by usual political standards. He has refused to walk away from Wright's black liberation theology when it might well have been expedient to do so. The rest of us now should have the courage to take Obama at his word and decide whether it is acceptable to elect as president of the United States someone who carries Rev. Wright around as part of him, and who takes his ranting seriously.
Kathryn Jean Lopez does a pithy paraphrase:
Damn straight, Rev. Wright is angry. That's how I wound up at his church. That's why I stay there. I'm mad too, I just control it better. Now let's get electing me president so we can all feel good.
Of course, that's completely unfair. Even if he can be understood to have said something along the lines of "I'm mad too," he distinguished himself from Wright not in hiding his anger, but in believing we can change the things that cause the anger.

AND: Don't miss Shelby Steele's column in the WSJ (written before today's speech, but on point):
How does one "transcend" race in this church?...

What could he have been thinking? Of course he wasn't thinking. He was driven by insecurity, by a need to "be black" despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity. And anyway, wasn't this hatred more rhetorical than real?...

No matter his ultimate political fate, there is already enough pathos in Barack Obama to make him a cautionary tale. His public persona thrives on a manipulation of whites (bargaining), and his private sense of racial identity demands both self-betrayal and duplicity. His is the story of a man who flew so high, yet neglected to become himself.

Here's what Steele means by "bargaining":
Bargaining is a mask that blacks can wear in the American mainstream, one that enables them to put whites at their ease. This mask diffuses the anxiety that goes along with being white in a multiracial society. Bargainers make the subliminal promise to whites not to shame them with America's history of racism, on the condition that they will not hold the bargainer's race against him. And whites love this bargain -- and feel affection for the bargainer -- because it gives them racial innocence in a society where whites live under constant threat of being stigmatized as racist. So the bargainer presents himself as an opportunity for whites to experience racial innocence.
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ADDED: Michael Weiss at Slate quotes this from me: "I'd say he did not do very much — other than to resist condemning Wright and to model his socially acceptable attitudes and generate a feeling — I'm sure you didn't all feel it — that we need unite behind this man if the terrible divisions over race are going to end." Weiss interprets this to mean that I saw the speech as a failure. But that's not right. I know I wrote "he did not do very much," but that doesn't mean it was a mistake not to do very much. Obama did not condemn Jeremiah Wright. He did not reach for a "Sister Souljah moment." He didn't present himself in a new light. But, in a way — within a narrow band — he did a lot, perhaps too much. It was all very subtle. He tried to be entirely inclusive, reaching out to everyone, and stepping on nobody's toes. He insisted both that we confront race and also that we get past it. There were complex contradictions in what he said, but his smoothly honed language made it possible for us to ignore these difficulties even as we could credit him with taking on an elaborately sophisticated problem. I think he meant to deal with his predicament this way. There's no reason to call that a failure.

AND: Mickey Kaus does a terrific job of identifying many of the contradictions you weren't supposed to notice.


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Hoosier Daddy said...

Oh, shut up. Since when did white supremacists become such pathetic whiners?

Mort, since when did you become such an apologist for black racists?

Care to point out what I said in there even remotely qualifies as white supremacist?

Or is it simply the usual fall back when you have no credible argument left to just resort to the ad hom?

Revenant said...

Slate says that you view the speech as a failure.

Are you telling us their opinion because you don't have one of your own, or is there some deeper reason why Ann is supposed to care?

Automatic_Wing said...

"former law student" is a good liberal so it's cool for him to "test out the validity of assertions" by typing a bunch of racist garbage on the internets.

He's speaking truth to power, you know.

SGT Ted said...

I just love how a guy like "sgt ted" can drop a profane, bilious, borderline-crazy rant like that, but it's still people like Obama who are full of hate.

Yes, because actually addressing the issue of Obamas close 20 year relationship with a black bigot anti-semite who admires Louis Farrakhan is alot harder than calling me hate filled and crazy.

Nevermind Obamas ever-shifting lies about his relationship with the bigot preacher.

Keep on defending the indefensable. You are hoist in your own petard.

reader_iam said...

From chapter one of "Dreams from My Father," which I finally found in my stacks earlier today (any typos are mine; keyboarding in a heckuva hurry):

“… Later, at the bank where she worked, Toot [Madelyn Dunham] made the acquaintance of the janitor, a tall and dignified black World War II vet she remembers only as Mr. Reed. While the two of them chatted in the hallway one day, a secretary in the office stormed up and hissed that Toot should never, ever, “call no nigger ‘Mister.’” Not long afterward, Toot would find Mr. Reed in a corner of the building weeping quietly to himself. When she asked him what was wrong, he straightened his back, dried his eyes, and responded with a question of his own.

“What have we ever done to be treated so mean?”

My grandmother didn’t have an answer that day, but the question lingered in her mind, one that she and Gramps would sometimes discuss once my mother had gone to bed. They decided that Toot would keep calling Mr. Reed “Mister,” although she understood, with a mixture of relief and sadness, the careful distance that the janitor now maintained whenever they passed each other in the halls. …

...There was that one hot, windless day when Toot came home to find a crowd of children gathered outside the picket fence that surrounded their house. As Toot drew closer, she could make out the sounds of mirthless laughter, the contortions of rage and disgust on the children’s faces. The children were chanting, in a high-pitched, alternating rhythm:

“Nigger lover!”
“Dirty Yankee!”
“Nigger lover!”

… And there she saw the cause for all the excitement: my mother and black girl of about the same age laying side by side on their stomachs in the grass … the black girl was shaking and my mother’s eyes shone with tears. The girls remained motionless, paralyzed in their fear, until Toot finally leaned down and put her hands on both their heads.

“If you two are going to play,” she said, “then for goodness sake, go inside. Come on. Both of you.” She picked up my mother and reached for the other’s girl’s hand, but before she could say anything more, the girl was in a full sprint… ."

Kansas City said...

Excellent round up and analysis by Mr. Althouse.

I thought Obama missed a great opportunity to do something positive for the country. Instead, he made a speech designed to help himself. The crack about Ferraro and the one about talk show hosts and conservative pundits were cheap. He made some good points, but all to try to serve himself. The last part became just a campaign speech.

I think he basically should have expressed his love and appreciation to Wright, and blamed himself for being blind to the wrong, hostile and damaging tone of Wright's message, combining it with a call to blacks, regardless of the validity of past grievances, to abandon such feelings and trust the good hearts of non-whites in America. He was in an unusual situation where he really could have made a differene to the country with one speech(and in the process helped himself), but he did not take advantage of it.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Everywhere I've ever eaten, mustard and relish have been free. Maybe "Ashley" pulled a senior citizen trick, and loaded up on condiment packets from fast food places.

Well Obama either made the 'Ashley' story up or bought it hook line and sinker from a follower. The former makes him a liar. The latter makes him too stupid to be President.

Still wondering how mom got better from cancer since she lost her job and had no health care. Oh and filed bankruptcy too.

Kansas City said...

Sorry, Ms. Althouse.

knox said...

This is not a race issue. Rev. Wright is just Ward Churchill in a dashiki. The fact that he is black is really not relevant to this issue at all.

I agree. The racist remarks are ridiculous, but run-of-the-mill enough to be ignored (at least for me). But the conspiracy theories! 9/11, HIV, Pearl Harbor... There is simply no excuse for taking this man seriously, not to mention choosing to embrace him as a leader, mentor, and honorary family member. You want to be president, you better show me you can exercise better judgment and higher standards than that.

garage mahal said...

I view this blog post as a failure, but hey. This is America. You're allowed to have as many maladjusted opinions as you want!

Can't have an undesirable opinion about a politician ya know! If you can't see Obama's beauty, you are maladjusted, or uninformed. Or racist, a hick or Archie Bunker-ish. Or as Kos would say "low information voter".

His problem is, and always has been his dirty associations from several bad actors coming from a filthy political city. International papers have been reporting these for months while the MSM has studiously ignored them. Well, half the Democratic party is sick of being called racists and having this seriously flawed candidate shoved down their throats with no regards to his electability in Nov.

Anonymous said...

I've just re-read all of the posts on this thread, from top to bottom.

This thing is like an out-of-control high school basketball game where the fans on both sides are screaming at each other, and then the game has to be stopped by the refs because the fans are throwing chairs onto the court.

The police haven't yet arrived, so there are fist fights in the hallway, obscenities, screams and accusations.

Someone has pushed over the popcorn cart. The players and the pep band have gone into the locker room. The refs are right behind them. People are screaming insults in boldface voices.

Approaching sirens can be heard as shirts are torn, noses bloodied and eyeglasses broken. Everyone is now named motherfucker or asshole (the contemporary version of Hatfield or McCoy). Shots are fired.

Nuthin' like sports or politics to bring people together.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Jesus never get around to delivering his much-anticipated "God Damn the Roman Empire" speech.

He was saving it for Reg, leader of the People's Front of Judea.

You know, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Zachary Sire said...

All of you have been looking high and low for some way to attack Obama, and now you think you have way of inflammatory remarks spoken not by Obama, but by his pastor. Yawn.

If we held our candidates responsible for everything their associates/surrogates/family members/pastors/co-workers/friends said, we'd never elect a president.

If McCain runs ads with Wright and Obama (he won't, maybe a 527 will), then we can expect a liberal 527 to run McCain/Falwell ads (remember when Falwell said the gays caused 9/11!), McCain/Robertson ads (God hates black people=Katrina!), and, of course, McCain/Bush ads (insert Bush blunder here).

By the way...this post has some of the most disgusting, hurtful comments I've ever seen on Althouse. Where is Ann to remove some of this ugly language? You all should be ashamed. The racism that Obama spoke of this morning is clearly, whether any of you ever choose to admit it or not due to your unevolved subconscious minds, very much alive and well. It's just as he said, and you're all living proof.

Anonymous said...


@ former law student

"I'm trying to test the validity of "memomachine's" assertion, that she can just suck up any racism directed towards her."

I'm a *him*, not a *her*.

I participate on a couple different African-American blogs. Your bile doesn't even come close to the nonsense there.

Like I wrote. Life's tough, suck it up. *shrug* what I find curious are all those real-life examples of people suffering from real oppression vs. the make-believe stuff today. Compare the life of the average African-American to say a survivor of the Cambodian Killing Fields.

That's really an example of oppression.

Anonymous said...


"He was saving it for Reg, leader of the People's Front of Judea. "

I thought we were the Judean People's Front?

reader_iam said...

"Jesus never get around to delivering his much-anticipated "God Damn the Roman Empire" speech."

He was saving it for Reg, leader of the People's Front of Judea.

You know, what have the Romans ever done for us?

He did make some fine distinctions between rendering different things to different entities, however. He was quite nuanced on the topic, actually.

Then, there's the fact that he went to the Temple and referred to it as a den of thieves, as a way of sharply rebuking the powers-that-be.

You can IMAGINE the shock, the sense of blasphemy, the displeasure of the chief priests and scribes. Can't you?

Daryl said...

Obama blames the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

1 - Does this mean Republicans are allowed to use that phrase now, without worrying about sniping from leftists?

2 - Will Obama name the perverse and hateful Arabs responsible for anti-Israel violence? HAMAS and Hizb'allah come to mind. Will he denounce them as guided by a perverse and hateful drive to destroy Israel?

Bissage said...


Anonymous said...

Obama is just Malcom X sanitized for white people's protection. Everything around this guy screams, "Nation of Islam"

Jeremy said...

Agreed whole-heartedly.

rhhardin said...

John and Ken (KFI), like me, are having none of Obama's act, but in addition write off the angry blacks completely.

This is a discussion that I don't want to have -- I don't care about how angry a percentage of the black community is. I don't care about their issues. It's of no interest to me and has no effect on my life. That particular segment, I wrote off after the O.J. trial. That's insane. That's craziness. What the Reverend was speaking of, in all the sermons, that's just lunacy. That's not worth debating. That's not a rational argument. There's no point there. That's just insanity. I don't know how many people subscribe to the Reverend Wright point of view, whether it's one percent, ten percent, forty percent, I don't care. I'm not here on this planet to understand their anger, whatever their anger is. I've got my life. They're angry about stuff that happened fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, two hundred years ago, that's their problem. It's not going on now. And as far as getting all of us to integrate with one another, that's never going to happen....''

audio for inflection.

Podcast of the show with line by line analysis will be here after about 11PM EST today (Tuesday), click the 3PM (PST) hour.

Zaplito said...

Revenant said"Oddly enough, despite being from a culture which had been oppressed by the Romans in a manner which makes the 20th century black American experience look like a day at the county fair, Jesus never get around to delivering his much-anticipated "God Damn the Roman Empire" speech.

I forget -- was it "if someone strikes you on the right cheek, act smug when his countrymen get murdered"? Was that how that verse went?"

You missed it. You're talking theology. I am pointing to the power of a relationship. He has disowned the Rev's ideas. He has not disowned the Rev as well he should not.

reader_iam said...

Make no mistake: I take specific issue with and sharp exception to the "G-d America" words of Jeremiah Wright, as well as the the excerpts I've seen of his sermon relating to 9/11. Shorter: they are despicable and offensive, and it's Sen. Obama's reaction to those that are of specific and especial interest to me because of the office he's seeking.

As I e-mailed Althouse on March 14th (she could verify I'm no making this up):

Obama should sing "God Bless America" on the national air- and cablewaves

Only semi-serious. Also only semi-kidding.

Whether he actually were to do so or not aside, if he'd find the very idea of doing that repugnant or offensive, then he's got a real problem, a true one--and by that I don't just mean that electorally, but [added: in terms of] fitness****. And there's absolutely nothing wrong, much less racist, about any of Sen. Barack's fellow Americans taking that position. He's running for POTUS (for pete's sake!). That ought to be too obvious to have to state, but watching so much, or at least enough, of the coverage tonight and reading so much, or at least enough, of the punditry, I can't escape the conclusion that it is not, apparently, too obvious.

****I want to clarify that by "fitness," I don't mean as a human being, or a lawyer, or a citizen, or whatever. I mean for "POTUS." It's also not a religious statement, as such or at all. I absolutely could vote for an atheist for any office in this land, up to and including POTUS [added: despite my own faith]. My point lies elsewhere.

JohnG said...

I don't see Barack as an "angry black man" buying into Wright's fury and conspiracy theories. I think he's just a politician who recognized where the center of power was located.

I do, however, see Michelle as that "angry black woman" and that might be one of the problems he's having in crafting a response. He might be disinclined to shoot down some of the church's world view as it would also hit Michelle squarely in a place she identifies with and perhaps isn't too rational about.

Presidency or not, he has to be able to go home at night.

Bissage said...

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Beth said...

Revenant, re: "The truth was a lot more complicated than that" yes, I agree. As to whether either man would have freed his slaves given some changes in each one's economic status, all we can do is speculate. But it's wrong to say we can't judge the founders on the issue of slavery, and my point was to address that belief. Both would have been familiar with the public discourse on slavery, whether or not there was an active abolition movement in their backyards.

reader_iam said...

Bissage: If you lived in Iowa, I'd fire up my espresso machine, invite you over and whip up a quadruple.

Wake up, man!

(You're a man, right?)

Revenant said...

If McCain runs ads with Wright and Obama (he won't, maybe a 527 will), then we can expect a liberal 527 to run McCain/Falwell ads

Using what -- the CNN footage where McCain called Falwell the Republican equivalent of Al Sharpton? :)

McCain/Robertson ads (God hates black people=Katrina!)

Gee, now black people will *never* vote for McCain! His percentage of the black vote will drop from 5% to 1% or less!

Seriously, now -- blacks and gays make up around 20% of the population and don't vote for Republicans anyway. Whites make up 70% of the population. If your brilliant plan to respond to Obama's ties to anti-white bigots is to tie McCain to anti-gay, anti-black bigots then hey, knock yourself out. Hell, McCain would probably GAIN votes if you convinced people he was anti-gay, since the religious right has always been suspicious of him.

and, of course, McCain/Bush ads (insert Bush blunder here).

Now there's a brilliant idea -- Obama could try tying the Republican candidate to *Bush*! Now why didn't Obama think of that? Oh wait, he did; he seldom lets a speech go by without blaming Bush for something.

Whatever mileage the Democrats are going to get out of George Bush they've already gotten. They're not going to get any further gains in the polls from it unless Bush does something new to alienate his few remaining supporters.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Obama made a good point about people feeling shame and expressing it in hatred for someone else and 'Anglos' accept this. Black people have enjoyed their anger in Chicago for a long time (and I do think it is time for it to diminish; it is a manipulation in a narcissistic withdrawal). My Irish-American grandfather was mugged by black men in Chicago for his bonus money on returning from WWI. This doesn't make me want for black people not to be Americans. I think most everybody sees qualities and talents in black people that may (or may not) be different than in the rest of us generally. As for his grandmother using 'a stereotype,' if someone acts according to a stereotype they might be called (or thought) that 'on more than 1 occasion (?1.5, 3).' If, in that context, Wright had said, 'God damn those Americans who are racist' not 'God damn America' that would be equivalent and fine.

Revenant said...

But it's wrong to say we can't judge the founders on the issue of slavery, and my point was to address that belief. Both would have been familiar with the public discourse on slavery, whether or not there was an active abolition movement in their backyards

They *became* familiar with the discourse, sure, and came to agree with it. Both men spoke of the need to end the institution of slavery, Washington privately and Jefferson publicly. Jefferson also pushed laws restricting the practice of slavery.

But the first abolitionist organization wasn't founded until immediately prior to the Revolutionary War and didn't become a major force until after Washington was dead. There is no reason to suspect that Washington had any real familiarity with abolitionism prior to his becoming one of the Founders, and afterwards (like I noted) he came to agree with it. Jefferson probably knew more about abolitionist arguments, but since he died deep in debt I don't see how he could have emancipated the collateral on those debts (i.e., the slaves).

Revenant said...

You missed it. You're talking theology. I am pointing to the power of a relationship. He has disowned the Rev's ideas. He has not disowned the Rev as well he should not.

But you're talking theology as well. You claim that Wright led Obama to Christianity. My point, which I was getting at obliquely, is that Wright himself is decidedly un-Christian -- so why make the assumption that he led Obama to Christ?

Wright's preaching is counter to the message of Jesus. A good Christian *should* disown that sort of pastor.

The Drill SGT said...

Rev said...Oh, I'm sure Obama wowed whatever small portion of swing voters actually bothered watching the speech.


I doubt he can do THAT without losing a lot of the black vote

I think the wright obama position is wrong on its merits, but the math seems bad to me as well. If he totally dumped wright and did a sista soldjah things, what would that mean? his black vote goes from 95% to 85%? and those missing 10% don't vote for McCain anyway, they just stay home. so its like a 1% drop in his total vote count.

On the other hand, I bet it costs him more than 1% of the white vote which leaves Obama and does shift to McCain, and that is double the black impact on the other side because of the weighted percentages of the total pop.

bad vote math IMHO

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Obama made a good psychological point that people who experience shame may relieve it by demonizing others, and 'Anglos' have gotten used to accepting this. Oddly enough, my family has a history of experiencing the anger of black people in Chicago; Hubert, my white grandfather, was mugged for his WWI bonus money as he was passing through Chicago. This anger is a kind of narcissistic manipulation. Jack Kerouac wrote of riding on a bus across America that a 'young virgin started talking to me, and I didn't talk to her for 2 hours until I had her and then I began to tell her about herself,' and she was eager to yield herself to him. In his method he made himself unapproachable until her neediness and his grandness was accepted. This is how the 'racist' is to deal with this anger.

Revenant said...

his black vote goes from 95% to 85%? and those missing 10% don't vote for McCain anyway, they just stay home.

If this was coming out after he had the nomination locked up I think he'd have thrown Wright under the bus instead of his white grandmother.

But he hasn't got the nomination locked up yet. He's well out in front, but if it wasn't for his overwhelming and enthusiastic support from black Democrats he'd be in trouble. He can afford to alienate white Democrats a little, especially since so many of them are plagued by white guilt anyway -- but if he alienates black voters it'll be Hillary running against McCain instead of him.

Anonymous said...


@ reader_iam

It doesn't appear to me that Obama's grandmother was a racist from that portion of Obama's book.

Is there any actual reference to Obama's grandmother that shows she's a racist?

uwlawstudent said...

I am a nominal Catholic who goes to church in Madison largely because I want to support my very-Catholic wife. There is no way I support everything the Catholic Church teaches. I walked out when (local) Bishop Marlino (sp?) told the audience the week before the 2006 elections that to be Catholic meant to vote Pro Life.

The point is people know that simply because you go to a church/synagogue/mosque/ect doesn't mean you support every thing said there.

I don't think O'Bama has the responsiblity to condemn Wright leading his congregation. First, I question whether he's much of a leader--people think independently too. More importantly, you shouldn't be held for responsible simply because of what your religious leader says.

Also, I question some of the motivations behind the commentators who express skepticism about Barack's sincerity. Is it simply that you distrust all politicians? Or is that you are a white person skeptical of a black man who might come to power--and you are concerned from being excluded from the political arena? Did you accept/reject Bill Clinton's explanation's on recent racial controversies as easily as you accepted/reject O'bama's?

Anonymous said...

As far as Obama not being able to disown Wright anymore than he can disown his "white grandmother," well it seems to me he did disown his grandmother when he accused her of being afraid of black men on the street. It's not unreasonable for an elderly white woman (or anyone else for that matter) to be afraid of black males on the street. Even Jessie Jackson said that he felt relieved, when he heard footsteps behing him at night, to see they were from whites, rather than blacks.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But it's wrong to say we can't judge the founders on the issue of slavery, and my point was to address that belief. Both would have been familiar with the public discourse on slavery, whether or not there was an active abolition movement in their backyards.

Beth, I never said we couldn't or shouldn't judge the founders on slavery .... It is just that we cannot judge them using our modern cultural rules. We must judge what they did and how they acted according to the times that they were in.

This goes for any other cultural issues that we hold near and dear to our own modern selves. How can we expect that people in the past should conform to issues affected what we know as history but to them would be the unknown future.

We today may view some things as abhorent and horrible. Things that were accepted practices in other days. Foot binding of young women in China comes to mind. Slavery is another.

rhhardin said...

Slavery ended when it could no longer be defended, more or less.

Anonymous said...


@ uwlawstudent

"I walked out when (local) Bishop Marlino (sp?) told the audience the week before the 2006 elections that to be Catholic meant to vote Pro Life."

You're studying law?

Let me point out that Obama **never walked out** regardless what pastor Wright said.

So there is a bit of a weakness in your comparison. ... Aside from th severity of what was being said by pastor Wright vs your Catholic bishop.

Meade said...

B said...

Thanks for mentioning Shelby Steele's column, specifically his use of the term bargainer...

I scrolled through this entire thread hoping someone would mention the Shelby Steele column. Thank you, B.

Steele: "...the bargainer presents himself as an opportunity for whites to experience racial innocence."

It's a subtle but essential point: What is this psychological need that self-identifying whites have "to experience racial innocence?" As a "bargainer" Obama is exploiting that need. Doesn't that make him culpable also in its perpetuation?

It's codependent, it's pathological, and I believe it lies at the heart of racism. I also believe that it's something that can be healed... probably Pastor Jeff's way and not Pastor Wright's

Unknown said...

----I will show you the whole cow.

This is a white racist society ruled by a vicious regime that is a state-sponsor of terrorism.

Apropos the 'John Adams' miniseries, we'all saw how the white Fathers dealt with slavery. Declaration of Indepeblackpendence my ass! ---

Hey, you've written Obama's new stump speech. I can feel the love! I can feel McCain carrying 48!!

Roger J. said...

Interesting comments--didnt hear the speech and don't plan to read it. I reject Obama as a Presidential candidate because he has no credentials and no experience. Anyone who thinks a first term Senator, with no previouos executive experience, should even consider him or herself qualified to be POTUS clearly as a low bar for judging a candidates qualifications. Dont give a damn where Obama goes to church, whether he fucks camels in the safeway parking lot, or is transcent--he is simply unqualified for the office. YMMV of course.

Unknown said...

--I think blacks find their churches and sermons cathartic. ---

Does everyone now know that expressing anger and rage like Wright (and his audience) actually compounds the emotions? This is scientifically proven.

""""Destructive expression of anger defensively projects and rigidly fortifies one's vulnerable identity and boundaries."""

What a REAL pastor would do following the Savior's example leading to understanding, acceptance and new growth.

Unknown said...

Roger - don't hold back, tell us how you really feel... :)

The issue with Obama and what his real values are go well beyond his continued close association with Wright. If you've seen the videos, you may have noticed that the congregation is in rapturous support of Wright when he uttered some of his most disgusting statements.

So Obama and Michele would ostensibly be sitting in that church Sunday after Sunday vehemently disagreeing with what the pastor was preaching and the gregarious acceptance of that preaching by the rest of the congregation. For 20 some odd years. Denouncing it all in their heads.. Pretty much every Sunday...

Unless I were a drooling syncophant desperate for "change"(tm), I could never believe such a thing.

I believe that in his heart of hearts, Obama agrees with a great deal of what Wright preached. And it is clear that he and Michele obviously accepted the hate-based theology at TUCC. Wright is a powerful and persuasive figure who obviously was an authority figure to Obama for many years of his life and Obama looked and still does look up to him for mentorship and spiritual guidance. Sad that.

Fen said...

But you are missing perhaps purposefully the larger part of Ann's argument. It's the poison

Exactly. Its like a Saudi Madrassa. You don't subject yourself to that filth for 20 years and come away clean.

Henry said...

Frankly, with all my conservative bona fides in tact and then some, I'd be disappointed in Obama if he did disown Rev. Wright.

Caplight, I'm glad you made that point.

What price loyalty? That question is a really terrible dilemma for a politician -- for any person, really -- when a friend or relative does or becomes something abhorrent.

Assuming sincerity on his part, I find it a unsettling how easily Obama chose principle over friendship, despite the fact that I think he did the right thing. There is something cold about the man.

It's a remove that seems suited for the presidency, but nevertheless, gives pause.

TMink said...

Memomachine, welcome to America! I know it is a late welcome, but glad you are here.

I can barely remember a little of the overt racism on the early 60s, it was awful down here in the South. And it took a toll, and harmed so many people. In the late 70s at UNC-Chapel Hill, the fraternity I belonged to was the only one that was integrated and none of the sorrorities were. One of the frats held an Old South party in which people routinely dressed in blackface and held mock lynchings. It was awful.

During that time, I took these great classes on Black history with amazing, strong professors. They had no bitterness, no hatred, no anger, just strength and determination. They taught me about the proper response to racism. Heck, they lived it! They were so kind to me, I will never forget that.

I agree with a lot of your points about self-reliance and inner strength, but the legacy of active racism is much more recent than slavery.

But it IS dying out. I remember my daughter at her Kindergarten dance (what an idea) picking the best dancer in the class as her partner. I still have a photo of her with that handsome black boy. I caught his mother's eye, she was an older parent like me, God knows what she saw and endured. We were silent as we watched, then she looked at me with wet eyes and said "We are gonna be OK." I sniffed and said "Yes, thank God." She squeezed my hand and said "Thank Jesus indeed."

It must be frightening for the people whose whole world view is based on being victimized to have opportunity and responsibility staring them in the face. It is my hope that we are seeing the last of the Jeremiah Wrights and Al Sharptons and David Dukes.

I guess this post is to ask you to temper your remarks with a little kindness and understanding. Not that you will receive that from the left!



Eli Blake said...


Before you get so smug, just consider the response of some white conservative preachers to Katrina:

*--Steve Lefemine credited God: "In my belief, God judged New Orleans for the sin of shedding innocent blood through abortion [...] Providence punishes national sins by national calamities, [...] Greater divine judgment is coming upon America unless we repent of the national sin of abortion."

*--Reverend Bill Shanks credits God; God's reasons: Abortion, debauchery, homosexuals, witchcraft...

"New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now, [...] God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again.

*--Rev. Dwight McKissic, the senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas said "New Orleans flaunts sin in a way that no other places do. They call it the Big Easy. There are 10 abortion clinics in Louisiana; five of those are in New Orleans. They have a Southern Decadence parade every year and they call it gay pride. When you study Scripture, it's not out of the boundaries of God to punish a nation for sin and because of sin. When I look at our country, at what's happening, and what's happening in New Orleans in particular, it's not beyond the realm of possibility."

*-- [Reverend] Fred Phelps credited Katrina as God's retribution for homosexuals: "New Orleans, symbol of America, seen for what it is: a putrid, toxic, stinking cesspool of fag fecal matter. [...] Pray for more dead bodies floating on the fag-semen-rancid waters of New Orleans."

I wonder, do you also suggest that no one should accept these guys support this election year? Most of them have been politically active in past election years, after all, and I guarantee you they aren't supporting Obama.

Mortimer Brezny said...

You don't subject yourself to that filth for 20 years and come away clean.

There is no proof that the whole of his sermons are as depicted in those snippets. That's the problem with your argument.

Gahrie said...

Eli Blake:

Is John mcCain a member of any of their congregations? Is any mainstream politician?

Is any member of those congregations loudly proclaiming to be an agent of change who will unite the American people?

Gahrie said...

For those of you condemning the Founding Fathers for tolerating slavery:

Every society and culture on this planet has practised slavery. I'd venture to state that slavery probably predates civilization, and certainly predates history. Every race has been enslaved, every race has held slaves. Some forms of slavery have been worse than others. For the vast majority of history, up until the last 250 to 300 years, no one saw slavery as a moral evil. There are many people and cultures in the world today that still embrace slavery.

The vast majority of African slaves brought to the New World did not end up in the United States. Most were shipped to South America and the Caribbean. Those slaves were captured by their fellow Africans and sold to the Europeans. When we freed Black slaves in America and sent them back to Africa (Liberia) they immediately enslaved the Africans living there.

So what happened 300 years ago to begin to change our view of slavery?

Some dead, White, European males began to express the idea that all men were created equal, and entitled to the fruits of his labor. These dead White European males were the inspiration of our Founding Fathers.

The Drill SGT said...

Every society and culture on this planet has practised slavery. I'd venture to state that slavery probably predates civilization, and certainly predates history.

I think the cutover was an economic decision.

Eat the captives from the adjacent tribe or enslave them. Long term planning won over hunger.

Cincinnatus said...

"Marine medic is one of the most dangerous and challenging jobs in the military - that is the guy that charges out on the battlefield with bullets whizzing and shells detonating to risk one's ass for any in dire need."

As opposed to being the poor ordinary regular Marine?

M. Simon said...

Is is possible his leftist grandma had the same attitude of certain blacks that Chris Rock has?

M. Simon said...

[Reverend] Fred Phelps is a Democrat.

M. Simon said...

Of course Obama disowns Wrights hateful remarks.

That is why he takes his children to the church to be taught by the Rev. so future generations will not be like the Rev.

Yep. Makes sense to me.

I think Obama has taken the politicians motto to heart.

Always be sincere, whether you mean it or not

Motto cribbed from Flanders and Swann.

Revenant said...

Before you get so smug, just consider the response of some white conservative preachers to Katrina:

Refresh my memory. Which one of those pastors is Hillary Clinton's personal spiritual mentor and personal friend? Which one is John McCain's?

Your point, so far as I can tell, is "some white people say crazy shit too". Yeah, no kidding. And?

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