Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Obama vs. Wright: The Delicious Irony of Racism Charges
As Barack Obama distances himself from his former mentor, guide, friend and pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the irony of the "racism" charges launched at those who didn't like Wright's "God Damn America" takes center stage. Those who had criticized Wright's fiery comments and attack on a country he claims created HIV to kill blacks were routinely called "racists" by Obama cultists.
Are these remarks racist? These are responses to Wright's speeches and sermons:
--"...ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st centuries, when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses.
They offend me. The rightly offend all Americans."
--"the insensitivity and the outrageousness of his statements..."
--"I felt as if there was a complete disregard for what the American people are going through and the need for them to rally together to solve these problems."
--"when you start focusing so much on the plight of the historically oppressed that you lose sight of what we have in common, that it overrides everything else, that we’re not concerned about the struggles of others, because we’re looking at things only through a particular lens"
--"I didn’t see it as an attack on the black church"
--"His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church."
Are those comments racist. Or not?
The speaker is, of course, Barack Obama. He is saying what many others have been saying about Wright's views.
But when non-blacks expressed those views, they were savaged by leftists and Obama supporters, who declared them "racist." That kneejerk reaction clearly shows that leftists aren't looking at the message: they only are looking at the messenger and whether or not that messenger fits their "posterchild" needs.
If the messenger is black, he or she and what they do or say automatically is right, nay, even brilliant. If the messenger is not black, they're bound to be racist or stupid rednecks from Pennsylvania or otherwise who cling to their guns and religion because they don't know any better.(A nod to Obama's wine-and-cheese comments in California.)
How can leftists now defend their race-based assault on those who didn't like what Wright was saying? Logically,they can't. Of course, that doesn't mean they won't.
And what of Obama himself? His wishy-washy, run-and-hide from this issue, has cost him a great deal. On the one hand, he didn't distance himself from Wright soon enough. His pleas of ignorance about Wright's views simply were absurd. Not only that, compare Obama's comments, above, to his friend the Rev. Al Sharpton's rhetoric and actions.
But now, suddenly, Obama criticizes Wright and steps back. But does he step up? No. Obama, long ago, could have handled this issue with wisdom, honesty, compassion, grace, and political saavy.
If he thinks America needs continued work on racism,he could have used Wright's "God Damn America" and other comments as his springboard. Here's how it could have gone, way back in this sorry, sordid tale.
"I am very saddened by my former pastor's attacks on my country. I agree that as a people, we need to continue our work on improving race and cultural relations. We have done a great deal in less than three generations. There is work still ahead, but I have faith that we will continue on this path together.
Attacks like the Rev. Wright have launched must cease if we are to work together. The people of the United States did not cause 9-11, and to say "God damn America" is an insult to the country, its people, and, given the substitution of hate for love, an insult to Christian spiritual beliefs."
Rev. Wright is correct in saying that we still have work to do. But he is very wrong in his attack on our country, and his use of religon to foster hate and anger.
For this reason, Michelle and I have, with great sadness, removed our membership from Rev. Wright's church."
Did Obama say --or do-- any of the above? No, he did not. Why not?
Obama didn't tackle this issue head-on for many reasons. The first is that he wanted the image and support base of his membership in a very large, very well-known black church.
The second is his reliance, as stated in his books, on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama did not choose Wright to baptize his children or conduct his marriage ceremony lightly. Nor did he, or could he, support the Trinity church for twenty years without supporting Wright.
The third is the dangerous one: does Obama secretly agree with Wright's views and presentation? Obama now says he doesn't. How much credence should we give Obama's sudden "wake-up" call and criticism of Wright?
Very little. Fact: Obama did not criticize nor distance himself from Wright until Wright did two things. The first was to keep grabbing the media spotlight for himself,while keeping a very sore issue for Obama in the public's eye.
The Obama campaign wishes that Wright's commentary could be swept under the carpet. Wright, however, has been using the controversy as his magic carpet ride to fame.
Obama speaks: "The fact that Reverend Wright would think that somehow it was appropriate to command the stage for three or four consecutive days in the midst of this major debate is something that not only makes me angry, but also saddens me." And there you have it--Wright is interfering with Obama and his campaign.
The second Wright action that led to Obama's sudden splitting from his former pastor: Wright's criticism of Obama. Until Wright attacked Obama, Obama was willing to play along in order to prove he's "black enough."
"And what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing," Obama told the media. How dare Wright say that Obama indulges in political posturing! (wink!)
When Wright attacked America, Obama said nothing except that he wasn't aware of Wright's views. When Wright attacks Obama, Obama ditches Wright.
That sounds like political posturing to me, along with a Hefty bag full of hypocrisy and deceit. Notice the language, too.
Obama to a questioner: "...I'll be honest with you." There are two important things to know about this phrase.
The first is that this phrase tacitly says "I'll be honest with you now because I haven't been before." People use this phrase only two ways: without understanding what they are telegraphing, or with understanding of what they are telegraphing. In the latter instances, the speakers usally think they can get away with it through charm and/or rhetoric. (Think: shopping for a car. "I'll be honest with you--my manager won't like that but I'm on your side and I'll go put it to him.")
The second important thing about the phrase "I'll be honest with you" is this: it immediately signals a prevarication of some type. If you say "I'm going to the grocery store now," do you say "I'll be honest with you, I'm going to the grocery store now."
If you say "I think the price on the grapes is outrageous, you don't say "I'll be honest with you, I think the price on the grapes is outrageous." You just plain say what you have to say.
"I'll be honest with you" signals discomfort, dancing around, some level of deception. As in: Obama's shifting stands on his former pastor and the message of his church.
As this issue continues, the layers of Obama are being peeled back. What we are seeing here is not change, but just another politician, trying to be everything to everybody.
Question: if Obama does this poorly dealing with a man who he has loved, and turned to for spiritual counseling, how well will he deal with real enemies and the stress of international politics? As Dr. Phil McGraw says, the best predictor of someone's future actions are their past actions.
One more note: Rev. Wright, stop hiding behind the church. Your accusations that "attacks" on you are not attacks on you but the "black religious tradition" are hypocritical. We are outright criticizing you. But we are not criticizing black churches. Stand up like a man and claim what is your problem. Don't spread it to all black churches and congregants.