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Racing To The Future

With Barack Obama's speech recently on his former pastor (the bigoted, race-baiting, paranoid Jeremiah Wright) that he used to bring up the issue of race in America. A lot of people (me included) took the opportunity to note how he really didn't do very much to address his long-term relationship with Wright, but he did have some very important things to say about the state of race relations in America.

This is what I consider the most important part of Obama's speech:

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. 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. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the 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.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

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.

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. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

I'm going to take up the good Senator and put forth my opinions on this "national dialogue on race." As I happen to have a race (Caucasian -- European mutt, with English, French, and Scandanavian ancestry, in other words "typical white person"), I think I have something to contribute.

And my contribution is this: I want a dialogue. And I want all that that entails -- meaning, two (or more) people talking and listening.

The first thing I want to say is what I do not want to talk about. And that is the past.

America is a great nation. It has been from the beginning. And there is a price for that greatness -- both our triumphs and our failings tend to be on a grand scale, and our proudest feats tend to get blurred into history while our most shameful take on a historic prominence.

Our history on racial matters is spotty at best. We kept slavery as a legal institution than most of our peers. And the full repudiation of that shameful legacy took about a century -- and a lot of good people's lives. People of all races and sexes and national origins, it must be noted.

But I say this with an absolute firm conviction and sincerest, most heart-felt belief: in the last 40 years or so, the most destructive policies and actions and systems against black Americans -- and race relations in general -- have almost all come in the guise of "helping" blacks and "making amends" for the injustices.

Welfare, affirmative action, set-asides, quotas, preferences -- all these have, at their core, the message that "you can't succeed on your own, so we'll help you." Sometimes it's blatantly saying "you are inferior, and need help;" mostly it's "the system/society/nation is against you, so we'll balance that out." And that "soft bigotry of low expectations" has inculcated a culture where it has become natural to look to -- and depend upon -- the government to take care of things.

And that works just fine for the people pushing that message, because they believe in big government. It takes a big government, and all that entails, to ram these beliefs down the throats of the American people. It needs power, it needs money, and it needs a steady stream of people who have grown comfortable on what the government gives them and will keep re-electing (when they can be troubled to vote) those who promise them everything.

But as I said, that is the past. I don't want to talk about that. The only reason I even say it is because I believe most fervently in the South African model.

When South Africa's despicable apartheid government fell, there was a tremendous fear of a backlash against the minority whites who had held power. After all, we'd seen it many times before in Africa, and several times since. (I certainly thought it was pretty much inevitable.) But they found a way to get past it.

Their "Truth And Reconciliation Commission" system was a stroke of genius -- Gerald Ford's pardoning of Richard Nixon would be the closest we've ever come to in this nation, and even that is nowhere near as bold. People who had committed atrocities under the apartheid system could win full amnesty if -- and only if -- they appeared before the commission and made a full confession. This allowed a lot of inconvenient and ugly truths to come out, in a way that was most likely to get full stories -- and avoid the bloodbaths that, prior, had seemed inevitable in such circumstances.

I don't believe we need a similar body -- very few of those people who set up and carried out the most heinous racist deeds and policies are still in any position of power, and the vast majority of them are dead. (Relax, Senator Byrd. You're safe.) But I think we need a "national amnesty" where we, as a nation, acknowledge that over the centuries, we have done horribly destructive things to our countrymen and countrywomen -- with both the best and worst intentions -- and we need to fix things.

That is the crux of the matter: not what has come before, but where things stand today and where we wish to take them in the future.

I think it is long past time that we actually start to bring about Dr. Martin Luther King's vision -- one that a lot of us share. On August 23, 1963, he declared that "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Let's take a look at those four little children he referred to:

Yolanda Denise King was seven at the time. She died last year, at the age of 51.

Martin Luther King III was five at the time. He's now 50.

Dexter Scott King was two. He is 47 today.

Bernice Albertine King was not even four months old that day. She'll be 45 in a week or so.

One of Dr. King's children did not live to see his wish come true. In all honesty, I doubt that any of them will survive to see it. (Then again, they might. Their mother lived into her 70s, and Dr. King's parents lived to 69 and 84.)

But they very well might see us take some serious steps towards that goal, when we can push as a society to bring that to fruition.

But we shouldn't do it because we owe it to Dr. King and his memory. We owe him a great deal, but we should not be doing such major things simply because we wish to honor him.

We should do it because we owe it to ourselves. The legacy of racial divisiveness -- whether it's the centuries of bigotry or the decades of paternalistic condescension and misguided "help" -- is a corrosive on our national soul, and we owe it to all Americans -- past, present, and future -- to correct this and move towards a truly just and unbigoted society.

I don't think we can ever fully achieve it; I think it's innate in human nature, and stronger in some than in others. But we can beat the hell out of it, make it as unacceptable to publicly air (and privately practice) like we did drunk driving.

After all, "a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

Thank you, Senator Obama, for your contribution to the national discussion on race. I still won't vote for you, based on your other policies (economic, social, and foreign, just to name three), but you did our nation a great service when you were challenged on your long-standing support and alliance with Reverend Wright. I just wish you would realize that he's even more of an obstacle to progress than a dozen Mel Gibsons or Michael Richards or Don Imuses.


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Comments (49)

Jay;Nice piece....... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Jay;

Nice piece....pretty thoughtful and straight forward. I agree with much of what you wrote. In particular, I like the idea of moving forward, reconciling the past and letting it go. It'd s very healing, though sometimes extremely difficult, letting go. I'm a recovering alcoholic and making amends (reconciliation) and letting go are some of the tools we use in our recovery.

I very much disagree with that part of your last paragraph minimizing Gibson et al as compared to Wright as obstacles to progress. None of those people causes any less harm than the others.

Jay it is good of you to to... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay it is good of you to to behind the cardboard cut outs..Obama wrote the speech by himself in a day. It was a speech addressed for adults that touched on the ambiguity of race in the US. He is the probably the only politician in the US who could or would do that. He really listens and understands the anger or angst on both sides of the race issue as well as most issues. I have been repeatably saying could you could imagine having an eloquent president who is ferociously intelligent in the Oval Office for once? Maybe not...There is no empty suit quality about Obama.

Now many white Americans don't understand how anyone could sit in pew and listen to Wright, but I don't think they understand the tradition of Christian Churches or Afrocentric churches in the ghettoes of America, and the south side of Chicago is perhaps the biggest ghetto in the US and Obama was always criticized by blacks as not being black enough..so I think this was one of the reasons he put up with some of the infammatory language, much as one puts one with so much of it in the comments of the blogs. It comes with the territory. At the same time, it is hard to disown your own pastor as it might be to disown someone in your family. The fire and brimstone imprecations of white fundamentalist ministers bring down far worse things on America that Wright could conjure up, and occur so often in sermons, that it escapes our notice.

Bill O'Reilly, Wizbangblue, guess which moderator, highlight naturally that Obama 'threw his grandmother under the bus', by implying she may have had racist fears. I will speaking about this issue later in a post on wizbangblue. We aren't electing Obama's former minister we are electing Obama, just we didn't elect Billy Graham, we elected Nixon or Reagan..And Obama, as former constitutional law professor and very good one according his students' reviews, is the only candidate unlike McCain or Clinton, who believe in strong constitutional safeguards for atheists or agnostics.

I'm glad he actually recogn... (Below threshold)

I'm glad he actually recognized the nature of "legitimate" complaints from both sides of the divide. Now, the question is; does he actually have a plan to address this issue, or is he simply recognizing what reasonable people have been trying to say all along?

JFO:
Gibson apologized for his words and publicly admitted he needed to look deep inside himself for the origins of his actions and learn to address them. Michael Richards apologized for his outburst and committed himself to addressing his own issues. Don Imus apologized and his apology was accepted by those he slurred. Wright has made no apologies to my recollection. So yeah, I'll take a dozen Imus', Richards' and Gibsons who will admit their prejudices and attempt to overcome them over one Wright.

Bill O'Reilly, Wizbangb... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Bill O'Reilly, Wizbangblue, guess which moderator, highlight naturally that Obama 'threw his grandmother under the bus', by implying she may have had racist fears. I will speaking about this issue later in a post on wizbangblue. We aren't electing Obama's former minister we are electing Obama, just we didn't elect Billy Graham, we elected Nixon or Reagan..

Is this another effort of moral equivalency to compare Billy Graham to Jeremy Wright? Is this what some commentators call the enabling of Obama 's despicable moral equivalency (comparing Wright to his grandmother)? In general, the generalization to save his own career is so despicable, but he may not know it because Obama has been living in a cocoon of liberal virtual reality: (1) Wright 's view is typical of black community (it is pretty sad if that is the case), (2) His grandmother 's racial prejudice if not animosity (implicit moral equivalency to Wright 's hatred of America) is typical of white community. BTW, more here
Trinity United for Hamas


Aaron Klein reports that Barack Obama's Chicago church reprinted the Los Angeles Times column by Hamas leader Mousa abu Marzook. The column spouts the usual Hamas propaganda defending terrorism as legitimate resistance. The column was published on the "pastor's page" of the Trinity Church bulletin on July 22, 2007 and posted online here by Bizzyblog yesterday. Perhaps most revealing is the church bulletin's own subhead over the column: "An official of the movement describes its goals for all of Palestine." You know, "all of Palestine," including Israel, whose right to exist Hamas denies and which it seeks to "liberate" for Islam.

And Obama, as former constitutional law professor and very good one according his students' reviews, is the only candidate unlike McCain or Clinton, who believe in strong constitutional safeguards for atheists or agnostics.

This is another example of Obama 's words do not match his actions. Obama 's slogan should be: "I am intelligent and can swoon liberals. Do what I say, not what I do". He is not honest about his ties to Wright, Rezko and try to swoon people with cheap rhetoric. Why should we trust his cheap rhetoric again? BTW, Obama doesn't have respect for the first amendment at all (he signed on the fairness doctrine, the infamous letter to silence Rush Limbaugh). Yup Obama believes in strong constitutional safeguards for atheists/agnostics like making sure that surviving aborted babies do not get medical care while terrorists will get the maximum protection of the law!


Oyster, Wright does... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Oyster,
Wright doesn't need to apologize, liberals like Obama and his supporters will provide the context to excuse it. Just like we see all the stories about the silliness of monogamous relationship after spitzer and patterson.

We have plenty of exemplary... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

We have plenty of exemplary prominent blacks who have gotten past the racial divide: Thomas Sewell, Clarence Thomas, Shelby Steele, Condi Rice etc... On the liberal side, we have people like Cosby and Juan Williams etc... Obama isn't the person this time.

<a href="http://article.nat... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

The Politics of Friendship - Obama and me


Obama wants us to believe that he did not turn his back on Wright, leave Wright's church or "disown" him because for the past 20 years, Wright has been "like family" to him. But Obama wants us simultaneously to believe that he was not aware that his close friend held such a "profoundly distorted view of this country" -- a view that encompassed Wright's beliefs that the U.S. government created the AIDS virus, introduced crack to the ghettos, invited the 9/11 attacks through acts of wanton violence throughout the world and therefore ought to be damned.

I don't believe it. Obama's friendship with Wright is probably genuine, and I do not blame Obama for refusing to abandon his friend over what amounts to a political disagreement. But it's highly unlikely that Obama did not know about his close friend's very public and "profoundly distorted" beliefs about America.

What bothers me is that we don't have any evidence -- either an old letter or a statement from the campaign -- that Obama ever confronted his friend and tried to change his mind. Such confrontations can grate on friendships, if they happen frequently enough, and especially if they concern trivial matters. But here we have a situation where a friend of Obama's was spreading poisonous beliefs to a congregation that included Obama's own daughters. Obama was in a unique position to lead by asking his friend to reconsider some of his hateful and paranoid ideas.

Evidently, he didn't, and what might have been silent disagreement now looks like passive acceptance. No one should ask Obama to turn his back on his friend. But we have a right to ask those who wish to lead us: If they can't confront their friends, how will they confront our enemies?

Jay, Obama doesn't w... (Below threshold)

Jay,
Obama doesn't want a conversation, just as Steve above doesn't want a conversation, He wants to lecture you, to preach to you, for you to admit the sins of your race and your fathers actions and for you to do penance by jumping on his train and voting for him, only then can you absolve yourself of the original sin of being "a typical white person"

Obama's lip service to "segments of the white community" who "experience is the immigrant experience" comes with the statement that "anger"... "helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends."
"these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits" Rich White people!

There is no conversation here, it's a lecture, a sermon, You are a sinner, the fact that you don't believe you are just makes you an unrepentant sinner. And only through the Faith and Dogma of the Church of St. Obama (PBOM). Can you be saved.

The Conversation is; "We will not get past race as an issue in America until we take these demagogues and tell them to shut up."

It is said that "Friends are God's way of apologizing for your Family". I have walked away from friends who could not put their bigotry towards blacks, gays and Hispanics aside. And when I called them on it was told, "You've never had to live with them so you don't know. "

I refuse to poison my soul by hanging with such hatred. I walked away. Obama could walk away any time he wanted to, He could have said "No, this is the way of the past and I refuse to be apart of it." Instead he sent over $20,000 to this church, in effect supporting the spreading of this Hate.

Instead he CHOSE to associate with this hater, he CHOSE to sit in front of him and trust this man as his Spiritual advisor, and CHOSE to Follow him.

And I CHOOSE to say. "Screw you Obama, Let him without sin cast the first stone"

This is a good summary of S... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

This is a good summary of Shelby Steele 's insightful book and article, A bargain becomes a challenge

Here is my summary of Obama 's conversation so far:

(a) Bargainer: I assume that you are not racists until you act like racist. By loving me and voting for me you affirm that you are not racists.

(b) Challenger: Now you have brought up Wright, so I assume that you are racists. To prove you innocence, you have to vote for me.

Atypical white guy here ...... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

Atypical white guy here ... in other words I DONT fear someone because they look different ... gee, I thought I was actually pretty typical for a white guy ... I guess in Obama's view of the world I'm atypical ...
Thanks Obama for making me feel so good ...

You are a rotten, nasty, ungrateful grandson ... you can't tell me that in all your years you couldn't have come up with a different well meaning racist white person story other than your grandmother to compare to your racist preacher ? Anyone that treats their grandmother like that doesn't deserve to be the President of a chess club much less the USA ...

How about you work on healing that racist pastor you pal around with before you lecture me on my god damn racial sins you f*ing con man ...

Nice post Jay. I never tho... (Below threshold)

Nice post Jay. I never thought I would see the day when the posts over here make more sense to me than the ones on Wizbang Blue (excepting Steve and Paul).


Welfare, affirmative action, set-asides, quotas, preferences -- all these have, at their core, the message that "you can't succeed on your own, so we'll help you."

I would agree with this, but there's also an aspect to African-American resentment over government policies that can't be ignored. We have spent half a trillion dollars on a five-year long nationbuilding effort in Iraq that seems very remote from the concerns of inner city blacks who see their schools and infrastructure crumbling while there are not enough cops on the beat to take the streets back from the gangs.

So it's not just a matter of being enamored with big government. Government isn't even doing the things that virtually everyone across the political spectrum agrees it should be doing (such as fixing the infrastructure and providing adequate police protection).

"you can't tell me that in ... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

"you can't tell me that in all your years you couldn't have come up with a different well meaning racist white person.."

You mean like Nixon?

OysterOn reflectio... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Oyster

On reflection I would have to agree that you're right about Gibson et al seeking redemption and for that they should be commended.

is it OK if I feel that Oba... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

is it OK if I feel that Obama is a

typical black guy?
typical liberal?
typical Democrat?

I think that whether or not... (Below threshold)
matthew:

I think that whether or not those descriptions are fair depends greatly on what you consider to be a "typical black guy", Giani.

What did Obama mean when he... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

What did Obama mean when he said typical white person?

Thats what I meant.

SteveHe is t... (Below threshold)

Steve

He is the probably the only politician in the US who could or would do that.

Obama had no choice but to give that speech. I've read your many posts and comments over the last several days and it is apparent that you will not grasp one central point that has been made repeatedly here and at Blue. The Wright affair speaks to Obama's judgement.

Now many white Americans don't understand how anyone could sit in pew and listen to Wright, but I don't think they understand the tradition of Christian Churches or Afrocentric churches in the ghettoes of America, and the south side of Chicago is perhaps the biggest ghetto in the US and Obama was always criticized by blacks as not being black enough..so I think this was one of the reasons he put up with some of the infammatory language,

You are simply wrong on this point, Steve. Thousands upon thousands of Americans leave their churches every Sunday to find another church for the simple reason that they don't agree with what they hear from the pulpit. They leave for reasons of doctrine, interpretation, personality, or feeling unwelcome. That Obama felt, as you suggest, that he wasn't black enough and therefore "put up with some of the inflammatory language" is to say bluntly that he is morally compromised and has no judgement.

The fire and brimstone imprecations of white fundamentalist ministers bring down far worse things on America that Wright could conjure up, and occur so often in sermons, that it escapes our notice.

No, it doesn't escape our notice. It escapes your notice because you are not paying attention. I have lived all over this country, have atteded little churches and mega churches. I have experienced nothing that is remotely similar to your statement about "white fundamentalist ministers" which, BTW, is a bigoted remark.

Steve, I think your difficulty in understanding this matter is that you don't know much about what goes on on Sunday mornings all across America.

Excellent post Jay.... (Below threshold)

Excellent post Jay.

I may be misremembering thi... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

I may be misremembering this, but I think it's correct. Didn't Howard Dean leave his church over a dispute concerning a bike path?

I still like Obama, but this episode has called into question his judgement and capability to discern differences between a bad belief held by a friend and a good belief held by an opponent.

One of the complaints the Left, and Democrats in general have had against George W. Bush is that he is too loyal to his friends, even when they are wrong. The quote "You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie" comes to mind. Can they really say they want someone with a similar, yet far larger blind spot occupying the Oval Office for the next four years?

The statements heard from Rev. Wright, including the very pertinent fact that he knew Obama would have to disown him during the campaign, call into question Obama's ability in this area.

And yet, I still think he's a better choice than Hillary.

Criticize how he distanced ... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Criticize how he distanced himself from Wright, and whether he went far enough denouncing the guy, but don't worry too much about whether that clown's nutty beliefs will inform Obama's pending presidency. I don't see him being appointed Secretary of State, or even Undersecretary of Keeping It Real.

For those of you who oppose affirmative action for mostly good reasons, I wonder how you would seek to address substantive racial inequalities. I don't think it's racist, but I think it's wrong to say that it falls solely upon the shoulders of black America to level the playing field. "The soft bigotry of low expectations" is a nice way of rebranding white resentment as deep respect for the potential of black America; I'm sure some people even use the expression earnestly. What, though, is to be done to address systematic inequalities? If Wright and other black leaders can't be counted on, is it wrong to assert a role for the government in addressing the sociological underpinnings? To simply say "Suck it up and try harder" (or to imply it while saying something with more intelligent packaging) doesn't take into account socioeconomic context and the psychographics of have-not communities. Do conservatives consider any proactive move by the government to address systemic racism to be "reverse racism"? If so, then this discussion isn't likely to get off the ground.

Overall a very good post, Jay Tea.

Observation of a 'typical w... (Below threshold)
GarandFan Author Profile Page:

Observation of a 'typical white person'. Obama has set himself up as a bridge of the racial divide. He "understands" but wants to heal the hatred of the past. Part of his practice in that healing is to expose his children to the racist rants of a crazy man (to be charitable) under the guise of Christian teachings. He's had a lot of support from liberals for his race speech. Pardon the term, but his speach was bullshit! Mr Hope and Change was like any other politican caught with his pants down. He's trying to save his political ass! What he says and what he's been found to practice have been called into question. Yet if you question him, you're racist! Well I've been sitting in pew the past 20 years on Sunday, never heard the pastor utter anything even close to the blatherings of the Reverend Hate. Obama can try and lay his guilt trip somewhere else. To me, this most recent event has shown even more that he's just an empty suit.

Oh, and LAI, you might want... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Oh, and LAI, you might want to be more careful with HTML tags when quoting blocks of text; else it might appear that you not only plagiarized, but plagiarized a hack like Stephen Spruiell.

:)

Oh, and LAI, you might want... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Oh, and LAI, you might want to be more careful with HTML tags when quoting blocks of text; else it might appear that you not only plagiarized, but plagiarized a hack like Stephen Spruiell.
------------------------------------
Matthew, you should be careful with spouting your ignorance and uninformed opinion here. You are writing like a cheap hack trying to make excuse for racism and anti-American hate.

You should go back and do your homework. You don't even understand your own metaphysics enough. So please do more homework.

matthewCriticiz... (Below threshold)

matthew

Criticize how he distanced himself from Wright, and whether he went far enough denouncing the guy, but don't worry too much about whether that clown's nutty beliefs will inform Obama's pending presidency.


It's the tense of the verb, matthew, that has some concerned.
Average Americans are concerned as to whether Wright's nutty beliefs already have informed Obama's beiefs.


Criticize how he distanced ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Criticize how he distanced himself from Wright, and whether he went far enough denouncing the guy, but don't worry too much about whether that clown's nutty beliefs will inform Obama's pending presidency. I don't see him being appointed Secretary of State, or even Undersecretary of Keeping It Real.
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Imagine McCain goes to a church with someone like David Duke for 20 years. Had his kids baptized there and consider that pastor as a mentor. In all honesty, can we imagine Matthew will spout the garbage that he won't have to worry about McCain appointing David Duke as secretary of state.

BTW, let 's look at what Obama did wrt this controversy. He "threw his grandma under the bus" to justify his relationship with pastor Wright. All is for own his political career. He showed an ignorance about the white people in general or trying to intimidate them when he tried to generalize his grandma as a "typical white person".

If we want to have an honest conversation about race, first we need to stop the excuse for racism that has been put out on this thread. Obama doesn't have the experience and judgement to be the president. Acknowledge that before we can have an honest conversation about race.


Sheesh, dude, I was only te... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Sheesh, dude, I was only teasing you for your misuse of HTML tags (and, I suppose, your tacit endorsement of Spruiell's writing). Your technique of frantically jotting down big words that other people use for later use in your own hackneyed screeds is hilarious, by the way. I also remember asking you to do some homework--glad you're splicing that bit in, too. Flattered, even.

Anyway, I don't know what you mean by anti-American hate. Disagreeing with you from a liberal perspective isn't anti-American. It's anti-your opinion.

Do you think Wright's moral... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Do you think Wright's morals have informed Obama's, Hugh? If so, how? Guilt by association is an annoying non-argument used too frequently by both liberals and conservatives.

Sheesh, dude, I was only te... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Sheesh, dude, I was only teasing you for your misuse of HTML tags (and, I suppose, your tacit endorsement of Spruiell's writing).
-------------------------------------
I will not be dishonest by using "teasing" to weasel out an arg. Maybe other people have more patience than I do. But I have seen enough liberals pretending to be sophisticated while spouting their ignorance.

I am honest when I said that you need to to do your homework. I didn't try to play games as you did. You don't know what pastor Wright said is anti-American hate, then go back and listen to it again (ie do your homework).

Do you think Wright's moral... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Do you think Wright's morals have informed Obama's, Hugh? If so, how? Guilt by association is an annoying non-argument used too frequently by both liberals and conservatives.
-------------------------------------
Another cheap talking point. Not guilt by association but responsibility by association. So you don't think people are responsibile for people they choose to associate with? You made a big deal of Romney and the Mormon church. You even claimed that Romney was not qualified to be president for his association with the Mormon church. That 's why you need to go back and do your homework. Try to be intellectually consistent and honest, please.

To talk about race, first w... (Below threshold)
matthew:

To talk about race, first we must acknowledge that Obama is not fit to be POTUS? That's where you stand, LAI? Well, when he becomes POTUS, does that mean we have to shut up about race forever?

Do you seriously think Wright is as bad as David Duke? Wright is a reactionary idiot, but his idiocy stems from the victimization of his people (as Obama explained). Duke's idiocy is of a considerably different and more awful nature.

Alright, I'm off to eat ribs and drink beer with some friends, which is an infinitely more productive use of my time than reading your gibberish. Kudos, though, for once again managing somehow to get at least one person to pay attention to you.

Cross-posting... annoying..... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Cross-posting... annoying... sorry...

Romney is irrelevant, thank god, but as for him being a Mormon, that's him. It's his beliefs. He believes Jesus visited North America. Does Obama share all of Wright's beliefs? Clearly not; particularly not the anti-American ones. Unless someone wants to offer any proof (or even poorly documented conjecture) to the contrary...?

I thought you were referring to leftist posters here as anti-American, rather than Wright. I agree with you that Wright is anti-American, but I disagree that Obama hasn't sufficiently made clear the gap between himself and the putz that preaches in the church he attends.

Do you seriously think Wrig... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Do you seriously think Wright is as bad as David Duke? Wright is a reactionary idiot, but his idiocy stems from the victimization of his people (as Obama explained). Duke's idiocy is of a considerably different and more awful nature.
-------------------------------------
Yes, for a pastor to preach this hate of America and white people for 20 years to the young black people. How can you hope to move beyond race with that kind of hate? You are trying to excuse and enable this racism if you are not honest enough to admit it.


Alright, I'm off to eat ribs and drink beer with some friends, which is an infinitely more productive use of my time than reading your gibberish. Kudos, though, for once again managing somehow to get at least one person to pay attention to you.
It is more productive of your time to go back and study your own metaphysics instead of simply spouting cheap liberal talking points without thinking it through.


Do you think Wright's... (Below threshold)

Do you think Wright's morals have informed Obama's, Hugh?

I can only conclude that they have. What else would explain why a Harvard educated attorney, who was forewarned by Wright himself, not distance himself from statements that accuse the United States government of creating the HIV epidemic to intentionally harm blacks?

Guilt by association is annoying, except when you are running for POTUS and claim as your main campaign theme that you unite America.


Romney is irrelevant, thank... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Romney is irrelevant, thank god, but as for him being a Mormon, that's him. It's his beliefs. He believes Jesus visited North America. Does Obama share all of Wright's beliefs? Clearly not; particularly not the anti-American ones. Unless someone wants to offer any proof (or even poorly documented conjecture) to the contrary...?
------------------------------------
It is just a clear evidence of your hypocrisy when you tried to claim that Romney was not qualified to be a president. Then turned around to excuse Obama long and intimate association with a racist church.

I don't care about Obama 's race. I judge him strictly on his experience, his judgement, and his conduct. He is not qualified to be the president given the evidence so far. He shouldn't get any special treatment because of his race. Period. That 's how we will have a real conversation about race

but I disagree that Obama h... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

but I disagree that Obama hasn't sufficiently made clear the gap between himself and the putz that preaches in the church he attends.
------------------------------------
Any honest person would see that Obama did his half-hearted disassociation because he has to for his own political career. I found it despicable that he had to drag his own grandmother out to justify it. But if you want to ignore the facts and like his Kool-Aid, then we cannot do much for you. But don't pretend to care about racism, honesty etc...

Well, I'd have to say "guil... (Below threshold)

Well, I'd have to say "guilt by association" is a bit mild for what we actually have here. Obama knows what Wright preached, he went to the church for, I think, 2 decades, he referred to Wright as a mentor, got married with Wright as the officiator, had Wright baptize his children, named a book with one of his sermon titles, spoke at length about him in his book, etc. That's a bit more than just some loose association with someone you find out later was not what you thought.

I was a bit troubled, initi... (Below threshold)

I was a bit troubled, initially, to see that my post won praise from JFO, Steve Crickmore, and Larkin -- I guess they didn't notice that I basically trashed 30+ years of Democratic race policy, just couched in polite lingo.

Oh, and LoveAmerica, I think you owe Matthew an apology. I took his comment # 22 precisely as he described it -- a good-natured, teasing pointing out of a technical error you made. It wasn't an attack -- I've seen you be attacked (and on the attack), and this definitely wasn't one of those times.

Oh, and for everyone else -- thanks for the kind words. I've been batting this one around for a few days, pulling thoughts and ideas together, and I was wondering if it'd come out as good as I hoped it would.

J.

Oh, and LoveAmerica, I thin... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Oh, and LoveAmerica, I think you owe Matthew an apology. I took his comment # 22 precisely as he described it -- a good-natured, teasing pointing out of a technical error you made. It wasn't an attack -- I've seen you be attacked (and on the attack), and this definitely wasn't one of those times.
-------------------------------------
OK, Matthew, I apologize.

OK, for all who cared about... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

OK, for all who cared about the Mormon faith of Romney. Here is more info on Obama 's church

http://instapundit.com/archives2/016771.php
Jesus is black. Merging Marxism with Christian Gospel may show the way to a better tomorrow. The white church in America is the Antichrist because it supported slavery and segregation. Those are some of the more provocative doctrines that animate the theology at the core of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Barack Obama's church

A civilization does not hol... (Below threshold)

A civilization does not hold grudges. It is a different mindset which maintains grudges from generation to generation; a mindset more interested in the welfare of the social group than in peace with one's neighbors.

I'm torn between a number o... (Below threshold)
Mike:

I'm torn between a number of things with regard to the Obama speech.

First of all, his "typical white person" characterization of his grandmother is troubling, particularly because the way in which Obama believes that his grandmother is "typical" involves fear of black people. Do we dare say that Rev. Wright, or even Barack Obama, are "typical" black people? Do we dare say that it is "typical" of black people to believe that whites invented HIV for the purpose of black genocide, or that BushCo ordered FEMA to dynamite the New Orleans levees and then ordered FEMA to only rescue white people? And do we dare say that the obvious corollary to those conspiracy theories -- that there is a never-ending supply of knuckle-dragging rednecks eagerly willing to carry out such orders -- is also a "typical" belief of black people?

I am also troubled by the fact that Rev. Wright himself so far has felt no call to apologize to the country at large. His "preaching" is not simply the frustrations of a black man who has suffered injustice; rather, it is the deliberate promulgation of some of the most evil, hateful racist conspiracy theories of the last three decades, stuff that makes the Trilateral Commission conspiracy theories of the John Birch Society look sane. It is also telling that no other black leaders have denounced these conspiracy theories. We know that Farrakhan is a kook and believes this stuff, but what about John Lewis? Charlie Rangell? John Conyers? Julian Bond? Al Sharpton? Jesse Jackson?

William F. Buckley famously flushed the John Birch Society from the leadership ranks of the Republican party. Maybe the Democrats need to flush the black racist conspiracy kooks from theirs.

On the other hand, Obama is right that conservatives do too much talking to blacks, rather than listening. Pleas from blacks about the systematic racism (e.g. higher interest rates on mortgages and cars) that still plagues our country largely fall on deaf ears in the Republican party. Conservatives also tend to ignore the enormously lopsided distribution of wealth between white and black households, which shows up most prominently in the poor quality of schools that black neighborhoods can afford to support.

Conservatives preach "land of opportunity" and "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" but they ignore the fact that generation upon generation of exploitation has ingrained a deep mistrust of whites in the black community. Black leaders will tell you -- if you will listen -- that many members of their community fear the end of affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act because they still hold a deep mistrust of whites, and they believe that these two laws are the only things keeping blacks from being totally exploited today.

I absolutely do not agree with this, as I do not believe that the problems faced by blacks are entirely the fault of whites. The young "gangsta culture" seems to have a cavalier attitude toward the law; they seem to think that getting arrested is some kind of noble civil disobedience, and that not registering car license plates or pocketing a little cash selling dope or not paying traffic tickets is "sticking it to the man." That these men ruin their futures because of petty criminal records is their own fault, not the fault of whites.

But just because I or we (conservatives) do not believe that these beliefs are valid does not mean that they won't be held up as truth in the barber shops and around the dinner tables in black communities.

One more thing. Conservatives like to claim Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King as their own, citing his "not by the color of their skin" statement as "proof" that he would not have supported racial quotas. But by the time MLK was assassinated he had won the battle for voting rights, and he was planning to begun work on a new crusade to bring about the equal distribution of wealth between white and black Americans. If you think the s**t hit the fan over voting rights, then you can imagine the holy hell that a redistribution of wealth scheme would have raised.

The point is that this is a complex issue, far more so than either side can accomplish with a simplistic reduction of problems into bumper sticker slogans. I'm glad that at least we are having a national dialog about this issue.

Jay I did notice ... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Jay

I did notice that you trashed Democratic policy. But that wasn't how I took the spirit of what you wrote. We can argue back and forth all day about policy and history and whose was right and whose was wrong. The truth usually falls somewhere in the middle anyway. But I think that kind of argument misses what I saw as your point about reconciliation and moving forward. I like Obama, I think what he did in his speech was good for all of us. Look at the dialogue on this blog and others. That's a good thing.

P.S. I took your shots at Democratic policy as an irresistible impulse on your part - my expectations of you being cured remain muted.

So, JFO, it matters more ho... (Below threshold)

So, JFO, it matters more how I say something than what I say?

That explains a great deal about Obama's support. It's all about style, no substance.

J.

Ah c'mon JT. We were all s... (Below threshold)
epador:

Ah c'mon JT. We were all singing Kum Bay Yah in 4 part harmony.

I really enjoyed reading the entire thread. Makes you think there might be hope for this country after all.

Mike, This is my ta... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Mike,
This is my take on 3 issues you brought up

(1) systematic discrimination: I don't think so. Just like the issue of blacks in prison. I think the welfare, victim, and gangta cultures lead to more violent, bad credit history. Not systematic discrimination against black per se. If you want to talk about systematic discrimination, then age discrimination is probably the best case (high health and wage cost)

(2) Deep mistrust of whites in the black community: if Pastor Wright is typical of the black churches as Obama claimed, then that is the root cause of the problem. If you allow that kind of hate, then you will deep mistrust and you will never get past the race issue

(3) MLK spoke to the conscience of the nation because he appealed to the universal human value, not the black value as Wright advocated. If MLK advocated wealth redistribution, he was wrong, but you cannot say that he preached condemnation of America. BTW, that was in the 1960s. Today is 2008! How many black millionaires/billionaires we had in the 1960s compared to 2008. One major change has been the break down of the black family. The root cause of that problem is liberalism that tried to perputuate the victimhood for their power base.

I find it ironic that Obama... (Below threshold)
panola:

I find it ironic that Obama would refer to his grandmother as a "typical white person" after he had confessed to the same concerns in his book:

-- Barack Obama from 'Dreams of My Father',
"When his grandmother wants a ride to work because the day before, while awaiting the bus, she was threatened by a black panhandler, he is outraged -- at his grandparents. . . Later, when he moves to the South Side of Chicago in 1984, he eventually discovers that, like his grandmother, he's sometimes scared of black males on the street, too."

And the concerns are shared by others:

-- The Reverend Jesse Jackson, as quoted in US News, 3/10/96,
"There is nothing more painful to me ... than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved. "

The point being, if Jesse, Barack and his grandmother all admit to stereotyping in this case, why didn't Barack simply say "typical person".

JayYou just can't ... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Jay

You just can't take a compliment can ya? Couldn't resist taking a little shot could ya?

What I liked about your post was the concept of reconciliation and moving forward. That's substance.

What I liked about Obama and his speech was that he started a serious dialogue. That's substance.

JFO, one point I make over ... (Below threshold)

JFO, one point I make over and over and over again is "don't conflate the message with the messenger." Usually, it's in the context of pointing out that attacking the messenger does not in any way diminish the message -- like in the Chickenhawk argument, when it's all about getting the other person to shut up, not refuting what they say.

In this case, it's the converse. Obama brought up a very important point, and I agree that it needs to be addressed -- and offered my own perspective and opinions on the matter. But that in no way aggrandizes Obama or makes him more fit for the presidency. The issue at hand is far more important than any one person, and the notion that only a half-black, half-white man with tremendous charisma and a great gift for oration can properly "unite" and "heal" this nation with the power of changeful hopeyness is a crock.

Obama potentially did this nation a great service with his speech, if it actually catalyzes a frank discussion and substantive results towards a final reconciliation of the race matters that have troubled us since before our nation's birth.

But that does not entitle him to the presidency as a reward, nor does it overshadow all the other factors about him that -- to me -- disqualify him from the presidency. Nor does it forgive his embracing and promoting and lavishing praise on a paranoid, bigoted race-baiter like Reverend Wright.

They are two entirely different matters -- Obama's speech and the essential truths it contained, and Obama's qualifications for president. I can -- and have -- discussed both at length. But I reject that one cannot embrace the former and reject the latter.

I repeat: the message is not the messenger.

J.

JayI don't know wh... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Jay

I don't know why you feel the need to turn your post . the topic being about race relations, into a discussion of Obama's fitness to be president. That's not what your post was about and that's not what my response was about. I repeat, what I liked about your post was what I saw as a call for reconciliation and moving forward. I like that notion and I hope we can do it as a country.

With all due respect, you insult my intelligence when you tell me not to conflate the message with the messenger. That's a common notion from folks from the right - that the country must somehow be ignorant enough or not intelligent enough to be able to discern the man from what he stands for. I know what Obama stands for - he's a liberal democrat with liberal democratic positions- and those are the positions I believe in.

Now see, you've gotten me into the political argument - which I think takes away from what you were speaking of in your post, race relations. That's a topic which stands alone and which should be addressed without making political arguments about it.

Take the compliments from the liberals here for what they were. You wrote a good, thought provoking post.




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