Monday, March 17, 2008

Obama's Dilemma

I’ve been thinking a little about the comments from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the just-retired pastor of Barack Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago whose race-mongering and anti-American comments have created such a stir across the American political landscape.

I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt to both Sen. Obama and Rev. Wright, although little that anyone can say about the Reverend can undo the ugliness of his remarks. But to put this in context, the man ministered at Trinity Church for twenty years, presumably 50 weeks a year, with a message each week. By my count, that’s 1,000 or more messages. We have heard excerpts from a mere handful of them, and we just don’t know what the content of the others may have been.

Jim Brown, the former NFL great, noted today on the radio that much of the progress blacks have made since the days of slavery is due to the actions of white people, such as those who set up the Underground Railroad, and the man who made Jackie Robinson a Major League baseball player, Branch Rickey, to name just two examples. Mr. Brown allowed that Rev. Wright may have in other sermons alluded to these contributions from white people. Perhaps he did.

However, some things come to the fore.

If, as Jim Brown allows, Rev. Wright has credited the white people who have helped advance the cause of blacks in America through the decades, shouldn’t there be video evidence of that, just as there is video evidence of his anti-American and racist anti-white remarks?

And then there is the reaction of the audience to Rev. Wright’s comments, the wild enthusiasm for those remarks was not quite universal, but was obviously broadly agreed with by most of those in attendance. I got the distinct feeling that the ideas in those remarks were familiar ones, and popular among the faithful members of Trinity United. And it is undeniable that this line of thought is a prominent one among black Americans. It is further undeniable that these are not messages of faith, or of God or Jesus, or about living a Christian life, which are the messages one would expect to hear from the pulpit. They are militant messages of continuously aggrieved blacks for whom America can never be good enough, can never be forgiven for its slavery-supporting history of 14 decades ago. They are political messages, not religious messages, designed to appeal to the “we’re-blacks-and-we’re-victims” mentality that has been so carefully cultivated by race-baiters for decades, designed to keep blacks and whites from coming together.

The presidency is a mainstream America institution. Those who aspire to it must be mainstream Americans, or they won’t be elected to the office. A man or woman who hates blacks, or who hates whites, won’t be the President of the United States. The people who listen and celebrate the racism and anti-Americanism of Trinity United’s pastor Jeremiah Wright are decidedly not mainstream Americans. The questions, which are important ones, are: to what degree does Barack Obama share those attitudes? And, if he doesn’t share them and support them, as he now says he doesn’t, why did he continue to attend Trinity United with its obvious anti-white, anti-America philosophy? And why was he a close friend of a man who replaced proper church sermons with political and racial cheerleading all these years?

I believe Barack Obama has a tough sell ahead of him, and a powerful lot of explaining to do.

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