Much has been said about Barack Obama's relationship with his controversial pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Do the Reverend Wright's fiery sermons reflect the ideology of Senator Obama?
This issue reached a crescendo when video surfaced of the Reverend Wright bellowing from the pulpit "God Bless America? No, No, No, . . . God Damn America!"
Obama claims to have not been a part of the congregation that particular Sunday.
In impassioned sermons, the Reverend Wright has talked of Obama being raised a poor black man by a single mother in a culture controlled by rich white people. Did he forget that Obama's single mother was one of those white people, abandoned by her black husband, Obama's father?
Wright has also accused the American government of creating the AIDS virus to kill off black people. Where did he get that idea? If he did his homework, he would learn that the AIDS virus was brought to the US from Haiti by a black immigrant! The first five US AIDS patients were all recent Haitian immigrants.
And Wright has claimed that America brought the horrors of 9-11 on itself, by its foreign policies around the world. America's "chickens coming home to roost."
These are clearly anti-American messages.
Obama has attempted somewhat weakly to put a bit of distance between himself and Wright, saying he'd never heard Wright say those things. We find that hard to believe.
Wright has been Obama's pastor for 20 years, his spiritual mentor, and the source for the title of his book, "The Audacity of Hope." Wright performed the Obamas' marriage ceremony and baptized their children.
It is highly unlikely that Reverend Wright suddenly developed these anti-American sentiments after Obama was elected to the Senate and was thus not in the sanctuary on most Sundays. The Trinity United Church of Christ, of which Wright is pastor (now pastor emeritus), has a stated "black, Afro-centric" vision. See excerpts from their web site on our discussion of Who is Barack Obama?
We can understand Obama's comments about loving the messenger while still not liking the message (isn't that the Christian response, after all?), but if he disagrees with these comments, why isn't he more outspoken in his disagreement, and why would he continue to sit and listen to them for 20 years? More importantly, why would he allow that anti-American bias to be taught to his children?
It seems to us that Jeremiah Wright is a racist of the worst kind. But he can get away with that kind of speech because he's a black man, and if we criticize it, then clearly we must be racist to condemn a black man for speaking out.
We're not racist. We'd be just as outraged if those same words came out of the mouth of a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, a Jew, an Asian, an Arab, a Native American, or anyone else, regardless of their ethnic background or the color of their skin.
You see, it's the message that's wrong, regardless of who the messenger is, and by not standing up and denouncing those remarks in stronger terms, Obama is leaving us to believe that he must agree with the message as well as the messenger.
This is NOT a man we want as Commander-in-Chief, head of US policy, and the most powerful man in the world. Not by a long shot.
But, hey, we're just the messenger.
Obama Denounces Wright
On April 28, 2008, Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright put on a theatrical performance at the National Press Club, amplifying his controversial remarks, sparring defiantly with questioners, and grandstanding for attention. His performance seemed to answer the question whether he was using his friendship with Obama to catapult himself to personal fame.
Since he is officially "retiring" in June, one can only wonder what his plans are, and how his grandstanding might improve his personal financial prospects. Minister? Please!
We believe it is now clear that Jeremiah Wright is trying to become the next Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, and he's leap-frogging over the Presidential ambitions of Barack Obama to do so. The ultimate opportunist. Is anyone surprised to learn he has a book being released soon? How better to promote your new book than by suddenly becoming a household name?
Video clips have been shown repeatedly of Wright saying, "Barack KNOWS what it's like to be a poor black man in a culture controlled by rich white people." That's not exactly accurate.
Barack Obama was raised by his white mother and her white parents in Hawaii (with the exception of four years from ages 6 through 10 when he lived with his mother and step-father in Indonesia). When he was 10, his mother sent him back to Hawaii to live with her parents, in order to afford him a better education. He attended the elite Punahou prep school in Honolulu, a private school attended by the children of the wealthiest families on Oahu. His grandmother used her influence as a bank vice-president to find a scholarship to pay the reported $14,000-a-year tuition.
Barack's mother, Ann, returned to Hawaii briefly when he was 11 - 13, where she received her Master's degree at University of Hawaii. When she decided to return to Indonesia to conduct research for her PhD in Anthropology, Obama said he'd rather stay behind, and she returned to Indonesia alone. He was tired of being "the new kid," and wanted to stay in Hawaii with his grandmother.
Obama (who is a true African-American, with a Kenyan father and an American mother) and his younger sister Maya (who is Asian-American with an Indonesian father) were essentially raised by their white grandmother, who was a stronger and more constant influence in his life than his own mother. Madelyn Dunham was one of the first two women to be named a vice-president at Bank of Hawaii. Those who worked in the bank at the time remember Barack and his sister coming to the bank after school, where they sat quietly and did their homework while they waited for their grandmother to finish work for the day.
Young Barack no doubt felt a bit overwhelmed in his first years with the privileged kids at Punahou, coming from a very different life in Indonesia. According to his teachers and classmates, however, he fit in well, played basketball, and negotiated his way through all the usual school cliques.
After finishing high school in Hawaii, Obama came to live on the Mainland for the first time, as a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles. After two years, he transferred to Columbia University in New York. He then attended Harvard Law School. An elite Ivy League education out of the reach of most white students.
So exactly where is Obama's background that relates in any way to the experiences of poor blacks growing up in inner cities or rural areas of mainland America? His first exposure to the way blacks in America live was in his job as a community organizer in Chicago, between his time at Columbia and his enrollment at Harvard.
The idea that Barack Obama knows what it's like to be a poor black man in America is a fabrication by Jeremiah Wright and many others who champion Obama as the first "black" candidate for President. (There are blacks who claim that Obama isn't "black" enough, because he was not descended from black slaves.)
Obama hasn't lived the life of a poor black man in America, he hasn't faced the same struggles they've had. He settled in Chicago with wife Michelle, who is from the south side of Chicago and strongly identifies with that area. How many blacks on the south side of Chicago can relate to the nearly two-million dollar home they live in?
It seems clear that someone is re-writing Obama's history to sell a more romantic story of the poor black boy who grew up to be President. That's just not who Barack Obama is.
If you missed Wright's performance, you can find various clips by going to YouTube and typing into the search block "Jeremiah Wright National Press Club". We're assuming that if you're reading this page, you're interested enough in the election that you know who Jeremiah Wright is and the controversial things he's said. If not, go to YouTube and just type "Jeremiah Wright." You'll find more than you care to watch.
We said earlier that Obama, if he did not agree with Wright's remarks, should come out and say so more forcefully than he did in Philadelphia. A day after Wright's grandstanding at the National Press Club, he did just that, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina:
Obama was angered by Wright's grandstanding, by his claims that Obama's earlier denunciation was an example of "saying what he needs to say in order to get elected," and felt it was disrespectful of him and what he's trying to accomplish with his campaign. He was distressed that it created a distraction in the campaign. And he said that his relationship with Wright had been changed by it, the man he saw yesterday not the same man he met 20 years ago.
Has Jeremiah Wright caused substantial damage to Obama's campaign? Can the damage be repaired? Is it fair for Wright's remarks and attitudes to be attributed to Obama? We think it is, if Obama spent 20 years listening to the anti-American garbage spouted by Wright.
We'd like to know what you think about it. Sound off in our discussion of the 2008 Presidential election campaign.
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