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3.25.2008

Yellow Rebel left this link for me in the comments section of a previous post. The opinion therein is a perfect breakdown of all the backlash I've been hearing since The Speech. The piece is short. Go read it. Sen. Barack Obama didn't "diss" his grandmother in the race speech. He drew a parallel between two people who are important to him, but who hold views with which he disagrees. The reason why people like D'Souza are upset about it is because they don't think there's anything wrong with Obama's grandmother's racist views. To quote D'Souza: "[...]fears of black men are rationally explained as the consequence of the fact that black men have the highest violent crime conviction rate of any group in our society." Black men have the highest violent crime conviction rate because of a lack of economic opportunity (consequence of racism), lack of a stable family environment (consequence of racism), and because they are often judged by juries which are NOT their peers (straight-up racism). And they're feared because of even more racism. Moving on. D'Souza:

Many of us, [Obama] argues, "disagree" with things that our pastors and family members have said. True, but how many of us have pastors who say stuff like the Reverend Wright? It's one thing to sit quietly while my pastor says things I don't agree with about evolution or the Rapture, quite another for Obama to sit quietly while his pastor says that America deserved to be attacked on 9/11 and that the U.S. government deliberately injected AIDS into the country. My guess is that even in the black church "God damn America!" is not exactly standard rhetoric. Certainly the Reverend Martin Luther King didn't talk like that.
There are so many problems with this. First, Dr. King wasn't saying anything popular at the time of his death. He was quite critical of the U.S. and its policies. He may not have said "God damn America," but I bet he was thinking it. Also, using Dr. King as the measuring stick for black preachers today exposes more about the writer than it does about the point he's feebly attempting to make. (Well, that, and using the term "Obamorons" which will draw in readers who share D'Souza's opinion, and turn away those who support Obama, or are on the fence.) The other part of that passage which is problematic is this: "How many of us have pastors who say stuff like the Reverend Wright?" First, who is this 'us'? The good, sane, patriotic, white (or close enough) Americans? Or Americans like me? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: nothing Wright said to his congregation was particularly new to someone who's been to a black church regularly. None of it is new to anyone who is in touch with the black community. As Princeton's Melissa Harris-Lacewell said in an opinion piece in the NYT: "One of the things fascinating to me watching these responses to Jeremiah Wright is that white Americans find his beliefs so fringe or so extreme. When if you’ve spent time in black communities, they are not shared by everyone, but they are pretty common beliefs." D'Souza also takes issue with Obama comparing Wright to "family." He seems to dislike this, because the senator could have walked away from the church at any point in the last twenty years, since Reverend Wright has been "shouting his doctrine from the pulpit for decades." This last bit is really not worth responding to, since D'Souza has clearly getting all of his information from the clips of Wright being shown repeatedly on CNN (or more likely, FOX news). It's quite impressive how after 30 seconds of YouTube video, and people think they know everything there is to know about a person and their "doctrine." The first part, the idea of "family," is answered by what Obama said in The Speech.
As imperfect as [Wright] may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
You can't, and shouldn't walk away from that. Had he "walked away" from Wright in the last twenty years, we wouldn't have 'The Audacity of Hope,' and we might not have the Barack Obama we have today. If he had disowned him in this speech, my respect for him would have been severely diminished. So... YR. Does that answer your question?

7 new thought(s):

The Breaking Point said...

Black men have the highest violent crime conviction rate because of a lack of economic opportunity (consequence of racism), lack of a stable family environment (consequence of racism), and because they are often judged by juries which are NOT their peers (straight-up racism).

I am the first to sign off on any assertion that black men have been dealt the sh*ttiest hand ever, but to ascribe blame for the violence that black men visit on themselves (too often) and others is, dare I say, problematic.

Surely we must bare some of the blame, no?

jameil1922 said...

everyone w/some common sense would've been disgusted if he'd denied him. it's ridiculous. people have taken leave of their senses. WHO JUDGES PEOPLE BY WHAT THEIR PASTOR SAYS??? bizarre.

my pastor has def. said some things about the media where i was like i mean really??? but that didn't stop me from going. i'm not there for his opinions. i'm there for the word of God. i don't even get why this is being discussed so fervently.

jameil1922 said...

i forgot to tell you one of my coworkers said today, "yesterday i was running to my car and had to duck b/c there was gunfire." i was like "WHAT?!?! NO ONE TOLD ME THIS!! HOW ARE YOU EVEN AT WORK TODAY?!?!" he goes, "wait, i misspoke." DYING!! made even more hilarious by the fact that he never ever makes fun of anyway. fabulosity.

Yellow Rebel said...

Thank you Ms. O

If you look up D'Souza, he's a well known right-wing,neo-conservative (lol @ "Neo" and "conservative"...on your blog...ok I'll shut up now). I brought up the article because I felt it was worthy banter.

Obama responded accordingly to the situation and stayed loyal. For a while it seemed as if Obama was deflecting the race issue (which I could see why), but the recent events obviously forced him to talk about it. To me its a reflection of Obama's tricky place in politics. He wants the endorsement from two polarized groups, while being in a polarizing election. Not to mention in a two party system (an archaic one in my op). Fortunately he's managed to maneuver through the shades of grey and use it to his advantage.

Check out my latest Random News update...I have an interesting Obama article linked

The Breaking Point said...

I've been to Trinity and heard Rev. Wright speak. I don't know if I mentioned this before (here), but I was so put off by what he had to say as regards race, whites and blacks that I got up and left.

I didn't do it to make it a statement. I thought his comments went far beyond the pale of what a pastor of a Christian church should be saying--during a sermon no less.

Obama blew it by not pre-empting this. And the "typical white person" gem didn't help.

shani-o said...

LH- I did say "highest" violent crime rate. The author's posit was that black men have the highest violent crime rate, so people should be afraid of them. I said they have the highest violent crime rate for the aforementioned reasons. I didn't say they have a crime rate for those reasons. Every demo has a crime rate, but my issue is the assumption that black men are inherently more violent and dangerous than any other group.

And you did mention that you walked on a Wright sermon. If you felt like he was overstepping the boundaries of the pulpit, then I support that decision. I think Obama tried that thing that every other politician does... dismiss the situation until it has to be addressed. Note that McCain has ties to his own crazy religious figures, and we haven't heard anything about that.

And the "typical white person" thing... well, white people have been making assumptions about "typical blacks" for years. Is Obama not allowed to do it?

shani-o said...

Jam- I agree with you on judging someone by their pastor. But Barack Obama is being judged because he's black, and people think his pastor is this angry black man with extremist beliefs.

Also, LMAO at your co-worker! I'm gonna have to try that on someone.

YR- LOL... do NOT confuse me with those nutty neocons! And I think Obama couldn't have possibly handled the situation any better. At least not without getting some deity status, lol.