Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Wright, brothers!

Posted by Ron Coleman on March 17, 2008

[A]s Wright’s America-bashing gets more airtime — and as his Obama-boosting sermons put his church’s tax exemption at risk — Obama may have to go further down the road to explicitly disavowing his pastor. His connection to Wright isn’t the equivalent of John McCain’s going to Liberty University to make nice with Jerry Falwell. It’s the equivalent of John McCain taking his wife and children, most Sundays, to Jerry Falwell’s church. And the disconnect between Obama’s studied moderation and his congregation’s radicalism requires more of an explanation than he’s offered so far.

That’s as good a summary of the issue as you’re going to find, I think. I discussed the simmering issue of barely-sub-rosa antisemitism among black clergy (at that point, not Wright), in particular, here. Antisemitism of this sort is never found without broader hatred of America, and its values, and what do you know?

To me, the fulcrum of the matter as it applies to Senator Obama is this:

I don’t believe he believes what his minister says… exactly. He does, however, tolerate it, and consider it a legitimate level of discourse, albeit only in the “proper” context. And I believe this puts the Senator in excellent company among people of his class and race.

And I believe that it is the attitude of this excellent company, and not merely of Senator Obama, that is really what we should be looking at here. Because if he is indeed the man to prick the pimple of unreasonable race-based distinctions in this country, we need to know what is going on here, and why.


14 Responses to “Wright, brothers!”

  1. Christian Prophet said

    Disavowing the pastor won’t help. Barack Obama is in serious trouble as a spotlight is shined on his particular THEOLOGY. See:

  2. Ara Rubyan said

    Spare me.

    People are popping a blood vessel about whether or not Obama was in church when Wright preached one sermon or another. Fact is, whether or not he was doesn’t make any difference. After all, everyone knows you can sit in the most milktoast church and listen to the gospel of jesus for fifty years and come away completely unchanged. Why should Rev. Wright’s sermons be any different?

    Besides, we’re now hearing about the meaning of this affair from the same people who told us Obama was a Muslim; that he was sworn into office on the Koran; that doesn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance; that he’s anti-Israel; that his advisers are anti-Israel; that he’s friends with terrorists; that the terrorists want him to win; that he’s the Antichrist.

    After ignoring the church and culture of African-Americans for decades, mainstream America is now shocked — shocked! — at what they’ve found.

  3. I’m waiting for the part of the campaign where the media focuses on what the candidates themselves say.

  4. Insane, I’m waiting for the part when Barak Obama says something substantive enough to be focused on.

    Ara, you actually seem to agree with me.

  5. Ron Coleman:

    He’s giving a big speech on religion, race and everything else tomorrow, we’ll see if you cover it and cover it fairly.

  6. Ara Rubyan said

    Ara, you actually seem to agree with me.

    I go back so far, I’m in front of me!

  7. Well? What do you think of the speech?

  8. I think Paul Mirengoff said it exactly as I would say it — almost as if he read my blog post. Here’s an excerpt:

    Obama admits the obvious — that he does take Wright’s views quite seriously. He states:

    The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

    Here, Obama not only welcomes the comments and issues raised by Wright into our national dialogue, but claims that we can’t “solve challenges like health or education” without working through these comments and issues. Obama should be required to explain why he thinks, for example, we can’t substantially improve our health care system without “working through” whatever “complexity” is associated with such comments as Wright’s claim that the U.S. brought 9/11 on itself. Part of the answer, though certainly not a sufficient one, is that Obama takes Wright’s comments seriously, even though he does not agree with them. They are, as he has said, provocative from his perspective.

    Although Obama’s speech is not without its evasions, I consider it a courageous one by usual political standards. He has refused to walk away from Wright’s black liberation theology when it might well have been expedient to do so. The rest of us now should have the courage to take Obama at his word and decide whether it is acceptable to elect as president of the United States someone who carries Rev. Wright around as part of him, and who takes his ranting seriously.

  9. Ara Rubyan said

    Given that Mirengoff describes the speech as “a ‘major address’ on race relations and Pastor Wright,” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he picked over it, looking for tidbits about the Chicago pastor and his relationship with Obama.

    Unfortunately, he missed the forest for the trees. Too bad for him.

  10. Well, here’s the thing, Ara. It looks like Obama is getting out of jail free on the brilliance card. Hey, I dig brilliance. But the specific trees that Mirengoff is hitting are the exact ones we needed comfort on. And I can’t say Obama gave us that. And I don’t think you can, either.

  11. Ara Rubyan said

    Obama is getting out of jail free on the brilliance card.

    He’s a regular criminal mastermind!

    the specific trees that Mirengoff is hitting are the exact ones we needed comfort on.

    I listened to the same speech you did. Shy of bringing Rev. Wright up to the podium and whacking him with a baseball bat, I don’t know what else he could have done to satisfy some people.

  12. Ara Rubyan said

    Seriously, Ron: Rev. Wright will end up being the answer to a trivia question. People will soon forget who he was and what his connection to Obama was. But they’ll remember the speech.

  13. Ara, it’s a little hasty to conclude anything about the speech, though I do agree that the Rev. Wright will at best be a footnote in history. But even liberals sitting down and looking for the meat are beginning to feel uncomfortable with what the Senator has served.

    By the way — I still prefer him to Senator Clinton.

  14. Ara Rubyan said

    See now, there’s your problem: That word doesn’t mean what you think it does.

    Kaus is not a liberal.

    As for Obama v. Clinton, I know lots of Republicans who are so disenchanted* with their party that they will be voting for the Democrats — but only if Obama is the nominee.

    *What’s up with McCain saying Iran was training al-Qaeda and being corrected, sotto voce, by Joe Lieberman? The optics, as they say, don’t look good on this, Ron.

    Will Lieberman be laying in bed next to McCain when the phone rings at 3am? That makes me shudder on so many levels.

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