I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday. You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either. ... I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church ... But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the United States' wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me, they rightly offend all Americans, and they should be denounced.The rationale for Obama's campaign is largely that he is a uniter. The time has come for him to prove it. Wright whom conservative columnist Rich Lowry calls "a Christian Farrakhan" - threatens to undo decades of progress in racial reconciliation with his anti-American, black separatist ravings not just in the pulpit but now before a national audience and Obama must show that there is substance behind his rhetoric. Obama had hitherto been coasting to the nomination, but his viability is being tested by Wright's burning ambition to prove that America is too racist to elect a black man president by crippling the chances of the one black candidate who had a real shot at it. As New York Times columnist Bob Herbert put it: "Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him":
The senator has been trying desperately to bolster his standing with skeptical and even hostile white working-class voters. When the story line of the campaign shifts almost entirely to the race-in-your-face antics of someone like Mr. Wright, Mr. Obama's chances can only suffer. Beyond that, the apparent helplessness of the Obama campaign in the face of the Wright onslaught contributes to the growing perception of the candidate as weak, as someone who is unwilling or unable to fight aggressively on his own behalf.It's no longer enough to for Obama to merely acknowledge that "there may be people who are troubled about [Wright] and are being polite in not asking me about it." A leader doesn't wait to be asked. Obama's got to reverse the racial polarization caused by Wright's hate-mongering sermons and speeches - this time, not by asking whites alone to bear the responsibility of improving race relations, but by asking blacks to bear their fair share. (It is telling that during Wright's appearance at the National Press Club on Monday when he began his answer to a question about his assertion that the U.S. had invited the September 11 terrorist attacks, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked, for whatsoever you sow that you also shall ..." his supporters in the audience filled in the blank with "reap.") To do this, Obama needs to start with his wife (and would-be First Lady). When he convinces her that there is plenty about America of which she can be proud, he should then go black churches nationwide to convince the congregants the things that they're liable to hear from their pastors, it ain't necessarily so and he made a start during his press conference:
[A]cross the board in many black churches there is an emphasis on the importance of social struggle, the importance of striving for equality and justice and fairness, a social gospel. ... [T]here's nothing particularly odd about that. Dr. King, obviously, was the most prominent example of that kind of preaching. But you know, what I do think can happen, and I didn't see this as a member of the church, but I saw it yesterday, is when you start focusing so much on the plight of the historically oppressed that you lose sight of what we have in common, that it overrides everything else that we're not concerned about the struggles of others because we're looking at things only through a particular lens, then it doesn't describe properly what I believe in the power of faith to overcome but also to bring people together.When Obama has convinced parishioners at black churches to adopt his worldview, only then will he be that post-racial uniter that Americans thought they were voting for in the primaries. Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).