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To Understand Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Recall Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Today, Senator Barack Obama felt compelled to disassociate himself from his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Not only from the snippets of Rev. Wright's sermons - largely taken out of context by vile humans like Sean Hannity at FOX News, in order to smear Senator Obama - but also from his speech at the National Press Club yesterday, as well as from anything Rev. Wright might say in the future. It appears to be an irreparable breach.

Brainless partisans, such as those who further abuse their already limited intellectual faculties by watching O'Reilly and Hannity on FOX, will hear much about the tactics behind Obama's move, as well as repetition ad nauseam about how poorly Obama's ties to Rev. Wright reflect on his own "judgment."

Yet, properly understood, the breach has nothing to do with Senator Obama's judgment. It represents only a belated recognition by him that the objectives of a politician cannot possibly be the objectives of a pastor. Even the brain-dead should understand that a politician who seeks to unify the country in order to solve its problems, as does Senator Obama, cannot possibly say "God Damn America" for its sins of slavery and Jim Crow or ask why "America's sin of racism has never even been confessed, much less repented for."

Although it was inelegantly phrased, Rev. Wright got it right when he observed that, while Senator Obama must satisfy and be accountable to the electorate, a pastor must be accountable to God. Fortunately Rev. Wright does not live in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Soviet Union of the early 1970s. Otherwise he would have found himself banished from the country, not just the political campaign, for the moral thunderbolts he hurled at the state.

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In December 1973, the first part of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago was published in the West. As is well known, Solzhenitsyn had taken it upon himself to expose the brutal Soviet police empire of torture, prisons, and forced-labor camps. According to George Kennan, The Gulag Archipelago "surely" was written to "restore the integrity of the Russian conscience; to compel the Soviet regime to come to terms, at long last, with its own history; to compel it to face that history frankly."

Unfortunately, the Soviet leaders of the early 1970s couldn't withstand the truth. So they stripped Solzhenitsyn of his citizenship and banished him from the Soviet Union. Only after the assumption of power by Mikhail Gorbachev -- an Obama-like precursor possessing both wisdom and vision -- did Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn have his citizenship restored.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama is running for president in a country that still lacks the courage to "come to terms, at long last, with its own history" of slavery. Recognizing that "politics" is the art of the possible, Senator Obama has articulated forward-looking policies that would benefit African Americans in the course of benefiting Americans in general.

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Although they appear preferable to the offerings of Senator Clinton, and much better than the muddle offered by Senator McCain, they also require that Senator Obama banish from his campaign the backward-looking pastor who hurls moral thunderbolts that nobody but Obama's political enemies like to hear

 

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
 

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