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Race

Never happened. And if it did, it had no impact.

If you want to read a conservative who's not an idiot discussing the Obama speech, click here.

For those of you who prefer your conservatives obtuse and dishonest, there's Krauthammer:

(b) White guilt. Obama's purpose in the speech was to put Wright's outrages in context. By context, Obama means history. And by history, he means the history of white racism. Obama says, "We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country," and then proceeds to do precisely that. And what lies at the end of his recital of the long train of white racial assaults from slavery to employment discrimination? Jeremiah Wright, of course.

This contextual analysis of Wright's venom, this extenuation of black hate speech as a product of white racism, is not new. It's the Jesse Jackson politics of racial grievance, expressed in Ivy League diction and Harvard Law nuance. That's why the speech made so many liberal commentators swoon: It bathed them in racial guilt, while flattering their intellectual pretensions. An unbeatable combination.

But Obama was supposed to be new. He flatters himself as a man of the future transcending the anger of the past as represented by his beloved pastor. Obama then waxes rhapsodic about the hope brought by the new consciousness of the young people in his campaign.
This is the nub of the conservative argument against Obama. Allow me to summarize: "Waaah, you said you weren't going to make us feel bad about black people, waaaah."

Conservatives hate, hate, hate . . . no, not black people . . . but history. Or at least the history of black people.

They love the parts of history that are about winning wars. Also the parts having to do with the Founders ensuring their right to own guns. That's good history. That's history we should all clutch to our bosoms and look to each and every day for guidance and inspiration. History is our guide!

But not the part of history that involves crowds of white people drinking lemonade while stringing up a black man. That part of history has, and should have, no relevance or impact. At all. On anyone.

Conservative history goes like this: the brilliance of the Founders, the courage and gentility of Robert E. Lee, FDR packing the Supreme Court, the John Wayne portions of World War II, CBS surrenders to the Viet Cong just as we were about to win, Roe v. Wade, Ronald Reagan arrives on a cloud to banish the hippies, and Mission Accomplished.

Now for balance, we have the left-wing version of history: White guys enslave blacks, kill Indians, blacklist commie screenwriters, cut down all the trees and shoot all the fuzzy animals, and get rich selling Humvees to the army. And it's all about oil, man. Used to be all about coal, man. And before that it was all about alfalfa, man. Don't be naive, read Chomsky, that's all I'm saying.

In the conservative historical view there was no ethnic cleansing of Indians, the Indians, um . . . relocated. For the weather. They prefer a dry heat. In the conservative historical view we didn't enslave blacks, they were just kind of like Applebee's waitresses: underpaid, sure, but basically kind of cheerful. In the conservative historical view we never stole half the nation of Mexico at gunpoint, or allied ourselves with Stalin, or launched firebomb and atomic bomb attacks on cities full of women and children, or managed by sheer stupidity and military incompetence to lose a war in Southeast Asia.

In the conservative world view there has been zero impact from slavery and Jim Crow and widespread racism because 1) it all happened a long, long time ago, and 2) it never really happened, and 3) only the good parts of history have lasting impact, except for 4) Vietnam, which conservatives still haven't gotten over. Why, black people have the same chance as whites to be Harvard legacies who used Dad's connections to get into the oil business and eventually the White House. Fore!

In the liberal historical view we must, 1) take action to fight The Power, despite the fact that 2) The Power always wins and there's no progress, no, not ever, not even a little, and by "take action" we mean, 3) beating our breasts and the breasts of anyone else standing nearby so that people will, like, understand that, 4) people suck, man, which is why we must, 5) give power to the people. And by "people" we mean a coalition of Berkeley associate professors, lesbians, blacks and Latinos. Right on!

You know who got the history right? Not Charles Krauthammer. In Krauthammer's world there is no racism. Why, he never uses the "N" word. He's never personally lynched anyone, and if he saw it being done he'd call 911. He's never even stopped a black man for driving through a white neighborhood. And his limo driver -- who happens to black, so there -- likes him, and always seems pretty happy.

Gosh. No overt racism at the Washington Post or the American Enterprise Institute, Charles? Then there must be none anywhere. Ever. Poof! All gone.

You know who got the history and its impact about right? This guy:

But for all those [African Americans] who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.

...

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

. . .

But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

So, yes, it happened. Slavery happened. Jim Crow happened. Profiling continues to happen. There's scarcely a white person over the age of 30 -- set aside what black people hear -- who has not heard the N-word used in earnest. I know I have. So yes, it happened, and it continues to happen, and it didn't all just go away, it hasn't gone away.

It has not gone away.

But it can.

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“Race”

  1. Blogger Randy (Internet Ronin) Says:

    If you are going to run around posting 50 year-old pictures of lynchings and therefore imply anyone and everyone criticizing Obama is a racist, I am so out of here.

  2. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    I honestly don't see how you would think that Randy. What I am saying is that conservatives want to wish away a past that is far from dead. Krauthammer and his ilk deny that blacks have any grounds for grievance - even as they tout the importance of history when it suits their purposes.

  3. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    I honestly don't see how you would think that Randy. What I am saying is that conservatives want to wish away a past that is far from dead. Krauthammer and his ilk deny that blacks have any grounds for grievance - even as they tout the importance of history when it suits their purposes.

  4. Anonymous bookfraud Says:

    spot on, mr. reynolds. i hadn't really thought it the context of history, but you're right -- conservatives want to live in the good ol' days without acknowledging the bad stuff.

    krauthammer is a neo-con idiot blinded by his own moral superiority. and who still thinks the war was a great idea. don't trust him for a nanosecond.

  5. Anonymous Justin Gardner Says:

    even as they tout the importance of history when it suits their purposes.

    Yes, but they get paid very well to do this. Always follow the money Michael...

  6. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    So you're citicizing Krauthammer for what he didn't write? Does every utterance on race by a white person have to be prefaced by a litany of racial sins and a mea culpa? How does Krauthammer's condemnation of racial animosity equate to ignoring the past?

    You express hope that racism can go away. I think Randy's (and Krauthammer's) point is that it's hard for that to happen when people like Rev. Wright keep dredging up the past not to bring healing but to stoke the fires of anger, hate, bitterness, and mistrust.

    The guy is teaching a new generation of blacks that whites invented AIDS to destroy people of color. And Obama chose to be a part of that church and call that man a mentor and spiritual advisor for 20 years -- up until last week, in fact, when he got called on it.

    I think Obama's choice of that church, his 20 year participation in it, and his lavish praise of a Farrakhan-like and Farrakhan-loving man, and his equating of the public spewing of vile race hatred with his grandmother's private expression of racial fear (of which she was ashamed) all raise legitimate questions about how seriously Obama wants to transcend racial animosity and what he thinks that would look like.

    And if you'd stop tarring all conservatives as historically naive closet racists, I'd appreciate it. If Obama can love a racist, hate-filled pastor, can conservatives love America in spite of her sins?

  7. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    And if you'd stop tarring all conservatives as historically naive closet racists, I'd appreciate it. If Obama can love a racist, hate-filled pastor, can conservatives love America in spite of her sins?

    When did I do any of that? Show me where, in what way, I tarred "all conservatives as historically naive racists . . ."

    I parodied both the right's view of history and the left's. I never suggested there was anything inherently racist about the right. I suggested -- as Gerson yesterday, Krauthammer today, and frankly, Jeff, you -- have a blind spot when it comes to what black people have endured in this country.

    I find it strange that a man who, I assume, believes in original sin, (and again, an assumption, must preach on it) and believes that this colors all human life, reacts so strongly to the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, American life is colored by the original sin of slavery and its perpetuation in lesser forms.

    I'm sorry if the above picture upsets you and Randy. Imagine what it does for African Americans. And believe me, there's not a black man or woman in this country who needs Rev. Wright to tell them that racism is alive and well. And no, Jeff, Rev. Wright is not somehow responsible for the lack of racial healing in this country.

    Racial healing requires us -- white people -- to be able to be honest about what has happened. Just as we demand that Germans be honest about the holocaust and not lecture Jews to get over it, forget it, or move on.

  8. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    Show me where, in what way, I tarred "all conservatives as historically naive racists ..."

    "Conservatives hate, hate, hate ... no, not black people ... but history. Or at least the history of black people.

    ... the part of history that involves crowds of white people drinking lemonade while stringing up a black man. That part of history has, and should have, no relevance or impact. At all. On anyone. ...

    In the conservative historical view there was no ethnic cleansing of Indians, the Indians, um ... relocated. For the weather. They prefer a dry heat. In the conservative historical view we didn't enslave blacks, they were just kind of like Applebee's waitresses: underpaid, sure, but basically kind of cheerful. ...

    In the conservative world view there has been zero impact from slavery and Jim Crow and widespread racism..."

    Boy, I guess I was way off base. Seriously, how many actual conservatives do you know? You really think that's what I believe?

    And your only response to my questions is to accuse me of wanting to whitewash the past. Can you show me exactly where I denied the ugly history of slavery, segregation, and racism in America?

    Criticizing a man for living in a world of crazy racist conspiracy theories is not denying reality -- it's denying Wright's fantastic racist dystopia. Why is that so hard to understand? If I call the guy on his dishonest race baiting, I'm ignoring reality? WTF?

    Rev. Wright is not somehow responsible for the lack of racial healing in this country.

    That's a patently ridiculous statement. A man who enflames racial animosity is indeed responsible for the impact his words have. He's certainly to blame for the paranoia and mistust which he's encouraged in his congregation.

    If you can see that whites make racial reconiliation harder by pretending things are better than they are, why can't you see that Wright makes it harder by pretending things are worse than they are?

    There are enough real racial issues to address without inventing crap like whites creating AIDS, running drugs through the inner city, and having a secret plan to destroy blacks. And you can say with a straight face that has no negative impact on race relations? Wow.

    I don't deny for a minute that Wright has reason to be angry about actual racism -- it's the batshit-crazy racist conspiracy garbage that outrages me (and the anti-semitism; let's not forget that). And it should outrage every honest person who longs for racial reconciliation. Hell, it even outrages Obama.

    I absolutely agree that healing requires us all to be honest -- but that should include Rev. Wright. And you.

  9. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    I've taken some heat for my long association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Let me make this perfectly clear: he's an idiot. He's a creep. He's a race-baiting, scum-sucking lowlife.

    That was my suggested language for Obama to use in dealing with Wright. A rational person would conclude from that that I think Wright is an idiot, a creep, a race-baiting scum-sucking lowlife.

    I don't think anyone reading that would come away believing that I secretly approved of Rev. Wright.

    But maybe you missed that post. Maybe despite the fact you've been reading this blog for a while -- and thanks, by the way -- you are under the impression that I'm tolerant of whack jobs. I'm not even tolerant of people you'd find perfectly normal, Jeff, like so many of your co-religionists who think my children will burn in hell.

    But the fact that no rational person with even a passing knowledge of me and my views would for a moment believe that I'd support or tolerate someone like Wright, isn't enough to satisfy you. The fact that, unprompted, I denounced him in pretty harsh terms -- race-baiting scum-sucking lowlife seems pretty unambiguous -- evidently isn't enough. Just as Obama's denunciations of Wright's political views aren't enough for you.

    Accepting either would be bad politics. Honest, but not politically useful for your side. So it's time for more phony outrage.

    Despite the fact that the GOP has its head and shoulders all the way up the ass of men like Pat Roberston and Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, men who have made statements every bit as heinous as Wright, and who have wielded a hell of a lot more power, or that John McCain has accepted the endorsement of an anti-Catholic bigot like Hagee, or that McCain's own "spiritual advisor" Rev. Rod Parseley, has claimed that the US government backs Planned Parenthood as a means to commit genocide against blacks, you keep a laser focus on Obama and Wright as the only two exemplars of a politician associating with a loon.

    If you can see that whites make racial reconiliation harder by pretending things are better than they are, why can't you see that Wright makes it harder by pretending things are worse than they are?

    That makes me wonder if you bothered to read what I wrote before denouncing it. Does it escape your notice entirely that I lampooned leftist historical views by ridiculing their belief that nothing ever gets better? By pointing out that in the leftist narrative history is nothing but white men attacking minorities for profit?

    So, let's take stock here: 1) I call Wright a race-baiting, scum-sucking lowlife, and 2) I ridicule the left for seeing all of history as the white victimization of everyone from Indians to teddy bears, and 3) I explicitly differentiate between GOP discomfort with the history of A-A's and hatred of A-A's, and your take-away is that I'm attacking Republicans as racists, period, full stop?

    Cut the crap. You don't for a moment believe that Obama hates America, or that he buys any of Wright's crazy conspiracy bullshit, any more than you really think I do. This is phony, manufactured meta-rage. This is the same tired political gotcha. This is conservatives thinking, "Oh, we got him!"

    And it's a good example of what so many people are so fucking sick of.

    Do you see me attacking McCain, claiming he must secretly hate Catholics because Hagee does? Do you see me suggesting that McCain buys into Falwell or Robertson's crazy bullshit about God causing 911 because he was mad at gays? Have you even seen me suggest that McCain was "lying" when he confused Shiites and Sunni extremists?

    You are playing the same tired, phony, swiftboat political gotcha games we've endured for just about all of my adult life. I've played the game. God knows, I've played it, so I'm not trying to preach from the mountaintop here, but aren't you at the end of the day just a little sick of it? Doesn't something in your heart and soul groan as we enter round 10 thousand of this silly pointless partisan bullshit game? Don't you sometimes just want to vomit to see what we've been reduced to?

    Jeff, you don't believe Obama believes what Wright professes. You know as well as I do Obama joined that church because it was 8000 votes in his state senate district and a whole lot of street cred for a half-white black guy from Harvard. So why are we pretending?

  10. Blogger Dyre42 Says:

    You should also add the fall of the Berlin Wall to your "conservative timeline"

  11. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    Michael,

    You started this by accusing all conservatives of wanting to whitewash the past and ignore racism. I called you on it, and you accused me of being part of that same ugly crowd and even denying the reality of sin!

    I asked you to show me where I've done any of that, and your reply is now to accuse me of being a partisan hack who manfuactures false rage because I'm desperate to take Obama down. I must say I'm amazed at your physchic abilities.

    You have an answer for Obama's 20-year association with a man who spews bitter race hatred, one that allows you to absolve your candidate and hold on to the idea that he's going to help us change and move beyond the past. I'm questioning what his idea of "change" in regards to race really means, given the fact that he's been in bed with a Farrakhan-like character for 20 years, said his church isn't particularly controversial, and thinks the ugly picture he gave of his grandmother is representative of the typical white person. He's marrried to a woman who's spread poisonous race and class warfare on the campaign trail.

    So yes, I wonder what Obama really believes. And I wonder what you believe, especailly when you write that "Rev. Wright is not somehow responsible for the lack of racial healing in this country" and then get upset when I call you on it.

    You've made it clear that whites who talk about race without going through a litany of white sins and beating their breasts don't care about black people. That doesn't inspire faux outrage, but the real kind. And if this is what Obama is about, count me out.

  12. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    Jeff:

    Yes, conservatives want to whitewash the past, and so do you. The evidence is in Krauthammer's scalded response, and in yours, too. It's easier to talk holocaust with a German than it is to talk race with most conservatives. Krauthammer's entire piece is an objection to the very idea of talking about race.

    Read the first graph of his highlighted above. He doesn't want to talk about race. Neither do you. I ask you how you square original sin with a rejection of any sense of obligation coming from racism and you have no answer. You just want it to go away. You clearly resent the entire conversation about race. You leap with both feat to take personal offense when I lampoon both liberals and conservatives.

    Here's you on race on a previous occasion:

    But there really is no significant movement or institutional power which wants to return to Jim Crow, segregation, or slavery. Israelis don't have to go looking for anti-semitism; the rockets are a pretty good reminder. Who is that is actively trying to demean, disenfranchise or destroy black Americans? What actual institutional structures exist to keep black people down? And if you could find any, how would they compare in impact relative to the policies, programs, and laws which do exist to help minorities?

    Frankly, I think this racist victimhood mentality is a destructive pathology in American culture. It has no place in a serious academic environment except as a case study of dangerous and bankrupt sociology, like Nazism or communism. I'd prefer such things were consigned to the dustbin of history, only to be studied as examples to be avoided.


    Right. YOU would like it all to go away. Which exactly what I said about Krauthammer and about you. Race is something you don't want to talk about. It's something you think is past tense. Over. Which is precisely what I said about him and you.

    Well, guess what, Jeff: it's not past tense. It's not over. You are wrong. Sorry that annoys you, but there is not a black person in this country who thinks racism is past tense. I don't many white people who think it is. Just you. And Krauthammer.

  13. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    I ask you how you square original sin with a rejection of any sense of obligation coming from racism and you have no answer. You just want it to go away. You clearly resent the entire conversation about race.

    And I asked you where I denied sin, racism or any obligation coming from racism, and heard crickets chirping.

    Yes, I wrote: "Who is that is actively trying to demean, disenfranchise or destroy black Americans? What actual institutional structures exist to keep black people down?" What's your answer?

    Criticism of Rev. Wright and his radical anti-white theology (and Obama's long-term association with both) is not a denial of racism. Why can white people not talk about race without apologizing for the sins of their great-grandparents or admitting to racial animosity which we don't possess?

    What do you want me to say? Of course there is racism is America -- from both whites and blacks. But apprently, only white racism is bad, because according to you the paranoid racist fantasies of Rev. Wright have not impeded racial healing in America. That logically leads me to assume you think that it's only whites who are impeding racial healing.

    I resent a conversation about race? BS. I resent race hustlers like Wright and your denial of the impact of his fear-mongering. I have no problem talking about the reality of actual racism, but I'm not buying into guilt over things which are not true of me, and I reject your baseless assertion that I want our racist history to disappear.

    You started this post by asserting that silence about contemprary racism equals denial of racism. That's what this is about -- if white people talk about race without a healthy dose of self-loating and apology, they're ignoring reality.

    You've made (and continue to stick to) an unfair accusation which brands a whole class of people with the worst possible label. Your perspective is to assume the worst and assign bad motives to people whom you perceive as disagreeing with you.

    You could have simply said there's a certain kind of conservative who wants to deny the past -- but no; it's all conservatives, because we're all eeeeeeevil.

    And you (and Obama) represent a new way of talking about race?

  14. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    From the WaPo:

    African Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, according to Census Bureau figures, yet they account for 50 percent of new HIV infections in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Nearly half of the 500 African Americans surveyed said that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is man-made...

    More than one-quarter said they believed that AIDS was produced in a government laboratory, and 12 percent believed it was created and spread by the CIA.

    A slight majority said they believe that a cure for AIDS is being withheld from the poor. Forty-four percent said people who take the new medicines for HIV are government guinea pigs, and 15 percent said AIDS is a form of genocide against black people.


    Now, where would they get those ideas? Of course, the historical basis is the horrific and inexcusable Tuskeegee experiments. But that story is kept alive and used to feed paranoia about current government policies.

    Phill Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, said past discrimination is no longer an excuse for embracing conspiracies that allow HIV to fester.

    "It's a huge barrier to HIV prevention in black communities," Wilson said. "There's an issue around conspiracy theory and urban myths. Thus we have an epidemic raging out of control, and African Americans are being disproportionately impacted in every single sense."

    Black women made up 73 percent of new HIV cases among women in 2003, and black men represented 40 percent of new cases, according to the most recent federal figures available. Among gay men, blacks represented 30 percent of new infections, and adolescents ages 18 to 24 accounted for nearly 80 percent of new HIV cases.

    "The whole notion of conspiracy theories and misinformation . . . removes personal responsibility," Wilson said. "If there is this boogeyman, people say, 'Why should I use condoms? Why should I use clean needles?' And if I'm an organization, 'Why should I bother with educating my folks?' The syphilis study was real, but it happened 40 years ago, and holding on to it is killing us."


    Wright is responsible for spreading racist lies that kill his own people, but I'm dragging him out because I don't care about blacks.

    I guess this also means Wilson must be a self-loathing black who's living in denial of racism.

  15. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    I'm not cutting this short but I m trapped at a wedding and reduced to my iPhone which rather limits how much I can write. Will try to re-engage Monday.

  16. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    Criticism of Rev. Wright and his radical anti-white theology (and Obama's long-term association with both) is not a denial of racism. Why can white people not talk about race without apologizing for the sins of their great-grandparents or admitting to racial animosity which we don't possess?

    They can. But that's not what was happening with Krauthammer, and I don't believe it's what's happening with you. What's happening is an attempt to diminish white racism by equating it with black racism. The two are not equivalent for the same reason that campus Marxism is not equivalent to Stalinism. One is a stupid ideology, the other is a history of murder. To equate some loudmouthed buffoon preaching in church with centuries of virulent evil is to lack all sense of proportion.

    Nearly half of the 500 African Americans surveyed said that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is man-made...

    Yes, that's a stupid thing to believe. But we're discussing Obama, not Wright. Do you think Obama believes AIDS is manufactured by the USG as a means of committing genocide? I doubt that you do.

    So the knock on Obama is that he belongs to a church where the preacher -- in between saying heal the sick, feed the poor -- is saying staggering stupid, awful things as well.

    Well, from where I sit, every church does that, pretty much every week. I think the core story of the gospel is appalling, savage and absurd. The idea that a loving God would sentence people to hell, and that in order to stay his lunatic wrath he sent his son to be tortured to death, and that this notion should be taught to children, is sickening.

    I live in a world where I have to go around assuming that friends and acquaintances are only pretending to believe what they claim to believe because what they profess to believe would make them deranged sadists in my eyes.

    Now you, Jeff, in the full smugness of your beliefs, don't seem to get that. From where I sit you and your co-religionists are not much different than Wright. He damns America, you damn individuals. By what logic should I see him as evil and you as good? How am I to conclude that your mix of love and damnation is superior to his?

    My business partner and friend is Catholic, members of my extended family are protestant, people I like and admire come from all sorts of religious traditions. I have a friend who is a Methodist minister. I think they're all a bit deranged, personally, but I do what I assume Obama has been doing with Wright: practice tolerance, assume that they are prisoners of their own intellectual weaknesses, try to see the good in them and not their more monstrous or ludicrous beliefs.

    I am of necessity an old hand at separating wacky ideas from evil deeds. I try to focus on the latter. But if you insist we judge harshly, unforgivingly, every utterance that comes from a friend's mouth then I'm frankly far more concerned by the bigotry and madness of religion as a whole, with its grip on half the human race, than I am by the rather boutique craziness of Rev. Wright.

  17. Blogger Pastor_Jeff Says:

    To equate some loudmouthed buffoon preaching in church with centuries of virulent evil is to lack all sense of proportion.

    Youv'e got a point there. Michael. I have spoken in church about existing racism and the need to be more sensitive about what blacks have endured in America. At the same time, racism is racism. Both white and black racism are about hate and divisiveness. And my serious and genuine concern is that preaching like that of Wright encourages people to stay angry and hold on to bitterness. I guess we disagree as to whether that actually helps people deal with how they've been hurt and whether that makes reconcilation hard. You don't think Wright bears any responsibility for the lack of racial healing in America. I disgree.


    So the knock on Obama is that he belongs to a church where the preacher -- in between saying heal the sick, feed the poor -- is saying staggering stupid, awful things as well.

    Well, from where I sit, every church does that, pretty much every week.


    But I'm the one who's drawing unfair comparisons.

    He damns America, you damn individuals.

    You don't know jack about what I preach. I've never damned an individual in my life, and have never uttered anything that can be compared to what Wright has said, particularly about an entire race of people. Yet I'm the one who's smug in my beliefs?

    I don't know what Obama really believes. That's the point. The guy is a great speaker and delivers a good message.

    But he's chosen to spend 20 years in a church defined by racial separatism and paranoia, claimed as a mentor and spiritual advisor a man who doesn't just preach offensive theological beliefs but race hatred, and said he doesn't think his church is particularly unusual. He's admitted that he thinks typical white people think of minorities with fear and ugly racial slurs.

    I think all that raises legitimate questions about what Obama really believes, apart from what he claims on the campaign trail -- sort of like separating ideas from deeds, no?

    But according to Obama, I can vote for him, or choose the old, divisive politics of the past -- no middle ground, no possible reason to vote against him except racism. You seem to think this is the way forward to healing and unity. I think again we have to agree to disagree.