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When Barack Obama gave his speech about race and racism the other day, he more or less fessed up to one thing...that he was not being honest when he said he had never heard Rev. Jeremiah Wright make racist, hate-filled, anti-american statements. Here's Obama Version 1 versus Obama Version 2:
VERSION 1 (the evasion):
"The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation."
VERSION 2 (the truth):
"Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely -- just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed."
Good. I'm glad we cleared that up. The fact that Obama covered up initially is troubling, but at least we can move on now. Btw, Mr. Obama, none of my pastors or priests (I can't speak for the rabbis) have ever made any racist statements along the lines of Rev. Wright for me to disagree with. Any pastor or priest I've ever heard give a sermon tended to talk about God and scripture, not how America gave AIDS to Africa, how whitey keeps blacks in poverty, the United States of KKKA, or how we deserved 9/11. That stuff seems a little off-topic to me. Some have told me I don't understand the culture in black churches. I admit I've only attended a handful of black services, but I haven't heard anything like Rev. Wright in those either.
The other question Obama needed to address in his speech was why he attended Wright's church for 20 years and why Wright was his advisor and friend, given Wright's racist rhetoric. In this regard Obama failed miserably (but in very eloquent fashion. The man sure can give a speech). Obama said Wright's inflammatory statements were not the full content of Wright's character. While I am certain that is true, so what ? I mean, there was certainly more to Don Imus than a guy who made a tasteless racist joke, but Barack Obama was quick to call for Imus' resignation last year. Here's Obama on that issue:
“There’s nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group. And I would hope that NBC ends up having that same attitude,” - Barack Obama in an ABC interview, April 11, 2007
Obama also told ABC that he would never appear on Imus' show after hearing Imus make the 'nappy-headed hos' remark. There was no call for wider understanding from Obama on the Imus incident, and remember, Imus was JOKING. Rev. Wright wasn't. It seems what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander.
Obama was basically saying that we all know people who make racist comments when he said he could no more disown Wright than he could the black community, and by talking about his white grandmother fearing black men on the street. That's why Obama's speech included a synopsis of the history of race in america, from slavery to the civil rights movement. Obama even used Wright's age as a justification of Wright's attitudes. I'd call that speech Obama's racial "kitchen sink" strategy.
Obama does have a rather unique viewpoint, since he grew up in both black and white cultures, and Obama is right that we've all heard racial statements made from time to time. That is inescapable.
But the thing is, Obama kept going back for more, and didn't disavow it until the you-know-what hit the fan. Along that line, Obama's website just recently removed a testimonial from Rev. Jeremiah Wright.