Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cotton Comes to Harlem

Barack Obama wants us to have a national dialogue on race. Very well, then. Dialogue is a two-way street.

“We may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.”

I don’t want to move the country in the same direction as Obama wants to take it. His hopes aren’t my hopes. His definition of a better future doesn’t comport with mine.

“Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity.”

No, we’ve only seen how appealing it is to a segment of registered democrats who vote in democrat primaries—mainly black voters, white yuppies, and college students.

“On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap.”

Sounds like a very plausible explanation to me.

“I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy.”

He decided to condemn them after attending Wright’s church for twenty-years, and only after the statements became a political liability. That’s not a very credible or convincing disclaimer.

Moreover, he issued a very generic condemnation. I’d like to see Obama comment on the specific allegations raised by his “spiritual mentor.”

“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.”

I wouldn’t sit for 20 years under the preaching of racist, paranoid hatemonger, or make large contributions to his church. Wright is a black Klansman. He’s David Duke in a parallel universe. Just substitute “Aryan” for “African.” Just substitute the pointy hat for the dashiki robe.

“As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity.”

I don’t object to his comments because they were divisive. I object to his comments because they were false.

“And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way.”

To the contrary, this goes to the core of Rev. Wright’s black liberation theology.

“The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith.”

That no doubt explains a lot about Obama’s nominal Christianity.

“Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear.”

I don’t object to the tone of voice or style of worship. I object to the heretical theology and the crackpot conspiracy theories.

“I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”

Well, that tells you a lot about Obama’s insular experience of the black community. If he were to sit under Tony Evans or John Perkins for 20 years, he’d have a very different impression of the black community.

“I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother.”

Of course he can. We choose a pastor. We don’t choose a grandmother.

“We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue.”

That would be a promising first step.

“We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country.’

Except that this is Obama’s cue to do that very thing.

“But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.”

Is that really the source of the problem? Barack Obama is the son of an immigrant. But Barack went on to attend Columbia and Harvard. Became editor of the Harvard Law Review. Is currently a U.S. Senator.

Doesn’t sound like Barack was held back by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. Rather, it sounds like the proverbial American Dream. America as the land of opportunity.

What about his wife? Michelle attended Princeton and Harvard. Was associate student Dean at Chicago U. Doesn’t sound like Michelle was held back by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

The Obamas have something in the neighborhood of a seven digit annual income. If that’s the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, then it’s a pretty lucrative legacy.

If we’re going to rewind the loop-tape on slavery, here’s a better place to start:

Continuing with Obama:

“Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.”

Is that what explains the achievement gap? What about broken homes or the hip-hop culture?

“That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.”

Rural poverty is hardly limited to blacks. And the narco trade can be quite lucrative.

“And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods - parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement - all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.”

When law enforcement tries to crack down on inner city crime, it’s accused of police brutality and racial profiling.

“But for all those 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.”

What about people who are ultimately defeated by their self-defeating lifestyle?

“The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning.”

This is really rich coming from Obama. If he is opposed to racial segregation, why did he attend a black church rather than a multi-ethnic church—and not just a black church, but a black nationalist church? A church with a militantly Afrocentric theology? This is racial self-segregation, and proudly so.

“That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change.”

But unlike John Perkins or Bill Cosby, Obama has no track recording of squarely facing this self-destructive complicity.

“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.”

Does this mean that Obama is opposed to affirmative action? Wasn’t he a civil rights attorney?

“Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.”

Maybe because so much of the discussion is an exercise in political correctness or reverse discrimination.

“In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination.”

But what if it’s not the legacy of discrimination? What if it’s the result of lifestyle choices made in the here and now?

He follows this with the usual, Nannystate prescription. Let’s expand on the failed policies of the past. Throw more money down the drain.

“In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper.”

There was no welfare state in Scripture. Biblical charity took the form of workfare, not welfare.

And if he wants to cite Scripture, a good place to start would be the Book of Proverbs.

“For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism.”

But his career has been defined by identity politics.

“This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools.”

He wants to talk about buildings. Not about unruly students. Not about incompetent teachers. Not about liberal indoctrination as a substitute for job skills.

“This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care.”

What about the ER filled with illegal immigrants?

As far as “postracial” candidates are concerned, I’ll take Bobby Jindal over Barack Obama any day of the week.


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  2. I wish this post was printed on the front of every newspaper and homepage in the U.S. Sheesh so many people vote not based on Character and substantive arguments but rather, race, gender or groovy IPOD color of the candidate... God help us!

  3. I wish all Triablogue posts were printed on the front of every newspaper.

  4. Thank you so much for this post. I have been talking with a former German exchange student of mine regarding Obama and his double standards regarding racism. Sadly, the young Europeans think Obama is a wonderful candidate for president. I have been posting in my little blog and I am grateful to send them posts that I am not the only one to see the inconsistencies. I am praying for our Black brothers and sisters to speak out.

  5. When law enforcement tries to crack down on inner city crime, it’s accused of police brutality and racial profiling.

    And the communities themselves look down on those who report crimes and identify the suspects. Instead of supporting them, they label them "snitches" and villify them.

    The Black Community in America is divided between those who would do the right thing and those who follow after the minstrel show put on by Flavor Flav and his harem on VH-1.

    What Wright's speech actually illustrates is this simple truth: The Gospel and ONLY the Gospel can heal this divide,and the Gospel transcends race. Rev. Wright is a race worshipper.

    That said, it is a pox on our own house that we have "Black" churches and "White" churches far too often. As one AME pastor here in my own community said, it's a great shame that the only exposure many white Christians have to black Christians here happens when the blacks leave their neighborhoods to work in the white part of town; and it's a shame that black churches don't invite white congregations in joint worship in their part of town. We have systematically excluded each other and created the "most segregated hour in America." There's plenty of blame to go around.

    Indeed, it can be, IMO, well argued that whites have often times left blacks behind in the area of good theology. Look at the Word of Faith Movement on TV these days. There's real racism in the church for you. White preachers are fleecing black audiences, and they're appealing to the perception of racial and economic disparity to do it. They tell them that they can activate their faith and receive a (material) blessing. That keeps people in ignorance, so that, not knowing better they wind up lining the pockets of these whites.

    We whites, quite frankly, could, IMO, do more to call out such false teachers for what they are. Likewise, maybe I'm wrong, and perhaps a Brother of Color will correct me here, but I don't see black ministers' conferences as very committed to doing that in their own ranks either-but perhaps they have less public ways of calling out false teachers than I think they should have. Instead, I see in them a sense of racial solidarity that would seem to overlook some things for the sake of "being in this together." The solution isn't in sticking together for the better of our race(s) but sticking together @ the foot of the cross and outside the Empty Tomb. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female in Christ.

  6. This is an incredible post and commentary. Thank you! From Day One I didn't like Obama or his wife Michelle, since hearing an interview in which she started talking about "her husband's experience as a black man in America."

    America truly IS the land of opportunity, for people who choose to take advantage of it. My other emigrated to America in 1971 with three young children in tow.

    She worked hard to make something of herself and provide for her family...with VERY FEW SKILLS. She did whatever she could, without welfare, food stamps, etc, and raised three intelligent kids who are all successful in their own right.

    I worked in healthcare for 12 years and unfortunately there was a huge gap in the work ethic of American blacks and those from the islands. As a result, both groups hated each other despite the similarity of their skin color.

    As Obama and Michelle show, it IS possible to get ahead as a black person. As with ANY RACE, in order to be successful one must work hard, have a positive attitude, and take responsibility, something that many in the American black community don't do.

    When I worked in hospitals as an administrator, the American blacks hated the folks from the islands. Why? Because the latter "made them look bad." As with Rev. Wright, a lot of American Blacks are racists themselves, hating anyone that doesn't have the "woe is me" attitude that will keep them repressed.

    We are all masters of our own destiny, regardless of our race.

  7. Steve,

    Have you seen this interview with Thabiti Anyabwile?

    If it's understandable that Wright could say what he did, does this justify his words? Where is Christ in all of this? Wright compared his plight to Christ yet certainly did not provide the solution as being Christ and His cross.

    I don't understand how, in any way, Wright's words from the pulpit invite reconciliatory Christian dialogue.


  8. P.S. He posted personally about Obama's speech here:

  9. Not to be a damper on how much praise this post has recieved... but....

    "No, we’ve only seen how appealing it is to a segment of registered democrats who vote in democrat primaries—mainly black voters, white yuppies, and college students." - That may be so, but tell me why your voice is not among theirs voting against Obama if you feel so strongly? Why do you rather sit here an criticize while not exercising the decision-making power you have?

    "'As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity.'

    I don’t object to his comments because they were divisive. I object to his comments because they were false." - Um... thats what Obama said too when he said: "were not only wrong." You focused only on the divisive statement, not the fact that Obama agreed that they were wrong.

    "That no doubt explains a lot about Obama’s nominal Christianity." - This statement is incredibly judgemental and self-righteous. Who are you to make judgement of Obama's faith in this way?

    "What about people who are ultimately defeated by their self-defeating lifestyle?" - What does that even mean? You seem to be opposing all of Obama's statements, but not arguing and real ideas for change. This doesn't do anything but create anger and division while not doing anything to help the problems Obama is at least calling for change in. Maybe Obama won't do what he says, but maybe his voice for a need for change is better than yelling at those who are calling for change.

    "This is really rich coming from Obama. If he is opposed to racial segregation, why did he attend a black church rather than a multi-ethnic church—and not just a black church, but a black nationalist church? A church with a militantly Afrocentric theology? This is racial self-segregation, and proudly so." - What does your church look like on Sunday morning? Predominantly white? Isn't the statement Obama made true? Your statement may be true, but it smacks of a very misinformed or ignorant position on the issues social movements of the early 1900's and its continuation into the current day.

    I could go on, but instead I'll say this: Obama is a politician. Politicians are always going to be criticized on anything they do, especially during the campaign season. We can't be looking to politicians to correct all social ills, the answer to racism, poverty, homosexuality or abortion. That should be the church's job. And when the only thing that the church does (or the church's people do) is sit and criticize politicians for the things they say, thinking that their candidate will make more of a change than another one, while never looking to be the solution to any of the problems, they are just as hypocritical as any politician I've ever known. Is it any wonder that the world thinks we hate everyone and are hypocritical and judgmental? We are.

    Cummon Christians, you're better than this...

  10. Great post!

    Something interesting I found regarding the matter:

    Alright Triabloggers, have a great Easter weekend, God bless.

  11. I'm not saying I'm voting for Obama because I'm not. I'm a black Republican.

    However, with that said. I think we should be sober in our judgement of condemnation and guilt by association.

    I just listenned to two of Rev. Writes sermons. The 9/11 one as well as the G.D. America one.

    And I think Shawn Hannity took his sermons out of context.

    The 9/11 one was clearly out of context. He was quoting an American Ambassador when he said that.

    And the G.D. America one doesn't sound so bad when one saw how it was used ans why it was said in the way it was.

    I have the links to the sermons at my blog. Or one can go straight to Anderson cooper's blog as well as Roland's blog of CNN.

    You shouldn't allow some at Fox news shape the context of those sermons. Instead, listen to them for yourself and make up your own mind about the man.

    Are his sermons political? Yes

    Are they to the far left? Yes

    But if we are going to judge Obama for the views of his pastor then all far right christians who run for office will also be judged by the views of their pastors.

    Thus, one shold judge Obama on what he says and what he believes........not for what someone else believes.