The internets are abuzz with activity following the speech on race yesterday by Sen. Barack Obama. There are definitely two camps shaping up. There are those who liken the oratory to historical speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., and JFK. For these folks, it’s the nuance that matters. Others are pointing out the problems brought on by Obama’s attempt to justify the hateful words of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Those people are focusing on the substance of the speech.
After reading all the analysis, and going through the speech once more myself, I tend to agree with Michael Gerson’s Op-Ed in the Washington Post.
The problem with Obama’s argument is that Wright is not a symbol of the strengths and weaknesses of African Americans. He is a political extremist, holding views that are shocking to many Americans who wonder how any presidential candidate could be so closely associated with an adviser who refers to the “U.S. of KKK-A” and urges God to “damn” our country.
Obama’s excellent and important speech on race in America did little to address his strange tolerance for the anti-Americanism of his spiritual mentor.
With this speech, Obama unknowingly opened the door to new criticism. Specifically on Rev. Wright – Obama asks that we attempt to understand his generation and their experience with racism. Somehow we should minimize Wright’s hate and accept that he is a byproduct of an era that birthed a people who remain stuck in the past; who are unable to view the world today without wearing eyeglasses permanently etched with images of the 60’s. Problem is, Obama is asking too much of Americans, for it is virtually impossible to justify Wright’s hate, his anti-Åmericanism, his fear-mongering. It’s in another league.
Obama’s request that American’s accept Wright doesn’t square with his own response to the firing of Don Imus. In an April 2007 interview with ABC News, Obama called for the firing of Imus and said he’d never appear on his radio show ever again.
“I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus,” Obama told ABC News, “but I would also say that 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.”
“He didn’t just cross the line,” Obama said. “He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America. The notions that as young African-American women — who I hope will be athletes — that that somehow makes them less beautiful or less important. It was a degrading comment. It’s one that I’m not interested in supporting.”
Why won’t Barack Obama hold Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the same standard he held Don Imus to less than a year ago?
According to Obama, Imus’ statement was so severe it warranted immediate dismissal. He simply couldn’t tolerate it and worried about the effect it could have on his own daughters. Problem is, Obama subjected his daughters to years of sermons from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Apparently this church was a safe place and the message delivered from the pulpit was important and educational for them.
Yet this contradiction isn’t important enough to garner the attention of anyone in the main stream media, at least not yet.
Some will point to Obama’s denunciation of Wright and call it good. But simply condeming a few of Wright’s statements isn’t equal to insisting that Imus be fired. Obama clearly didn’t suggest that Wright should have ever been removed from his pulpit.
Obama clearly and unequivocally distanced himself from Don Imus because it was the politically safe thing to do. It pandered to a constituency he needs. In the same way, Obama’s suggestion that Americans accept Rev. Wright as his crazy old uncle also panders. It’s calculated. It’s old school politics.
The candidacy of Barack Obama is built upon a framework that suggests if America elects him to the highest office in the land, a new world order will result. The United States will be loved throughout the world. The Right and the Left will join hands. No longer will we separate Black and White. We’ll all be one. He’s the deliverer. He’s a NEW politician who’s gonna change…everything.
It’s naive and full of nothing but fantasy. Obama’s hypocrisy proves he’s willing to say and do what needs to be done to get elected, and there’s nothing new about that.
2008 Election, Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright, Liberalism, Racism, Don Imus, MSNBC, ABC News