Obama Should Disown Wright

As with most of the mini-scandals that have surrounded this campaign season, I have mostly dismissed the nutty remarks of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I’ve taken as a given — and continue to take as a given — that Barack Obama, raised in a different era and with the advantages of a first class education, simply sees the world in a different way than his erstwhile “spiritual mentor.” Further, I’ve argued against the idea that Obama should repudiate Wright, contending that “throwing him under the bus” for political expediency would be unseemly.

After hearing Wright’s most recent remarks at the National Press Club via NPR this morning, though, I’m inclined to agree with Andrew Sullivan.

Wright’s cooptation of Obama for his own agenda – his assertion that Obama’s distancing from him is insincere – requires, in fact demands a response from Obama.

[…]

We need a speech or statement from Obama in which he utterly repudiates this poison, however personally difficult that may be, however damaging the impact will be. The statement today will not do it. This is no longer about cynics trying to associate one man’s politics with another. It is now about Wright attempting to associate himself and some of his noxious, stupid, rancid views with the likely Democratic nominee. Wright has given Obama no choice – and he has also given him another opportunity. He needs to seize it.

Andrew is referencing Wright’s repeated assertion that Obama is only doing “what politicians do” in denouncing Wright’s more ugly comments. This will be, quite reasonably, read as “Obama actually believes all this but has to deny it to get elected.”

A month ago, denouncing Wright the man would have been precisely what Wright is now accusing Obama of doing: dishonesty for the sake of political expediency. At this point, though, Wright has lost whatever loyalty he’s earned. And Obama should make it clear, without equivocation, that he doesn’t abide these comments. Something along the lines of, “It’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense. I don’t have anything additional to say. It’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, I don’t have anything more to say….it’s nonsense. I reject it categorically” would be nice.

UPDATE (Alex Knapp): For the record, I agree with James on the above. Obama did make a statement yesterday:

“I think certainly what the last three days indicate is that we’re not coordinating with him. He’s obviously free to speak his mind, but I just want to emphasize [that] he is my former pastor. Many of the statements he made both to trigger this initial controversy, and that he’s made over the last couple days are not statements that I heard him make previously. They don’t represent my views and they don’t represent what this campaign is about.”

Frankly, given the complicated relationship that Obama has with Wright, I wonder if we’ll get much more than this out of Obama. As Ross Douthat (no Obama supporter he) mentions, this has to be a rather painful thing for Obama:

But I will say this: Whatever one thinks of how Obama’s choice of pastor should bear on his qualifications for the Presidency, it’s hard to feel anything but pity for the junior Senator from Illinois after watching Wright’s disgustingly narcissistic display over the last few days. Obama has compared his pastor to a crazy uncle, but I suspect – based on how he’s talked about his minister, how he’s written about him, and how people tend to think about their spiritual mentors – that if he were being completely honest, he’d describe Wright as closer to a father-figure instead. And now, as if being abandoned by his biological dad wasn’t bad enough, he’s lugging a quintessential Bad Father through his Presidential campaign – a pure creep straight out of an Augusten Burroughs memoir, who’s happy to sabotage a younger, finer man who might just be the first black President of the United States in the hopes of feeding his own ego and becoming … what? The next Al Sharpton? The next Willie Horton? How vile and pathetic.

I don’t think anybody who cares to look truly believes that Obama shares any of Wright’s extreme views. It’s clear from reading Obama’s books that what attracted him to Wright was the latter’s real Christian ministry to the poor and abandoned. And having grown up in the Catholic Church, for me the idea that the views of the clergy can be ascribed to the members of the church is pretty laughable–even if you see a member of that clergy as a mentor. Still, it’s pretty clear that as a matter of politics, Obama needs to do more. The question is: will he?

And the other question I have that this whole election cycle raises is this–to what extent is a candidate going to be held responsible for views that a friend or relative might hold going into future election cycles? Are we going to, as a country, start demanding candidates who are have so scrubbed every element of humanity out of their lives that even their drinking buddies won’t say anything controversial?

UPDATE (James Joyner): Todd Gitlin, of all people, joins in: “Obama has to overthrow his surrogate father.”

UPDATE (James Joyner): OTB gets results: “Obama Denounces Wright Comments

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Question:
    If he makes such noises, would you take him at his word?

    I certainly wouldn’t considering the 20 years he sat in the guy’s church, pouring money into the place to speak far louder than any politically timed denial could.




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  2. Pug says:

    Well, first of all, Obama could shoot Wright and it wouldn’t be enough for folks like Bithead.

    The only way Obama salvages anything out of this is to take James’, and others like Eugene Robinson’s, advice and completely disassociate himself from Wright, preferably in a somewhat pissed off way. Then, go join another church next Sunday and be a little careful this time.

    Wright is out to destroy Obama now. I think he represents the confrontational, angry old school black “leader” who doesn’t necessarily like the conciliatory tones of Obama’s campaign in regard to race.




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  3. Michael says:

    I certainly wouldn’t considering the 20 years he sat in the guy’s church, pouring money into the place to speak far louder than any politically timed denial could.

    You keep coming back to that, as if to imply that the church has done nothing good in those 20 years, or with any of that money. Do you believe that the church itself did nothing but hand over all the tithe money to Wright, so that he could preach hate day in and day out?




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  4. Alex Knapp says:

    I certainly wouldn’t considering the 20 years he sat in the guy’s church, pouring money into the place to speak far louder than any politically timed denial could.

    Out of curiousity, Bithead, if we were to examine the records and sermons coming out of the Church that you have attended for 20 years, are you 100% certain we couldn’t come up with anything controversial that you didn’t agree with?




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  5. Michael says:

    What makes you think Bit attends church regularly?




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  6. William d'Inger says:

    Obama’s running for president. If he’s too stupid to disown this guy, he’s too stupid to get elected, and it may already be too late to change that.




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  7. Bithead says:

    You keep coming back to that, as if to imply that the church has done nothing good in those 20 years, or with any of that money

    So long as he makes the trains run on time, we shouldn’t disown him, or oppose him?

    Really?

    What makes you think Bit attends church regularly?

    Actually, I do. And I ahve removed myself from one church when it’s pastor started up on an anti-Reagan screed. Loudly, allowing for no mistake as to why I was doing it.




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  8. Anderson says:

    Loudly, allowing for no mistake as to why I was doing it.

    Hey — that was YOU???




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  9. Bithead says:

    (Chuckle)
    Seriously, now;

    What kind of denial would it take to get some of you to take Strom Thurmond as not being racist? What kind of denial or action would convince you?

    What kind of denial would it take to get some of you to take David Duke as not being racist? What kind of denial or action would convince you?

    Why should we treat Obama any differently based on his statements now, than we did those two? Why is his long history being given a pass?




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  10. Michael says:

    So long as he makes the trains run on time, we shouldn’t disown him, or oppose him?

    I’m saying that Obama’s time and money was spend on more than just a handful of questionable sermons.

    Actually, I do.

    Good to hear, I just wasn’t sure if Alex was seeing something from you that I wasn’t to make him think you did.

    And I ahve removed myself from one church when it’s pastor started up on an anti-Reagan screed. Loudly, allowing for no mistake as to why I was doing it.

    So the church is fine as long as it supports your political views? Now I wasn’t there, and maybe the anti-Reagan screen had nothing to do with religion, but it seems to me a poor reason to disruptively leave a church.




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  11. Michael says:

    What kind of denial would it take to get some of you to take Strom Thurmond as not being racist? What kind of denial or action would convince you?

    Strom Thurmond was pretty clearly racist, but I never thought Trent Lott was. There’s a difference between being a racist, and being friends with a racist. To that end, I think Wright would make a terrible President, but I have no such misgivings about Obama.




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  12. Michael says:

    Why should we treat Obama any differently based on his statements now, than we did those two? Why is his long history being given a pass?

    We’re not giving Obama a pass on _his_ statements, we’re giving him a pass on his pastor’s statements. You want to believe that whatever Wright says, Obama also has said, and that is simply untrue.




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  13. yetanotherjohn says:

    Alex again shows he really doesn’t understand the controversy about Wright.

    And the other question I have that this whole election cycle raises is this—to what extent is a candidate going to be held responsible for views that a friend or relative might hold going into future election cycles? Are we going to, as a country, start demanding candidates who are have so scrubbed every element of humanity out of their lives that even their drinking buddies won’t say anything controversial?

    Wright is not a casual aquantince or ‘drinking buddy’ of Obama. He is the man Obama said he looked to as a mentor to keep his head screwed on straight. If you think about hearing 20 years of Wright’s garbage, doesn’t that put Michelle Obama’s “this is the first time in my adult life that I have been proud of America” comment in context? If Obama thinks that you have to be bitter about you lot in life to cling to religeon, doesn’t Wright’s word put that into context? How can you be so sure that Wright’s words haven’t seeped into Obamas character given the short time Obama has been on the political stage. To put that another way, Wright has been in Obama’s life for 20 years and we are just in the last couple of months hearing about it.

    Just last week I was hearing a liberal friend dismiss Wright’s words as being taken out of context. I guess that sentiment is as non-operative as Obama’s earlier statement that he never hear Wright say anything controversial. But I guess Alex is so enamored with the “new” politician that he thinks Obama represents that it is easier for him to ignore the lies Obama has uttered about his connection to Wright than to accept the fact that perhaps Wright really has been Obama’s mentor that Obama looked to for keeping ‘sane’.




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  14. legion says:

    What a load of distractionary BS. I’ll ask Obama to denounce Wright when McCain addresses the bigotry of his own religious albatross, Hagee. Then maybe we could get back to looking at the candidates’ ability to actually do the job they’re running for…




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  15. sam says:

    Forget it guys. For some folks, the response to Obama is glandular and nothing, absolutely nothing, Obama could do would change their opinion, as Pug intimated above. For those folks, JJ’s last:

    And the other question I have that this whole election cycle raises is this—to what extent is a candidate going to be held responsible for views that a friend or relative might hold going into future election cycles? Are we going to, as a country, start demanding candidates who are have so scrubbed every element of humanity out of their lives that even their drinking buddies won’t say anything controversial?

    is pie-in-the-sky twaddle. With apologies to Brandies University, for them it’s always gonna
    be “Character Assasination, Unto Its Innermost (and Most Distant) Parts”.




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  16. John425 says:

    I think it is too late for Obama. A 20 year “spiritual adviser”, “mentor” relationship may be glossed over on a conscious level but what sub-conscious “hates” lurk below in the psyche of a possible President of the United States? And…do we want to take the chance?




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  17. Bithead says:

    So the church is fine as long as it supports your political views?

    I’d just as soon the pastor of my chuch was a bald faced liar, or a racist, and that he didn’t spew hate from the pulpit.

    The guy I walked out on was guilty of two.
    Wright’s guilty of all three.

    McCain addresses the bigotry of his own religious albatross, Hagee

    Oh, will you? Let’s find out. I’ll asume you missed this. Read it and get back to us.

    We’re not giving Obama a pass on _his_ statements, we’re giving him a pass on his pastor’s statements.

    The man sat in the chruch pouring his time and talents and money into the place. His kids were brought up in that church. The man was committed to the teachings of that chuch. You don’t do that without having signed on to the governmening philosophy of the place. It’s that simple.

    Strom Thurmond was pretty clearly racist, but I never thought Trent Lott was.

    Nor I, and I said so, the idea that I’ve had other problems with Lott not withstanding.

    But clearly, enough people didn’t take Thurmond at his word, or the smear of Lott wouldn’t have been possible. Wherein lies my point. I ask again, what would it ahve taken to convince people he was no longer a racist? And why would that convincing be so hard? Because of a long history of being associated with racists. Along the same line as Obama.




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  18. sam says:

    Aha! Political analyis by The Shadow:

    [W]hat sub-conscious “hates” lurk below in the psyche of a possible President of the United States?




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  19. Michael says:

    I’d just as soon the pastor of my chuch was[n’t] a bald faced liar, or a racist, and that he didn’t spew hate from the pulpit.

    The guy I walked out on was guilty of two.
    Wright’s guilty of all three.

    I’m going to assume he wasn’t racist, so what was he lying and spewing hate about? Again, was it a religion vs. politics clash, or just an anti-political speech?

    The man sat in the chruch pouring his time and talents and money into the place. His kids were brought up in that church. The man was committed to the teachings of that chuch. You don’t do that without having signed on to the governmening philosophy of the place. It’s that simple.

    But again, you are assuming that the governing philosophy of the place is composed entirely of a hand full of sermons. There are thousands of non-controvesial sermons that were preached in that church, would you not consider them as representing a larger portion of the governing philosophy than the few than are?

    But clearly, enough people didn’t take Thurmond at his word, or the smear of Lott wouldn’t have been possible.

    Thurmond had a history of actions that made you think he was a racist (not just associated with racists). Lott did not. Wright has given enough examples for one to believe he is a racist. Obama has not.




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  20. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Could you imagine McCain attending Ayran Brotherhood meetings for 20 years, donating money to the organization. One that preaches white liberation. Then divesting himself of them when it was politically convenient? Obama cannot remove his past associations from who he is. If you watched Lonesome Dove, did you feel sorry for Jake when they hanged him? Same deal. You are known by the company you keep. Obama was not doing research for some paper he was writing, he associated with the likes of Ayers, Dohrn, Wright and Rezko because he thinks like they do. He left a trail, read his books, stop listening to his campaign speeches, they are just like the ones Hitler gave. He called for change too.




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  21. Michael says:

    Could you imagine McCain attending Ayran Brotherhood meetings for 20 years, donating money to the organization.

    Again with the assumption that Rev. Wright has only preached the same 3 sermons for the past 20 years, and that the church does nothing besides pay his salary. Where is this assumption coming from?




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  22. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Legion, question for you. How much money has McCain donated to Hagee? How much time has McCain spent in his albatross Hagee’s church? Do you understand the difference between apples and rocks? Your argument equivocating Obamas association with Wright as somehow equal to that which exists between McCain and Hagee is infantile. Michael, if you go to weekly Nazi meetings for 20 years, donate money and hangout with the head Nazi, take and seek the head Nazi’s advice. You might not be a Nazi, but it would be hard to convince others of you purity. Fact is, most folks would have found another church to attend if they found the message distasteful. Someone states most of the sermons in that church were not hate based. Where is a recorded example. All that are available are ones Wright spoke about it’s whitey fault. There is no need for speculation here, facts are available. If you think the American people are ready for the changes Obama is thinking about, I think you have another think coming, to quote Wright. By the way, Wrights Mama and Papa were not Black Liberation Theologists. Wright learned that lie from Dr. Cone.




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  23. Bithead says:

    Again with the assumption that Rev. Wright has only preached the same 3 sermons for the past 20 years, and that the church does nothing besides pay his salary. Where is this assumption coming from?

    Perhaps it’s from his willing association with the “black liberation theology’ teachings of James Cone, which are in reaclity racist and Marxist.

    And perhaps it has to do with the title of Obama;s book which is taken from one of Wrights signiture sermons… the audacity to hope’…. and I suppose you’ve not heard of that one.Clearly Obama’s views echo that of his erstwhile pastor.




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  24. Bithead says:

    I’m going to assume he wasn’t racist, so what was he lying and spewing hate about? Again, was it a religion vs. politics clash, or just an anti-political speech?

    Reagan, of course was the devil who would kill us all, Reagan was racist and against the poor… the usual nonsense. Were you really that isolated in the 80’s?

    But again, you are assuming that the governing philosophy of the place is composed entirely of a hand full of sermons.

    No. I’m going by Wright’s words about the teachings of James Cone. Are you suggesting I shouldn’t trust what he says?

    Thurmond had a history of actions that made you think he was a racist (not just associated with racists). Lott did not. Wright has given enough examples for one to believe he is a racist. Obama has not.

    Quite the contrary, he has. He’s the one soaking up and empowering the racism for 20 years. Is this so very hard for you to grasp?




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  25. I do not believe “disowning” is called for. Senator Obama never “owned” Rev. Wright or his words to begin with. This gets very complicated, but Senator Obama should be able to clearly distance himself from the ideas and opinions espoused by Rev. Wright while still claiming to call him a friend and someone he cares for. The personal need not be political in this instance. If he loves him, then he will still want to help him and “disowning” or shunning him will make that next to impossible.

    Full disclosure: Since I became aware of him I have viewed Rev. Wright as the sort of racist who now stands in the way of making further progress in race relations in this country. The perfect remains the enemy of the good. Further, I’ll never vote for Senator Obama because I am philosophically opposed to the statist solutions he seems to offer, when he chooses to actually offer anything beyond hope and change. A secondary concern that derives directly from this is the cult of personality being built up around him and focused on him. This has such a dubious history, it is surprising that the “Question Authority” folks seem so anxious to fall in line. But I digress.

    The Manichean need, so ably demonstrated by, say, Andrew Sullivan, to either love or hate Senator Obama, Rev. Wright, et al, is the real problem here. Events and realtionships are, dare I say it, more nuanced than that if you can look at them through something other than a pair of binoculars as though it was nothing but a horserace.




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  26. Michael says:

    Michael, if you go to weekly Nazi meetings for 20 years, donate money and hangout with the head Nazi, take and seek the head Nazi’s advice. You might not be a Nazi, but it would be hard to convince others of you purity.

    True, but suppose you had weekly Kiwanis meetings, donated money to Kiwanis and their projects, and sought the groups advice for 20 years, then a handful of comments made by the group’s leadership in 3 of those 1040 meetings blamed black urban culture for your communities problems, would that make you a racist? Would you feel obligated to leave Kiwanis, and denouce it? Would you feel that you spend 20 years in a racist organization? No.

    Obama’s church was not a racist organization, he pastor was not the leader of a racist movement. Is Wright racist? I don’t know. But either way, that doesn’t have any bearing on Obama’s politics.




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  27. Alex Knapp says:

    Bithead –

    And perhaps it has to do with the title of Obama;s book which is taken from one of Wrights signiture sermons… the audacity to hope’…. and I suppose you’ve not heard of that one.Clearly Obama’s views echo that of his erstwhile pastor.

    Have you actually read the sermon in question? You can read it here:

    http://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/article_print.html?id=54187

    There’s nothing hateful or racist about that sermon. Heck, I’m not a Christian and I found it rather moving.




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  28. Michael says:

    Were you really that isolated in the 80’s?

    I wasn’t even alive for all of the 80’s, so I suppose I was. My first memory of a Presidential campaign was Bush/Dukakis. I never knew people hated Reagan quite so much.

    I’m going by Wright’s words about the teachings of James Cone. Are you suggesting I shouldn’t trust what he says?

    And what exactly were Wright’s words about the teachings of James Cone as they relate to the governing philosophy of the church? Or is Cone just the next subject in our game of “Six degrees of separation from Barack Obama?

    Quite the contrary, he has. He’s the one soaking up and empowering the racism for 20 years. Is this so very hard for you to grasp?

    What is there to grasp? You keep asking like there is something there, that Obama spent 20 years in a racist organization, and I just don’t see where you are getting that from. Nothing Obama has said, nothing he has done, would lead me to believe that he is racist in any way.




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  29. legion says:

    Oh, will you? Let’s find out. I’ll asume you missed this. Read it and get back to us.

    I read it at the time, Bithead. And it’s a laughably transparent non-response. Let’s compare the two, though…

    Wright is a Pastor at the church Obama goes to, and has made somewhat inflammatory statements in the past – as Michael points out, Wright’s entire career and philosophical center is being evaluated on the basis of 3 sermons over the course of 20 years. Sermons that were dug up, dusted off, and brought to light years after the fact.

    Hagee is an active bigot, and continues to trumpet that bigotry now that he has some spotlight on himself. He is also a man whose endorsement McCain actively sought out, knowing his opinions, and refuses to deny.

    Which is more reflective of poor character and poor choices?




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  30. James Joyner says:

    Wright’s entire career and philosophical center is being evaluated on the basis of 3 sermons over the course of 20 years. Sermons that were dug up, dusted off, and brought to light years after the fact.

    No, no, no, no. These sermons were on videos that the church itself was marketing! And Wright made the statements again at the National Press Club yesterday. They’re absolutely representative of who he is and what he believes.

    Hagee is an active bigot, and continues to trumpet that bigotry now that he has some spotlight on himself. He is also a man whose endorsement McCain actively sought out, knowing his opinions, and refuses to deny.

    McCain sought the endorsement of an influential religious leader who he probably had little actual knowledge of. I certainly didn’t. And he has renounced, denounced, and otherwise distanced himself from them. The “It’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense. I don’t have anything additional to say. It’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, I don’t have anything more to say….it’s nonsense. I reject it categorically” quote above is McCain on Hagee!




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  31. Michael says:

    No, no, no, no. These sermons were on videos that the church itself was marketing! And Wright made the statements again at the National Press Club yesterday. They’re absolutely representative of who he is and what he believes.

    But it does not define his church’s philosophy, and it does not define it’s parishioners. To deny (as some here would) that there were any good, honest and loving people in the church, to claim that anybody who attended that church for so long a time, anybody who had a personal relationship with Wright, anybody who fulfilled their biblical obligation to tithe at that church is necessarily a racist, anti-America, or anything else, is simple ludicrous.




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  32. Bithead says:

    I read it at the time, Bithead. And it’s a laughably transparent non-response. Let’s compare the two, though…

    OK, you’ve clearly got it locked in your mind the guy’s a bigot. So what is going to convince you otherwise?

    I mean, lay it out for us.




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  33. Bithead says:

    There’s nothing hateful or racist about that sermon.

    In that particular, that’s not what I’m suggesting. What I’m linking is the degree of infleunce Wright has over Obama.




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  34. Bithead says:

    But it does not define his church’s philosophy, and it does not define it’s parishioners

    Oh, yes it does. Wright, at a bedrock level, bases his teachings on thet of James Cone. And those snippets are right on line with Cone’s teachings. there is no postive spin one can put on them to spin away the negatives as have been revealed.




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  35. Bithead says:

    And what exactly were Wright’s words about the teachings of James Cone as they relate to the governing philosophy of the church? Or is Cone just the next subject in our game of “Six degrees of separation from Barack Obama?

    If Wright was the sole link to radical marxism and racism, this would be a great way to charectherise the attacks leveled against Obama. Alas, they are not.

    I mean, leave aside for the moment, Ayers and Dhrorm. Leave aside Wright. Let’s dig a little.

    Lance Fairchok over at American Thinker:

    Barack Obama has a thing for Marxists. He befriends them, listens to their counsel, and he even hires them to work in his campaign. And they seem to feel the warmth. President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, who led a revolution there in 1979, says Barack Obama’s presidential bid is a “revolutionary” phenomenon, and Americans are “laying the foundations for a revolutionary change.” A captured computer revealed that an unknown person chatted with Marxist FARC guerillas on Obama’s behalf (they believed), stating he would be the next President and US policy towards Columbia would change. Frank Marshall Davis, a dear Obama friend and mentor was as a member of the Communist Party USA.

    let’s discuss for a moment, Obama’s Official campaign blogger, Sam Graham-Felsen, who former writer for the leftist Nation magazine and a contributor to the Socialist Viewpoint, and is an adoring follower of Chomsky.

    How is it that all this red washes up on Obama’s feet, I wonder?




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  36. just me says:

    True, but suppose you had weekly Kiwanis meetings, donated money to Kiwanis and their projects, and sought the groups advice for 20 years, then a handful of comments made by the group’s leadership in 3 of those 1040 meetings blamed black urban culture for your communities problems, would that make you a racist? Would you feel obligated to leave Kiwanis, and denouce it? Would you feel that you spend 20 years in a racist organization? No.

    Actually if I was the member of an organization whose direct leadership was spouting racist remarks, I probably would denounce it and probably would leave and look for another one if I had no control over the leadership.

    I admit that I am mostly troubled by the fact that Obama specifically chose Wright. Chose him as mentor and pastor for 20 years. You are also having a hard time covincing me that the rhetoric heard by Wright only occurred at those three times. Do you have the full text of some sermons that did not include racist remarks?




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  37. Michael says:

    Oh, yes it does. Wright, at a bedrock level, bases his teachings on thet of James Cone. And those snippets are right on line with Cone’s teachings. there is no postive spin one can put on them to spin away the negatives as have been revealed.

    Maybe you’ve just gone to bad churches, your previous admissions seem to indicate that may be the case, but from my experience the pastor of a church does not define the church, and he certainly doesn’t define the parishioners.

    Ayers is currently a professor at the Univeristy of Illinois, Chomsky is a professor at MIT. These aren’t exactly shadowy anarchists we’re talking about. So Obama is associated with smart, politically active and highly respected people. And some of them are more socialist than you would like. I still don’t see the problem here, these are the same tired old grievances that we’ve been hearing about every recent Democrat, and that always seem to be so much hot air.




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  38. Michael says:

    You are also having a hard time covincing me that the rhetoric heard by Wright only occurred at those three times. Do you have the full text of some sermons that did not include racist remarks?

    Alex linked to the “Audacity to Hope” sermon above, there are no racist remarks there.




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  39. Bithead says:

    Maybe you’ve just gone to bad churches, your previous admissions seem to indicate that may be the case, but from my experience the pastor of a church does not define the church, and he certainly doesn’t define the parishioners.

    That point is arguable, to some degree… and it depends in large degree to the pastor in question. Still, all this leaves aside the point of evdience already entered a reards the degree of influeince of Wright over Obama. Clearly, Wright had a major role in defining Obama. How is that not something needful of national discussion, and even argument?

    Chomsky is a professor at MIT. These aren’t exactly shadowy anarchists we’re talking about.

    No, they’re rather overt in their views, which I certainly would not label as anarchist, by any stretch. Marxist would be far closer.




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  40. Michael says:

    Still, all this leaves aside the point of evdience already entered a reards the degree of influeince of Wright over Obama. Clearly, Wright had a major role in defining Obama. How is that not something needful of national discussion, and even argument?

    I had a minister who was someone I turned to on questions of faith and morality, who officiated my own wedding, and who I generally consider a good friend. He has said things in the past that I wouldn’t want to be associated with, but those things never defined him as I knew him. If those things did turn out to define him as he actually is, I would have a hard time believing it, and I would have a hard time rejecting our long standing friendship because of it. I can see in this controversy my own life and relationships, and I would no sooner call Obama a racist that I would call myself one.

    Maybe you just never had a relationship with your pastors like that, maybe you were married by a justice of the peace, or a ship’s captain, or maybe you’re not married at all. For whatever reason, you don’t see your own relationships here, so you are free to criticize them, to blame them, and to think so badly of them.




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  41. Michael says:

    Marxist would be far closer.

    Marx is no more dangerous than Machiavelli or Locke.




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  42. Grewgills says:

    Most of TUCC’s services over the pat 20 years were broadcast. They have been web cast for several years. All of the sermon’s were/are available on DVD (I believe same day) from the church. If there were much more from Wright’s sermons to get worked up over someone would have it. That more has not come out says to me that there is little if any more. People instead try to let 3 sermons define a man. These same people are shocked and offended that a black man writing in 1969 would be highly critical of white power structures in the US and that he would be critical of white people in general for allowing the abuses of that power structure. Bit for one loves to take snippets from Cone’s books written in 1969-70 entirely out of context and pretend that Wright was preaching those particular disortions of Cone’s thesis weekly for the pulpit until earlier this year.




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  43. Michael says:

    No, no, no, no. These sermons were on videos that the church itself was marketing!

    In light of Grewgill’s claim that most of the recent sermons have been available on video, I’d like to ask, James, whether the ones you are talking about where just 3 of these from among the many produced, or did the church compile just those 3 into a kind of “Jeremiah Wright’s greatest hits” promo?

    Or, to put it more simply, was the church marketing the controversial sermons, or was the church marketing all the sermons, and then someone else cherry-picked which ones were news?




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  44. Bithead says:

    Or, to put it more simply, was the church marketing the controversial sermons, or was the church marketing all the sermons, and then someone else cherry-picked which ones were news?

    Tell me; What that he said at the press club yesterday was out of line in the slightest with what he said in those supposedly cherry picked sermons?

    THe answer is nada. Not one thing was different; Wright said nothing new, there.

    Not only does this defeat your point, Mike, but also it raises serious questions about Obama’s statements at his press conference this afternoon, and labels it an act of desperation on the part of Obama.




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  45. Michael says:

    Not only does this defeat your point, Mike, but also it raises serious questions about Obama’s statements at his press conference this afternoon, and labels it an act of desperation on the part of Obama.

    Only if the videos in question and the statements made recently are representative of some significant number of his sermons while he was the pastor of Obama’s church, which is of course what I was trying to get an answer to.




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  46. Bithead says:

    Only if the videos in question and the statements made recently are representative of some significant number of his sermons while he was the pastor of Obama’s church, which is of course what I was trying to get an answer to.

    And you’ve had that answer several times, now.
    But let’s break this out for you. The Chruch is founded on what’s called ‘black liberation theology’. That theology is supposedly started by one James Cone. Mr. Cone is held by Wright to be the father of his own teachings.

    So, let’s look seriously at the teachings of Mr Cone, so as to get a feel for how foundational what Wright, his student, has been preaching, shall we?

    “Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him.”

    “The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community … Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy.”

    “The time has come for white America to be silent and listen to black people.”

    “All white men are responsible for white oppression. ”

    “Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man ‘the devil.’”

    “Any advice from whites to blacks on how to deal with white oppression is automatically under suspicion as a clever device to further enslavement.”

    “Black suffering is getting worse, not better. . . . White supremacy is so clever and evasive that we can hardly name it.”

    “What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. ”

    ” Jesus Christ is black therefore not because of some cultural or psychological need of black people, but because and only because Christ really enters into our world where the poor were despised and the black are, disclosing that he is with them enduring humiliation and pain and transforming oppressed slaves into liberating servants.”

    Any questions?




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  47. Grewgills says:

    and once again,
    Bit loves to take snippets from Cone’s books written in 1969-70 entirely out of context* and pretend that Wright was preaching those particular distortions of Cone’s thesis weekly for the pulpit until earlier this year. Every time this comes up he takes the same cherry picked quotes out of context* and presents them as his proof of the inherent racism of the black church in general and Wright and Obama in particular. He has been shown the context on multiple occasions but continues his brazenly dishonest usage of them. I disagree with Cone and Wright on many points, but if we are going to argue those points let’s do so honestly.

    And Bit, if you are going to harp on a book ad nauseum you should read it and make some attempt at understanding. Barring that incredibly unlikely event at least read a few paragraphs before and after the statements you cherry pick so that at least you might understand the argument being made.

    * both in the context of Cones larger argument and the context of the time it was written




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  48. jpeterson says:

    have y’all heard the joke about the three boys wanting motorcycles?




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  49. Bithead says:

    I just don’t see where you are getting that from.

    I get it, Michael, from their words, and their actions. No place else. What else, after all, what I make such judgments from?

    Same to you, Grew… I don’t make these comments based on not understanding, I make these comments based on the fact that I do understand. It is you who is trying to avoid coming to the one obvious conclusion here. Your argument that this stuff is being taken out of context, and these things are not as they seem is dismissed.

    Those comments, and many many more of the like, are the very basis of Cone’s church, and by extension of Wrights teaching. arguments that these things are not as violent as they seem, are dismissed. Have you any others to offer?




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  50. Grewgills says:

    Bit,
    Have you read the books, or substantial portions of them, or did you just find the sentences preselected at TownHall or some other like venue?

    A couple of your quotes put in context,

    All white men are responsible for white oppression.

    was directly tied to a Karl Jaspers quote, which you would have seen had you looked

    There exists among men, because they are men, a solidarity through which each shares responsibility for every injustice and every wrong committed in the world, and especially for crimes that are committed in his presence or of which he cannot be ignorant.

    Am I giving you too much credit by assuming that you can see how the 2 are related and why a black man in the US in 1969 would connect with this?

    Another of your quotes set in context

    The demonic forces of racism are real for the black man. Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man “the devil.” The white structure of this American society, personified in every racist, must be at least part of what the New Testament meant by the demonic forces.

    Am I overestimating you here as well when I assume that you can see how this context changes the meaning of the sentence you cherry picked? or that you could understand why a black man would write that in 1969 and not be so very far off base?
    The others quotes are more of the same.

    The same thing happens each time: you drag out the same cherry picked sentences from the same books, you are shown that the sentences in their proper context do not say what you portray them to, then you dismiss this out of hand, wait for it to be brought up again and repeat. Call it dismissed as much as you like that does not make your misrepresentations correct.

    Here are some quotes you missed,

    From old plantations of the South to newer ghettos of the North, the Negro has been confined to a life of voicelessness and powerlessness. Stripped of the right to make decisions concerning his life and destiny he has been subject to the authoritarian and sometimes whimsical decisions of this white power structure.

    Yes, we must stand up and say, I’m black and I’m beautiful, and this self-affirmation is the black man’s need, made compelling by the white man’s crimes against him.

    The plantation and ghetto were created by those who had power, both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness.

    In a violent racial situation, the power structure has the local police, the state troopers, the National Guard and, finally, the army to call on—all of which are predominantly white.

    more scary words from a scary black man.




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  51. Michael says:

    Any questions?

    Yes. What does a handful of quotes from James Cone have to do with Barack Obama?




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  52. Michael says:

    I get it, Michael, from their words, and their actions. No place else. What else, after all, what I make such judgments from?

    And yet, based on those same words and actions, I don’t get it. So either your judgment is based on empirical evidence, and I’m just completely irrational, or your judgment is based on subjective feelings, which I don’t share. Do you think that I’m irrational Bit?




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  53. Grewgills says:

    Yes. What does a handful of quotes from James Cone have to do with Barack Obama?

    Obama likes Wright, Wright likes Cone, Cone wrote a few books, and its easy to quote mine those books.
    It’s sort of like the Trent Lott thing, if it was instead Lott’s pastor who had made the comments about Thurmond and Thurmond’s history of racism was instead a few out of context quotes pulled from a book he wrote during reconstruction.
    In Bit’s world any inference that Lott is a racist is beyond the pale, but Obama is definitely a racist. It seems the most important evidence of racism for him is the letter that follows a politician’s name.




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