Obama Responds

kinnon —  March 18, 2008 — 6 Comments

With a very good speech that he wrote himself. (Read his books to see that he is a very good writer.) Is it enough to change people’s response to his pastor. Perhaps. A small portion;

The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Rev. Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children.

Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions — the good and the bad — of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

CNN’s Jack Cafferty may have the accurate response to it – unlike the conservative idiot on CNN right now. (Forgive me.) That fellow is just doing negative conservative spin. Cafferty:

Barack Obama’s speech today on race may have been a blessing in disguise.

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the senator from Illinois was whether he had the stomach for the kind of bare knuckle campaign he is likely to face at the hands of the Republicans if he is the nominee. Pastor Jeremiah Wright gave Obama the chance to “show us the money.”

In the face of a withering barrage of taped replays by the media of Wright’s comments, Obama had little choice but to suck it up and face the issue head on.

Obama wrote the speech himself. No speechwriters. At one point he said that while he absolutely disagrees with some of the things Reverend Wright said, he can’t disown his pastor anymore than he can his white grandmother… a woman he says sacrificed for him and helped raise him, but who also confessed her fear of black men who walked by her on the street and who used racial stereotypes. Obama said, “These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.”

In retrospect, this episode may have given us all a chance to see how Obama responds when the going gets a little rougher than what he’s probably used to. The Pastor Wright incident may have been the baptism by fire that Obama needed to seal his credentials to make the run for the White House.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

6 responses to Obama Responds

  1. BarackNonBeliever March 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    He ascerts that he cannot disown the pastor as he baptized his children and officiated his marriage. Now, I ask, how do you allow anyone to play such an important function in your life and your family’s life, if you don’t not share common values and beliefs? These two men are scary and puts our nation in danger.

  2. 3 Thoughts

    1. 20 Years? Obama has been a member of this man’s congregation for 20 years. And I take exception to Obama labeling Rev. Wright’s rants as “somewhat controversial”. Rev. Wright has, continually spewed divisive racist hate-filled speech from a “Christian” pulpit. He has the freedom to do so, but Senator Obama has sat and listened to it for 20 years, and has not denounced any of it until yesterday.

    2. Didn’t Obama tell us last week that he never heard anything controversial from Rev. Wright while sitting in church? Now he says he has. Did he or did he not? I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word “heard” is. Of course he did, the question is why did he put up with it for 20 years? A member of your family is a member of your family. A pastor is a leader that you can either choose to follow or choose to ignore. Obama willingly followed him for 20 years.

    3. Obama claims that he cannot disown his pastor, because he’s been so involved in his life. Nobody is really asking this question, so I will. What kind of judgement does it show, that Senator Obama allowed a man who is so hateful toward our nation to have such a central part in his life?

  3. Bill

    Two points:

    1. I don’t believe he writes his own speeches. Here’s a link to the NY Times about his speech writer, Jon Favreau. link to nytimes.com

    2. What kind of a God does Wright worship that he believes will damn America? Isn’t Wright supposed to be an agent of reconciliation?

    I Cor 5: 18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God.

    What kind of ambassador is Wright? What is he telling the world about God and Jesus?

    Isn’t Wright’s view of God and Jesus twisted and perverted?

    Is that the kind of God and Jesus Obama worships?

    For another perspective see Shelby Steele’s article in the WSJ yesterday at link to online.wsj.com

    BTW Steele is black and a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution

  4. These are some interesting comments from folks I’ve not seen in these parts before, Bill. Maybe it’s just the names I don’t recognize … I dunno.

    I haven’t seen or heard Dr. Wright’s original statements that have been deemed so offensive. So I don’t know how I’d respond to them. But I have some questions about them that I haven’t seen any answers to anywhere. They are sort of rhetorical, so I’m not necessarily asking you … I’m throwing them out there for anyone. I guess Dr. Wright has been preaching for a long time. I wonder how many times he’s mentioned these offensive items? Does anyone know this? I’m guessing this subject (whatever “it” is) doesn’t come up every week. So out of 52 weeks in a year, how often does it come up?

    I’m also wondering if Dr. Wright has always been like this? My guess is that the answer to this is, “No.” People change over time. My experience has been that the older they get, the more cranky they get. Yes, Dr. Wright is supposed to be an agent of change, reconciliation and redemption, but if he’s trying to do that from underneath a mountain of shit that’s been piled on top of him from a lifetime of racial abuse chances are he’s a little cranky. I don’t know, because I can’t walk a mile in his moccasins … my skin isn’t brown and I wasn’t born in the late 30’s or 40’s (as I suppose he was). I have some small inkling of it, because I’m a woman. But that’s about it.

    My guess is, that like the rest of us, Dr. Wright is some mix of desires for grace and justice (what he knows is right and what he wants to do) and what he cannot change (what he does anyway even though he knows it’s wrong). Barak and Michelle Obama saw something there that is worth following. Perhaps we also need to investigate a little more deeply … past the disembodied media clips and learn to spit out the bones to find the meat.

  5. Sonja, you are a wise women, I know the older I get the crankier I get;-) I’m not sure that the link between Obama & his pastor bodes well for him. I am not a supporter of Obama, and I think that the things his pastor said is very divisive, however, how many sermons have I sat under and TOTALLY disagreed with. True Sonja, I have never been in the Rev. skin. Most of all what it shows me is that there is still a great divide in this country and it makes me sad!

  6. I had the very good fortune of being able to listen to the speech live on NPR. Later I downloaded it to my mp3 player as well. I was already decided on Obama, not caring for Ms. Clinton or Mr. McCain’s approach to things, but this speech made me a supporter.


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