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A Great Article (a rare purely political post)

April 24, 2008

I’d like to thank Barb for leaving me the link to this article!  I will link as well cut and paste below so you guys and gals can read without clicking out of my home.

Let me just state why this bothers me in a possible canidate for the highest job in our country.  I believe issues are important, but I believe that character is equally as important.  I believe that character is tied into looking at the people who influence the canidate generally (teachers, authors, etc) but more than that- the kind of people the person places themself under willingly (mentors, advisors, etc).  Kind of like the saying that there is family you don’t choose (that you are born into) and family that you do. 

I do believe that people grow and change from things which are negative.  That they can be given information that in turn enhances their view and makes them more —- moderate I guess is the best word that is coming to mind.  In the same way that usually views change from high school, to college, and beyond.  Often life experiences change our view of things and reorganize our priorities.  For me, in the context of this post, the simple choice to remain under the spiritual athority of a man who can make such remarks before a large congregation of people in a church whose own charter refers to Africa as the motherland sheds a rather harsh light on the canidate. This isn’t a man with whom the canidate was merely associated with 20, 15, 10 or even 5 years ago that was dug up by someone doing a lot of digging.  This is a man who married him, who baptised his children, who was given the position of personal spiritual advisor as well as being the pastor of the church he chose to attend.

  I am hispanic, Puerto Rican.  I am proud of my heritage as I am the second generation born and raised in this country.  My great grandmother couldn’t read, my great grandfather struggled in the beginning of the 20th century to support a family of eleven (there were a couple of deaths among my grandmothers siblings) in New York City.  I don’t believe anyone should be ashamed of their heritage–but the United States is my motherland.  This is where I was born, this is where I was edcuated and given my oppertunities.  This is where I will raise my child(ren) -should I be so lucky to have them. It is far from perfect but it is home. In my mind, to claim a land other than your own is a silent form of denunciation of the one in which you live.  That bothers me as well- again because the canidate is applying for the highest position in the land, executive as well as Commander in Chief of the military my husband serves in.

HOWEVER, my post isn’t about all the other issues.  It’s just to shed a bit a light on what one hispanic, republican woman in her mid-twenties thinks of the Wright situation and why it is an important issue to me.  Anyway, here is the article. 


Thanks again Barb!


Barack Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright by David Aikman

By many observers’ reckoning, Senator Barack Obama’s major speech on race in the U.S. at Philadelphia’s Constitution Center March 18 was one of the rhetorical highlights of the 2008 presidential election season. Obama’s 5,000-word address was skillfully crafted, eloquent, and a powerful attempt to bring balance—and the views of both blacks and whites—into discussion of “America’s original sin” of racial injustice over the centuries. As the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya (which raises the question why people of mixed race with one black parent and one white parent are almost always deemed to be black and not white), Obama is certainly in a good position to shed light on this often poorly illustrated topic.

Shed light in the speech, he did. He conjured up great patriotic themes of the past with phrases like “a more perfect union.” He was certainly right to note that there hasn’t been a cogent conversation about race in the public sphere in the U.S. for many years. He was sensible in appealing to whites for more understanding of the bitterness that is often felt in the black community about the black experience in America. He at least acknowledged that hard feelings among the two main races that comprise the U.S. flow in both directions; citing, for example, white blue collar resentment over the perception that affirmative action has provided unfair advantages to some blacks and has penalized whites unjustly for, well, being white. Obama’s speech was probably the most honest, vulnerable, and moving address on race in the current election year.

And yet, in many ways, it uncovered new problems even as it attempted to solve old ones. In his speech Obama confessed that even his white grandmother sometimes referred to African-Americans with derogatory stereotypes that “made him cringe.” A day or so later, he tried to allay worries that his grandmother might have been genuinely racist, but in doing so, he raised questions about his own proneness to racial stereotyping. He said that he had merely meant to say that his grandmother was “a typical white person” who might have a racially influenced reaction if approached in the street by someone (presumably black) she didn’t know. Critics of Obama immediately pounced on this phrase, denouncing it as stereotyping all whites of a particular generation. If a white politician spoke of a “typical black person,” some commentators noted, he or she would immediately be denounced for evil racial stereotyping.

Many observers, even though complimenting Obama’s speech, wondered why it had taken so long for him to address the racial issue in the first place. In a sense, it is a reflection of Obama’s political and rhetorical skills in appearing to “transcend” race, to be a Democratic politician who just “happened” to be black—partially black, at any rate—that race was never a serious issue in the campaign until March of this year. Obama’s appeal all along has been to whites as well as blacks. Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Shelby Steele, an African-American with deep—and sometimes controversial—insights into black-white relations in the U.S., suggested in a Wall Street Journal editorial column that Obama was popular with whites because, as an African-American, he was a “bargainer,” someone who made “the subliminal promise to whites not to shame them with America’s history of racism, on the condition that they will not hold the bargainer’s race against them.” Steele added that “whites love this bargain, because it gives them racial innocence in a society where whites live under constant threat of being stigmatized as racist.”If this had been Obama’s way of avoiding the discussion of race for several months of the primary season, it was blown sky-high in mid-March by endlessly repeated sound-bites of his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, thundering anti-American phrases from his pulpit. And by “former,” we do not mean “sometime.” Obama spent twenty years in Wright’s church, was married there and had his children baptized there. In DVDs openly sold on the church’s website—and not clandestinely videotaped by some enemy of the church—Wright could be seen and heard shouting “God damn America,” asserting that the U.S. was a terrorist nation because it had dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, deserved the 911 terrorist attacks because of its own global behavior, and had invented HIV-AIDS to enslave or eliminate African-Americans. The U.S., Wright said in one sermon, ought to be called “the K.K.K. of America.” The extreme offensiveness—not to mention the sheer mendacity—of these comments forced Obama into a series of interviews in which he denounced the views of Wright. Yet in the end, in his Philadelphia speech, Obama did not “disown” Wright so much as attempt to contextualize Wright’s most hate-filled comments as the product of a particular generation of black activists confronted by the reality of white dominance in America.

The problem for Obama, even after his masterful speech, is that many people will wonder why he continued to attend Wright’s church for twenty years despite, presumably, at least knowing about Wright’s most outrageous views, even if he hadn’t actually heard the offensive sermons. His attempt to let Wright at least partially off the hook by referring to his own grandmother’s alleged offensive remarks about blacks didn’t convince many people. Some bloggers pointed out that Obama’s grandmother’s offensive comments were said in private, with no intention of stirring up prejudice against blacks. Wright’s comments, however, sneering and full of hatred towards whites, were made publicly and loudly before a congregation that was estimated at numbering more than 8,000 people. Wright, moreover, had championed in his church magazine none other than Louis Farrakhan, acting director of the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan has long been considered one of the most virulently anti-Jewish public figures on the American scene.

It is too early to tell whether Obama’s speech in Philadelphia will overcome serious doubts among voters that he has really “transcended” race. Obama is a talented, serious politician who has stirred up a greater interest in politics among young people than any other politician in recent years. His voice deserves to be heard. But his own stereotypical attitudes on race—witness the “typical white person” comment—make it clear that, though a “good” man—Senator John McCain’s description—he still has quite a long way to go before reaching the semi-Messianic status his most ardent admirers claim for him 


One Comment leave one →
  1. April 26, 2008 6:23 am

    Hey cool! Glad you liked it! 😀

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