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we still remember mitch hedberg

A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

Apr 11th 2008

How Barack Obama Lost My Vote Defending Jeremiah Wright

[This is another old post from early 2008. I lost the majority of it due to technical difficulties when I was halfway through, and my rewrite never got back to the level of the original, so I never published it. I publish it now with the disclaimer that it was originally not good enough to publish, so that makes it ok. Plus, the qualms I had about Barry around this time seem to be more and more valid every day.]

People praised Barack Obama’s speech defending racism in his church. Certainly, I understand why some black people in America are mad at white people in America. But Barack Obama’s whole campaign has been about getting past our differences and coming together. For example, I am told he spoke these words from a podium in Hartford, Connecticut last June:

But somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it’s because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us. At every opportunity, they’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their Church:

That for two decades he attended a racist, partisan, political church (simply one that was hijacked by the other side) undermines all the appeal his campaign ever had for me.

I found it interesting that one CNN commentator called Obama’s speech a speech to “adults.” I did like a couple of things Obama said. Overall, however, much of his speech (both what he said and what he neglected to say) made me feel uneasy.

Obama’s message is that, as an outsider, he has the power to unify our nation and end the divisiveness that plagues our country. But, now that I know what went on in his church, I am less confident he can do this. He belonged to his church of 8,000 members for 20 years. If elected, he will be president of a nation of 300,000,000 people for between 4 and 8 years. Yet for all his talk of change, his church seems no less racist today than when he got there. Changing our nation is certainly a bigger project than changing a church.

After the speech, in a radio appearance, Obama explained his grandmother was just the “typical white person”; I’m wondering why he couldn’t have said “typical person.” I mean, it should be clear from what goes on in black churches that whites are not the only people in this country who make generalizations based on race.

Obama’s speech seemed about obfuscation. Rather than denounce Wright, Obama tried to justify his hateful, divisive, hypocritical, false, and inflammatory words by broadening the topic to racism generally. But Reverend Wright’s theology teaches that racism only goes one way: Only whites can be racist because only those with power can be racist.

I am troubled by the possible widespread acceptance of this teaching. Certainly, I am aware of my race’s despicable treatment of non-whites in the past. But if conditions have improved and continue to improve, then what is the value in dwelling on problems decades in the past?

In my high school some years ago, it was not uncommon for white students to receive a shoulder to the chest as a black student walked by. Now, having heard what Reverend Wright preaches, I wonder if those angry kids’ pastors were like Reverend Wright, teaching hate each week. And the girl who sat next to me in typing class and answered our textbook’s question “What is the biggest problem in the world today?” with “race” — was she being taught each Sunday to resent me? When black students stopped white students they didn’t even know and asked, indignantly, for their spare change, did those students feel entitled to the money because of some church teaching?

[originally this post contained a lot more, which was lost due to a browser issue]

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