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March 14, 2008

Comments

i like the idea of having to denounce, reject and condemn any person you've ever been associated with, the moment you find out that that person has said something that offends some other person who, frankly, is looking for reasons to dislike you.

this, plus "six degrees of separation" equals the instant end of society.

Baffling and incredibly stupid. But why is it only Obama who has to apologize for his minister? I'm sure Clintons', McCain's, and every other politican who belong to a religious institution have heard things they didn't agree with? So come on media sleuths, pundits, and all other know it alls do some research. Or rather, please just leave it alone. Where are the issues everyone said were so important? Gone in the muck of an election. Yech.

Baffling and incredibly stupid. But why is it only Obama who has to apologize for his minister? I'm sure Clintons', McCain's, and every other politican who belong to a religious institution have heard things they didn't agree with? So come on media sleuths, pundits, and all other know it alls do some research. Or rather, please just leave it alone. Where are the issues everyone said were so important? Gone in the muck of an election. Yech.

Well, actually, I emailed all kinds of journalists covering the Republican field and most seem to think McCain does not have a pastor.
Remember he couldnt figure out which denomination he was from last year ?
That's the irony of all this. Republicans are attacking Obama for what his pastor says when their own candidate does not even attend church

Heaven's, I am no more accountable for what my parents, beloved, or friends say and do than they of me. Our voluntary associations are even more tenuous. I have acquaintances and friends whose behaviors and ideas are abhorrent to me, but the "sum" of these individuals is not so narrow.

I'm a member of several associations with whom I've taken strong disagreement with, and if they chose a course of advocacy I could not support, nor feel comfortable in associating, I would make it known to the organization. Yes, we are often "known by the company we keep," but "company" is not one individual and one sentiment he or she expresses. While I detest racism, sexism, and religiousity, I also detest dogmatism, or "pure" associations, as if a liberal pluralistic society had to think, act, and speak only in orthodox ways.

Hearing more, not less, views, exposing these views to criticism and analysis, does far more than striving for "purity." The notion of "political correctness" has become a vile buzzword for non-critical thinking altogether. Preferably, speak our minds; wrestle with alternative ideas, stake a position; and show your commitment in YOUR behavior, not in the actions of others.

I may be an American, but I am ashamed of our president and congress. Does that mean I have to distance myself from America? The "love it or leave it" motif is best, "think over it, and choose the better." The White House fanatic is pretty hard to top, but it no more makes me "more or less and American" to revile him, while extolling the Founder's dream.

It's a fine response, but, how many people inclined to think that Obama hates america because of what his pastor said are going to read it?

Hopefully he will come up with a good 10 second response that the news shows can show and that's convincing.

Though it seems he's off to a good start, AP headline on my yahoo page right now:

"Obama denounces pastor's 9/11 comments"

It's probably the right political response, I'm guessing, but it's disappointing in a way because not all of Wright's controversial remarks were false. As you outlined them in part 1, I found many that I agreed with, but of course they're not the kind of thing a politician can get away with saying in this wonderful narcissistic country of ours, not if they want to poll somewhat higher than Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul (though Paul, of course, had other problems and Dennis isn't exactly the most charismatic of candidates).

It's probably the right political response, I'm guessing, but it's disappointing in a way because not all of Wright's controversial remarks were false. As you outlined them in part 1, I found many that I agreed with, but of course they're not the kind of thing a politician can get away with saying in this wonderful narcissistic country of ours

They'd get accused of a hate crime by those poor, oppressed whites.

In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he's been my pastor.

I think the above is pretty much a sufficient answer, and Obama's a fool if he wades into it any further.

Best he can do.

Black radicals (and their demands for genuine racial equality) still scare the hell out of white Americans. If Obama doesn't distance himself from Rev. Wright's rhetoric - rhetoric with which I agree almost unconditionally, by the way - it'll hurt him badly with white voters.

On the other hand, if he distances himself from Rev. Wright in any meaningful fashion - leave his church, for example - he would be seen as a faithless coward, another Romney, willing to abandon his religion - and, to some extent, to abandon blacks as a whole, as Rev. White's church is a historically black one - for political advantage.

It's an ugly tightrope, and Obama's walking it the best he can.

"But why is it only Obama who has to apologize for his minister?"

Because Obama's minister is black, and he's saying radical things, and (as I said above) mainstream Americans are terrified by black radicals. Historically, in America, black preachers and black churches have been wellsprings of progressive social change - remember, the Reverend Dr. King was a Baptist minister - and progressive social change means the loss of white privilege. So there's an instinctive negative reaction (in the MSM, and among white voters as a whole) to Rev. Wright that you're not going to see against, say, Jerry Falwell, or McCain's BFF pastor John Hagee; the latter two preach for social change that reasserts and strengthens straight white male privilege, and so don't read as a threat in the same way.

well, it's more a memory of black radicalism, because I don't find the black community to be particularly radical--it's pretty conventional in a lot of ways, compared to what it was in the 60s and 70s.

I think a lot of folks in this country today would have peed in their pants if they faced some actual radicals....

Dumb statements, even if only strategically dumb, make great sound bites in America.

Nuanced explanations of dumb statements always make lousy sound bites.

(See my comment near the end of the previous post's thread). He's going to be asked to apologize for EVERYTHING between now and November, including the abduction of Patty Hearst.

So will Clinton, if she wins.

I will say though that Obama may have the rhetorical power to handle this. He needs to chastize and distance himself from Wright and distribute eff yous all over the place to Mona Charen, Mark Penn, Rush Limbaugh and well, just about every loud mouth in America. He needs to be gentle and kick ass at the same time.

By ass, I mean Wright's, Clinton's and the entire right wing of the Republican Party's, which McCain is kissing right about ................................................................ NOW!

What I find most despicable about the whole thing is that Dr. Wright's "comments" are not just "comments." They are part of a greater message to a very specific group of people in a very specific time and a very specific setting. The context of ministering to an "unapologetically Black" congregation in a very underprivileged area is completely missing from these stories, and the mostly white media wouldn't know how to deal with it anyway.

Boy, do I miss not being able to connect with ObWi at work so catching up on the posts now.

First I want to copy something I posted on another blog that my work computer does give me access to:

"People seem to want one of two things, either for Obama to reject the more radical remarks made by Wright or reject and denounce Wright himself.

On the first part, he has done this several times in the pasat and, to his credit, continues to do so without whining about it.

Consider this scenario: One month from now somebody replays Ferraro's comments and asks Clinton to disavow them. Would that be fair to do? And do you think Clinton is going to say "Of course I reject and denounce them" or "Look folks, that is old news, I already did in the paast and I resent them coming up again."?

My sense is it would be the latter.

On the second request. Wright represents somewhat of a father figure for Obama. Now, my father was an alcoholic bigot who would frequently tell off color racist jokes and signed a petition to keep AA's from moving into our neighborhood. In addition to that, he also taught me about the necessity for honesty, hard work and the need to remain true to myself.

Because part of who or what he was was a negative, which I have rejected, do I have to denounce him as an individual? Anybody that tells me I would have to can go ... ."

That was before Obama put out this statement. I think he did this as well as anybody could. He did not throw the Rev Wright under the bus, but he definitely did denounce those specific sentiments, just as he has before. And he didn't make a big deal over having to do it again.

It is my understanding that this more vitriolic approach of Wright's is of more recent vintage and that many of his sermons are exactly of the type that Obama describes.

And I think he gave a perfectly legitimate reason for not leaving the church. Almost any church is more than just the pastor, priest, rabbi, etc. It is more than just s place to hear religious talk. It is also a social setting. And it is obvious that Obama received a lot from that church, and not just from Wright.

I hope that his response gets as much play as the initial cherry-picked words of the Reverend Wright. Of course, I am also curious to see just how hard Hannity wil try to crucify (intentional) Obama tonight.

Of course, I am also curious to see just how hard Hannity wil try to crucify (intentional) Obama tonight.

Quite hard, I bet.

Obama may not be an Angry Black Man, but (horrors!) he knows one.

equals the instant end of society

I categorically reject this point of view: the game of gotcha has no beginning, middle, or end. It just is.

More on a serious note, I think what Obama said is just about right. Wright seems at least a little off, and people don't want to imagine any of that off-ness rubbing off (so to speak) on their candidate CiC. Still, I think Obama distanced himself from Wright's statements without abandoning him as a person, which: nice touch.

Obama is the Jackie Robinson of politics. Although we would like to think a Barack Obama rise to the Presidency would mark the arrival of post racial America, he in fact, would be the signal that we might now be moving in that direction. I suspect it will be at least a generation before we have any real proof that the racial divide is closing in any measurable way. Until then, Barack Obama, and any other minority will be scrutinized more intensely than a Caucasian male.

Is not one of Obama's most appealing traits his Jackie Robinson-like grace under fire? With the exception of being the President what could be a truer test of character than the campaign for that very office? So far, during this nomination process, it has been Obama's levelheadedness that most encourages me as to what his Presidency might portend.

As an atheist I tend to stay away from these arguments about private matters of faith, but it seems to me that Obama has struck the right tone for those who lean in his direction but need a bit more reassurance. Those who have already made up their minds that Obama is a Muslim (or Chrisitanist) radical will not be persuaded.

I say well done Senator Obama.

Now lets get back to winning a nomination and a General Election.

I think my favorite remark that's being paraded around as "racist" is the "Rich White men run America" bit, I mean is there any freaking way to deny that this is true? Seriously, if you had to describe, a CEO, a Governor, a Senator or a Judge what image comes to your mind?

Clarence Thomas. David Patterson.

I could probably rattle off a few more, but I have to go check the pork roast.

One upside of this flap over Wright's words is that it might help to convince people like Fox News viewers and Hillary Clinton that Obama is in fact Christian. Not just "as far as I know" but really Christian.

It is pretty absurd; a candidate being condemned because he comes from a real community of real people resembling other real communities of real people, who all together make up... the people.

I think he’s handling the media myopic magnifying glass pretty well. Holds his dignity.

"Clarence Thomas. David Patterson.

I could probably rattle off a few more, but I have to go check the pork roast."

Wow, man you got me I mean those 3 governors since reconstruction, 3 Senators since reconstruction, and 2 Supreme court justices ever (Africn-Americans that is), really put me in my place, truly we are a color-blind society. Free at last, Free at last, thank god allmighty were Free at last, Dr. King's dream has been realized my friends. Man, I'm glad you helped me with this epiphany slart, if it weren't for you insight I would have thought the fact that I could count the number of AA Sup. Court Justices, Senators, and Governors in the last 125+ years on my fingers and still have room to add an Obama presidency and a Justice or Senator was a sign that Wright had a point but you lifted the wool from my eyes, sure is a shame that 1 in 9 African American males ages 20-34 is in custody, I mean you'd think with this level playing field and all they'd would behave better.

None of this is about logic. This is about someone -- probably the Clinton campaign -- deliberately stirring up a controversy in which Obama is forced on the defensive, and is tarred through his association with someone controversial. It will dominate the news cycle for a few days and then die down -- but only after doing some damage with primary voters, and drowning out any rational political discussion for a few days. Classic Karl Rove tactics. Obama is playing a losing hand gracefully.

The only good thing is that there is a limited number of times that Obama's opponents can do this before Rev. Wright becomes old news.

So ... as someone else on this blog has quipped, the Clinton campaign has now thrown the sink at Obama, followed by the pipes, and now the septic system. What is left to hurl?

-- Bokonon

The context of ministering to an "unapologetically Black" congregation in a very underprivileged area is completely missing from these stories, and the mostly white media wouldn't know how to deal with it anyway.

The storyline would be that he's a white-hating black racist. Which, in our 'post-racial' society, is the only kind the MSM wants to admit exists.

Funny, that's the storyline we're getting anyway :)

A problem is that Obama or the media or someone set a very high bar concerning a candidate's responsibility for the remarks of surrogates. Didn't Hillary just throw Ferraro under the bus for making remarks that were far less inflammatory?
Based on how this campaign has gone, it seems pretty clear that Wright has to leave the Obama island.

John Cole: PPS- Can you jackasses stop pretending he is Muslim now that you are denouncing his Christian minister?

Ha! Gold.

"Heaven's, I am no more accountable for what my parents, beloved, or friends say and do than they of me. Our voluntary associations are even more tenuous"

I should think you have this precisely backwards: You're not accountable for what your parents say, because you didn't pick them. To the extent that an association is voluntary, you ARE accountable for it.

I have a difficult time getting exercised over this matter, because however lunatic Wright's remarks might be, it's just a gloss on top of the lunacy which is religion. Once you've swallowed the horse, why choke at the horse fly?

What do you think?

1. Glad I don't have a TV
2. Apparently a slow news day
3. None of the smart-*ss responses I thought of would have been appropriate, so I guess Obama didn't do too badly.
4. I'm refusing to read any more media pieces on this "controversy" until Richard Russo writes an op-ed about it.
5. What cleek said.

Can you jackasses stop pretending he is Muslim now that you are denouncing his Christian minister?

Maybe Obama actually denounced Wright because Obama's secretly a Muslim.

OMGOMGOMG heh indeed smock

It's frightening to us whites sometimes to witness the anger apparent in things like the quote from Wright. But I know Obama well enough to know that, were that the daily fare at his church, he would not find it to be a congenial community. In any case, that is not the fare, it is instead mostly social justice and personal responsibility. I do not question Obama's genuine commitment to a positive and inclusive America. I have heard no such anger from him.

It's frightening to us whites sometimes to witness the anger apparent in things like the quote from Wright.

Perhaps it's because you think it's directed at you?

Because, certainly, such anger is frequently seen in non-black congregations.

I don't think it's enough, but then I've long thought that Obama is far too weak on push-back (which is among the reasons I narrowly cast a vote for Clinton). Obama is being held to a double standard by the media, and he needs to make that loud and clear. The talking points are here .

What bothers me is that the minister’s remarks are echoed by Obama’s wife (to a lesser degree), and all of that is echoed by Obama (to a lesser lesser degree). It may clarify what I said a couple of weeks ago: I was getting a general feeling of malaise from the campaign. In terms of the HOPE being sold here, they seem to be building up the depressing crap – building a market for HOPE so to speak. Obama does it less frequently but it is there. His wife has used it as her opening act. And it seems that this minister has at least some part in it all.

I’ve been on the road and I’m not up to speed on all this – but one question I’ve seen that got my attention – why would you expose your kids to this one day a week? And if Obama really disagrees why would he not find another church? But most importantly – why would you take your kids to hear this crap every week? (Or some version of it anyway.)

Again I’ve been out of the loop and I have not caught up here – so if these aspects have already been addressed then disregard. Also I’m tired and rambling. Good night.

wait.

George Bush's church officially disapproved of the Iraq war, before it even started. that makes the Methodist church anti-American. clearly.

did Bush denounce, renounce, reject, condemn, his church ? did he stop going to church ?

"Clarence Thomas. David Patterson.

Be honest, Slarti: before he got his name thrust into the limelight very recently through no doing of his own, did you even know who David Patterson was? Heck, I live in New York, and wouldn't have been able to identify Spitzer's Lt. Gov. to save my life!

And in any case: it's the "CEO" question that the really hard one....

And if Obama really disagrees why would he not find another church?

from his statement:

    The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign.

do we know his kids have been going there "every week" that whole time ?

Obama is the Jackie Robinson of politics.

I think that connection both hides and reveals deeper connections. Robinson died at the age of 53, which seems incredibly young to me for an athlete in the pre-steroid age. I have to believe that the anger that drove him took its toll physically. Yet the popular view of Robinson is not as an angry black man, but someone much more palatable ('vanilla'? 'bleached of anger'? language ends up mirroring the process)

Obama is going to be the same thing and it might be that he realizes it and plays to that. Certainly lines like 'we can disagree without being disagreeable' radiate that kind of non-offensiveness. So I'd ask Q to consider that Obama is 'far too weak' not because he is weak, but because that is the way the American people want him to be.

OCSteve: welcome back.

About hearing this stuff every week: my understanding is that this isn't what Rev. Wright talks about most of the time.

About finding another church: the same topic came up somewhere else, and I wrote about it, so I might as well just paste it in here:

I don't know how many churches at the time would have had a community like Wright's: not just open to everyone, but actively reaching out; vibrant; clear about putting religion into practice in the community. God knows I haven't begun to canvass the world of black churches, but I have been to some, and some of them have been dying: churches whose congregation consists of some elderly and absolutely wonderful church ladies and very few other people. Others have struck me as being more about feeling good on Sundays than about doing good on a continuing basis. In some cases, the ministers have been, in one way or another, out for themselves, and I would suspect that Obama, as a community organizer, would have known who they were and found that a lot harder to accept than someone who was committed to the right things, but also had non-religious beliefs that he disagreed with.

Maybe there are a lot of vibrant black churches on the South Side of Chicago with ministers who are genuinely trying to do good for the community around them, and communities that include everyone from professionals to people from the projects, but it's not clear to me that that has to be so.

OMGWTFiscleekdefendingchurchesnow???

If I were Karl Rove, I would somehow try to get ahold of that 1/2lot on the corner by Obama's house, sell it to a Holiness preacher, and try to put a double-wide on it. And then hire cleek's band for studio work (no details), and when cleek walks in the studio Surprise It's Kirsten's New Album.

But that would only be if I were Karl Rove. Personally, I'm not mean like that.

Did anyone read the article in Newsweek, "Why McCain Will Win?" It states that it is because the Democrats are running McCain's campaign for him, and they are losing the general while all this trash goes on. Can we please stop now? If that reported conversation between Obama and Clinton on the floor of the Senate today bears fruit, this one last bit of flak may have been worth it!

OMGWTFiscleekdefendingchurchesnow???

people can believe whatever damn fool thing they want, as long as they're OK with me believing they're dumb for believing it.

if you're cool with me thinking you're a fool, go ahead, believe Obama's gonna force Kwanzaa on us all.

obama: "Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy."

If he truly 'vehemently disagrees' why did he wait so long to strongly condemn the statements? Wright made the 9/11 statement in Sept, 2001; he made the 'damn America' sermon in 2003; he made the Hillary statements weeks ago.

Bottom line: talk is cheap; and silence can be deadly:

qui tacet consentire videtur

Who leaked the Reverend Jeremiah Wright tapes?

It wasn’t Hillary because she would have done it in advance of Texas and Ohio.

It is a person who wanted Obama to be in the lead going into Denver.

It is a man who recognizes:

1. The power of the picture of Obama with his hands on his crotch during the National Anthem.
2. The power of Michelle’s statements.
3. The power of the Iraq-Syria-Pizza Joint funding mechanism of Michelle’s garden.

A man who wants chaos at the convention. A man with ambition.

Al Gore is up on Intrade. Anyone who listened to me two weeks ago is up 50%.

The power of the picture of Obama with his hands on his crotch during the National Anthem.

Clearly we have not yet reached the apex of lunacy in this campaign. C'mon everybody, keep reaching for the stars.

OCSteve and others: what you are seeing is a hit piece of the most vitrolic and most "radical" of Pastor Wright's more recent sermons. It is in no way indicative of the entirity of Pastor Wright's career. I say "radical" in qoutation marks because I don't consider the remarks all that radical or out of line quite frankly. If you really want to know why the Obamas would go and continue to go to this church try this link: http://whattamisaid.blogspot.com/
here is another view of the church from a former member.
Fox news started this last year and it regained traction when ABC picked it up last week. I'd like to think that thinking people note the distinction between the calculated swipe by Ferraro and the Clinton campaign's allowing the matter to sit like a fart in church for a good week before "stepping up" (nice contrast to the rapid response of the Obama volunteer advisor who was immediately dismissed) and the Pastor's comments that were not sanctioned or approved by the Obama campaign and that in no way benefit the Obama campaign.

hilzoy: "About hearing this stuff every week: my understanding is that this isn't what Rev. Wright talks about most of the time."

My understanding is that he frequently made inflammatory statements about whites.

And if it turns out Wright's been making those kinds of statements for many years, and Obama passively sat there, without responding to them, will that alter your perception of him?

OCSteve,

In many churches, school age children are sheparded off to sunday school classes during the sermon. I don't know if that's the case for this church, but I wouldn't be surprised given the size of the congregation.

Plus, I'm not sure anything he's saying is really inappropriate for children, but I might have missed something. Did you have something particular in mind?

I just looked at the Trinity United Church of Christ website and all references to adherence to the black community, black family, black work ethic, black institutions, black leadership, black value system, etc. etc. seem to have been removed.

Good execution Interbama ©.

Come on, Jay Jerome, you don't seriously think there are a lot of Lee Greenwood types lurking around here, do you?

Now, Obama may be hearing all this stuff from his wife and minister, but sometimes you just have to go along to get along. His most fervent supporters are beginning to make things a lot tougher on him. This isn't really unique. Look how that whole John Edwards / Pandagon mess blew up. We will see how this goes. Obama has to steer to the middle now. We will see how good he is at it. He's going to get a big beat-down if he is elected President. Look at President Bush, who naively thought he would be "a uniter, not a divider". Some people are going to hate Obama just as passionately as the ObWi regulars hate Bush. So let's find out sooner than later how he handles this kind of thing.

A minister who says "GodDamn" in church, yeah that is a big problem with some 10 commandment types. But I guess he's thinking "Screw 'em".

The "NOT Proud to be an American" may be a lesser issue for the church lady crowd than the GD bit.

DaveC, you weren't doing too badly until you got to this: Look at President Bush, who naively thought he would be "a uniter, not a divider". And there you kind of shot your credibility. Do you have any evidence that GWB actually thought that, as opposed to just saying it as a campaign slogan? Is there any evidence of uniting in GWB's political c.v.? There is in Obama's, as you should have figured out by now.

Newsflash: reflexive Democrat-haters find a way to be outraged at Democrats!

hi hilzoy,

on the first post, you considered that Obama will "...probably [need] to remove Rev. Wright from his campaign's African American Religious Leadership Committee."

I think he should do just that.

Obama is getting my white male vote because, unlike your avatar with the gun, I think he's the best cat to bring peace.

I did not think Samantha Power's description of Hillary as a monster was in anyway injurious to Hillary. And I thought that Hillary's (and her campaign's) response was typical of bogus indignation that characterizes our unfortunate rhetorical era.

I agree to a certain extent that Ferraro's attempt's to reduce the significance of Obama's own genius was on a par with Rev. Wright's failure to inderstand the significance of Hillary's campaign.

Mostly, though, I thought Ferraro was tragic, except that it could have been part of a deliberate strategy to pander to Limbaugh's Democrats. If so, that'll probably come out in the wash. Still, her comments were probably nonsense thinking people would ignore.

But Wright's sermon is profoundly troubling. It's a good example of reverse racism, whose face is just as ugly.

"I just looked at the Trinity United Church of Christ website and all references to adherence to the black community, black family, black work ethic, black institutions, black leadership, black value system, etc. etc. seem to have been removed."

They were still there when I looked a moment ago. The links are right on the front page where they have been for quite some time.

"I just looked at the Trinity United Church of Christ website and all references to adherence to the black community, black family, black work ethic, black institutions, black leadership, black value system, etc. etc. seem to have been removed."

They were still there when I looked a moment ago. The links are right on the front page where they have been for quite some time.

The TUCC home page has no significant text on my computer.

The closest I can find is the ‘About Us’ page. The language has been changed by my reading with no direct references to ‘black leadership’ and the rest.

I’ve been wrong on things like this before. Perhaps you can help me find the current page that references adherence to the black community, black family, black work ethic, black institutions, black leadership, black value system, etc. etc.

Bill,

There's a link at the bottom of the home page, look for: "click here to read about The Black Value System."

cleek: do we know his kids have been going there "every week" that whole time ?

I haven’t looked it up, but I’m sure there is something on the record about how often he takes his family to church…


hilzoy: About hearing this stuff every week: my understanding is that this isn't what Rev. Wright talks about most of the time.

ac: what you are seeing is a hit piece of the most vitrolic and most "radical" of Pastor Wright's more recent sermons. It is in no way indicative of the entirity of Pastor Wright's career.

I’m sure that’s true. OTOH – those statements didn’t seem to be a “one-off”, but rather sentiments that would tend to influence (I said “color” here but then the PC filter kicked in) a lot of what he would say…

His sermons are on DVD? Expect a big surge in sales there as a lot of people start going over every single one…

I do not go to church – the last time I did was shortly after Nixon resigned. But I know people who do – and based on what I know from them, it is complete BS that you could be a member of a congregation for 20 years and not be well aware of crap like this.

Turb: Did you have something particular in mind?

God Damn America?


Look - this isn’t a deal breaker for me, but… Frankly I don’t understand exactly what people get out of church or religion in general. But many people who I know and deeply respect find it to be very important to them. Therefore I tend to respect it even if I do not understand it. At the same time, I know that these very same people tend to let the church direct their lives in many ways that are incomprehensible to me. Again, that is something I do not understand, but I can respect them for believing in something enough to base life decisions on, even if I scratch my head and say WTF…

This man has obviously (and admittedly) been a large influence in Obama’s life. This does matter and should not be swept under the rug…

It’s not a deal breaker but it does make me stop and wonder… I have to admit that I find it to be a little disturbing.

Now – OT but better news…

I’ve been in Philly the last couple of days and Obama is absolutely owning the radio market there. He has a pretty good commercial playing. Primarily he is targeting young people and college students. Go and register to vote as a Democrat in PA. You have to do it by March 24. It doesn’t matter if you are a college student from out of state (there are a lot of schools in the Philly area) as long as you will be 18 by Election Day, you register by March 24, and you will still be residing here for 30 days. Hope, hope, and hope – just go and register as a Democrat by March 24th so you can vote for me (HOPE).

Now I heard this ad about 15 times in 48 hours. The weird thing is that my favorite radio station up there is classic rock – not exactly the demographic this ad was targeting. (93.3 WMMR! Oldest rock station in the country – 40th anniversary coming up. Pierre Robert! Hello citizens!) So I started flipping around to other local stations. It was everywhere. It’s a good ad and if he is saturating the Pittsburg market the way he is saturating the Philly market he is going to own PA. Total Clinton ads heard? Zero.

Good grief.

Given how many of the absolute monsters have endorsed Bush and now McCain - Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Bill Donahue, etc - why on earth is this even an issue? Ugly bigots all, with major political influence clear and stark in Bush's actions while in power.

The main distinction I can see is that the above "Christians" aim their bigoted attacks at those who lack power and influence - whereas Reverend Wright's political opinions are very much directed against those in power.

About hearing this stuff every week: my understanding is that this isn't what Rev. Wright talks about most of the time.

But don't you still find it just a little troubling that is was some of the time? I know I would. I know I wouldn't spend almost 20 years attending services and supporting the pastor.

Given how many of the absolute monsters have endorsed Bush and now McCain - Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Bill Donahue, etc - why on earth is this even an issue?

Because none of these men were Bush's or McCain's pastors.

It is a whole lot easier to distance yourself from remarks, when the guy just says "I support you for the position" than when you attend their church, are an active member, and support the pastor by giving to them monetarily.

Pastors aren't perfect, and they often put their feet in their mouths up to their knees, but there is a certain line where it isn't just an accident.

And OCSteve is right-I can't imagine being a member of a church for 20 years, and not being aware of controversial stuff my pastor had said.

I will say that I don't see this doing much to affect the outcome of the race-mostly I think this is one of those things where supporters will say "it doesn't matter" and those who support somebody else will just nod their head and say "well I knew I didn't like him, and this confirms it."

I'm going to see how long it takes for EVERYBODY ON THIS GODDAMNED THREAD who has condemned Obama for taking his children to this church to let loose with the outrage over, say, this. Come on, let's hear it! I bet I could sit here all day and not hear a single word about it. Or about people who take their kids to anti-gay churches. Or, hell, to the Catholic Church, which, um, has had some problems with kids over the years. Or to churches which preach that women must be subservient to men.

Come on, you double-standard-wielding hypocrites. Let the condemnations fly. Let's hear it. It's out there now, so let it rip.

>>>crickets<<<

Yeah, that's what I thought. A bigger bunch of bullsh*t concern trolling I have never seen.

Pastor Wright speaks the truth. What, exactly, is so controversial about that?

Because none of these men were Bush's or McCain's pastors.

No, that's right, they weren't. Bush and McCain were not longtime members of community churches in troubled communities led by these men. Instead, Bush and McCain went out and actively sought the support of some of these monsters with whom they otherwise had no connection to or obligations to whatsoever. So you tell me which is worse.

See, that's partly why I wrote this: I find it completely easy to imagine going to a church whose pastor I disagreed with, sometimes strongly, for years. The only problem for me, is that I'm not sure "imagine" is the right word; "remember " would be more like it. And it was the same kind of disagreement: iirc, my pastor was, in a lot of ways, exactly the person people at RedState might be thinking of when they talk about 'blame America firsters'. I was 15, I was not at all happy about Watergate, Vietnam, etc., but I thought: *this* is just too much.

But that just wasn't relevant to why I went to church. I sort of took it for granted that I would form my own political views, that people didn't have to agree with me, etc., and my minister's political views seemed to me about as relevant as, say, my soccer coach's.

My minister was in many ways a good guy. His heart was in the right place. It was a good church, though (for the reasons I mentioned in the piece) not as good a church, I think as Wright's. And I was sincere when I said: if I had stumbled into Wright's church, I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Because it was always a big missing piece for me, and got bigger over time: our congregation was not inclusive, and we didn't do a lot of local good works. (About inclusive: I have no doubt that we would have welcomed anyone who came, in our WASPy way. But if we were seeking people out in places where poor, or even lower middle class, people are likely to be found, it would be news to me.)

Compared to that, a minister's political views would have been nothing to me. I never went to church for political education; I was, even then, taking care of that on my own. (As you might imagine.)

Phil: let loose with the outrage over, say, this.

No problem. That is outrageous and I condemn it. That is actually much worse, as it is parents unloading their kids on “camp” without in most cases (I assume) knowing exactly what it was. Even worse if they did know exactly what it was.

Or about people who take their kids to anti-gay churches.

I condemn that. 100%. It makes me angry that any parent would expose their children to that.

Or, hell, to the Catholic Church, which, um, has had some problems with kids over the years.

Well, if I had kids, I certainly would not allow them to be unsupervised around clergy of any denomination that requires celibacy. IMO that leads directly to the types of abuse we have heard so much about.

Or to churches which preach that women must be subservient to men.

I hadn’t heard of such a thing, but I condemn it.


Guess what? I hope Fred Phelps rots in hell for all eternity (if I believed in hell anyway).

But that just wasn't relevant to why I went to church.

Maybe a worthwhile point, but the problem is that you are going to have a hard time convincing me that this church is the only one in Chicago that met the community outreach desire.

I went to church, and I still go to church, and I have to say that I wouldn't trade an offensive pastor for community outreach-the pastor is the head and leader of the church.

Maybe that is where my problem is with this story lies. I can't imagine sitting in a pew for 20 years and listening to those kinds of comments. Probably because I know having a solid pastor who doesn't cross the line and community action aren't mutually exclusive.

As for the Jesus Camp film-I admit I haven't seen it, have only seen comments about it and to date haven't sent my kids to it, or anything close to it. They don't even go to church oriented camps or any kind.

Maybe that is where my problem is with this story lies. I can't imagine sitting in a pew for 20 years and listening to those kinds of comments.

see, that really is your problem with the story. you don't have transcripts of every sermon the guy gave for "20 years". you don't know what he said. you're imagining the worst.

I keep hearing people say "I wouldn't sit there for 20 years listening to this type of crap."

First of all, prove to me that he was saying GD America for 20 years. Go ahead, I'm waiting.

Secondly, primarily black churches have a long history of high rhetoric. So what?

There was nothing racist in what Wright said.

People don't like to see angry black preachers, and there is a fear that underneath his calm exposure is an angry black Obama. That is what this is all about, nothing else.

Trinity is one of those primarily black churches in Chicago that actually has a lot of money and is also multi-cultural. It probably has more non- African Americans attend on a regular basis than all the rest of the AA churches in Chicago combined.

It occurs to me that there is such an underlying fear of Obama that anything that may underpin that fear is grabbed and held on to. This is one of those.

But I think Obama realized coming in that he would be held to a different standard, even more so than Clinton.

BTW, OCSteve, celibacy is irrelevant concerning abuse of children by religious leaders.

Just me, my daughter goes to catholic school. Sometimes she and I spend an hour discussing why monsignor was full of it during the sermon. He's not a bad man, just a product of his generation (in his case, shortly after the inquisition). But we have strong friendships there, we support their several community programs and, while I disagree strongly with some of the particulars, overall I'm catholic.

When I was a kid, Fr Silverman (a converted Jew) prayed at EVERY mass for the conversion of Jews. Everyone rolled their eyes and went on. Does that make me antisemetic?

If America is controlled by white racists as according to Wright how did Obama get to were he is today?

We white racist must really be slacking off.

Black radicals (and their demands for genuine racial equality) still scare the hell out of white Americans.

This is so good to know. Now when I go to sleep tonight I can cower in the corner of the bedroom holding my .45.

the Reverend Dr. King was a Baptist minister - and progressive social change means the loss of white privilege.

According to Wright we haven't yet had to give up our white privilege. Phew!

See, that's partly why I wrote this: I find it completely easy to imagine going to a church whose pastor I disagreed with, sometimes strongly, for years.

Wow, I can't imagine being that way. When I had a problem with my pastor I talked with him and told him that I couldn't go to church there anymore. (FYI, he was critizing Israel for not letting Christian Palestinians cross over during Easter. My pastor would not even admit the decision "might" be based on terrorists acts by Hamas and not just racism.)

I don't find these statements all that outrageous:

The US is ruled by rich white people, not exclusively and totally, but come on ...

Compared to the number of civilians the US has killed and helped kill in other countries, 3000 is a small number.

God damn America - well, occasionally cursing your own country is a actually quite a venerable tradition among thinking people.


First of all, prove to me that he was saying GD America for 20 years. Go ahead, I'm waiting.

Okay, I wouldn't do it for 7 years either, actually I don't think it would have taken too many sermons along those lines to get me moving on to a different church and a different pastor.

Maybe people choose churches for reasons other than I would, and that is their perogative, but if I found myself having too many conversations about the the things my pastor said in a sermon, I wouldn't be sticking around.

Okay, I wouldn't do it for 7 years either, actually I don't think it would have taken too many sermons along those lines to get me moving on to a different church and a different pastor.

how many "sermons along those lines" did Wright deliver in those seven years ? and how many conversations did Obama and Wright have about them ?

there is a difference between being a in a population being controlled by white males and a population being controlled by white male racists. multiculuralism has blurred that distinction to our detriment.

I'm a world apart from hilzoy on sitting through Sermons preaching ideas I disagree with. I walk out.

how many "sermons along those lines" did Wright deliver in those seven years ? and how many conversations did Obama and Wright have about them ?

I don't know how many, but I might forgive the first, but probably wouldn't stick around for the second.

You second question s an interesting one, and one really only Obama and/or Wright could answer and to date they haven't.

However, if they had conversations about them, I wouldn't mind knowing what was said, and after discussing them, why Obama stayed.

What do you think the topic of conversation in African-American churches all over this country will be this weekend? The fact that the media paraded a respected black preacher all over the TV for saying what many of us African-Americans believe about oppression and imperialism or the fact that no Democrat stuck up for him?

As a young girl Hillary's pastor took her to see Martin Luther King speak. As a result of her faith and values she soon left the Republican Party and became a lifelong Democrat.

As a young man Obama joined a church whose pastor preached hatred of white people and black victimization.

It is oftens said that we are judged by the company we keep.

Obama's political career is over.

I was raised as a Presbyterian and attended church and Sunday school. I stopped @around the age of 13-14, via fake stomach aches as I lay in bed on Sunday morning, while my mother stood over me and tried to make me feel guilty by saying she was ashamed to go church alone.

The problem with that strategy is that I had used up the fakery that could have been better expended avoiding the algebra test on the following Thursday that I hadn't studied for.

My brother in the bed across the room would just say "No!" to both, but he's a hardhead.

When I sat in church, I had maybe two things on my mind: my baseball cards (secreted in my inside sports jacket pocket), and girls, all of them arrayed like flowers and looking outrageously fetching throughout the congregation sitting beside their parents.

The ache I experienced was not one of sought redemption, but merely the ache of trying to understand how it is that if girls are not to be "engaged with", then why do they walk around all day naked underneath their clothing? All around me. In church no less.

Methinks, methought to myself, everyone doth protest too much. What do they know that I don't know, and if they know it, how come they are not bursting into flames or turning into pillars of salt -- right now?
Fascinating

I might have smuggled a book or two in, probable some Nietzsche, who had he the chance to play baseball, probably could have taken part in my ruminations in church on the all-important question about who was the better all-around centerfielder -- Mays, Mantle, or Snider.

Mantle was a more tragic figure to me than Christ.

If Obama's kids, or anyone's kids, get more out of church than a talent for stifling irrisistable killer yawns for one hour, than I'll eat DaveC's 1963 Valiant.

I was like Stephen Daedalus --- I could have the crap scared out of me by all of awful punishments of Hell one week, and a week later think maybe on the other hand the temptations ought to be experimented with, just in case, of what, I don't know.

I will say that I paid attention twice in "church" as a kid: at a friend's barmizvah
(cake and punch in church that was not the blood or body of anyone; a wonderful notion) and when I attended a Catholic service with my Papist (according to my grandmother) girlfriend; at least Catholicism had all of the cool gimcrackery of religion at which to marvel, as opposed to the clean lines of my denomination.

Obama's political career is over.

nonsense.

among many other ugly things, Falwell literally blamed 9/11 on America. when Falwell died, President Bush declared a day of national mourning.

Limbaugh has said things that should make him anathema in even the most-conservative of all the people self-righteously gnashing their teeth over Wrights words. Bush called Limbaugh a "national treasure". Cheney has made multiple visits to Limbaugh's show.

how's Bush doing? still have the undying support and approval of his party? yup. would they run him again if he wasn't term-limited? yeah, probably.

One thing we can all be thankful for now is that Hillary Clinton has the wisdom and foresight not to listen to the creeps demanding she drop out of the race.

ken:

"It is often said that we are judged by the company we keep.

Obama's political career is over."

Were Martin Luther King running for the Democratic nomination today, Hillary Clinton would appear on a Sunday morning news show and remark, "King is not a Communist or an adulterer, as far as I know."

If Obama's political career is over, then J. Edgar Hoover is spinning with joy in his grave, wearing a low-cut prom gown, pumps, and a tiara.

If Clinton wins the nomination, I'll vote for her even when, not if, the McCain campaign, McCain having given the Republican base the butt-kissing the Viet Cong couldn't get out of him, runs political ads of the Maoist, Feminazi Hillary in grainy video pushing Monica's head into Bill's lap.

Why? Because I know exactly what Lee Atwater thinks of Condi Rice and Colin Powell, regardless of their achievement.

The way this is going, when Obama is giving his inauguration speech next January, I hope it goes something like this: "My fellow Americans, the chickens have come home to roost. And as my friend and comedian Dick Gregory once said in a slightly different context, you may not serve Negros around here, but that's O.K., because whether you like it not, I'd rather have the chicken.

Man, I'm glad you helped me with this epiphany slart

If that constituted help for you, I'm sorry. Me, I don't categorize people by racial tags, so it'd be similarly tough for me to tell you the names of prominent Asian, ethnic Swedish, or Semitic politicians, CEOs, etc.

And no, until recently the name of David Patterson was, to me, just as obscure as that of Jeff Kottkamp. I couldn't tell you what color Jeff Kottkamp's skin is, either; nor do I much care.

Which probably makes me a racist, but so does everything else.

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

Thomas Jefferson

I don't see that much daylight between Wright's comments and Jefferson's. Wright's just angrier. Being a black man in this country, he's got more reason to be angry than Jefferson did.

If a minister saying "God damn" in church freaks you out, you better stay well away from the prophetic books. Seriously.

If saying "God damn the US" in church seems too unpatriotic for your taste, you will probably not want to attend that church.

If Obama's association with that church is too much for you to accept, there are other folks to vote for.

Everyone and their dog will do their utmost to turn this into some kind of slam against Obama. Welcome to American politics.

Obama has said that Wright doesn't speak for him on this issue, that he doesn't agree with these particular statements of Wright's, and that Wright is his pastor, not his political advisor.

I think, really, that that should about cover it. It might make some folks happy if he would stop attending the church he's attended for 20 years, or if he would personally condemn his pastor, but he doesn't seem to be inclined to provide those folks with that level of satisfaction.

So, those folks will just have to make what they will of it. It is now their problem, not Obama's. He's made his position clear.

Thanks -

That's great that you feel that way Slarti, and I don't doubt that you do, but the fact remains that, were someone to start reading off the names of the Fortune 500, and asking you what color each company's CEO was, you'd have a 98% chance of being correct every time if you said "white." That's not a number I'm making up -- 490 of the 500 CEOs in question are white. Five are black, and five are of Asian descent. (Two of the latter are women; there are fewer than 20 female CEOs total in the 500.)

Similarly, if I asked you to name every black Supreme Court Justice ever, you'd be finished in less than five seconds. If I asked you to name every white Supreme Court Justice ever, I don't think you could.

Roughly the same thing is true of every other category that was brought up: Senators, governors and what have you.

You may genuinely find these facts insignificant. Members of those groups tend to differ, and often with good reason. But you being glib about it probably isn't a solution to any of it.

Thanks for the lecture, Phil. Believe it or not, I do have some passing awareness of the problem.

Consider it the equivalent of your recent advice re: Sadly, No! Equally welcome and equally valuable.

How do you manage to have even a passing awareness of the problem, Slartibartfast, when you "don't categorize people by racial tags"?

In order to have even passing awareness that the number of white Supreme Court justices, or Fortune 500 CEOs, exceeds those of any other race, you would have to categorize these people by the racial tags of "white", "black", etc - if you genuinely don't, you can't. And if you do, why claim you don't?

If everyone was accountable to sever their connection with any person or institution that expressed any bad views, the world would be a poorer place.

I'm a Catholic who supports birth control and gay marriage- but I stay in my church because the good outweighs the bad.

The college where I teach part-time has a "no discrimination based on sexual orientation" policy. What's happening to Obama is as though my college were to tell me "You can't teach here as you haven't left your church which says that gays are 'objectively disordered'. The fact that you're still Catholic proves that you're a homophobe!"

Oh, dear. I almost said exactly what Jes just said, but I didn't. I'm simultaneously amused and aghast that she did -- it's like she was reading my mind.

I didn't only because I assume one can generally be aware of the state of race relations and the history of black/white power structures without oneself paying overmuch attention to what skin color or ethnicity individual people are or doing head counts.

But it isn't my place to speak for Slarti, so I'll let him choose to deal with it or not.

Jes, aren't you supposed to be spending the weekend away from people being wrong on the internet? It's Saturday night already there!

Yeah, I was trying. What I need is decaf tea. Honestly, though, it was pretty egregious - a two comments close together both claiming the moral high ground, one on the grounds that Slarti doesn't pay attention to race, the other on the grounds that Slarti does pay attention to race.

But the spectacle of a bunch of people who didn't get this worked up over a monster like John Hagee endorsing McCain, and McCain embracing him and loving him up, but getting freaked out over a pastor who gets mad when the US doesn't live up to its ideals of equality and justice for all? Well, that was a big flaming beacon of wrongness.

But I will go make myself a big, big mug of decaf tea and work at not caring.

Turb: Did you have something particular in mind?

God Damn America?

Maybe I'm strange, but it wouldn't bother me for my (non-existent) children to hear such language. As a Christian, if I had children, I would definitely spend time telling them the same thing. More specifically, I would tell them because of our beliefs, we won't always agree with the government or social norms around us, and when that happens, we have to hold to what's right. That means that when the US government or the American people do things that absolutely contravene our values, well, I don't think God will approve.

The point is that I don't think America should be blessed by God no matter what and I don't think I should be calling for God's blessing on America no matter what. I believe that the US has done terrible things that have lead to the deaths of 1 million+ Iraqis and I sure as heck don't think God should be blessing us as a nation for such a holocaust.


Maybe a worthwhile point, but the problem is that you are going to have a hard time convincing me that this church is the only one in Chicago that met the community outreach desire.

I don't know about Chicago, but when my wife and I looked for a church in Boston, we found only one Episcopal church that really fit us. I suspect that for people who aren't particularly religious, it is easy to see the many many churches around you and assume that there are lots of choices, but in practice, especially if you're looking for churches that are 1. theologically rigorous, 2. inclusive, AND 3. doing serious good work in the community, there are very very few choices. Obama can certainly find another church in Chicago, but I doubt he could find another one that meets his family's criteria.

"God damn America" is fine with me. I probably agree with most of what Wright thinks (though not that HIV is an evil plot), but disagree with some of the particular ways in which he phrases things, but "God damn America", when discussing American support for terror overseas or our racial record seems appropriate to me. It's like William Lloyd Garrison publicly burning the Constitution and calling it a pact with hell on Independence Day.

My fervent prayer is that god may grant us an atheist president in our lifetimes. Unlike believers of various stripes, atheists don't have "pastors".

Alas, we are for now condemned to this ridiculous purgatory where a man (or woman) must profess to believe in a Big Daddy in the Sky in order to have a shot at the White House -- and attend church to PROVE that s/he believes it.

Oh well, at least we've made progress enough to stop burning witches. There's hope for the long run.

-- TP

More from Obama. Nice.

Obama can certainly find another church in Chicago, but I doubt he could find another one that meets his family's criteria.

Either black churches are not providing enough choice for marketplace of people looking for churches, or the marketplace is telling us that all black people damn America...

This is not a accusation, but for anyone who feels that Wright's comments were deplorable and beyond the pale, did the thought cross your mind, even for a moment, that Wright should leave the US and go back, well, you know? I don't know what is in anyone else's mind, but if the thought even flitted by for a moment, I think that one's feeling of outrage needs to be calibrated.

I'm an atheist but used to attend Unitarian Universalist churches so I find this idiotic pretence that people agree with everything said in their church particularly funny. Given the diversity of views in any UU congregation, to apply that to a UU would require repealing the logical law of the excluded middle!

One of the aspects of this manufactured "scandal" that really sticks out is the unspoken agreement that Wright must be shunned and denounced and etc. as anti-American and unfit for a Presidential candidate to know because he says, impolitely, that America can really suck sometimes.

Very few people are saying, "Waitaminute! You know, America *can* really suck sometimes. And in fact, there are times when I've said, or thought, "God *damn* this country, for one thing or another. And I'm not even a black person, so I can just imagine how much worse things can suck for a black person, and how much more strongly tempted they would be to say God damn this country.

This is what gets me about the brouhaha over Wright; the Victorian-style denial that he could possibly have any good reason to be angry, or to express that anger.

Well, that, and the equally idiotic "logic" that suggests Obama hates America, or white people, because his pastor has expressed anger at both.

Revivalist preachers on the tent circuit have long condemned America to hell for her wicked ways, in terms far more graphic than Wright. The difference is that they preached against sins of the flesh (which particular ones depended upon the era) and not racial injustice.

A church exists as a community of worship. Obama could have found a church to worship in that did not preach resentment against whites and black victimhood.

Social do gooding is at best a secondary criteria for Christian churches after its primary mission of worshipping God.

If Obama could not find an alternative church that offered both worship service and community service he could have looked elsewhere. For anyone who wants to join a community of good hearted citizens actively working to better thier own community one could join the ELKS, the LIONS, the Masons, or the Shriners.

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