Barack Obama, undoubtedly stunned by the outcry that followed the popularization of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s racist and anti-American statements, has "strongly condemned" his pastor’s teachings today.
This decision is the correct one. But it’s late in coming. If Obama is really to be the trans-party, post-racial leader America has been waiting for he must demonstrate that in his core beliefs. What he should have done, I believe, was renounce his membership in Wright’s church outright.
Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.
There have been many on the left who have railed against the political discourse conducted by Pat Robertson and James Dobson, among others, saying that their participation in the public life of America is inappropriate or that they are crazy old cranks. And at times their statements have been inflammatory or wrong, as Wright’s obviously were, making this criticism valid at times.
How much worse then are these statements?
"We’ve got more black men in prison than there are in college," he began. "Racism is alive and well. Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. No black man will ever be considered for president, no matter how hard you run Jesse [Jackson] and no black woman can ever be considered for anything outside what she can give with her body."
Mr. Wright thundered on: "America is still the No. 1 killer in the world. . . . We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers . . . We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Ghadhafi . . . We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God."
His voice rising, Mr. Wright said, "We supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-Semitic. . . . We care nothing about human life if the end justifies the means. . . ."
Concluding, Mr. Wright said: "We started the AIDS virus . . . We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty. . . ."
Yes, there is an element of truth in Wright’s message, as is often true of the most explosive of lies, but that doesn’t change the fact that his message is either largely ignorant of world politics or a deliberate distortion designed to promote an anti-American agenda.
Speaking frankly, Barack Obama should have stood up, gathered his family, and walked out of Wright’s church long before the preacher reached the end of his diatribe.
My previous church was lead by a popular local pastor who is a dynamic, engaging speaker and, to the best of my knowledge, a fine man and leader. He also has a bit of a temper and is too willing to criticize others. The day that he went on an anti-Mormon rant and said, "Mormons have no faith", I knew I was in the wrong church.
Obama took a different approach. His reasoning:
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. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
Perhaps. A man’s church, if he believes in what is said there, is an intensely integral part of his being and I appreciate Barack Obama’s loyalty to Jeremiah Wright for that reason. Certainly Obama has the right to make his own decisions regarding his faith. However, what those decisions say about his beliefs and values say is very telling about the kind of man he is and the kind of leader he would be if elected.
More than ever, I believe that Barack Obama is the wrong man at the wrong time for this country.