Friday, March 21, 2008

The race speech: convenient omissions?

Charles Krauthammer at WaPo says Senator Obama's speech on race was a "brilliant fraud" in that it did not answer the question: why did Senator Obama not leave Trinity United Church given Rev. Wright's "vitriolic divisiveness"? Andres Martinez, also at WaPo, says "the entire exercise still ended up feeling a bit evasive."

However, in my opinion, both Krauthammer and Martinez completely missed the point of the speech. Rev. Wright may have said some inexcusable things; but he also has done a world of good to many on Chicago's south side. As Senator Obama said, if those YouTube snippets were all he knew of the Rev, he would have reacted in much the same way.

Senator Obama continues: "But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS...." (link)

Further, the mention of Senator Obama's grandmother was not to "throw her under the bus," as so many anti-Obamans have said, but to point out that near and dear ones, including our elders who have tremendous influence over us - like, presumably, a pastor - also harbor racial sentiments that can make us cringe, or for some folks, shape their opinions accordingly. Nobody is perfect; as the Christian sentiment goes, renounce the sin, but embrace the sinner.

The key is, Rev. Wright, Geraldine Ferraro, Robin Morgan, and our grandparents/parents are all products of their times, and whether they spew invective in public or mutter in private in our presence, the onus is upon us to objectively realize the reasons for their views, and not get influenced by their skewed perspective.
[The above paragraph was also partly influenced by Dahlia Lithwick.]

As for the supposed anti-American sentiments of the Rev. Wright? If you go along that route, even Dr Martin Luther King, Jr would be cast as anti-American. And I might add, Presidential candidate and Congressman Ron Paul had pretty much the same sentiments as Rev. Wright over 9/11 - "blowback." (link to video)


Jo Diaz said...

Is it entirely possible that Senator Obama is too good of a person to President of the United States? As you wrote, we're all a product of our generational histories. Senator Obama hasn't evolved to a corrupt level of so many before him. It's interesting to watch those who attack him, isn't it? They throw stuff against the wall, and as he defends his principles, he looks better all the time. Attacking him is actually bringing his strong ethics to light. God bless America.. We have one really strongly principled man in the limelight!

RS said...

I agree - Senator Obama definitely stands out as more intelligent, honest and much less corrupted than most other politicians.