Obama spoke yesterday of diamond-hard facts facing our culture.
But all of the discussion can be boiled down to one key question. The question is, Has Wright’s inflammatory attitude become part of Barack Obama’s psyche? In other words, to what extent does Obama believe the same things about America that Wright does? What Obama’s critics want to show is that Obama has been inculcated, been habituated by Wright to hate America. I’ll return to this shortly
So many critics are saying that he should have left the church. The idea here is supposed to be that, if he disagreed so much with what the pastor had said, real renunciation would involve his leaving.
This view of things assumes an all or nothing attitude, just like Bush does: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html) Either you support your preacher or you don’t.
As if there isn’t a way for anyone to disagree significantly with someone, yet support him in other ways, on other topics. We do this all the time with friends and family. Why not a preacher? There is a false dichotomy in the assumption behind the critics’ charge.
Now, back to the issue of inculcation. Obama’s critics now have the burden of showing that he is disposed to hate this country. In order for them to relieve themselves of this burden, they will have to give us the evidence that he does hate this country. Where is the evidence? I’ll bet a shit-ton of M&Ms that you can’t find it.
It is not enough to say that Obama was most likely inculcated by Wright, only given the amount of time they were in the same room . After all, we know that merely being with someone doesn’t mean that you absorb who they are or their ideas. Anyone who has taken piano lessons can tell you this.
If you’re going to try to pin down a supposed cause of something, you’re going to have to tell me what the effect is. In the case of Barack Obama, you will be hard pressed to isolate an effect that is identical with some bit of hate against the entire country.
So here’s the challenge to all the critics: find me some talk from Obama where he says that he absolutely hates America. If you cannot find more than a statement of dissatisfaction with America (and who hasn’t uttered that kind of statement?), then you will have failed in your goal to tie Obama to Wright’s inflammatory ideas. If you fail to do this, then you should admit that Wright’s comments are irrelevant to this presidential race.
If Wright’s negative teaching has not overtaken Obama, then you should regard him as a dunce who cannot learn from his teacher, or you should look at him as an intelligent critical man who disagreed with the negative messages.
I think we we can regard Obama as a student who has surpassed his teacher in wisdom and serenity. (Thanks to the Ship for putting it this way).
Update 3-19-2008 12:01 PM
Derrick Ashong writes:
Who can honestly argue that black America is not today contributing mightily to its own social, cultural and economic decline?
Who can honestly argue that white America has not been willfully blind and too often complicit in the injustices that continue to be visited upon people born with darker hue or stranger accent?
I think these are good questions. But they don’t seem to be sinking in. Why? I suspect most people in the middle between the Republicans and Democrats are still concerned with our foreign policy and those who hate America. The right-wing nut jobs are not going after Wright because he’s black–they’re going to try to peg him to the current enemy. And Obama’s opponents are trying to peg him to Wright.
Once again, they will need hard evidence that Obama has absorbed the anti-American sentiment that Wright (supposedly) has. But they will not be able to do this.
My point is that America has largely swept the problem of race under the rug. That’s because we’ve been battling other problems for now–namely Bush’s idiocy and asshole terrorists, such as Bin Laden.
I think most people are aware that racial problems exist. But I also think that people are also trying to figure out how to pay for groceries, to remember to take their kids to soccer practice, to stay on top of their daily lives.
It’s true–but unfortunate–we’ve neglected our racial problems. The dialogue now reopens.
-MC Spanky McGee