Barack Obama's Pastor:
From The Wall Street Journal article:
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."
"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. . . ."
"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. . . ."
The author of the WSJ rightly estimates that:
Hearing Mr. Wright's venomous and paranoid denunciations of this country, the vast majority of Americans would walk out. Instead, Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle have presumably sat through numerous similar sermons by Mr. Wright.
This pastor has been present and valued by Obama in the last twenty years of his life. He did not think this kind of rhetoric and actions (visiting to anoint Gaddafi's hands, awarding an honour to Farrakhan) merits that he and his wife should walk away from that church, removing his young daughters from the influence of such shocking sentiments and lies.
It is highly disturbing.
The affectionate dignity of Cass Sunstein's endorsement, Marty Peretz's meticulous analysis-- I suppose people really want to believe it all.
But words are cheap and easy. Real leadership is about deeds. When all is said...
Senator Obama responds:
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.
Because these particular statements by Rev. Wright are so contrary to my own life and beliefs, a number of people have legitimately raised questions about the nature of my relationship with Rev. Wright and my membership in the church. Let me therefore provide some context.
As I have written about in my books, I first joined Trinity United Church of Christ nearly twenty years ago. I knew Rev. Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago. He also led a diverse congregation that was and still is a pillar of the South Side and the entire city of Chicago. It's a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS.
Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he's been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.
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.
[CC: 20 years of associating with the church and the guy, borrowing a book title from his words, and still, not a whiff of a notion where he was standing?]
When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign.
[CC: why just then? Why did he become sensitive at the very point when these statements were harmful to his ambitions?]
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.
[CC: So the awakening to the awareness that one's pastor was preaching hatred of America and Israel, and awarding special honours to antisemites were not enough motivation to withdraw one's support for that church? Did Senator Obama try, at least, to repair some of the damage done by those statements upon the receptive congregation? To counter those hateful messages by truth and positive speeches?]
Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.
[CC: Condemning them now is a bit self-serving, isn't it? Why now? Why not when he first heard them?]
With Rev. Wright's retirement and the ascension of my new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, III, Michelle and I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good. And while Rev. Wright's statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.
I don't know. It may be that he stayed with the church and kept quiet about it because his wife was attached to it. I can only recall her own statements about her reluctance to feel proud of her country, until now, and wonder whether her own attitude was not influenced and encouraged by the fiery homilies of the pastor?
Here is an interesting portrait of Michelle Obama
Update II: From ZioNation:
The will to believe is not absent. Already, the Wright relationship is being spun away by the true believers at The Nation, and the Wright remarks are being whitewashed and the whole problem is being blamed on right wingnuts:
Sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, otherwise known as Barack Obama's pastor, are circulating wildly around the internet the last 24 hours. They show Wright passionately denouncing racism against blacks in America, in sometimes sharp language, and pointing out the ills of American foreign policy pre-9/11. Fox News and the right-wing blogosphere are outraged, the mainstream media is eagerly amplifying the selected sermons and the Clinton campaign is delighting that Obama's Chicago ties are receiving serious scrutiny....
What Wright is saying, moreover, is not particularly radical. The legacy of racism in America--and its existence today--can't simply be ignored or washed away. As one of Wright's church members says of his sermons near the end of a highly skewed ABC News "investigation" into Obama's Chicago church, "I wouldn't call it radical. I'd call it being black in America."
That is not a parody. Accusing the US of starting the AIDS epidemic, according to The Nation, is just "being black in America," and so is "Goddamn America." ABC News, which brought Wright's comments to the mainstream, is part of the right wing blogosphere according to this spokesman for the black people of America, whose first name is Ari. That's right! The person who wrote this nonsense, pretending to speak for black America, is Jewish! Wouldn't it be wiser for black Americans to explain how they feel about America? Really?
You don't have to be a right wingnut to understand that the US didn't start the AIDS epidemic and is not at fault for the 9-11 attacks. You don't have to be a flag waving RNC member with an eagle on your lawn to be scared of a US presidential candidate whose spiritual mentor, an honored member of his campaign, said, "Goddamn America." That might be a good campaign slogan in Tehran. In Wichita, it won't work. Not even in Spokane or Portland.
Obama Attended Hate America Sermon
Having considered Wright a friend and mentor for two decades, Obama now often mentions that his pastor recently retired. Wright suggested to the New York Times last year that he and Obama might have to do something of a distancing act in the run up to the election.
"If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me," Wright was quoted by The New York Times. "I said it to Barack personally, and he said, ‘Yeah, that might have to happen.'"
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Friday, March 14, 2008