*This blog is dedicated to T. "Fucking" T. and B.K.*
On the website of The New York Times today (or at least at 1 am today), one of the front page stories is about how the views of Rev. Wright has not affected voters' opinion of Sen. Obama. However, it has definitely affected my opinion of Obama, insofar that it has made me respect him less.
Most of Wright's opinions are opinions that I can agree with (with the exception of the more radical ones, especially that AIDS was a government conspiracy to kill Black people, mainly for the flaw that it affected the gay male community first, I also don't like his jabs at the Clintons). The buzz surrounding the statements made by Rev. Wright only demonstrates the ways in which racism is systematically ignored by the democrats. White liberals consistently want to push the agenda that racism ended with the civil rights movement because they don't want to believe that they could possibly be racist. Anything that implies that White America is racist causes White Americans to stutter "No I'm not", avoiding the problem rather than facing racism head on.
This is what makes figures like Wright so incendiary, they are not willing to support the idea that racism is over. I believe that this is the path that Obama is taking, indeed I think he is the trophy prize of White liberal America, a big sign that says: "WE CAN'T BE RACIST WE NOMINATED A BLACK GUY TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT!!!!" All the while ignoring how lower class black people are oppressed in our society. I feel that if Obama wins it will be because of his race rather than in spite of it. And I have mixed feelings about that, on the one hand it is high time to have a person of color in office (but the same can be said about a woman in office in the case of Hilary), but I don't think that someone should be voted in just for that reason alone. I also don't think that one person can be used as atonement for centuries of abuse.
I also think that by Obama ignoring Wright's statements about 9/11 will also be costly, because it just shows how much Americans are willing to ignore the truth. Terrorism does not happen in a vacuum. I am not trying to justify terrorism, but you cannot deny that the reason that they hate us is because we have fucked around with their government and stolen their natural resources. The events of 9/11 were a tragedy, and we need to honor those who died by ending the violence, not inciting more. I think that America would be the better country if instead of seeking vengeance, we sought peace.
By distancing himself from Wright, Obama is refusing to tackle the problems that he is in a unique position to tackle. Not only does he refuse to deal with race issues, he openly denies that they exist: "There is no white America," Barack Obama has said. "There is no black America. There is no Latino America. There is no Asian America. There is just the United States of America." At first I didn't understand the critique of Obama not being "black enough", but now I understand, he is just going to be the token for White America. The Black man who gets up and says "There is no racism problem in this country," and appease white guilt.
I don't necessarily like Rev. Wright's tactics insofar as I don't think you should use religion to counter a social problem, but that stems from my standpoint as an atheist, so I guess I am pretty unfairly biased in that regard. And I can't deny that religion is an effective way to get people to listen, I just don't like it. Moreover, Wright needs to stop being so aggressive in his tactics, at least in dealing with White America. The polemic is a person who rarely changes minds. However, I think it's time for America to stop being so shocked and offended and to start listening. Rather than dismiss Wright as a radical, actually look at what he is saying; sure some of it might be out there, but a lot of it is true.
All in all, however, this whole debacle has lead to probably the funniest thing in the world: Rush Limbaugh calling someone a "hatemonger".
For more info:
Obama Denounces Statements of His Pastor as 'Inflammatory' [NY Times]
In Poll, Obama Survives Furor, but Fall is the Test [NY Times]
Obama the Inevitable [Spiegel]
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