Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama and Wright, Part 3: The Short Version

Some people were not convinced by my previous two posts. I thought it might be helpful to simplify.

Here are things I believe:

1. Obama does not believe the hateful and/or ignorant things Wright said.

2. The nuts on the religious left are not currently as dangerous as the nuts on the religious right, because they do not have and never have had the same degree of power and influence. If Obama is elected, there is approximately a zero percent chance that he will do anything hateful or crazy because Wright said so.

3. Although I strongly disagree with Wright, I understand where's he's coming from. (Remember, to understand is not to condone.) He grew up in a country where white America really was out to get him and people like him. There really was segregation. There really were lynchings and all kinds of discrimination. The federal government really did purposely let blacks die of infectious diseases when he was growing up. Obama appears to understand and recognize this as well, which is why he says he's willing to look past it. That makes sense to me.

I thought one of the most surprising and interesting parts of the speech was when Obama made a parallel to angry blue-collar white men, who have the same kind of legitimate anger that Wright has but also the same kind of incorrect direction of that anger. I wish the media had picked up more on that angle.

4. All that said, it's not a deal-breaker for me that Obama chose Wright and stuck with him all these years.

5. Regarding the charge that I have a double standard, I wouldn't disqualify McCain for his cozying up to the religious right, either. That doesn't mean I like it, of course, any more than I like the fact that Obama is super-religious. But I think McCain, like Obama, doesn't believe in the hateful things that the religious leaders in their lives say. (Here's McCain's "spiritual guide," for the record.)

For those who are angry with me or just disagree, please be precise. Do you think Obama agrees with those awful and stupid things Wright has said? Or do you think that Obama's willingness to look past them should disqualify him from the presidency? If so, why? And would you hold every candidate up to that standard, from McCain to Joseph Lieberman? And what's the worst thing your spiritual leader has ever said?

23 comments:

Conservative Republican Anonymous Mom said...

I'm with you all the way. And I too was thought the parallels he made with white angst were very interesting and of course likely to be ignored in the sound bites. Who really did hear the entire speech, anyway? It was a kick-____ speech. The place I actually diverged from Obama in my own personal assessment of my life was when he said that our spiritual leaders say things that are objectionable and we tolerate that. Actually, right now, I have no spiritual leader that I really invest in because the ones who have led my congregations have disappointed me in different ways. I still attend synagogue, but I am always hoping to find a true spiritual leader that consistently inspires me. That said, I would not disown a Rabbi who had helped me in younger years become a strong person. I think those of us who lead complex lives understand that.

Random said...

Coming a bit late to this, but...

"1. Obama does not believe the hateful and/or ignorant things Wright said."

And nor does he apparently believe that they are not the sort of views you want in a mentor. I'm sorry, but this is not terribly comforting.

"2. The nuts on the religious left are not currently as dangerous as the nuts on the religious right, because they do not have and never have had the same degree of power and influence."

A situation which will change abruptly if we have a POTUS who regards one of the more poisonous examples of the breed as a "spiritual advisor".

"4. All that said, it's not a deal-breaker for me that Obama chose Wright and stuck with him all these years."

As you know(because I've said it here) I've always thought Obama was too callow to be president this time round, but I've also said he would make a fine VP and a strong candidate for president in 4 or 8 years. I'm not so sure anymore, this whole episode has been massively disillusioning. Obama was supposed to a genuinely new sort of politician, instead he's turning out to be just another Chicago machine politician with sleazy friends that he's comfortable about abandoning as soon as they get embarassing.

"But I think McCain, like Obama, doesn't believe in the hateful things that the religious leaders in their lives say. (Here's McCain's "spiritual guide," for the record.)"

Seeing as you're equating Parsley and Wright JA, could you please provide us with the evidence you must have that McCain has known Parsley for 20 years, regularly worshipped at his church, had him officiate at his marriage and baptise his children, please? Because McCain's people are saying he's only met Parsley once, about 3 weeks ago and has never attended one of his services (oh and he said Parsley was *a* spritual guide, not *his* spiritual guide). To me, McCain's ties to Parlsey look more like Obama's ties to Al Sharpton - something politicians occasionally have to do in a campaign season but not something that really tells us much about them. Obama has been too close to Wright for too long to allow this sort of defence.

Jewish Atheist said...

CRAM: (heh)

Thanks for the comment! I was trying to get at what you were saying about people who lead complex lives before, but you said it better.


Random:

I agree that Parsley isn't the best analogy. But there's also Robertson and Hagee, etc.

CyberKitten said...

Viewed from this side of the Atlantic Ocean the whole incident seems pretty much like a storm in a teacup... and not that big a storm actually.

I know that various politicians are trying to score points off Obama & it seems to me that this alone is the reason for all the heat surrounding the incident. I guess some people are seeing Obama as a real threat and are throwing as much dirt as they can (even if its virtual dirt) to see just how much they can get to stick. From Obama's apperence on TV last night I thought he's handling the whole thing very well - so far at least.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

I don't for a second think that Obama is racist nutjob like his pastor. I don't for a second think that Obama agrees with his pastors crazy rants.

But the bottom line is that Obama has been close with this guy for more than 20 years.

Why?

Politics. That's why. Wright leads one of the largest black churches in Illinois. His relationship was good for his political carer. But now that Obama aspires to higher office, Wright gets tossed aside.

It's not about seeing the good in people, while shutting out the bad.

Face it. Obama's just another politician.

Johnson said...

Eh, the problem is that Obama brought up the affirmative action issue, but offered no solutions outside of class warfare. Essentially, he made the point that we STILL have much to give to the African Community in the form of Great Society Part 2 (though it won't come in the form of welfare)

Obama also didn't disavow the Reverend's notion that AIDS is a US gov created program OR that the US is Al Qaeda.

The main message that I got out of it was that Obama is not going to do his job for the best interests of the country. He is going to try and create egalitarianism while attending to country business. I think it's a zero sum game.

Jewish Atheist said...

LWY:

Are you claiming that Obama's descriptions of being born again while listening to Wright were pure fabrications designed for his own political ends? If so, what do you base that on?

And Obama has courageously NOT thrown Wright aside, when that is what might have been most advantageous for him. He has disowned the statements without disowning the man.

Face it. Obama's just another politician.

So?


Johnson:

No doubt he's a liberal. That's okay by me, so am I. But this discussion isn't about whether he's a liberal or not, it's about his association with Wright.

Holy Hyrax said...

You got it all wrong. It's not that I am not convinced by your last post. I don't think Obama is a racist either. My problem with your post was your obvious double standard.

Had this been about republicans, you would not think twice before condemning them

Jewish Atheist said...

My problem with your post was your obvious double standard.

Is it obvious? I've criticized Robertson et al for their craziness and I've criticized Republicans for their craziness, but I don't recall criticizing a Republican for associating with people who are crazy, unless I thought that the association was evidence that the Republican in question himself was crazy.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Are you claiming that Obama's descriptions of being born again while listening to Wright were pure fabrications designed for his own political ends? If so, what do you base that on?

No, not at all. But he wasn't "born again" a few years ago. He's been a member of the church for a long time. He could have left a long time ago, but it was politically advantageous to stay.

And Obama has courageously NOT thrown Wright aside, when that is what might have been most advantageous for him. He has disowned the statements without disowning the man.

He hasn't disowned him but he has pushed him aside. IIIRC, Wright was supposed to deliver the invocation when Obama launched his bid, but was canceled at the last moment.


So?


Based on what I've been readind about Obama, he's supposed to tranced politics and all its cyncism.

Holy Hyrax said...

Pretty obvious to me, and you if you were honost, you would admit that you would not spend the amount of time psycho analyzing what, for example, Bush would be thinking by hanging with some Right wing extremists.

Jewish Atheist said...

LWY:

Based on what I've been readind about Obama, he's supposed to tranced politics and all its cyncism.

I'll settle for a step in the right direction.


HH:

Obviously, I'm not free of bias, although I do try. I mentioned in my post several reasons that I'm not as scared of, and that I can understand more, the religious left as compared to the religious right. Clearly I have an emotional investment in Obama. I've made no secret of my support of him.

Holy Hyrax said...

>I mentioned in my post several reasons that I'm not as scared of, and that I can understand more, the religious left as compared to the religious right.

Christopher Hitchens was once on Bill Maher. Bill asked Hitchens if the country should be afraid of the RR and he basically answered NO!. The RR are powerless, nobody takes them seriously, and the last thing they ever accomplished (prohabition) failed miserably.

Jewish Atheist said...

HH:

As I see it, the RR had a big influence on limitations on stem-cell research, abortions in many states, gay rights, and education. I can't think of any major influence the RL has had lately.

Holy Hyrax said...

I guess...if you define THOSE as a danger. I am assuming you are talking about gay marriage? Education?

Abortion? Are you talking about parental consent?

tommy said...

I'll respond to you on this thread, JA.

You provide evidence that Obama is connected to Wright, not that he agrees with the craziness. Your comment completely ignores my entire point that Obama takes the good and leaves the bad.

I believe Obama is tolerant of Wright's craziness (more than he is of his grandmother's fears or a shock jock's comments about "nappy-headed hos") and, if he doesn't share Wright's fanatical hatred of America, I think he does share, to a certain degree, Wright's lack of patriotism and his ethnocentrism. That's why he finds Wright's antics tolerable.

Did you read/hear the part of the speech when Obama talks about blue-collar whites and their feelings about affirmative action and stuff. I was thinking that you and the whole Sailer/2blowhards crowd might really be understood by a liberal politician for the first time with that, if you give him half a chance.

Empty words. How does Obama plan to end affirmative action?

Oh wait! It doesn't sound like he intends to do any such thing.

In fact, he plans on expanding its provisions.

Obama: All Things to All People...All the Time.

Johnson said...

We shouldn't say that Obama standing by his pastor now indicates his decency. Instead, why didn't Obama dump him in 2001, after his post 9/11 speech? If Obama was so patriotic and outraged by what the pastor said, how could he keep coming back?

I, personally, HATE what the pastor said. And I want Obama not just to disagree what he said, but to hate it. The problem is Obama sympathizes with the pastor and his viewpoint. That is inexcusable. Americans are looking for a president for the US, not a president for blacks, or a president for the poor.

Jewish Atheist said...

HH:

The RR opposes even civil unions, which remain illegal and/or unavailable in many states. I was referring to creationism/ID w/r/t education. Regarding abortion, it's practically impossible to get one in some states (e.g. North Dakota, if I recall correctly) due to the RR. And no, I don't think a 16-year-old should need her parents' consent for an abortion. What if they are fundamentalists?


tommy:

What makes you think he's unpatriotic?


Johnson:

Fair enough.

Theresa said...

If it was just his pastor that was saying such things, I wouldn't see it as such a problem. But his wife is also saying such things like "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,"

So, it sounds like Obama really does buy into this anti-America stuff.

Holy Hyrax said...

In the end, its all pretty subjective. I find the hate filled speech of these left wing pastors to be a far more dangerous thing than, ooooh, creationism (which, seems to be loosing track, I think). Anyways, this is not what I wanted to get into, but simply stating how you would bend over backwards to defend your own, when you would not dream to do it to others.

Orthoprax said...

JA,

"And no, I don't think a 16-year-old should need her parents' consent for an abortion."

So they can't get married but they can have an abortion. Interesting.

"What if they are fundamentalists?"

What if their daughter is only a child? Oh, wait...

Holy Hyrax said...

In california, there is a law that a minor has to have parents consent to to to a tanning salon

Theresa said...

In Illinois, I got carded trying to buy cleaning products......... You have to be 17.