Monday, March 17, 2008

Who's Afraid of an Angry Black Man?

Almost two decades ago Barack Obama chose Trinity United Church of Christ and Jeremiah Wright. Lest anyone mistake this choice for racial passion, belonging to Wright’s church in the first place was part of establishing a bourgeois nationalist street cred. He was still proud of Jeremiah a year ago, warts and all. But last week he tossed the reverend overboard.

It's no surprise that Obama's attempt to stand everywhere means he ends up standing nowhere at all. Still, one would have expected a better show from him on behalf of his pastor. No, he didn't have to agree with everything Wright said, or perhaps even most of it. But the least he could have done was to validate the anger that prompted Wright's words. Let's face it, the anger of the excluded has played a big role in shaping the Democratic race this year. Edwards, the most progressive of the viable candidates, was unable to gain any traction largely because many of those who have felt excluded from the nation's political life were tired of the assumption that their standard bearer should be another white male. With the possibility of electing a woman or a black man in view, many voters have apparently decided that their hopes could be best realized by someone who presumably knows from experience what it's like to be treated badly because of one's sex or skin color. Of course, Hillary or Barack could have resolved this tension by moving emphatically left, but both have been magnetized by the center/right. Still, with Hillary at least we have someone who knows it's about fighting for something. Barack, by contrast, seems to view anger as a thing of the past. Brad Hicks and Jonathan David Farley both have interesting takes on this.

And just fyi, the reverend's statements about the World Trade Center attack that Barack has denounced are virtually the same as the views of Michael Eric Dyson, whose endorsement of Obama is glowingly featured on the Obama08 web site.

Ezra Klein and Josh Marshall, among others, have apparently accused the Clinton campaign of circulating to the media the video of the controversial pastor. They offer nothing to back up this accusation and eriposte at The Left Coaster rightfully calls the accusation a smear. Josh Marshall writes the following:
...the political relevance is to show Wright as angry black man; and to tie him to Obama...

Clinton's campaign and her surrogates have injected the subject of Obama's race into this campaign too many times now for it to be credible to believe that it is anything but a conscious strategy.
Let's review: Obama has belonged to his church for nearly twenty years and has called Wright his spiritual mentor. He even derived the central theme of his campaign from one of Wright's sermons. But it's the Clinton campaign trying to tie an "angry black man" to Obama?

Somebody please break it to Josh that the subject of race has been in this campaign since the day Obama announced he was in it. And in urging everyone to vote for this "historic campaign" Obama's operatives are actively injecting race into the campaign. And that shouldn't be a problem.

Isn't it strange that the only people who seem to have problems with the fact that Obama is a black man are the white people who support him?

Reverend Wright's anger didn't bother Alex Beam when he wrote a column about him in The Boston Globe at the end of January.
For obvious reasons, Obama has had to put some distance between himself and his pastor. But to his credit, he has not severed his ties with Wright, and there is no indication that he will. To her credit, Hillary Clinton, who paints herself as a church-attending, Chicago-area Christian Protestant when it suits her, has not dragged Wright and Trinity into her anti-Obama smear campaign. Yet.

Maybe Clinton is too smart to take on Wright, who possesses not only great rhetorical gifts but a ferocious sense of humor. Earlier this month, he addressed the Clinton-Obama battle head on, telling his congregation that many feel African-Americans should vote for Mrs. Clinton "because her husband was good to us." But "that's not true," Wright proclaimed. "He did the same thing to us that he did to Monica Lewinsky."
Beam apparently didn't get this information from the Clinton campaign and he quotes verbatim from the video sermon making the rounds last week. I guess Josh and Ezra missed it. Never mind that the NY Times wrote about some of his controversial statements almost a year ago. And never mind that the sermons of the Rev. Wright have been available online for more than a year. He's appeared as a guest on Hannity and Colmes program in March 2007 and they've been talking about him ever since.

with the professor

thanks to Alex for the link to Brad Hicks
and eriposte at The Left Coaster

3 comments:

Angelle said...

This controversy has literally been keeping me up at night. It disturbs me to my core that Reverend Wright is called anti-American because of his anti-white comments but anti-black white Americans are almost the equivolent of apple pie and red, white, and blue. Watching the "magnetic" Obama first address the issue on Anderson Cooper before his historic speech "inequivocally" reject Wright's words, I FINALLY saw where he stands; in the middle of everything in this strange safety zone where NO ONE else can truly join with him.
College students love Obama because he's as starry eyed and idealistic as they are, but what about students like me, ones raised with and deeply aware of "the anger and the bitterness of THOSE years" before our generation? I deal with the racial tension in my age group and the racist nuances in our society everyday where there is no middle ground, just trenches and tents pitched on opposite sides. And because of this cannot meet in Obama's middle that is not socially symmetrical. In this 80%:12% population I am waiting for an Angry Black Man equipped with Obama's intoxicating charm, that buzz word "change," and a real escape plan in this never ending race war. A man who can get in the White House with a list of political prisoners he plans to pardon, and one who can lead with more than the one emotion "hopeful." Many in generations before me have asked the question "In our lifetime?" and after this event I say no; not in their lifetime or mine.

red rabbit said...

Angelle,

As you've eloquently illustrated, standing in the middle is a weak position and difficult to respect.

Here's the thing. Barack could have told the truth, kept his ties to church and pastor completely intact, and been a very effective leader, if he'd been content to lead from the senate. He clearly has a problem owning up to his words and actions, so it would've been a win-win situation. He represents a deep blue state and with the Democrats poised to take more actual control of both houses, Barack could've made a huge difference on so many issues.

I often wonder why any person would want to clean up the mess that President Codpiece has made. Like the guy who follows the elephant in the parade, no matter how he accomplishes the task, he's bound to get some shit on his hands.

Angelle said...

Absolutely, and I can't understand why people are so eager to follow this person that exudes "perfection." I'd much rather see someone slip up and catch themselves outside of the White House as opposed to doing it in the Oval Office.
His speech was wonderful, and in terms of his addressing the big PR issue, the game he ran was lovely, I just wonder if it was enough.