“[R]ace is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now,” saith the prophet, politely eliding the fact that he was only too happy to ignore it for 20 years when it was being belched at him from the pulpit in its most wretched form and then for another 13 months as a candidate until ABC dropped it on his plate and rubbed his face in it. Now, with his ass in a sling, suddenly it’s time for the great conversation. If any other politician tried a move this transparently cynical, to nudge the conversation away from his own craven tolerance of racial hatred to some sort of redemption narrative by which to hold that against him is to be, in effect, objectively anti-progress, the media would vivisect him. Instead, expect a full-body orgasm on “Hardball” tonight as the thrill in Chris Matthews’s leg spreads accordingly. Our commenters laughed at me the other day for calling him a spectacularly shrewd politician. How do you feel now?
Here’s a blank check to white racists to join the restrictive country club of their choice because, after all, they can no more disown white racism than they can the entire white community:
Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.
And there you have it. Gotta take the bitter with the sweet, unless you’re Trent Lott or Louis Farrakhan or John Hagee, whose sweeter parts are quite insufficient indeed as a salve to the bitter. Tom Maguire notes that not every black minister looks kindly upon the idea that “Trinity = black America,” which leaves us — where, exactly? Is Obama suggesting that he had to choose Trinity over a more traditionally Christian black church because of Wright’s racism, because without that he wouldn’t have “the full black experience”? Are the ministers who call Wright out of the mainstream “disowning the black community” by doing so? Maybe:
For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
Really? How about understanding its roots but not condemning it? That’s what Obama did for 20 years, implicitly lending himself to the cause of racial division — he finally admits early in the speech that he heard “remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church,” although these appear to be of a lesser grade somehow than the stuff that’s been airing on Fox — and only now with the presidency at stake has he awakened to the perniciousness of silence. Hitchens made a good point at Romney’s expense during the campaign when he noted how conveniently timed some of the Mormon church’s reversals on race have been over the years. If you want conveniently timed racial awakenings, brother, you got it.
Here’s my favorite line. After likening black grievances over racism to white grievances over the economy, which is the Messiah’s magical, transubstantiative way of turning a racial scandal into class warfare, Jesus finally makes a cameo. Does a man who swallowed hateful bilge for two decades out of political convenience really have the balls to lecture other people on the Golden Rule? Oh yes:
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
Unless, of course, your brother or sister designed the AIDS virus at the U.S. government’s behest.
All right, enough. Go read Shelby Steele’s take on Obama’s appeal, which (a) deals with race and (b) is critical of him, and is therefore (c) racist. Partisanship aside, as much as I loathe his politics, I always liked Obama the man and believed that his devotion to racial reconciliation was sincere. I don’t anymore. He exploited Trinity politically to establish his black “authenticity” and then demagogued Clinton for challenging his image as the post-racial candidate, and now the two have bumped up against each other so suddenly it’s time for a circle-squaring conversation that can really only end in electing him president. Typical politician, just a bit smarter than the rest. Shows you how naive I am that I’m surprised.
Update: “That’s akin to OJ saying we could just get past all this double-murder decapitation fuss if we just appoint him California Attorney General.”
Update: A question from Ace: Who’s the intended audience of this speech?