Friday, March 14, 2008

Senator Obama's "Hope"

Sen. Barack Obama has been campaigning on “Change”, “Hope”, and “Unity”. It would seem his long time Pastor, Mentor, and now political adviser believes in anything but that. Over the past few days, an assortment of Reverend Jeremiah Wrights sermons have become public knowledge. Many of the quotes from Reverend Wright are insulting, racist, and should have Sen. Obama supporters worried.

Reverend Wright and Barack Obama have a very long history together. The Obama’s began attending United Church of Christ in Chicago because of Rev. Wright. Reverend Wright officiated at their marriage, and baptized their kids. The title for Obama’s The Audacity of Hope is also the title of one of Rev. Wrights sermons. Barack Obama has listed Rev. Wright as a mentor and someone he bounces ideas off of from time to time. Recently, Rev. Wright has retired from the church to accept an advisory role in the Obama Campaign.

In Rev. Wright’s December 2007 Christmas sermon, he attacked Hillary Clinton for not being black, for not knowing what it was like to live as a black person, and because she, “…ain’t never been called a n-----r!” These were the Reverends words. He also said that President Clinton wasn’t good to black Americans. According to Rev. Wright, “Bill did us just like he did Monica Lewinsky! He was riding dirty!” These comments were greeted with cheers from the congregation.

There are now circulating plenty of hate filled quotes from Rev. Wright’s sermons. The ones that I find the most alarming are from 2003 and 2001. In 2003, Rev. Wright said, “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America? No, no, no! Not God bless America! God d—m America! It’s in the Bible – for killing innocent people! God d—m America for treating her citizens as less than human!” And in 2001 sermon, Rev Wright says that America deserved the attacks of September 11th. He emphasized this by saying, “America’s chickens are going home to roost.”

Barack has said in the past that Rev. Wright is like family and he doesn’t always agree with the things he says politically. That simply isn’t enough. If Barack Obama is going to be President, he must condemn many of these comments in the strongest terms. Are we ready to elect a President who might share any of these views? While I haven’t seen anything conclusively proving that Sen. Obama was in the crowd at any of these sermons, there is no reason to believe he wasn’t either. Sen. Obama has called this pastor a mentor. It is very easy to believe that Sen. Obama and his family were present at these sermons, or at the very least were familiar with the Reverends beliefs. With these comments, one starts to understand why Michelle Obama said she never been felt proud of our nation. If you believe the comments of Rev. Wright, why would she be proud?

Many people have said they support Sen Obama because he wants change. Is this the kind of change they are looking for? A President who may believe “God d—m America?” A President who may believe that America got what it deserved on September 11th?


familyman said...

Obama has come out with a statement strongly condemning the statements by Rev. Wright. And he says that Wright has never been his political adviser.

You can read his entire statement here - here

Anonymous said...

Obama has indeed strongly denounced these statements. But this white guy points out: Jeremiah Wright was speaking the truth, albeit provocatively. What exactly did he say that was not true?

Jeremiah Wright happens to be a well-respected pastor across many denominations. Some white people are apparently surprised to learn that God takes sides in an unfair fight, just like a parent who sees an older, stronger child beating up on a younger, weaker child. You'd be a fool or a scoundrel not to intervene on the weaker child's part.

Did God "damn" the Egyptians with the plagues for their practice of slavery in the book of Exodus? Whatever you call what happened to Egypt in Exodus, the story is clear: God doesn't like slavery or oppression. There is more to Christian theology than this one observation, but let's be clear: the Bible expects bad things to happen to nations that oppress the poor. Do a word search on "poor" in your Bible and let the truth set you free.

familyman said...

off topic - I wish the anonymous person (or people) would sign up on blogger. It would be really nice to know if these comments from "anonymous" are coming from one person or a bunch of different people.

Andy D said...

Family, I appreciate Obama condemning Rev. Wright's words. Most of the stories I have seen have said that Rev Wright was retiring to work on one of Obama's comities. He may not be a formal adviser, but he has been a mentor and adviser to Obama for many years.

And I agree. I wish Anon posters would get id's as well. However, I want everyone to feel as if they can comment here, so I still allow it.


There are a long list of things Rev. Wright said that arn't true. Are you saying that America deserved the attacks on Sept 11th? Are you saying that preachers should be telling their congregations to sing G-D America?

familyman said...

Too bad McCain won't do the same thing in regard to Pastor John Hagee. Instead McCain said that he's "very proud to have Pastor John Hagee's support."

familyman said...

Anonymous - Outside of the stories in the Bible when has God taken the side of the poor and oppressed in a fight? Has he taken the side of the Iraqi people fleeing their country by the millions or being killed in sectarian assassinations? Has he taken the side of the hundreds of thousands of women and children raped and mutilated and murdered in Darfur? The poor people in New Orleans that were devastated by Katrina? Poor and starving people dying of AIDS by the millions in Africa. The millions of people killed by the Soviet regime throughout the 20th century? The Holocaust victims from WW2? Women around the globe being forced into prostitution? Has he intervened to help children in Angola, Burma, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Liberia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda who have been forced to become soldiers? Did he help the countless people who were tortured and murdered in his name during the inquisitions? I could go on, but you get the point.

Anonymous said...

Again, Obmama strongly denounced these comments by his pastor. That's fine. But I think there are some valid points being made:

On God "blessing" America: God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.

I think it is an accurate reading of the Bible to say that if a country tries to play God and kills innocent people, then they should expect bad things to happen to them. They should certainly not expect God to be on their side. Some people call that "damning," like what happened to Egyptian slaveholders in the book of Exodus. So if any country, including America, does these things, then the biblical logic is obvious... I think there is more to say on this question theologically, but on this single point, Wright is correct.

On 9-11: Because the stuff we have done overseas has now brought right back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost.

Osama bin Laden was trained by the CIA to conduct terrorist acts against the Soviets in Afghanistan ("Stuff we have done overseas" example #1). After seeing the ongoing U.S. military occupation in Saudi Arabia in the wake of Bush Sr.'s invasion of Iraq, bin Laden turned against his bosses and began plotting the attacks of 9-11 ("Stuff we have done overseas" example #2). Osama bin Laden is a former CIA employee trained in terrorist activities who brought his training back to its home "to roost." That's not an opinion. That's a fact.

I of course think that what happened on 9-11 was evil and inexcusable. But we simply have to admit the truth: U.S. policies at least in part encouraged 9-11. Those are simply the facts of history.

But to answer Andy's questions precisely: no, I do not believe America "deserved" 9-11, and that's not what Wright was saying as I read him. I don't think a longtime schoolyard bully deserves to get shot in the face, but I also recognize that the bully shouldn't pretend to be innocent of all responsibility if somebody retaliates. And, no, I don't believe people should sing "God damn America," but that's not what Wright was saying either as I read him. He was saying that by Biblical logic, America is not blessed but damned by its bombing of innocent people, etc.

Andy D said...

Lots of comments, I will try to cover everyone here:

First, sorry I don't know the Pastor Hagee reference. If he said something as off the charts as Wright, I would expect him to condemn the comments as well. With as many other people as McCain as thrown under the bus, I can't imagine him being hesitant to throw someone else under there too.

Second, God gives us free will. That makes it hard to site a direct intervention. When things go good is it always God? When they go bad, is it always the Devil? The first thought that came to mind was the Civil War. I truly believe that God acted in the Unions cause, as well as the American cause during the Revolutionary war.

Third, Anon, it sounds a lot to me like you agree with Rev. Wright. Let's say for the sake of argument that you don't, and you are simply trying to explain these comments. I don't see America actively trying to kill innocent people. We do our best and go out of our way in combat to avoid civilian casualties. I think Rev. Wright is way off base on either his facts, or his theology.

Rev. Wright and others would like to blame 9-11 on our foreign policies. If we would simply leave the Middle East alone, terrorist would leave us alone. That is a bad assumption that hasn't once proven true. Bin Laden and others don't hate us because we have a Middle East foreign policy, they hate us because we are a big target that doesn't believe in their strain of Islam. It is that simple. If we were to leave Iraq today, and stop supporting Israel,Bin Laden and Ahmadenijad would still want us dead.

And no, Wright said point blank that we should sing G-D America. Period.

Kram said...

Great topic, Andy! To begin with, Senator Obama is only denouncing Rev. Wright because it is politically expediant to do so. If Obama has spent 20 years at the same church I believe its pretty safe to say that he subscribes to the vast majority of what Rev. Wright says based on two things. First, the reason most people go to church is for spiritual enlightenment and/or healing. If Senator Obama did not feel or believe he was getting his spiritual needs satisfied he would have left. Most spiritual satisfaction comes from the doctrine/theology being taught within the churches walls. Second, a lot of poeple go to church to satisfy an emotional void. Again, if this wasn't being satisfied in his church, Senator Obama would have left. People in a church acquire an emotional connection to their church leader, especially after 20 years.

Kram said...

...I forgot to add one more comment.

In Senator Obama's defense, I think all this trouble has come upon him due to....

....Global Warming!

familyman said...

Kram - Good point. The first one, not the Global Warming one :)

It wouldn't be the first time a politician said what was politically expedient.

Anonymous said...


I think your point goes to the heart of the matter. If God is on the side of that litany of the oppressed that you list, what kind of God is this? It obviously is not a Zeus-type of God, one divine warlord fighting against human warlords.

You may know that one of traditional Christianity's claims was that the God of the Bible is known most profoundly in weakness, in non-violence, in solidarity with the oppressed--the opposite place we often expect to see "God". And that that kind of weakness is the true place of power. One example would be MLK. Weakness, love, courage = true power.

One eloquent--if academic--account of this way of knowing is Jurgen Moltmann's The Crucified God. You could also look up "Liberation theology" and read around a bit too. Dorothy Day, St. Francis of Assisi, etc.

So this tradition would argue that God is on the side of all the people you listed. The "damning" question is this: where were God's supposed followers?

I'm not trying to convince you of anything. Just 'splainin how some of us see the world sometimes.

Kram said...

I read an article today that said this particular church is very important for those blacks interested in local politics. The impact of this is going to be very interesting.

Familyman, thanks for correcting my misspelling of expedient... I knew it didn't look right after I posted it! :)

pack04 said...

This is bothersome on 2 fronts:
one the religious front:
A pastor breaking the 2nd commandment of not taking the Lords name in vain is odd. I did see what he said and I can see how some might argue he did not really take His name in vain but it still is a little too close to breaking the Law on that one for me.

two the political front:
In America if somebody closely associated with you said "No, no, no! Not God bless America! God d—m America!" no matter what the context was it use to be a bad thing. I know there is the first amendment and that the quote might be out of context but through out our history if you said something even close to that or somebody associated with you said that you would be run out of town especially if you were running for office. No excuses. Out. Done. Ali took a lot of heat for saying less. Obama is running for president, an office that represents the United States of America and it is unacceptable that this seems to be getting a free pass or excuses made for it.
People complain about Bush being religious or Romney was going to have a hard time because of his religion. Obama is part of a church who's leader preached hate and taught how it was everybody else's fault his followers were so bad off. There is no difference between this pastor and a white man wearing a white sheet. I am saying it is BULL SHIT that Obama is even still in the hunt to be president. I do not care if he has good politics or speaks well he is associated with an outspoken racist and he seems to be okay with that.

Anonymous said...


George W. Bush has used God's name in vain many times, including his speech announcing the bombardment of Iraq in which he conflated Jesus Christ and the United States. I haven't heard you complain about that...

Anonymous said...

Obama just made a really interesting and strong speech on this today. The text is here.

Andy D said...

I saw the speech by Obama. It is a long speech and I hope to do an "annotated version" on here. I think there are many things in it that trouble me, and I think this speech, and Rev. Wright are going to cost Obama the nomination.

As an aside, can you site an example of when George W. took the Lord's name in vain?

pack04 said...

Enough with this. I am going to get right to the point here:
If John McCain had a person in his life that made public comments about how black people are the reason to blame for the country being where it is at now, what would happen?
Honestly tell me what would happen?
I am looking for a short answer. Do not mention the bible or Obama's speech or try and tell me it is not the same thing.

What would happen?

familyman said...

I think it was one of the best speeches I've heard in a long time.

Anonymous said...

Pack04: that's not a hypothetical question.

McCain's campaign bankrolled a racist, trash-talking, David-Duke-supporting wacko. Here's the story.

What happened? You tell me...

pack04 said...

I read the article well sort of. It was all over the place. Best I can tell it accuses McCain of paying a man, who is racist, "to provide political consulting services." He has not paid him to stand up and repeat hateful rhetoric. Yes the Obama campaign has not, as far as we know, paid Rev. Wright but I am sure Obama has given to the church an offering. The offering does go to a pastor's salary. So maybe I am splitting hairs with that but you are really stretching it telling me this man is doing the same thing as standing up and saying "black people are the reasons for all the problems." That is what I asked. What happens if some one does that?

Anonymous said...

Pack 04. Want something a little more "juicy" about McCain's campaign and racism? Here's more juice than you need!

Just click the video and let the truth make you free... er... sick.

pack04 said...

Jon Stewart makes me laugh.
Still did not answer my question. Nor did the video make me change my mind on asking you to answer my question. Nor did the video show somebody doing the same thing as Rev. Wright.
Since my question seems hard for you to answer let me tell you what I think will happen. There is a public out cry for an apology. When given that person is told that it is not good enough. Big Al and Mr. Jackson get a little face time on the TV demand a boycott of something until that person steps down. If the person that said it is part of some important group, say John McCain, Senator McCain would most likely have to stop running for president and probably would be pressured very hard to resign as Senator.

Anonymous said...

Rush Limbaugh to Barack Obama:

"Become white!"

Full quote: "renounce [being black], then! If it’s not something you want to be, if you didn’t decide it, renounce it, become white!"

Andy, I really can't relate to your judgement on this: Obama is the hate monger and Rush Limbaugh is the voice of reason?

Andy D said...

First, that isn't a full quote. It is part of a sentence.

Second, I don't see anything "hateful" in that statement.

Finally, whether or not Obama is a hate monger is independent of Rush Limbaugh. The question is: How much of Rev. Wright's comments does Obama agree with?

Anonymous said...

Andy, there are three sentence-ending punctuation marks in the quote copied from Rush Limbaugh's website. So that's at least clearly one sentence. We hardly need to argue over grammar, but, geez, do you have to contest everything, even when you're obviously wrong?

And *you* may not find anything hateful in telling a self-identified black man to "renounce your race! Become white!" But try a little experiment: take the MARTA to Five Points and shout that phrase at a fifteen or so black men waiting for the train or the bus. Then poll them to see if they think its hateful.

I'm sure you're right that they'd understand completely and think you're a great guy. But, you know, you could do this just to prove your point...

Anonymous said...

well, and I can't count. There were only *two* sentence-ending punctuation marks in Rush's love-poetry to black people.

Andy D said...

You are going to have to help me here Anon. I have been scouring Rush's site and I just can't find this quote. Can you provide a link to it, or at least a date he said it? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

What?! You haven't tried the experiment yet? C'mon, we both know that telling black people to "renounce your race! Become white!" isn't hate speech, right? Go ahead, and try it out on some black men in a black neighborhood. They'll recognize you as a friend, I'm sure.

Rush spoke those saucy words of love for black people, appropriately enough, right around Valentine's Day, 2007. I think it was February 13.

Saint said...

Full quote: "renounce [being black], then! If it’s not something you want to be, if you didn’t decide it, renounce it, become white!"

This maybe a sentance, but it is not a full quote. The very first word is lower case, indicating something came before it in the sentence. Secondly, the word THEN indicates that something that came previously has been ommited from printing, by error or choice.

I do not know this quote, nor do I care because I don't listen to Rush. However, I am familiar with people taking the "juiciest" parts of quotes and using them to prove a point. Most times, if you look at the whole quote, in context of the converstion, it makes the "juice" have a different meaning.

But, what does this have to do with the Rev? Were him and Rush having a debate? A good debate techinique has always been to blind your audience to the point. Make them look at this here, becuase you don't have an answer for that over there.

If we're going to throw smoke screens, what about the lie CBS (of all people) just caught Hillary in? Read an article in the AP where Clinton said she went to Bosnia and they had to disembark the aircraft and run to the cars with their heads down because of all the sniper fire. CBS has footages, and shows the party leaving the aircraft and walking casually to the car, even taking time to talk to a small child.

Anonymous said...

Saint wrote: I am familiar with people taking the "juiciest" parts of quotes and using them to prove a point. Most times, if you look at the whole quote, in context of the converstion, it makes the "juice" have a different meaning.

You write that because you listened to the entirety of Jeremiah Wright's sermons before you criticized him, right?


familyman said...

Andy, here is an excerpt from a huff Post article by Sam Stein that injects some level-headedness into this debate.
Last week, Dean Snyder, the senior minister at the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington D.C. -- which the Clintons famously attended while in the White House -- released a little noticed statement offering a sympathetic defense of the totality of Wright's work.

"The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an outstanding church leader whom I have heard speak a number of times," Snyder wrote. "He has served for decades as a profound voice for justice and inclusion in our society. To evaluate his dynamic ministry on the basis of two or three sound bites does a grave injustice to Dr. Wright, the members of his congregation, and the African-American church which has been the spiritual refuge of a people that has suffered from discrimination, disadvantage, and violence. Dr. Wright, a member of an integrated denomination, has been an agent of racial reconciliation while proclaiming perceptions and truths uncomfortable for some white people to hear. Those of us who are white Americans would do well to listen carefully to Dr. Wright rather than to use a few of his quotes to polarize."

Andy D said...

It's not taking one or two points from Rev. Wrights speeches. These are direct quotes from sermon's his church sells on DVD. You can go buy a copy of the sermons and watch them in the comfort of your home.

Dean Snyder, like everyone on this site, is welcome to his opinion. However, the remarks of Rev. Wright are racist. Rev. Wright is entitled to his opinion on whether or not the US deserved 911, and whether or not the US government intentionally created the AIDS virus to kill black men. However, when a Presidential candidate has this same individual as a mentor and refers to him as being like a member of the family, it should raise legitimate concerns. These concerns only intensify when you began to look at the actions of Barack and Michelle Obama. Barack has agreed enough with Rev. Wright to give his church around $27,000 over the last couple of years. I think voters have a right to be concerned about this.

Saint said...

Anon said "You write that because you listened to the entirety of Jeremiah Wright's sermons before you criticized him, right? "

1) Actually, no, becuase I didn't write this refering to Wright

2) I was critical of someone in my post, but at no point was it Wright.

3) You left two points unanswered. Why didn't you put the entire quote from Rush, and why did you even bring him up to start with?

Of course, I don't really expect you to answer either question, seems to be your sop.

Anonymous said...

Hey Saint: you've got a fair point there. You weren't criticizing Wright. I should have noticed that.

You asked why I brought up Limbaugh and why I didn't put Limbaugh's "full quote" up there...

I brought up Limbaugh because I think you can make a pretty good argument that the guy earns his living by speaking "hate speech." Andy and others fans of Limbaugh now seem to be shocked--just shocked!--that somebody else would say something strong, angry, and possibly hateful. They're asking "why didn't Obama leave the church?" I'm calling that bluff. If they want to be held accountable for everything that Rush Limbaugh says, then God help them...

I'll put more of the quote up if you like. I was just looking for an example of Rush's hate speech--and found some that was (quite relevantly) about *race* and specifically about *Obama.*

Unless Andy is right now trying Rush's words out on some black people, it looks like he agrees that Rush's speech is hate speech.

Anonymous said...

Andy, you asked way earlier about Bush using God's name in vain. Here's one example. From the article:

The statement of beliefs, called "Confessing Christ in a World of Violence,' criticizes Bush's use of scripture in a speech on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Bush described the hope offered by America by saying, "... the light shines in the darkness. And the darkness will not overcome it.'

These words, used in the Bible, apply only to Jesus Christ and no political leader has the right to "twist them into the service of war," the confession says.

The statement's assertions include the claim that Jesus Christ knows no national boundaries, that Christians should have a strong presumption against war and that Christians should exercise humility, which would temper political disagreements.