Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama’s High Water Mark?

Reverend Jeremiah Wright was back in the news this weekend and Senator Barack Obama has found himself in a position he doesn't want to be in. On Monday he again defended the Reverend (he claims before he actually saw the comments). Then on Tuesday, he disowned Reverend Wright in very strong, personal language. I think this "break" with Reverend Wright has revealed the real Obama.

Many supporters early in the campaign labeled Obama as a candidate above politics, a candidate of "change". I was very critical of Obama's speech in Philadelphia. One quote from the speech regarding Obama's pastor of 20 years now really stands out. From an ABC News transcript:

"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me…but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street…"

I think this quote is an important insight into Sen. Obama. The focus at the time was how Sen. Obama was throwing his grandmother under the bus. How Obama was equating a few remarks made in the privacy of his grandmother's home, to the hateful rhetoric spewed from the pulpit at Obama's church in front of one of the largest congregations in Chicago. However, at the time, it was also a sign that Obama was willing to sacrifice his grandmother, the woman who loved and sacrificed so much for him, in order to win a few primaries.

Now, with Rev. Wright taking center stage this weekend, and Obama disowning him on Tuesday, the comments take on a new meaning. Obama could no more, "…disown him than [he could] the black community." How should supporters and critics view these two statements? I think the answer is very simple: Obama is a typical politician.He is not the messiah his supporters have made him out to be. He is a politician of the ilk we see in Washington and in movies. He is a politician willing to say anything and sacrifice anyone to get what he wants. Reverend Wright's comments this weekend were no different than the ones Obama was responding to in Philadelphia. However, the comments continue to plague the Obama campaign, and with Rev. Wright on the national stage, it became easy to disown him.

Sen. Obama should have said what he said on Tuesday back in Philadelphia. However, he didn't. Instead he has revealed himself as the power hungry politician his critics have accused him of being. Make no mistake; Reverend Wright will continue to be associated with Obama into the Democratic Convention in Colorado. If Obama is lucky enough to win the nomination, Reverend Wright will follow him all the way to Election Day. The Super delegates know this. They also know which of their candidates has won the big states and which hasn't. Will Reverend Wright give the Super delegates enough cover to nominate Hillary Clinton? Only time will tell.


Anonymous said...

If you (and the rest of the repubs and the media) had scrutinized the President of the United States as much as you scrutinize Barack Obama's pastor (who is not running for any office) we wouldn't have invaded Iraq--the worst foreign policy disaster in recent American history.

Barack Obama is the candidate. Not the media image or even the actual person of Jeremiah Wright.

But don't go listen to those of us who were right about Iraq. Go back and watch some more right-wing hand-selected YouTube clips of a pastor and a tradition you still don't understand. Then go comfortably back to supporting the real champions of civil rights, cross-ethnic dialog, mutual respect, care for the poor: the Republican party.

Andy D said...

First, we are winning Iraq by any realistic measurable standard you wish to invoke.

You are correct, Barack is the candidate. If you think the media image of Barack isn't part of his candidacy, then you are sadly mistaken. Every candidate runs on their image.

There is an old adage that goes something like "People are judged by the company they keep." It may not be fair, but it happens. Barack is going to be evaluated based on who he has chosen to be acquainted with in addition to his resume.

You can throw insults around all day long. You can try to defend Wright by saying those were selected clips (much like his appearances over the weekend). At the end of the day, Obama is still going to have to answer to the voters (and the Super delegates) about his bed fellows.

Anonymous said...

Andy: It may not be fair, but it happens.

Thanks, then, Andy, for adding your unfair associations to an already unfair and illogical conversation.

Andy D said...

Just because Obama has decided to associate with Rev. Wright doesn't in and of it self mean he agrees with Rev. Wright. I think you and your link would agree with that.

However, if you add to it that Obama has chosen to associate with Rev. Wright over the last 20 years and do so in a very close relationship, that Obama has sought out other individuals with very extremist view points, and you look at some of the quotes from both Obama and his wife, it starts to paint a troubling picture. Now add to that the fact that Obama spent a great deal of time defending Rev. Wright, and now has disowned him. I think there are many voters who are going to be troubled by this.

I don't like Obama or Hillary for policy reasons, but I think the entire Rev. Wright fiasco is going to continue to hound Obama during this election cycle however far in it Obama makes it.

the undercover centrist said...

Isn't this whole issue just an example of the how the media, the pollsters and spin doctors try to sand off any rough edge that a candidate has, to make them spout poll tested patter, to make them into inoffensive fluff that appeals to all major media markets? This is why the voters get to choose between two cardboard cutouts on election day without knowing how they think and how they will react. It also leaves us with leaders who are indebted to the donors and the spin doctors.
Obama's pastor and what he believes isn't the issue its what Obama stands for that is. If the voters elect him he will immediately be transformed from politician to international statesmen, a job pollsters can't help him with.

familyman said...

If his jewelry (flag pin) and his relationship with his pastor are the worst things about Obama that his political opponents are able to point to, then I'd say he's in pretty good shape.

familyman said...

Quote - "First, we are winning Iraq by any realistic measurable standard you wish to invoke."

Saying it over and over doesn't make it so.

From the beginning of the war until now, the administration has repeatedly lowered the bar for measuring victory and we still haven't reached the bar.

Andy D said...

To some extent the pollsters will help, but to a large extent, they won't. The story circulating right now is that Obama waited till Tuesday for his "disowning" because he wanted to see the results of some polling.

Family, the Reverend and the pin are just issues that make people question what the real Obama thinks. He doesn't really have a resume to go off of to get a clear picture.

As far as Iraq goes, how about bars the Democrats set up? We are meeting those too.

familyman said...

Andy. Rev. Wright has said that he thinks our government is capable of doing something as horrible as intentionally infecting the African-American community with the AIDS virus. Many people have ridiculed him for espousing this view.

Read this article about the The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment that was carried out by our government all the way until 1972!

Now think about it. And be honest.

If you were an African American who had lived during the years of that experiment. If you had served your country as a Marine for 6 years. And then in 1972 you find out that these horrible experiments were being carried out for the last 40 years, by the very government that you've sworn to give your life to protect.

How would you feel? Would you put anything past them after that? How big of a leap is it really from intentionally letting men die of Syphilis, letting them infect their wives and children, to intentionally infecting them with AIDS.

Put in that context how outrageous are his comments really?

Andy D said...


I am not going to defend the Tuskegee Experiment. However, it is a far cry from not giving treatment in men who already had a disease to see the effects vs. creating a virus specifically to kill an entire race of people. For Rev. Wright to accuse the government of this, and for you to try and justify it, is wrong.

Rev. Wrights comments are very wrong. There simply isn't any moral equivalence in this. If you think Rev. Wrights comments were justified, then what do you think of Obama now that he has disowned Rev. Wright.

Anonymous said...

...creating a virus specifically to kill an entire race of people.

White America has already been there, done that.

But you won't find that story running on a tape loop on Fox News...

familyman said...

Anonymous - Wow, there's a page in American history I was never taught.

Andy D said...

Smallpox was not created by White Americans. Sorry.

However, I am incredibly fascinated by the fact that you and Familyman are defending Rev. Wright. You have inspired me. I am going to write a new post just to explore the Rev Wright / HIV controversy in more detail. However, I have a question for both of you (and anyone else that wants to take it up):

Are you defending Rev. Wright because you believe the Federal Government really did create HIV / AIDS to kill black people? Or is there some other reason you want to defend him? Obama has tried to disown him, so if you are trying to defend Obama I would think there is a better angle of attack. And if you believe what Rev. Wright says, how do you view Obama now?

Thanks ahead of time for any answers to the above.

Anonymous said...

Andy I'm happy to respond to you about Wright. But first I'm curious about you: do you really look at the Tuskegee Experiment and the genocide of Native American nations, etc., and just shrug it off? Do you really just roll your eyes at non-white people (and white guys like me) who see a pattern here? ("Well, they didn't create the virus, see, they only intentionally spread it among people who had never been exposed to it, hoping that it would kill all of them--every one of their race. There's a big difference.")

There's an amazing early American painting I once saw titled "progress" that romantically portrayed a white-skinned, sword-bearing "angel" driving native americans, animals, and the forest itself westward to make way for "progress" (i.e. factories, white people, and cities). It made me physically ill. I can't really imagine what it means for dark skinned people to continue to live in the wake of that "angel's" path, the world that "angel" created for people like you and me. But I'm trying to imagine it with help from many thinkers, preachers, friends, coworkers, etc., who have a much deeper tan than I do.

And they are a lot more concerned about this stuff than you are.

When I see the prejudice, misunderstandings, and hostility they encounter on a daily basis when I am with them, I am reminded of how deep evil can run, and I appreciate the deep strain of anger and hunger for justice that I hear coming from people of color.

I of course know life is often fun, joyful, and rich for people of color, and that even "prejudice" can run in many different directions, but when the smallpox blankets and Tuskegee experiments of my day come along, I know whose side I want to be on.

Anonymous said...

Also, Andy, if you write about Wright and AIDS, I hope you'll spend some time reading some of the conspiracy theories out there about AIDS in the African American community. Spend some time reading a few web sites. You don't have to agree with them (I don't agree with most of it), but try to understand *why* people would believe some of the conspiracy theories. Why would some people find these awful things plausible?

I know that a long-ago high school report I wrote on the Gulf of Tonkin incident made me a lot more ready to believe that U.S. intelligence on Iraq was being cooked, distorted, and fabricated. Turns out, my conspiracy theory was correct. What "reports" have Af-Ams *lived* over the past few hundred years that you aren't very familiar with that makes some of them ready to believe conspiracy theories about AIDS?

Andy D said...

I don’t look at the Tuskegee Experiment or Native Americans and dismiss them. I recognize them as times where people within our country and within our government did the wrong thing. There are other examples, but I think these examples are of dark spots in our history and not evidence of the overall trend of our government, or the people within it. I haven’t said much about them in this discussion because I don’t believe they are the same as what Wright is accusing the government of. As bad as the examples you and Familyman site are, Rev. Wright alleges something much, much worse.

I guess I have a different view of America than you. That painting was indicative of how people here once felt, but not how most people feel today. Rev. Wright feels that most or all of white America are racists. I know that to be false just as I know other prominent African Americans such as Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, and Shelby Steele don’t agree with Rev. Wright. Rev. Wright hates America, and I think he probably hates white people. I don’t for one second think all or most Black Americans feel that way.

I also want to be on the right side. However, I don’t think someone as full of hate as Rev. Wright can possibly be on that side.

I look forward to your response.

familyman said...

It's amazing that a man like Wright who served 6 years as a Marine. Who was actually part of the medical team that took care of President Johnson can be called a unpatriotic America hater while George Bush and Dick Cheney who both did everything in their power to dodge military service can be called great Americans.

Anonymous said...

Andy, you should spend some time reading Wright's sermons and writings.

You'll find that he is a smart man who loves his country, loves Jesus, and hates injustice. And he actually loves white folks, some of whom are members of his church.

But, yes, sometimes he says goofy things. And sometimes he says angry things. I'd say Pat Robertson says at least as many angry things, and more than his share of goofy things.

As much as Jeremiah Wright has been quoted, I don't think he ever said, as Pat Robertson did, that the U.S. state department should be nuked. If that doesn't qualify for hating America, I don't know what does.

I'll get back to Wright. But just wanted to say you should actually read his stuff. And you should hold white right wing preachers to the same standards that you have for black left wing preachers.

Andy D said...

First, I have to say I hadn't expected this post to hit 20 comments...

Family, let's leave Bush / Chenny out of this, and focus on Wright. I am thankful of his service, but his service alone doesn't make him a patriot. I admire McCain's service, but I am still very critical of him as a Presidential Candidate.

There is an article about Rev. Wrights works out today. Mr. Kurtz read an entire year of the Wrights magazine and thinks the sound bites do reflect the man. He makes a pretty good argument.

If Pat Robertson was being serious when he said the State Department should be nuked, then he should be condemned as well.

However, you have dodged my question. I am still eager to see if you agree with Rev. Wright's comments about AIDS. I really am curious as to why you want to defend him so badly when Obama no longer will. And again, if you really agree with Rev. Wright, what are your thoughts on Obama now?

Mrs. Familyman said...

I know I said I wasn't going to chime in anymore, but here I go...

Andy - there was another thread on this topic where you and I *almost* had an actual dialogue going, but you backed off. You stated that you were thinking about writing a response to several questions that I posed, but to date, you haven't done so.

One of my points on that thread was that racial relations in the US could be moved forward significantly if Americans spent a little time walking a mile in each other's shoes instead of immediately taking offense everytime someone makes a politically incorrect comment that we disagree with. Taking a moment to understand WHY someone has the viewpoint they do would do more to resolve conflicts than taking the attitude, "I'm right and you're just plain wrong." At the end of it all, you don't have to agree, but an attempt at empathy would give us all a broader understanding of each other.

With respect to the Reverend Wright issue, I personally don't agree that the government created AIDS as an assault on black people. I haven't seen any evidence that this is true.

However, looking at this issue through the lens of empathy, the fact is that African-American experience includes the Tuskegee experiments. That's not a chapter of our history that the average suburban white person spends much time thinking about. But I'd be willing to bet that the black community does.

When I take a second to think about what it might be like to be a member of the African American community, I can understand how people might believe that our government is capable of something like that.

Many Americans already distrust the government because they believe we were lied to about the Iraq War. And that's an issue that has nothing to do with race.

I want to defend him because I believe he has a right to be distrustful and critical of the government. You can agree or disagree, but he still has that right. Just as every American does.

Obama didn't distance himself immediately because, as he said, he wanted to give Wright the benefit of the doubt.
He was forced to distance himself because Wright's comments at the NAACP and Press Club were mocking and derisive.

One of the planks of Obama's campaign is that he would work to bring people together - racially and politically. (Unlike Clinton, who in my opinion, is very polarizing) For Obama, he finally had to distance himself from Wright because he too was being polarizing with his latest round of commentary.

pack04 said...

I agree we do need to understand the other persons point of view. I tend to think that people think it should only work in one direction. The majority has to understand what it is like to be a minority. What about the other way around?

Example: Mr. Imus' remarks about the Rutger's womens basketball team? Or how about the reports and demands that Major League Baseball do something different because there are less than 10% African American's in baseball. There is no comment however about the lack of White Americans in the National Basketball Association. Which I would guess is much less than 10%.
Is the question ever asked why some white people resent black people? No. We are just told we are wrong for thinking that way.

Andy D said...

Welcome back to the fold. I am glad you have come back or been following along. You are correct. I still owe you a blog post. I wasn’t sure you were still reading. And thank you for responding. I was starting to worry that no one was going to tell me why they defended Rev. Wright.

I have never said Reverend Wright doesn’t have the right to say what he said. He has the right to say whatever he wants so long as he doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights in the process. I also admire that you have tried to look at this from his point of view.

However, I have been arguing against these statements based on the statements themselves. I don’t care what the color of the skin of someone making these accusations are. Whether Jeremiah Wright is white, black, Hispanic, or purple, if he makes an argument that I believe is just out and out wrong, I am going to call him on it. I think the accusation that the Federal Government created the HIV virus in order to try to commit genocide against the black race is absurd. As you said, he hasn’t offered a shred of evidence for this.

Perhaps I am being a cold hearted conservative, but if the argument is a bad argument, it doesn’t matter what the color of the skin of the person making the argument is.

Mrs. Familyman said...

I appreciate that you've given me credit for trying to see an issue from another person's perspective.

But perhaps I should have been more blunt.

Have YOU, Andy, tried to see this issue from the African American perspective?

I know that a conspiracy theory about AIDS sounds absurd. But you and I are both WHITE. We DON'T have the same perspective as someone from the African American community. Even though we both think he's wrong, I still argue that he has a right to be suspicious of the government. There is evidence of past wrong doings - and you can pick your example - Tuskegee, the Iraq war or... I could go on....

Please tell me you're not SO conservatively cold-hearted that you can't empathize with a fellow American - regardless of their skin color.

I'm making the argument that you CAN'T take the statements soley on the statments alone. There is most definitely a cultural context that plays into Wright's viewpoint.

Arguing against the statements based on the statements themselves is an over-simplification of the issue. One might even argue that it would be comparable to getting all your news ONLY from soundbites on the evening news...

And if you're going to write that other post... for the sake of the argument, I'd also like to hear how you define "patriot" and the difference between "anger" and "hatred."

Pack - I don't really think that keeping score is going to solve anything.

Andy D said...

I think I understand your point. And I can empathize with someone different from me. However, Wright has gone beyond simply being suspicious of the government. He is alleging that the government is actually trying to kill black Americans. He is stating it as fact, and he is preaching this to his flock. This is way beyond simply being suspicious.

Surely you understand the difference between being suspicious and saying that the government is actually doing this. We can't leave Wright's words unchallenged when you and I both feel he is wrong simply because he is black. I am really not comfortable with defending him simply because of his skin color. I think the legacy of Dr. King is that ideas and words should be considered on their merits not because a person of a particular color said them. If I accused Obama of something equally absurd, should you defend me simply because I am white and it is part of the "white experience"? No. If I say something absurd, I should be called on it, and that applies to anyone regardless of their sex, skin color, or religious background.

Andy D said...

Here is an article I found on The New Republic that touches on Rev. Wright. This article makes some very good points and I think ties into this discussion.

Mrs. Familyman said...

Wright isn't the only "crack-pot" espousing the idea about the link between AIDS and the government. I've seen a number of different studies with varying percentages that show a significant portion of the Af-Am community agrees with him.

I think it would be absurd to argue that the portion of black community that believes this is all because of Rev. Wright. Yes, he may be perpetuating an erroneous belief, but I argue that the belief existed in the community long before he addressed it from the pulpit.

So how do we solve this misconception?

Your approach is to completely dismiss any cultural context that contributes to it.

If you were having an argument with a friend, I hope that you wouldn't just stand up and scream "YOU'RE WRONG! YOU'RE WRONG! YOU'RE WRONG!"
A rational person would try to get to the bottom of the disagreement and try find some common ground.

Bill Moyers was on "Meet the Press" and the "Daily Show" this past week. He pointed out that voting since the Wright controversy has shown that voters saw through the flawed "guilt by association" argument.
He went on to say that of the hundreds of thousands of hours of preaching that Wright has done over the course of his ENTIRE career was unfairly distilled into a 20 second sound byte that was played over and over and over again.

You and I obviously don't agree with Wright on the AIDS issue. But do you really think that ONE 20 second sound byte of a 30+ year career gives an accurate and fair account of the totality of the views of one person?

Mrs. Familyman said...

Andy - please note that the link you provided was not to an article, as you state, but rather an opinion piece. There's a HUGE difference.

Personally I found it difficult read due to its ugly and inflammatory rhetoric such as:

"So much of the educated white people's love for Barack depends on educated white people's complete ignorance of and distance from the rest of us."

And this:
"Why do black people love Obama? In large part, it's because of the dark-skinned woman on his arm. Black people (especially black women) are nuts for Michelle. Had Barack married a white woman, his candidacy would've never gotten off the ground with black people."

After those gems, I couldn't really take seriously anything else the "article" had to say.

Andy D said...

Are we really going to get into the difference in the word "article" vs. "opinion piece"? I never hinted that it was factual reporting (it is from The New Republic). I only said that it tied into our discussion. As it is written by an African American who is not a supporter of Obama and does talk about Rev. Wright, I thought it lent to the discussion. Surely you would give this author the same benefit you are asking me to give Rev. Wright. I find your lack of empathy for this particular African American quite troubling.

In an argument with a friend I wouldn't scream at them. If they said something as silly as Rev. Wright, I would ask for evidence. As of this moment, I haven't seen any from Rev. Wright.

We are not talking about a disagreement of ideas. We are talking about an allegation that isn't true. It seems to me like the best way to solve this is to expose those who claim it to be true, and expose the problems with their arguments. I is probably not fair to distill any persons career down to 20 second sound bites. However, Rev. Wright and his church promoted these sermons on their website. They sold DVD's of the sermons. That makes me believe that both Rev. Wright and the Church fully support what is contained in them. I also cited an article earlier from someone who read a years worth of Rev. Wrights publications. Surely that is a fair representation of Rev. Wrights work.

Mrs. Familyman said...

I appreciate that you want to solve misunderstandings by exposing the facts.

I'll gladly show empathy for the author of the opinion piece if I can have a discussion or some context about how the author came to those opinions.

The Tuskegee Experiments are a fact.

Erroneous information was given for reasons for starting the Iraq war. Also a fact.

What facts are cited in the opinion piece that have led the author to his conclusions? What cultural context exists that might support these opinions?

I didn't see any.

Sorry, I don't read the New Republic.
I make an effort to gather information from sources that try harder not to be biased.

I would argue that an "article" usually implies that it contains factual information rather than opinion.
Go ahead and accuse me of splitting hairs, but if you're going to host a blog where people engage in written discussions, I would think that using precise language would be beneficial to you and your readers.

We ARE talking about a difference in ideas.
You believe his allegations aren't true.
However the conspiracy side of the argument is... if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck...

But you use the same line of reasoning when you assume that Obama thinks like Wright does on this and other issues.
Obama sat in the church. (walks like a duck) Obama closely associated himself with Wright over the years. (talks like a duck.)

Is that line of reasoning flawed or not?
You can't have it both ways.

You don't have any evidence that Obama believes as Wright does, (never mind believing what Obama actually SAYS - or is it that he's a politician so he must be lying?) just as Wright doesn't have any evidence to support his conspiracy theories.

I'd also point out that just because a congregation's pastor or leader espouses a certain idea, that doesn't mean that members of the congregation agree 100% , or will leave the church if they disagree. There are plenty of Catholics who practice birth control, go to church every Sunday and prove my point.

I don't see much relevance between Wright's ministry and Obama's campaign. (Or that of any other clergy person and his/her parishoner.)

Maybe you've heard of this one:." religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States".
If that sounds vaguely familiar its because its a direct quote from the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.

Now if Obama tries to put Wright on the ticket, THEN we can have a discussion about Obama's judgement. But I doubt that will happen.

Anonymous said...

Andy, there is now plenty of evidence that many high-up people in the Bush administration knew Iraq didn't have WMD when they were making the case for war.

When those of us on the left--and some on the right--called them on their lies before the war started, we were called traitors, patsies, weak, gullible, and *wrong*. There was "bullet-proof" and "rock-solid" evidence of WMD, they said.

I have yet to see you get upset about this lie, this misrepresentation, that has resulted in millions of refugees, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and trillions of dollars wasted, with no end in sight.

So, fine, critique one preacher who shares a conspiracy theory with many other people about a government that continues to produce deadly biological weapons.

But show some perspective, man. Wright's probably false theories make people suspicious of a government that held them as slaves and did deceitful medical experiments on them not so long ago. Bush's lies started a god-awful war. The bodies are literally in the street every day.

Now, if Wright were saying "the U.S. government created AIDS, therefore let's show those honkeys some shock and awe"--and people got ready to do it--then his distortions would rise to the level of the current occupant of the white house.

The point of this meander: Barack Obama has proved himself to be dependable truth teller, astonishingly so when compared to George W. Bush. If you're worried about deceitful conspiracy theories floating around the White House, you should aim your blog's ire at the current occupant. Then I might have more patience for parsing the sermons of a retired pastor in Chicago.

And I'm not sure you've answered Mrs. Familyman's challenge about thinking with empathy about why such theories would make sense to so many darker skinned folk in this country.

Andy D said...

Mrs. Familyman,

I really don’t care if you decide to read the New Republic article or not. I cited it because it tied into our discussion, and I am often accused of only looking at Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Here was an article that tied into our discussion that was on the opposite side of the political spectrum from Rush or Fox.

I think you might have misconception of the word article. I was going to leave this alone, but you pounded on it pretty hard in your last comment, according to Webster’s Dictionary, an article can be 1) a distinct part of a written document, 2) a nonfictional prose composition forming an independent part of a publication. I think the opinion piece I referenced yesterday qualifies as an article under either of these definitions.

I don’t think the line of reasoning is the same. Wright says that Federal Government has done bad things in the past, so I am going to make up this allegation. Obama has tied himself to Wright for the last 20 years, he has often listed him as a person who he respects and who he is very close too, he has named his book after a sermon given by the Rev., Wright married he and Michelle, and baptized both of their children. But my argument in this original post wasn’t how much the two of them have in common; it was how Obama is just another power hungry politician because he was willing to throw Rev. Wright under the bus when it became convenient.

I am not imposing any religious test on Obama. I haven’t referenced his religious beliefs once as a reason to vote for or against him. I dislike Obama purely based on his political beliefs. That is the exact reason a voter should vote against a candidate. Perhaps next time you should read my arguments a little more carefully before you accuse me of something.

Andy D said...


I really appreciate the time people put into writing comments on this blog. I know there are any number of ways you can spend your day, and am flattered that you take the time to post a comment on my site. However, I don’t think it helps our discussion when you bring in a topic that has nothing to do with this. You say “Bush Lied, People Died” is an excuse for the Rev. Wright to make false claims against the government. This doesn’t wash. I don’t know if you are the same anon that likes to reference misleading arguments on here, but this is definitely one. I have made numerous posts on here defending the decision to go to war, and our presence in Iraq. I am not going to further side track this discussion by repeating them here.

My original post was critical of Obama for breaking the mold of the “dependable truth teller”. Obama is the same class of politician we have always seen. He will do and say anything to get into the White House. As a politician, he is no better than Hillary Clinton.
I thought I did a good job of answering why I thought empathy was the wrong tactic in this case. An absurd allegation needs to be exposed for what it is: and absurd allegation. We don’t need someone alleging that our nation is acting like a communist regime when it isn’t happening and Rev. Wright has zero evidence to back it up.

I believe you still haven’t answered my questions: Why is it so important to defend Rev. Wright? Do you agree with him? Now that Obama has disowned him (something a few weeks ago Obama said he could no more do than disown the Black race), what do you think of Obama?

Anonymous said...

I [heart] Obama.

I disagree with Wright about where AIDS came from. But I think it is plausible that the U.S. government would use germ warfare against populations that they've already horribly abused. I included a link that showed that they've done that before.

I wholeheartedly and completely disagree with what the September 11th terrorists did, but I have learned a lot--and I really hope the CIA, etc is learning a lot this way, too--by thinking with empathy about why this makes sense to some people: spectacular mass murder via hijacked passenger airplane while reciting religious phrases.

For some reason, that made sense to the hijackers. And apparently to some other folks too. I learn a lot about the world (including how to discourage such behavior) by trying to "think with" such people for a while.

Even if you disagree with Wright wholeheartedly, you'd learn something by trying to think with him for a while.

I offer some defense for Rev. Wright, because I see racism and political opportunism in the accusations flying against him. Which is why I brought up the WMD "conspiracy theorist" in the White House, whose conspiracy theories, unlike Wright, have actually killed hundreds of thousands of people. I'm not saying you have to go off on a tangent about Iraq. But that should tell you part of why I defend Wright: because I think there is hypocrisy and double-standard going on here.

pack04 said...

Mrs. Familyman will you please scold anon for keeping score?
I guess you have not because it people are allowed to have a double standard when you are defending a minority.

At the request of people on this site I have taken a look at Rev. Wright's comments from his point of view, again. I see racism and political opportunism in his accusations. (Racism = prejudice and discrimination based on race [white people are doing this to black people because they are evil]). Political opportunism make the blacks rise up against the evil empire (the whites in the US) and make whites feel guilty about things done in the past.

I resent that you demand that be understanding to Rev. Wright when you are not understanding to my opinion of what Rev. Wright is trying to say and why he is saying it.

I know that is way off the topic of what the post should have been about...Sen. Obama who has claimed to be a different politician had resorted to the same type of political games he claims he is above. I don't really put much weight behind what Rev. Wright is saying. Just like I don't really put much weight behind the people out there who want to blow up the whole world to solve the problems. What I do care about is a politician who says he is better and different not actually being better or different than the rest. It is another strike against him and that is important to me because in the next election I will be voting for the person with the least strikes which is sad within itself.

Mrs. Familyman said...

Pack -

The underlying message that I get from your and Andy's arguments is that you either:

a) don't really think that improving race relations is worth anyone's effort


b) you don't think race relations need improving, they're just fine the way they are.

I really hope its not either of these.

When any relationship, whether it is a personal or a political one, is strained, it doesn't really help to just repeat over and over again, "you're wrong and I don't care why you think the way you do - you're just wrong. - "

If you have an argument with your spouse, do you try to solve it that way? Does it get you very far?

Another unhelpful attitude is: "You keep doing a bad thing to me, so its okay if I keep doing bad things to you." (Here I'm referring to your Imus and MLB examples- and what I meant by keeping score)
You can call that a double standard if you want, but it still doesn't make it right.

So if you're trying to convince someone who is already angry or upset that the facts don't support what they believe to be true, what's the best way to get them to REALLY listen to what you have to say?

You'd make a lot more progress if you started a discussion by saying, "I can see why you think that, but......."

But you have to actually mean it.

Mrs. Familyman said...

Here's the definition that I found on for the word "article"

1. a written composition in prose, usually nonfiction, on a specific topic, forming an independent part of a book or other publication, as a newspaper or magazine.

I tried to follow your link to the New Republic piece, but I had to wade through so much opinion and distasteful rhetoric that I didn't have the patience or the stomach to try to discern what specific points the piece made that you thought were tied into the discussion.

At the risk of having this devolve into the ever-effective "Is too!" "Is not!" kind of argument....

Wright has no evidence to support his theory about the Federal Government and AIDS.
(other than circumstancial evidence)

There isn't any evidence that Obama shares Wright's extremist views. (other than circumstancial evidence.)

That's where the line of reasoning IS the same.

That Obama shares Wright's views may not have been your argument in this post, but you and others have tried to surmise what views they have in common simply from their association.

As for your original point in this post -
I don't think Obama threw Wright under the bus, I would argue that it is the other way around. I think Wright had his feelings hurt and his ego bruised after his 20+ year career was unfairly distilled into inflamatory 15 second sound bytes that were played by the media over and over again. Wright did such a poor job of keeping his anger in check that when he addressed the Press Club and the NAACP, his comments were mocking and derisive. Obama had given him the benefit of the doubt until that point, but Wright blew it. And so came another round of press coverage. At that point Obama saw that Wright was more interested in lashing out than supporting one of the platforms of his campaign - bringing people together - so Obama was forced to break ties with Wright once and for all.

The "convenient" thing to do would have been for Obama to cut him loose at the very beginning - thus making a very different speech on race than he did. But that's not what happened. So the argument that Obama threw Wright "under the bus when it became convenient" doesn't wash.

Andy - you're absolultey right - You've haven't imposed any religious test on Obama.
At least not in this post. I was wrong there - sorry, my bad.

However, I do think there are plenty of Obama bashers whose reasoning goes something like this....
Wright's angry and/or crack-pot comments must be Obama's opinions too, since after all, Wright was his PASTOR.... and since Wright is his pastor, then their religious beliefs must be the same...

Since such a monstrous, enormous, epic deal is made out of what Wright - OBAMA'S PASTOR - his former RELIGIOUS ADVISOR believes, then it may not be so much a religious test, but it certainly feels like a religious pop-quiz.

Mrs. Familyman said...

Pack -
When you say,

"Just like I don't really put much weight behind the people out there who want to blow up the whole world to solve the problems."

Does that include Geo. W Bush???

just wondering.

Anonymous said...


If you have a quote in which Wright says that "white people are doing this to black people because they are evil" I'd like to see it.

If you don't have a quote, then I suggest, out of decency and for the love of truth, that you stop putting words into the man's mouth.

By my own admission, he's got enough doozies for us all. We don't have to go making them up.

Andy D said...

Wow, wait a day or two and there are a lot of comments to catch up on…
Anon, I don’t want to sound like I never try to look at the world from anothers point of view (“think with”). However, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but Wrights comments should be attacked for what they are: bold allegations with no proof. I won’t go off on the tangent here, but I am starting to smell that I need to write and remind everyone of some of the very valid reasons we went into Iraq.
Pack04, I think you touched on something Anon was also hinting at. There is definitely political opportunism going on here, on both sides of the isle. And that was the theme of my original post, and both you and Mrs. Family touched on it. Obama was doing the political move in severing ties with Wright (or throwing him under the bus). My point was the he said he wouldn’t and couldn’t. But when the polls said he needed to, he sure did.

Mrs. Familyman, I think race relations at this day and age are the best they have ever been. Can there be more done? Yes. But I don’t think Rev. Wright or Obama are a race issue. I think Rev. Wright hates America for a long list of reasons. Many of them are in his head. I have listed other prominent black figures who came from tough backgrounds, have become successful in today’s world, and don’t share Rev. Wrights crazy talk. I reject the notion that Rev. Wright represents the black experience in America. I think he represents a racist experience that really doesn’t want anything to do with America. Rev. Wright doesn’t invite others to examine his viewpoint and exchange ideas. He demands people listen to him and accept what he is saying as the truth, or they become part of the problem. He has said himself that if Obama were to be elected president, then Obama would be part of the problem from day one. That doesn’t sound like the words of someone who has any desire to look at things from anyone else’s point of view.
As far as the definition of article, I quoted a Webster’s dictionary. If you want I can give you a full reference of it. Your definition leaves open that an opinion piece can be considered an article. I didn’t take an offense to your remarks on this point until you questioned whether or not I was using precise language on my blog. I never said the article was a nonfiction work. I wanted others to read it because it was a piece, written by an African American, who was critical of Obama and Rev. Wright. With all the “think with” talk going on, I thought this fit very nicely into our discussion.

I don’t know that there is any circumstantial evidence to link the U.S. government to the creation of AIDS. I will agree with you that the evidence that suggests Obama shares Wrights views is circumstantial. There is a lot of it, but it is all circumstantial. However, on policy issues, I still oppose Obama. I understand your argument claiming that Obama didn’t really throw Wright under the bus. However, I didn’t see any real difference between the Wright statements that “outraged” Obama, and those that Obama defended. That’s why I think it was a political maneuver.

I appreciate your apology. I won’t impose a religious test on Obama. And if I opposed Obama because of Wright, it wouldn’t be because of Wrights religion, or because he was Obama’s pastor. It would be because of Wrights political rhetoric and Obama calling him his mentor. Obama has gone to great lengths, up until recently, to show that Wright had a huge influence on him. It just happens that he is his pastor. I haven’t seen any real religious test place on Obama yet.

However, I will grant you one exception to the above. I read news stories claiming that people won’t vote for Obama because he is Muslim. Obama has denied that time and time again. I think voting against Obama for that reason is a terrible reason. If that is the only reason you can think of, write me and I will give you plenty more.

Please, let’s drop the silly talk of Bush wanting to blow up the whole world. That is simply nonsense.

Mrs. Familyman said...

So here's my real beef with the article/opinion piece.
I quote you, "Here was an article that tied into our discussion that was on the opposite side of the political spectrum from Rush or Fox."

I've made a concious effort not to assume where you get your news from. Whether or not the main-stream media is liberal, or Fox is *really* "Fair and Balanced" is not what I really want to agrue about here. My guess is that it would be a completely different long discussion and a huge tangent to this issue.

You've probably already guessed that I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh, but nor do I listen to Air America.
The reason for that is because both of those are biased and opposite ends of the spectrum.

While my personal views are liberal-leaning, I'm constantly scrutinizing and seeking UNBIASED news coverage and analysis.(which by the way, can be a little tricky) I don't trust those venues that come right out and say that they lean one way or another to really give a clear and true picture. If I'm interested in diserning what the truth is, in this day and age of corporate-owned media, its imperative to think critically about the news coverage and opinion that is presented in any venue.

I have 2 kids and one VERY imporatant life lesson they've taught me is that the truth is usally somewhere in the middle.

So far, when I've followed links that you've supplied to support your arguments they've always appeared in conservative publications.

The article in question here came from a self-described conservative organization. To say that that opinion piece was from the opposite side of the spectrum is probably true. But is was so extreme as to be an ugly and inflamatory charicature of the other side of the argument. I just couldn't take it seriously. I guess I was wrong to expect that a piece that you purposely linked to that made "some good points" would be fair and reasonable in its approach.

Andy D said...

I don’t disagree with most of what you said in your latest comment, Mrs. Family. I have not concealed that I am a fan of both Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. I am also a fan of The Weekly Standard, Human Events, and Townhall. We can debate about Fox News all day, but I will concede all of the other groups I listed are conservative, or very conservative.

Like you, I try to get my news from a variety of places. If there is only one site I check in a day, it is Real Clear Politics. I think you would like that site. The post the best political writing each day, regardless of the way it leans. I have seen stuff defending and attacking the same issue posted the same day. Check it out for a week and you will probably be hooked.

In the list of comments for this post (which is now at 41, who knew?), I have linked to two articles. One talked about Rev. Wright and the Trumphet magazine. It was from the Weekly Standard, which is a conservative publication. The other one, the one I have been trying to get you to read the most and the one you reference is from The New Republic. The New Republic is definitely not a conservative publication. They are a left of center to liberal publication. Go to their website and just survey the headlines and see if you disagree with me or not.

I thought it was a very fair article. And it was written by a Hillary supporter , who is black, and who is attacking Obama. You can disagree with the piece all you want. However, I think Rev. Wright said many things much more ugly than anything written in the New Republic piece.

Mrs. Familyman said...

How is representing a view from the extreme opposite end of the spectrum to support your argument fair?

I agree with you about the New Republic. Its not considered to be a conservative publication. It still doesn't mean that the piece was fair or unbiased.

"You can disagree with the piece all you want. However, I think Rev. Wright said many things much more ugly than anything written in the New Republic piece."

So by that argument, two wrongs make a right?

I'm getting a little frustrated that you keep implying that I agree with or somehow endorse Wright's exremeist rhetoric.


But I really would like you to answer the question of how to address anger and hatred whether it comes from a controversial black pastor or extremist Islam.

Should we just "remove" all the angry and hateful people from the face of the earth, or should we just disassociate ourselves from them and not even TRY to solve misunderstandings?

What is your suggestion for a solution???

Denouncing it alone isn't going to solve it.

pack04 said...

I do not have a quote. I was trying to understand things from Rev. Wright's point of view. I was trying to understand the reason that he would say what he says. That is one of the reasons that I came up with. Notice the no quotation marks around the string of words...usually means not a quote.
Mrs. Familyman,
You have no ability nor interest in understanding another persons point of view or even accepting that somebody could listen to Rev. Wright's words with an open mind and try to understand his point of view and not agree with what you do about those same words. This discussion is pointless and I am out. And before you write back that me just leaving a discussion is no way to solve race relations I ask you, what and how are you trying to improve race relations? When somebody cracks a good Jewish joke at work don't you just laugh along...

Mrs. Familyman said...

Pack - I'm at least trying to use understanding and empathy to improve race relations.
I'd really like to hear your suggestions about solving the tensions either way.
If you think Imus was wronged, or that there's some reverse discrimination in Major League Sports,
how would you like to see that fixed?

What's the point of posting to an internet blog if you're just going to whine and complain?
I'm starting to spend a lot more time commenting here than I should - and it does take time out of my day. (Familyman is starting to wonder...)
By NO means would I call myself a political activist and nor am I patting myself on the back just for posting on our pal Andy's blog here. But if there's going to be a topic that reaches 40+ posts, wouldn't it be better if the commenters offered solutions rather than just complaining and bickering?

If I were you, I wouldn't presume to know how I'd react - how do you know I'm not Jewish?
Or haven't taken someone to task for making an offensive joke? Because I have.

So we disagree about whether Wright is a hateful racist, or just misguided and extremely angry.
We're both entitled to our opinions.

But is there any way to disarm hate, racism, and anger?

Because if posting to a blog is really only about complaining, bickering, and whining, then I'm out too.

Andy D said...

Mrs. Family, I was trying to use the article as proof I was right, I was simply adding it to the discussion. I wasn’t arguing two wrongs make a right, I was arguing that many of the things you asked me to do, the benefits you asked me to give to Rev. Wright should be applied to the author of the New Republic article.

You haven’t agreed with the text of Rev. Wright, only the fact that he got there. You don’t believe what he says is fact, but you ask me to believe he has a view that should be considered. I think the best way to combat hateful speech (whether from Rev. Wright, Al-Queda, the KKK, or whoever) is to expose the fault with the logic used in the hate speech. Expose the lies and half truths within the speech so it doesn’t get any real consideration. I am not talking about different positions on an issue, I am talking about people who warp and bend something for some twisted reason.

And by the way, I have rarely agreed with Familyman, but I have always respected him on here. I am sure he doesn’t have any problem with you spending time on my site .

Mrs. Familyman said...

The article certainly gives us the opinions, but not much background of the author. How old is he? Did he grow up in a rural or urban environment? How and much and/or what types of discrimination and has he faced in his life? This author has not had a media spotlight shone on his life and career, so we're both missing the context to try to understand how he may have come to those conclusions.
As far as Wright goes - I'm just asking you to consider the context, and so far, you've refused to - I assume because you think it isn't relevant. But none of us form our opinions and beliefs in a vacuum.

Wright and others in the Af-Am community believe in a conspiracy theory with respect to AIDS. By definition, a conspiracy theory is secretive - and therefore, there isn't evidence to support such claims.

So how do we get people to see reason?

I agree with you that exposing the truth is a way to discredit someone who is making a dishonest, misguided, hateful or unfair argument.
Exposing the truth will even partly help to diffuse anger and hate and it is a very logical approach.
However, anger and hate are emotions. Many times emotions, especially strong ones, overshadow logic.
So once you've addressed the logical component, how do you address the emotional one?

Familyman and I question the wisdom of spending so much time on discussions with people who have diametrically opposed views to our individual viewpoints. Which is not to say that we don't appreciate that you've made an effort to stick to a certain level of respect for those with differing opinions. Because we do. We probably wouldn't comment if that weren't the case.

We just wonder if its worth the time we put in - (and I'm sure this experience has been similar for you) because at times it really feels like we're all trying to nail jello to a fence or to get oil and water to mix.

Andy D said...

I enjoy spending so much time talking to people with a different point of view because I hope to change their mind.

It may not sound like it, but I do understand what you are trying to say. The problem is that you are on a very slippery slope. Is it fair for me to criticize Rev. Wright when I am obviously not an older Black man? I grew up with different experiences, and my life has been formed by different things. Do I have a leg to stand on when I say he is wrong with the things he says?

I have mentioned other black figures on here who grew up in much worse conditions than me, and new what real racism was. Does that make then better qualified to criticize Rev. Wright? They had a more similar experience, yet they don't accuse the U.S. government of creating AIDS. The slippery slope is when you require someone to have a similar background in order to criticize another figure. My brother and I both grew up in the same environment, but we also went to different colleges, so he and I have had different life experiences. Do we have the right to criticize each other even though we have had different experiences?

It is a slippery slope and so I prefer to criticize or agree with someone based on the content of what they say, and not the experience that led them there.

Andy D said...

Another point to consider, at what point do you put aside someones background and hold them accountable for what they said? There are terrorist that wish to kill us and have no desire to exchange any ideas with us. Is it better to expose the fallacy of their radical argument, and hope that it makes others see the lack of any humanity in their voice? Or should we consider the background of the terrorist and be sympathetic to his reasoning, even if we believe it is wrong?

I am not trying to equate Rev. Wright with terrorism, but at what point to you put aside a persons background, and simply react to the content of their ideas? Wouldn't the black leaders of the civil rights movement want us to examine the argument and not the color of the skin of the person making the argument?

Mrs. Familyman said...

The problem is that sometimes someone on the opposite side of the spectrum is trying to change your mind too.

You're right, it certainly doesn't sound like you understand what I'm trying to say.

Not once have I said that you have to have the same experience as someone else to be able to criticize what they say. So there's no slippery slope at all.

I'm not even suggesting that you should consider the color of someone's skin and or that it should somehow entitle them to extra consideration.

If a small child is attacked by a dog, I can understand when that child is afraid of dogs even as an adult. It doesn't mean that *I* personally had to be attacked by a dog to understand that point of view. Even though it didn't happen to me, I can understand how that experience could be extremely frightening and might have an effect on one's opinions about dogs in general.
Another child who is attacked by a dog may grow up to love dogs. Not everyone will be shaped by similar experiences in the same way.
(And I'm not trying to compare an attacking dog to anything...sheesh..)

We all have different life experiences that factor into how our opinions and beliefs are formed. To deny that or not even to consider it when dealing with people we disagree with is rather closed-minded.

Mrs. Familyman said...

The moment that angry/hateful/extremist (you can pick one) rhetoric should not be tolerated is when it translates into actions that harm others.

Its that whole argument about "your right to swing your arms ends at the tip of my nose"

In the course of 48+ posts I can say with certainty that you don't agree with Wright and in fact, find his rhetoric appalling. However, I don't see where he's rallied his congregation to attack government offices or take other action. Anon also made that point.

I think civil rights leaders would want us to accept each other's humanity as a factor in dealing with our differences.

Andy D said...

I don’t deny we all have different experiences. And I understand that Rev. Wright has heard / read/ seen different things in the past that might color his view. However, he seems to have no evidence to support his theory. I am calling him on that. You and Anon, seem to believe that I shouldn’t question or dispute his belief that the U.S. Government created AIDS to kill black people. What would you have me do different? In your point of view, how am I wrong?

Wright hasn’t called on any physical action by his congregation. I don’t know what his endgame is in alleging these atrocities by the U.S. Government. Wright has the right to say what he wants. But I and others like me have the same right to call him on it, don’t we? I believe what he is doing is hurtful because it breeds a resentment and distrust of our government. It was one thing to hate / dislike/ be angry at our government when it messes us. But why should we allow people to tar and feather our government for a wrong it didn’t commit? I think there is a real danger in being tolerant of that.

Mrs. Familyman said...

I don't deny that you're right to call him on claims that have no evidence to back them up, especially if they perpetuate misguided beliefs in his community. You have every right to dispute his beliefs.

But here's the huge problem I have:
When you (and others) are extremely quick to describe his views as "hateful" without giving any weight to the cultural context of how the belief came to be, then you're effectively slamming the door on reasoned discourse.

Once you characterize someone like Wright as hateful, and therefore, not worthy of having his opinions considered, (whether they're right, wrong, or misguided) then why should he and his community listen to your point of view (i.e., the truth)?
To dismiss Wright as hateful does nothing productive towards creating an atmosphere where the truth can come to light - all it does is breed more resentment.

You say that what he is doing is hurtful because it breeds resentment. The first step toward diffusing that resentment is to get a dialogue going - not just with Wright, but with the community that believes in the same conspiracy theories.
An atmosphere where no one is interested in having a reasoned dialogue is also hurtful, because it takes no steps toward solving misconceptions.

What would I have you do differently?
I might suggest that you apply your own definition of angry speech vs. hate-speech, and see which applies.

"Hate speech is a public expression of a perceived outrage that blinds the speaker to evidence of the contrary. This form of discourse is different from what some have called “angry speech” because it is repeated over and over, often in order to incite others to some action."

You say yourself "Wright hasn’t called on any physical action by his congregation."

So by your own definition, I just don't see how you can categorize it as hate-speech.

Extremely angry speech yes. Hate-speech, no.

For the record, I agree with your definition except that I would add " incite others into harmful or violent action."

If he HAD incited his congregation to harmful or violent action, then we'd be having an entirely different discussion.

We can debate all day whether or not Wright himself is interested in having a reasonable discourse. Neither of us can truly know for sure. But when you dismiss his point of view as hateful, (especially since it doesn't truly meet the criteria of hate-speech) then you alienate the entire community that shares his belief, because you've shown that *you* have no interest in a reasoned dialogue.

Andy D said...

I agree that it wouldn’t be productive to be perceived as ignoring his point of view if you are trying to convince people he is wrong. I am for having a reasoned dialogue on this, but I would open it with asking Rev. Wright, “You have made some very bold claims. What evidence would you point to in order to support these claims?” And try to keep the discussion civil from there. I think I have tried something to that affect here, if I haven’t, I apologize.

I didn’t limit myself to physical action in my definition. I think Wright’s call is to be mistrustful of our government, and to assume it is out to get black people. I think in an open dialogue like you suggest, this is a terrible call for “action” by him.

For the record, I would love to debate Rev. Wright in the forum of his choice. I don't think it is likely to happen though.

Mrs. Familyman said...

Andy - you might not believe me when I say this, but -
I really respect the pride, loyalty and love you have for our country. Your comments consistently show that this is part of the core of your being and you should be admired for it.

I'm sure that you find it extremely offensive that Wright is often quoted attacking America.

But please, please, please, don't let your feelings for our nation make you somewhat nearsighted.

Freedom of Speech guarantees that even crack-pots like Wright have the freedom to call whomever will listen to be mistrustful of the government.

There are plenty of people who have all sorts of reasons to be mistrustful of the government. A quick look at today's opinion polls will bear that out. I'm sure that there are plenty of Americans who are having discussions with their friends and neighbors who are also issuing a "call to be mistrustful of our government." The constitution says they have the freedom to do so. They may be right or wrong, have plenty of evidence, or none at all, but one of the great things about our nation is that they have the freedom to do so.

So here's the cross-post:
hate speech
speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

Is it hate-speech to accuse a person or group of being racist?

Its funny you should mention that - earlier today, I was thinking that you'd relish a one-on-one debate with Wright.

Andy D said...

This is officially now the most commented on post I have written. Who would have thunk it.

Thank you for the compliment about my feelings towards this country. I really do believe this is the "Greatest Nation on God's Green Earth."

I am sure one of the things that bothers me about Rev. Wright is his attacks on this country. I agree with you, he has the right to say these things. I have never once said he didn't. However, I have the right to call him on it, and to argue against what he has said with just as much passion and feeling as he argues with.

I don't think it should be considered "hate speech" to call someone a racists. You aren't attacking any of the classes you mentioned.You are attacking their opinion of another race.

Mrs. Familyman said...

Okay then -

That's why Wright's view - "The US government created AIDS to kill black people," doesn't meet the definition of hate speech.
His attack is not based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. His attack is based on historical instances (American Indians, slavery, Tuskegee experiments, segragation) where the US goverment has, in fact, had racist policies.

For me, this discussion stopped being about Obama and his relationship with Wright quite a long long time ago. - in the grand scheme of things there are much, much bigger issues underlying this whole discusion.

I'm more than a little uncomforatble when you suggest that anti-goverment ideas that "breed mistrust" are somehow "hurtful" or "harmful." Because when you start to believe that ideas are "hurtful," damaging or dangerous, you have taken the tiniest of baby steps down the path of censorship. That's what got people to start burning books, and worse.

Q: What's more dangerous than the ravings of one crack-pot pastor?

A: An American citizenry that never learned or refuses to think critically.

Given a chance, the truth will win. That's why its so important to foster an atmosphere where civil, reasoned dialogue can happen.

Andy D said...

Your last point is what I have been trying to get to in a round about way. I have been trying to look at Wright's comments in a critical way, not because of his race, but because of the comments.

I think communism is a very hurtful idea. The problem with allowing someone to attack the government, with no basis in fact, is that it does become hurtful. Wright is preaching to a group that as you point out is already wary of the government. The more criticism that he heaps on, without any support and without anyone calling him on it, makes his congregation more suspicious of the government.

Here is the problem, if you think your government is out to get you, when the chips are down you won't defend it. That means in a war, in a "war" of ideas, or even between political parties.

It is one thing to criticize the government for valid points (for example policies and practices). But to make up a reason whole cloth to criticize the government for can lead to very real problems. I don't think Wright should be censured. I do think he should be called on his faulty arguments.

As an aside, here is an article that I am interested to hear yours and anyone else's comments on.

Mrs. Familyman said...

When I look at Wright's comment critically, it can't be categorized as hate speech.

If there is a community that might believe the government is "out to get them", isn't it of utmost importance that others should be very careful not to categorize the comments of one of their leaders as "hate-speech" when its not?

And just so we're clear, if you look back over the 57+ comments, I never once said that you shouldn't call Wright on his comments. All along I've been trying to make the point (probably not very well- given the number of comments we're up to) that critical thinking goes both ways. Meaning that you are absolutely right to take a stand against someone who is perpetuating a false belief. But it goes the other way, in that, it is of no help to an already emotionally charged issue, to call his viewpoint hateful when its not.

"It is one thing to criticize the government for valid points (for example policies and practices). But to make up a reason whole cloth to criticize the government..."

But see, he's not exactly making up a reason. Slavery, segregation, Tuskeegee etc. aren't made up.
Yeah, he doesn't have proof, and his logic may certainly be flawed, but he's not pulling his accusation out of thin air. To suggest that he's making up a reason "whole cloth", is like telling the whole community that those historical instances of racist governmental policies never happened. And I can certainly see how that wouldn't win you any points. (and thereby wouldn't get people to listen to and accept your viewpoint.)

I didn't say anything about communism.

I was talking about censorship. If you believe that ideas are dangerous, putting Wright aside, do you think it is ever okay to put limits on people who speak out on issues you think are patently false or that "breed mistrust?"

"The problem with allowing someone to attack the government, with no basis in fact, is that it does become hurtful."

What do you mean by "allow?"

Do you trust the American citizenry to think critically?
Or has it been so "dumbed down" by pop culture and news sound bytes that its pretty much hopeless?

So you wouldn't tolerate ANY anti-government speech that appears to be untruthful?

And what happens if a particular anti-government viewpoint later turns out to be true?

I think you might need to create another post for that article. I haven't answered the most recent "interview post" yet, but still plan to get to it.

Andy D said...

I haven't forgotten about you. I think I am going to take this discussion into a Post and see what comments you and I get from others based on that.