double standard? you bet…

Posted on Wednesday 30 April 2008

Parting With the Pastor: "But Mr. Obama is right when he says that his entire career is antithetical to the divisiveness of the Rev. Wright’s comments. We’ve found things to cheer and things to criticize about Mr. Obama during this long campaign, but we don’t see how anyone could question his commitment to transcending old racial battles and finding common ground. The Rev. Wright doesn’t speak for the candidate, and we hope the pastor doesn’t become a continuing excuse for political ads built on racial fears."
Mr. Obama and Rev. Wright: It was the most forthright repudiation of an out-of-control supporter that we can remember. We would like to say that it will finally take the racial charge out of this campaign. We’re not that naïve. It is an injustice, a legacy of the racist threads of this nation’s history, but prominent African-Americans are regularly called upon to explain or repudiate what other black Americans have to say, while white public figures are rarely, if ever, handed that burden. Senator John McCain has continued to embrace a prominent white supporter, Pastor John Hagee, whose bigotry matches that of Mr. Wright. Mr. McCain has not tried hard enough to stop a race-baiting commercial — complete with video of Mr. Wright — that is being run against Mr. Obama in North Carolina. If Mr. Obama is the Democratic presidential nominee, we fear that there will be many more such commercials. And Mr. Obama will have to repudiate Mr. Wright’s outbursts many more times. This country needs a healthy and open discussion of race. Mr. Obama’s repudiation of Mr. Wright is part of that. His opponents also have a responsibility — to repudiate the race-baiting and make sure it stops.
The Washington Post and New York Times both seem satisfied with Mr. Obama’s responses to Reverend Wright’s recent comments. I guess I was too, though I didn’t see Wright as so offensive as he played on the national stage. He still reminds me of the "spirit" that moved the world I grew up in away from being the shamefully aparthied South. But I don’t question the general reactions to  Reverend Wright. His time is past. Too bad he doesn’t know it.

But there’s a piece of this story that’s being ignored that really sticks with me. Without the intervention of a particular segment of the religious community [the "religious right"], George Bush would never have been elected in 2000. I doubt he would have beaten John Kerry either. The church "stumped" for George Bush on the national and the local level – unmercifully. And their statements were much more irrational and divisive than anything Reverend Wright ever said. Abortion, Stem Cell Research, Homosexuality, Gay Marriage, Pop Culture, Values Voters, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Louis Sheldon, James Dobson, Ted Haggard – the list goes on and on. And it’s still happening. Take a look at for the list of topics – many far more inflammatory and frankly crazy than Reverend Wright ever even imagined.

When I read, "How could Barak Obama have picked Reverend Wright as his pastor?" or that he didn’t "repudiate" him soon enough, it makes me furious. For eight years, we’ve heard nothing but venom and ranting from a very loud segment of the American religious community, saying outrageous things, and the Republican Candidates have basked in their support. When are the New York Times and Washington Post editorial writers going to notice the absurdity of this double standard?

Barak Obama is obviously a religious man with strong family values. Nobody talks about it much, but he’s a real turn the other cheek guy. He’s not much of a stone thrower. He seems to get the meaning of the Golden Rule. He lives by the part that was printed in red in the bible I grew up with. And now he’s being attacked for going to a church? Give us a break!

UPDATE: I hope Kathleen Reardon is right about this. It’s how I saw it, but I’m biased…

Was Barack Obama’s Response To Rev. Wright Persuasive? Yes. There was true pain on Barack Obama’s face today and in his gestures. He’d been burned and we’ve all been there. Fortunately for most of us it is a private experience. For Barack Obama, it was all too public. This is learning the hard way. But is there any other way to learn or be reminded how despicable politics can become? Is there any other way to learn that those who appear to be friends – especially in politics — often are not? We were reminded, too, by Obama’s shock and sadness over his former pastor’s recent speeches that competence is part of leadership, but only the entry cost. It is trial by fire that teaches us how to be strong and to endure pain personally and professionally…

    May 1, 2008 | 10:49 AM

    I may not have this historical fact exactly right but I think I remember reading about the boys gathered in Philadelphia for a Continental Congress and arguing over whether their meeting(s) should begin with Christian prayer. My recollection is they arrived at a compromise which properly de-emphasized the matter and left it as a private matter for individuals to decide for themselves. The founding fathers were full aware of the tyrannies of theocracy throughout European history, and consistently decided fundamental matters of how America would evolve recognizing the inarguable imperative for church business to remain separate from government business. Later, Theodore Roosevelt, a devout Christian agonized over the movement to emblazon the currency of the United States with “In God We Trust”. These are the types of Americans to whom we owe whatever residue of freedom the depraved frat boy and his cabal leave us with in November. My real point in commenting to Mickey’s post is that I applaud Senator Obama in his response to the Pastor Wright fiasco which serves as a shining example of why we must renew our collective understanding of the reasons that religion of any stripe has no particular business in the people’s business and that the country is better off having a Chief Executive who doesn’t hear voices except his own … who will likely go about his or her work drawing whatever internal sustenance they need from their own particular faith and to keep those matters where they belong – private. That said, I wouldn’t blame Senator Obama for kicking up his opponent’s own excresence up into their sanctimonious, self-aggrandizing faces.

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