“When you have a philosophy or a gospel, I don’t care whether it’s a religious gospel, a political gospel, an economic gospel or a social gospel…. if it’s not going to do something for you and me right here and right now…. to hell with that gospel! In the past, most of the religious gospels that you and I have heard have benefited only those who preach it. Most of the political gospels that you and I have heard have benefited only the politicians. The social gospels have benefited only the sociologists. You and I need something right now that’s going to benefit all of us. That’s going to change the community in which we live, not try to take us somewhere else. If we can’t live here, we never will live somewhere else.”
Barack Obama has a problem. The majority of those whom Hillary Clinton call “hard-working white people” don’t like him. They don’t trust him. But most importantly, during this Democratic primary process, it has translated into not voting for him. Ohio, Michigan, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana and West Virginia have so far rejected his “change” message. According to some exit polls, up to 40% of these card carrying Democratic Party “hard-working white people” state that they would not vote for him and stay home or vote for McCain, if he became the Democratic presidential nominee… (especially after he was caught making disparaging comments about their core beliefs in God, guns and illegal immigration during a private fundraiser in San Francisco). This is a serious problem for Obama. It’s not enough to garner the African-American and “white” yuppie liberal vote to secure the presidency. He needs a significant amount of votes from these “hard-working white people” to win.
So even after he made the choice to politically align himself with “white” America by first, turning his back on dissenting African-American voices, and second, by playing his “race card” to reassure “white peoples” that he was just like them… well the “white” half of him anyway… they still went about rejecting him in the Pennsylvania primary (as well as in Indiana and West Virginia). Therefore desperate situations require desperate measures. Like Bill Clinton in 1992 , Obama needed his own “Sister Souljah Moment”. It came once again in Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
On April 28th 2008, Rev. Wright gave a speech at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on “The African-American Religious Experience”. This speech touched on the three aspects of the prophetic theology of the Black Church: the theology of liberation; the theology of transformation and the theology of reconciliation. This is one of the most enlightening and poignant discourse on the historical African-American Christian experience I have ever read. There was no mention (or attack) on Barack Obama, nor his presidential campaign. However at the end of this speech, the moderator posed questions based primarily on his relationship with Barack Obama and the repetitious media looped, so-called “controversial, hate-filled, un-patriotic and anti-American comments” by Rev. Wright.
Rev. Wright, who was not making a political speech and therefore had no concern with appeasing any constituency, answered the questions posed to him honestly and truthfully. He said what he believed… he shared what he felt… with no attacks on Obama, although it was obvious that the moderator was attempting to bait him into doing so. But perception is more powerful than reality… especially when it comes to politics. Obama utilized this as his “Sister Souljah Moment” and went on the attack. The next day after Rev. Wright’s speech, Obama held a press conference where he denounced, not only the comments of his former pastor, but the man himself (read transcript). Obama stated, with feigned exasperation: “I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday.”
What… pray tell… so outraged Barack Obama about the comments of Rev. Wright? What in his speech on the African-American religious experience and how it led to the development of the prophetic theology of the Black Church, so outraged Barack Obama? Why did Rev. Wright’s honest and truthful responses to the questions posed to him, so outraged Barack Obama? According to Obama:
“But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century, when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced. And that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.”
Okay I see. Obama and “white” America are offended by the good Reverend’s “ridiculous propositions”. Regardless of the fact that a number of reputable scientists have questioned the origins and purpose of HIV and AIDS (see here for one reference). Regardless of the history of Europeans and early Americans purposely infecting Native Americans via smallpox virus laced blankets in an effort to eradicate them, as well as the fact of the American government’s involvement in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Regardless of the fact, that despite one’s opinion of Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, they have worked continuously against all odds to empower and enlighten African-Americans… and his call for the “Million Man March” was a historic and influential event in the history of those of African descent everywhere. Regardless of the fact that the American government have been implicated numerous times in the assassination of populist leaders at home and abroad… in Africa, Asia, the Middle-East, the Caribbean, South and Central America. Regardless of the fact that the American government has and still supports militarily and financially, regimes which deny their citizens basic human and democratic rights, as well as terrorize them into submission to ensure the profits American multinational corporations.
What I find most grievous is Obama’s “ridiculous propositions” that he had no idea that these were the opinions of his pastor. A man who was his pastor for over 20 years! The pastor who married him and baptized his children! He asserts angrily, like Peter when Jesus was about to be crucified: “I never knew the man!” What I also find disturbing is the silence of the so-called religious, social and political leaders in the Black community, which is not only a signal of their lack of support for Rev. Wright… but also a signal to “white” America that they can attack his character and motives. What I find most disgusting are the attacks by the so-called “progressive Black bloggers”! Are we all so blinded by our insatiable hunger to have a “Black” face in the “White” House that by proxy, we are willing to sell our own souls through Obama, to gain the world!? Brotherpeacemaker provided an excellent treatise on this point in his post entitled “God Damn The Black Community”.
There is one thing I do agree with Obama though, when he made this statement in regards to the speech and comments by Rev. Wright: “It is antithetical to our campaign. It is antithetical to what I am about. It is not what I think American stands for.” He is correct that their campaign is not about honesty and truth. He is correct that he is not about honesty and truth. He is correct that America does not stand for honesty and truth. We all know deep down, no matter how much we try to fool ourselves, no matter how deaf, dumb and blind we allow ourselves to be… that the campaign, Barack Obama and America are all about “political posturing” .
I do understand the unbridled and blind desire of those in the Black community, not only in America but also worldwide, to see Barack Obama succeed in his quest. Here’s the paradox to the whole issue for me. A part of me does also hope that he makes history and succeeds all the way to the presidency. If I lived in the U.S.A., I would vote for Barack Obama… because he is Black… and for no other reason! As I stated before, he is no better nor worse than Clinton or McCain. He is a politician. So I would vote for him. NOT for me, but for my son. Barack Obama, as a Black man who made it all the way to become the President of the United States of America, would be an example, an inspiration to those of African descent… to my son… that you could succeed in whatever goals you set out to achieve.
However as a Father, it would be my mission to teach and by example impart to my son, that in becoming a man and being a success in life, first and foremost, nothing… absolutely nothing… is worth achieving if you have to sell your soul to get it!