Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Race, religion, and hypocrisy

In a strange, but somewhat expected turn of events, Sen. Obama is set to address has addressed the nation regarding race relations tonight. Honestly, I have no idea what to expect in this speech, though he’s at least hinted that he will address some of the controversial statements made by his fiery preacher Jeremiah Wright regarding this country’s lingering history (and consequences) of social injustice. Hopefully this damage control will be adequate enough to dissipate some of the backlash Obama has been receiving during this presidential campaign. But I’m not holding my breath.

Similarly, I’m not counting on hypocritical right-wingers to turn the spotlight on themselves while they attempt to smear Obama for his association with Rev. Wright.

Week after week, hoards of GOP supporting, white ministers unleash heavy assaults on this country because of its “wrongdoing”. They preach of our impending 'Sodom and Gomorrah'-type doom for embracing homosexuals. They label the country as murderers for legalizing abortion. They preach that AIDS is God’s way of condemning this country for its ‘immoral’ sexual practices. Hell, even one of my old colleagues (conservative, if you didn’t already know) said that God allowed 9/11 to happen because the nation “turned our back” on Him. This sentiment, I should note, was also proclaimed by both Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell; two preeminent conservative ministers. Yeah -- thousands of people (whose only sin was to report to work that day) died because our country turned our back on God. Gotcha.

Despite all of these clearly inflammatory statements from white, conservative ministers; Rev. Wright’s messages are the most scrutinized. When Rev. Falwell died last year, I clearly recall conservative leaders, pundits, and average GOP subscribers conspicuously remembering him as a ‘great American’, a ‘man of God’, and a ‘prophetic leader’. But not ONCE did I hear anyone mention his hateful and ignorant statements. Not once did I hear any of the aforementioned fans of Falwell being asked to “reject or denouce” any of his anti-America statements.

In a scene from the movie “A Time To Kill”, Matthew McConaughey’s character gives his closing arguments in a racially-charged case involving Samuel L. Jackson (on trial for killing two men who raped and brutalized his young daughter). In the summation, McConaughey has the all-white jury imagine the gruesome details of the crime. At the end, he then asks them to imagine the victim being white. I’m challenging the GOP to do the same thing. I’m challenging conservatives RIGHT NOW to take all of the controversial, hateful, scornful messages being allowed to run free from evangelical pulpits and imagine those messages being delivered by Rev. Wright. All hell would break loose. Before he could say “Oops, my bad”, Wright would be crucified with old rusty nails. He’d be labeled un-American, un-patriotic, treasonous, and any number of other bullshit labels we use for people who don’t buy into the flag-waving, anthem singing, American pie eating duties to which we all apparently have to subscribe. White conservative ministers in the Bible Belt say this kind of stuff and they’re calling for the nation to repent. Wright does it and he’s number two on America’s Most Wanted list; only proceeded by Osama bin Laden.

I can only hope that enough people will wise up to this nonsense before the conservative media can capitalize too quickly. Likewise, I hope that Obama’s attempts at assuaging this situation (though he shouldn’t have to) will be successful. But, as I stated before, I’m not holding my breath.

While all this is going on, I can imagine how the Hillary camp is salivating. It's no secret that Hill has been pulling out all the stops to smear Obama; most predominantly using race as the stimulus. Their attempts to undermine Obama's campaign are only fueled by the virtual marriage they're in with right-wingers who devote every ounce of their being to also smear Obama. But I wonder what naughty little sermons can get dug up from some of these peoples' ministers. Would the onslaught cease at that point? I'm not so sure. But if I were Obama, I'd at least pose the question. What's the harm in that?


My illustrious blogging buddy has informed me that I'm late. Sen. Obama has already given his speech. Transcripts can be found here.

***UPDATE (Again!)***

The video of the speech has been posted on YouTube. Here it is:

H/T to Carmen over at All About Race for the video.


12 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

J. Alex said...

Preach Andre! But not too much. You don't want to hurt Obama's chances at the White House.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
I just watched the speech and I would give it a 9.5 Barack did a good job of addressing all the sides of the problem and offered a solution. Unity. It's hard for me to disagree with anything he said as I pretty much say some of the same things. Some black people will hear things they might not like and some white people will also. The good thing is; he's putting it all on the table and not dodging it. If I'm Barack, the second part of this discussion is going to be, "O.K. Hillary, I answered the hardest questions on the hardest subject out there.....how about you actually answering some of the ones we have about you?"

Andre said...

@ J. Alex: Funny!

@ HC: You just watched it...?! I thought it came on tonight! Sheesh. My game is slippin'.

I'll watch it later and chime in. Thanks for the heads up.

Andre said...

OK HC, so far I've only found snippets of Obama's speech. But DAYUM! This dude is BAAAAD! He nailed it. I'm curious to see how Hill and her right-wing cohorts (*snicker*) will respond.

Cynthia said...

Yep Andre. Not to rub it in, but you missed a great speech!

This election is so over.

Anonymous said...

Yes! There is always a double standard. Folks like Hannity and Elder have been salivating (literally, I tell you) just waiting for the right moment to spring these Wright clips on us. Well, they may have underestimated the electorate. Falwell said 9/11 was our fault, too. And Billy Graham had wildly anti-semitic conversations with Nixon. All of the extremes are stewed in our melting pot. And calling that out is one of the most stirring components of Obama's speech. You must see it all, from the beginning.

Andre said...

I still haven't found the a vid of the speech, but I read the transcripts. It confirmed everything I gathered from the isolated snippets on CNN. He drove this speech home.

As if I wasn't initially biased, I'm now especially convinced that this dude has what this country needs right now. There were a few things that made me scratch my head a bit, but -- by and large -- I think this speech will put him ahead of the other candidates. If not, it at least should.

I especially love this line:

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain.

Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely -- just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

Lord knows I had a loon as a pastor.

Megan said...

Great points you raised Andre. It's always infinitely easier for people to condemn others for who they listen to. Yet those same people fail to examine their OWN lives and the folks who have such a strong influence on them.

GA girl said...

I think this speech is why Sen. Obama could be the favorite for the election and why the other two candidates will have a hill to climb. The very holes they've been trying to dig are the ones they're falling in. I don't think that neither Clinton or McCain could've addressed the issue of race as honestly and inspiring as Obama did.

A pointed, honest look at race. Bravo.

What I noticed in the speech was that he was careful to address issues that most people run away from. I don't think Hillary or John have that same ability. That's why all the race-baiting and smearing will soon backfire.

GA girl said...

Thanks for posting this video. Sen. Obama OWNED this!

I wonder how Hillary and her GOP friends will spin this one.

Kenya said...

AMAZING, AMAZING speech! I love the balance that he has. He doesn't place racial reconcilation all on black people nor white people. Instead, unity is what he keeps eluding to.

I've read on blogs that blame everything on "Whitey" and blogs that blame everything on minorities. Finally a candidate who is willing to find the all important equilibrium. Go Obama!

KC said...

Maybe it's just your blog that's making me despise Hillary more, but I just read about her response to Obama's speech: "I haven't heard it..."


LOL! Hillary-ious!