March 22, 2008

Perhaps the best take on the Obama/Wright controversy

From Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer:
"When Senator Obama's preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father -- Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer -- denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.

Every Sunday thousands of right wing white preachers (following in my father's footsteps) rail against America's sins from tens of thousands of pulpits. They tell us that America is complicit in the "murder of the unborn," has become "Sodom" by coddling gays, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They say, as my dad often did, that we are, "under the judgment of God." They call America evil and warn of immanent destruction. By comparison Obama's minister's shouted "controversial" comments were mild. All he said was that God should damn America for our racism and violence and that no one had ever used the N-word about Hillary Clinton."


Wasp Jerky said...

You should read Frank's Crazy For God, if you haven't already.

Bootleg Blogger said...

I think Schaeffer makes a great point. However, I think right now the country or at least the media and campaigns are hyper-racially sensitive. Somehow being labeled racist or making statements that reveal baggage in this area are political poison. I'd like to see Obama elected so I wish he could avoid this kind of controversy (I think this one) is going to haunt him.)

On the other hand, I'm pretty disgusted with the "Oh my God, person X associated with candidate Y said something "racist"". I've heard candidates state several times that this campaign "isn't about race". WTF???? We have a Black man close to being the democratic candidate for the president of the US and noone thinks anyone is thinking about race??? I understand that the candidates claim they don't want the discussion to center around race but the issues, etc.... but the next sound bite will be quoting how they are doing amongst Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics- anyone else see the joke?

I don't think I'm alone in feeling that there's alot of racial tension, attitudes under the surface, and personal baggage that everyone brings to the table. I don't like racially charged language at all, but rather than everyone, regardless of race, expecting a round of denials and condemnation statements from a candidate when something like this or Ferraro's comments surface, there needs to be some discussion of the points. This isn't the analogous to candidates and their associates having KKK or Aryan Nation ties, for crying out loud. These are the kinds of sentiments simmering all across the country. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't make it good- I just think a little perspective is in order. I guess it's ok to talk about whether a sitting governor likes it better on top or from behind but not the role race plays in our society.

No one I've heard has asked whether statements like Wright's or Ferraro's are true or not, they're just condemned for saying them at all.
Later- BB

betsy784 said...

Watch Rev. Jeremiah Wright's 9-11 sermon in context on Youtube

Jeremiah Wright's God Damn America in context on youtube

Streak said...

I am going to read that book soon, WJ.

BB, I agree that the pretense of avoiding racial issues is just that. But I am not sure that I understand your last point. Obama did a pretty good job of talking about what Ferraro said. Or perhaps I misunderstand you there.

Betsy, I certainly concede that Wright's comments have been taken out of context (to a certain extent). Perhaps you could say more about that.

Glenn Greenwald speaks on this controversy and points to unbelievably racist language coming from some of the right wing blogs:

One of Instapundit's favorite bloggers speaks on race - Glenn Greenwald - "What explains the media's Obama/Wright fixation while virtually ignoring McCain's embrace of people like Rod Parsley and John Hagee is the assumption that the controversial behavior of any one black person is easily attributed to black people generally, while white political leaders aren't held accountable for the views of others solely by virute of shared race. That dynamic is what explains this -- Tim Russert interviewing Barack Obama, January 22, 2006:

MR. RUSSERT: I want to talk a little bit about the language people are using in the politics now of 2006, and I refer you to some comments that Harry Belafonte made yesterday. He said that Homeland Security had become the new Gestapo. What do you think of that?"

Streak said...

Also, check out this discussion with Sarah Posner about this controversy. She points to the major difference between Wright and Hagee in that while Hagee is always seeking assimilation within the power structure, Wright comes from the tradition of rebelling against the power structure. Perhaps that explains the completely disjointed and ridiculous double standard in responding to them.

leighton said...

Schaeffer's headline is the best part of the whole piece.

I'll check out Sarah Posner's thread later today when I'm not busy, but my gut impression, before reading, is that people who are calling for the downfall of America so they can bilk votes from people in order to preserve the power structure aren't going to be as controversial as people who say precisely the same things but are calling for actual, literal changes in the power structure. It's differing subtext and context that does actually make the same words communicate very different messages.

steves said...

"On the other hand, I'm pretty disgusted with the "Oh my God, person X associated with candidate Y said something "racist""

I am pretty tired of this too. Obama never made these statements, nor did he say he agreed with them. I think they are legitimate topics of discussion and there should be questioning, but the continued hullabaloo is just ridiculous.

I think Obama has done a great job addressing race in a meaninful and intelligent manner. He is handling this like a leader should instead of ignoring it.

Bootleg Blogger said...

"But I am not sure that I understand your last point" I can't remember what I was thinking at the time, but I think my point was that the hypersensitivity to race issues doesn't allow a real discussion. If someone says that Obama wouldn't have risen as far as he has politically then they and their words are removed from the public forum and we see the news coverage of the dismissal before we even get a chance to see what was said. Is the influence of his race a legitimate discussion? Might it be meaningful to someone to talk about the impact being a person of color might have on someone OR the impact of not being a person of color (i.e. never been called a "N") If not, then please remove any commentator that mentions how anyone is doing with voters of a certain race. Fire the next person that refers to Bill Richardson as the "only Hispanic governor". These labels and issues are apparently fine as long as the right people are in charge of the discussion.

Again, lots of people say things that I don't like and even "offend" me, but that doesn't mean I think eliminating their voices is a good thing. I know Ferraro was punted for probably good reasons- the candidate didn't like what she said. I'm rambling now and certainly understand my comments are naive in the political sense. If you deviate from the package you're going to get the boot.

Everyone has prejudices. I get more nervous when someone is too squeaky clean publicly. It's nice for some NON-prepackaged opinions to surface and even some ugly public debate to ensue when it's about things that matter, especially the elephants in the room

Not sure if I clarified or muddied.

Streak said...

I think I understand. I certainly think that we often squelch a debate on what race means in this country. On the other hand, it seems to me that when someone like Farraro says something as patently stupid as she did (that a black man named Obama and with a middle name "Hussein" has a political advantage in this race) then it seems to me that a certain amount of ridicule is deserved.

If that makes sense.

leighton said...

I think it would be nice if we could ridicule anyone, in general, whose arguments are designed solely for sound-byte format (as opposed to just being careful about how each statement will look out of context). The only way to achieve any kind of reconciliation is through prolonged listening by people on both sides; this goal is not well served by commentators who do nothing but hop from issue to issue like grasshoppers on meth.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Streak- I'm not defending stupid comments. I do wonder sometimes if the term "racist" isn't used too quickly in some cases and not quickly enough in others. Of course, that's me talking.
Later- BB

Streak said...

BB, I completely agree. I think our political dialogue is pretty juvenile, actually. Obama's speech on race actually gives me hope.

Mary said...

It's only March, but i nominate leighton's "commentators who do nothing but hop from issue to issue like grasshoppers on meth." for comment of the year.