Filed under: Nobama, Uncategorized | Tags: 9/11, Black Church, freedom, moral values, Obama
Barack Obama, distancing himself from his twenty year pastor, gave a great speech — about race. Our interest, however, in the comments of Reverend Wright have nothing to do with race, nothing to do with how bitter, or how sweet, the experience of the black community has been in the United States, and how that experience might be used to excuse his teachings. Our interest has to do with the content of those teachings, not the context.
Barack says he repudiates the most extreme comments. On what grounds? To what, if not to America’s conduct, does Barack attribute the attacks of 9/11 if not to those mentioned by his pastor?
Knowing that, we can know better what he plans to do to prevent another, and another, and another attack, and how he plans to pay the enormous cost and the simple but exhausting inconvenience of continually defending ourselves against these attacks, of leaving no bag unattended, of leaving no shoe sole unscanned. That plan has nothing to do with Barack’s mixed racial background. It has nothing to do with “coming together.” We are already together, as far as the killing of us goes. What are our options, besides war? Tell us, Barack (and Hillary, and John).
Neither do the ‘problems’ in our schools, another point in his speech, have anything, any more, to do with race. In virtually every major city, the racial gap has been gradually diminishing, generally because the scores of white students have plummeted year by year to ever new lows, so that our industries that require high levels of skills must look elsewhere, in India and China among many, for the talent that is necessary to keep our tech economy going. The problems in our schools now have everything to do with what is being taught, and not taught, and learned and not learned; and what is his plan there?
Neither do the problems with health care, yet another point in his speech, have anything to do with race. They have to do with cost and quality, and we have not yet gotten to the dollars and cents of Barack’s health care plan.
Neither does race have anything to do with the enormous economic difficulties facing not only the United States but the entire world, as it stands now, and with today’s news now detailing the United Kingdom’s plunge into the abyss.
Neither do the problems with immigration have anything to do with race. Americans are not trying to close the border (or, for other Americans, trying to keep them open for labor) because those people crossing them are brown. We are struggling over the border because our country is barely hanging on to basic reproduction of the population, and falling well below it unless we count the higher birthrates of new immigrants, so industry needs the immigrants, but home grown labor smarts under the unfair competition, and the law-abiding and orderly middle class is troubled that we go to so much trouble to control who enters our country at airports, and apparently do everything but wave them through with a big white flag at the border. It doesn’t jive, and it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not about race. We’re not worried about racism anymore, we’re worried because we have lost our way about our purpose on earth. Black and white. Barack’s pastor has remarks on that subject. We would like to know their content. Perhaps they could even help. Certainly the African-American Church has preached with great moral authority on these issues in the past. Instead all we get are the sensational soundbites.
Barack’s beautiful speech takes us back to the 60’s. In those days, when we marched and sang together those thrilling songs about freedom, we meant only the freedom to participate in the public sphere without reference to race or gender. We thought it meant what Dr. King said it meant. The right to be judged on our actions. On our decisions. On our virtue. On our character. In that day the black community had elements of extraordinary moral quality. Many black churches, and one might believe Barack’s church today, until it is proven otherwise, were and are bastions of the old moral excellence.
But today the word freedom means many things, just like Bob Dylan once wrote, and some of those definitions are totally unacceptable to the family-oriented Muslim world, according to an enormous Gallup survey representing 1.3 Muslims from 40 countries (which we are not reading). They are unacceptable still to most Americans, too, from data given in that survey. But we let “special interests” high-jack that dream. We didn’t speak up the first time. (We didn’t know how much it could matter.)
That is why Barack’s speech leaves us with many unanswered questions about his church. There are many “christianities” now, some dark and ugly and far from Christ, preached every Sunday from tax-exempt pulpits. Which Christianity did he learn there? What does Barack’s pastor say about homosexuality? What does he preach about the African-American family? What does he teach about pornography? What does he say about divorce? What does Wright teach about abortion and the relentless pushing of contraception on black girls even in grade school–that it is, that it was from the beginning, Planned Parenthood’s secret racism posing as mercy? Where are “freedom’s” limits? According to the Gallup poll these issues are the deep and fundamental reasons behind the Muslim world’s murderous rage against us.
Apparently Barack’s pastor does not support gay marriage, if one report is true. Barack’s voting record does not completely follow his pastor’s teaching in those areas, if one media comment on his pastor’s failure to support the United Church of Christ’s resolution on same-sex marriage, and the exodus of many of the gay and lesbian faithful from his church, is accurate. Barack might have mentioned that in his defense. He might as well have gone ahead and said that he doesn’t agree with his pastor on the issues and that he attends church as many people do, for social reasons, for political reasons, for the pot-luck dinners. According to Barack’s race speech, he rejects unequivocally the religious notion that we ourselves, by our crazy sinful behavior in the last forty years could possibly have very much to do with the 9/11 attacks and with the attacks that are coming. How, then, are we to fight it, except with the war Barack rejects? That’s the discussion that counts. (Update in 2010: he just opened a different front in the same old war.)
It’s not about race. Maybe it used to be all about race, but those days are over, and the population that is voting for Barack Obama ought to prove it. It’s about the content of Barack’s pastor’s statements. They were not offensive because they came from a black preacher in a black church. They were offensive (beyond the obvious craziness and hyperbole and racism) because America wishes to deny the moral dimension of the global struggle in which we are engaged. It chooses to believe, or rather it is being led like sheep to believe, that this war is about “democracy,” about “freedom,” about the “role of women in society,” about “progress” about “technology”, when the Gallup poll of Muslims proves that those are not the issues on the table. Muslims want all those things. Muslims just don’t want what comes with it, when it comes from us. They want all that and their religion, too, not secularism. They want all that and virtue, not a bit different than Dr. King did. They do not want separation of church and state. We’re gonna make them.
But that discussion is the real taboo today. It has been made taboo by ‘special interests’ never mentioned in any debate. Virtue is the new N word.
We don’t honestly care if Barack Obama is black, or white, or that he came from a single parent home, or that he never had a chance to know his father, or that his grandmother was given to the occasional racial epithet. Whose grandmother wasn’t? His story is touching. It is not more touching, however, than the story of most Americans – the Americans of Native American background, the Americans whose families came from other lands and faced incredible hardships in assimilating into this new world. And Barack, who seems a fair man, would be the first to admit it. Those stories are all touching, but they have only marginal relation to the challenges we face now, when we have abandoned the moral principles that once made it possible for our nation to thrive. Barack had the opportunity to tell us where he stands on those issues, but he chose instead to play a dog-eared and tattered race card.
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