Saturday, May 3, 2008


BY Terry Bankert 5/4/08 early edition
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THERE IS ONLY ONE AMERICA, WE STAND TOGETHER OR FALL ALONE. Barrack Obama says -“There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Aisan America-theres the United States of America, an America that fulfills Dr. Kings promise that we be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.”[b] The preachings of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright range from the repugnant to the revolting, but Barack Obama disinvited him from his campaign in March 2007.[a]

PASTORS INTRODUCE RACISM INTO THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN THE biggest news in the presidential campaign over the past 10 days was the unapologetic re-emergence of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose incendiary statements threatened serious harm to his former parishioner Barack Obama.[n] Following presidential hopeful Barack Obama's denouncement of his former and fiery minister, two local pastors expressed sorrow that race is still an issue making headlines. [f]Wright raised racism as his defense, so that makes it an issue. Wright is doubly wrong.[trb] “ For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness.[b at 203] "It pains me that this is 2008 and racism is what it is," said the Rev. James Kennedy, pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Flint. [f]

WRIGHT BACK IN SPOTLIGHT, ITS ALL ABOUT HIM Just as a Times/CBS News poll was finding that Democrats had become less certain about Obama’s nomination since his loss in Pennsylvania, Wright grabbed the spotlight again, suggesting that the United States was partly responsible for the 9/11 attacks, that AIDS was a government plot against minorities and that Obama was repudiating such remarks just to get votes. [n] "I heard someone on a radio program call in and say, 'I'm not upset with Obama, and I'm not even upset with Jeremiah Wright. What bothers me is that racism is alive and well.' And that's true." [f] "Race is still a factor," said the Rev. Lewis Randolph, pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Flint and president of Concerned Pastors for Social Action. [f]

THE USE OF RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL "People want to push things under the rug and not face them, but they're still there. Just the fact that some people are saying the country is not ready for a black man in the White House shows that racism is alive and well." [f]

RANTING ABOUT RACISM WILL NOT HELP WIN THE WHITE HOUSE Wright, the retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Obama attends, has been criticized for what Obama and others called "rants" regarding racism in the United States. [f]

IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME YOU MUST BE RACIST, SAYS WRIGHT Wright, in turn, has accused his critics of racism, saying that attacks on him are attacks on the black church. [f]

WRIGHT DOES NOT SPEAK FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY Wright's comments don't reflect the feelings of all black churches or pastors, Randolph said. [f] "He speaks for his congregation and his denomination, but to say that he speaks for the black church is too broad," he said. [f] IT WAS WRONG TO USE THOSE WORDS Randolph said he'd never use the same words or preach the same message as Wright, who in a sermon replaced "God Bless America" with "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human." [f]

BUT THEY CAN BE JUSTIFIED? But Randolph said he can understand the feelings behind the inflammatory words. [f]

LET ME TELL YOU HOW IT WAS. "I came through an era where whites and blacks used separate drinking fountains," Randolph said. "I went to an all black school. I've seen the KKK burn down the homes of blacks. [f] "With all I've experienced, I could be a bitter black man, but I don't preach a bitter message. Still, we've done some things in America that are an embarrassment before God. To say so doesn't mean someone's necessarily hateful, just that they're calling attention to things that are happening that ought not be happening." [f] OKAY

WRIGHT JUST WHY ARE YOU BITTER? Kennedy said that those who accuse Wright of being bitter might ask how he became that way. [f] "If he is bitter, it's not because he was born that way," he said. "I don't know everything he's gone through, but when you tie a dog to a tree and throw rocks at him, after a while, he gets so he wants to bite you." [f]

YES RACISM HAS EXISTED, WE HOPE TO SUPPORT A BLACK MAN TO PRESIDENT BECAUSE HE IS HE BEST MAN NOT AS A PLEA FOR FORGIVENESS FOR OUR PARENTS SINS. Kennedy's eyes filled with tears while recounting incidents of racism in his own life.[f] "I grew up on a farm in Mississippi, and my dad worked construction," Kennedy said. "In the 1950s, someone at work asked my dad what he thought about outlawing segregation in the schools. My dad said, 'I really don't care one way or another. I just want my kids to get an education.'" [f] For that mild comment, Kennedy's father lost his job, "and he couldn't buy a job after that," Kennedy said. [f] Kennedy, a Flint Central High School graduate, once applied for a skilled trades apprenticeship at General Motors, but was told "we don't have any skilled trade apprenticeships for 'coloreds.'" [f] He did get a job with the company, where he worked as hard but made less money than his white co-workers, he said. [f] Those and countless other racial slights could have tarnished Kennedy's attitude toward whites, "but I crossed another rung when I became a Christian," he said. "I don't think racism has a place in your mind when you're a Christian." [f]

ENDS JUSTIFY MEANS? Jeremiah Wright's career must involve much more than his controversial comments, "or else he wouldn't have a church of 8,000, including whites and Asians, in the congregation," Randolph said. [f]

RUFFLEING FEATHERS? IS IT OKAY EVEN IF STOPS A POSSIBLE NOMINEE? It's not unusual, he added, for pastors to ruffle feathers when they take on tough topics. [f]

WRIGHT HAS KNOWN FOR SOMETIME HE WOULD HAVE TO LEAVE THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN However, he appears to have been stung when Obama did just that. The disengagement began when Obama declared his candidacy in early 2007. Wright, invited to deliver an invocation at the event, was told the evening before that he was being stood down. According to Wright, Obama told him: “You can get kind of rough in the sermons. Rather than have you out front, we thought it would be best to not have you do the invocation.” [t] As he found himself edged out further, Wright directed his ire at Obama’s political adviser, David Axelrod, a white Chicago political operative. [t]

RUFFLED FEATHER OR A KILL SHOT? Some commentators blame Wright’s ego for the spiralling row. “It’s easy to hurt his feelings,” said Richard Sewell, one of Wright’s deacons. After all, he has just retired after 36 years as pastor to the Trinity United Church of Christ in inner-city Chicago, during which time his congregation exploded from 87 to nearly 10,000, making it the denomination’s largest. A much sought-after figure, loaded with honours, he remains one of the country’s most dynamic preachers. Proud of having served his country, he was suddenly being cast as an unpatriotic pariah. [t]

GENERATIONAL STRUGGLE IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY Others detect jealousy of his former protégé’s effortless rise. But at the heart of the estrangement lies a generational struggle in the black community. Whereas Obama exhorts Americans to heal their racial wounds and transcend their differences, Wright cannot forget them. [t]

INJUSTICE BASED CAREERS Like the Democratic activist Jesse Jackson, he repeatedly invokes perceived injustices. This can sound like paranoia – though Wright’s assertion of an HIV plot against blacks stems from the notorious Tuskegee medical experiment in 1932, when 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis were deliberately left without proper treatment. [t] “The whole generation that Rev Wright represents is expressing what they call a righteous anger, the anger from the failed promises of America,” said Dwight Hopkins, a professor at the University of Chicago divinity school. This plays to white fears of the angry black man and the economic competition he represents. But Wright does not focus exclusively on white America, according to Martin Marty, a retired professor of religious history: “He is very hard on his own people. He criticises them for their lack of fidelity in marriage, for black-on-black crime.” Wright, who is married to Ramah, has four daughters, a son and three grandchildren.[t]

JUSTIFICATION "You don't become popular when you speak out about these things because you're seen as stirring up trouble," he said. "A pastor has to be bold. You've got to take a stand for what you feel the Lord has to say. You've got to tell it like it is, and trust if people have been with you for a while, they'll know what you mean." [f]

IF HE KNEW HE WOULD HURT HIM WHY DID HE SPEAK OUT? Wright, a leading exponent of prophetic oratory in the style of Martin Luther King, predicted the schism with Obama a year ago. “If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me,” he told The New York Times. [t] Some expressed disappointment over Wright's remarks. Others, particularly at Trinity United Church of Christ, viewed Obama's decision to denounce Wright as a show of disrespect for the man who taught him how the power of Christianity could change lives.[c]

OBAMA SHOWED HIS PREIDENTIALNESS WITH HOW HE HANDLED THE CHILDISH IDIOTIC HARMFUL COMMENTS OF WRIGHT. The problem, Randolph said, is that too many people equate Obama's views with those of his former pastor. [f]

WHO IS WRIGHT ... Wright’s background was one of comparative privilege. [t] He was born in Philadelphia on September 22, 1941, the son of Jeremiah, who for 62 years was pastor at Grace Baptist church in Germantown, a racially mixed area of largely middle-class families. His mother, Mary, was the first black to teach at Germantown high. [t] Rather than attend the more racially mixed high school where his mother taught, Wright travelled a few miles to the elite Central high school. The student body was then 90% white and about three-quarters Jewish. Former students attest to the absence of racial tension. One of them, the black comedian Bill Cosby, said Central was “wonderful”. [t] School reports noted that Wright was “the epitome of what Central endeavours to imbue in its students”. In 1961, after two years at Virginia Union University, he was inspired by President John F Kennedy’s challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” [t] Waiving his student deferment, he left college and joined the Marine Corps as a private. As he pointed out last week, this was in stark contrast to Vice-President Dick Cheney, who in the same period received five deferments. [t] In 1963, after two years of service, Wright transferred to the US Navy to train as a cardiopulmonary technician. He was assigned to the medical team charged with the care of President Lyndon B Johnson after his surgery in 1966 and received three commendations before he left the next year. [t] Wright enrolled at Howard University in Washington DC, earning a master’s degree in English before studying at the University of Chicago divinity school. In his memoir Dreams from my Father, Obama painted an intriguing picture of Wright “dabbling with liquor, Islam and black nationalism in the Sixties” before his faith reasserted itself. [t] He became pastor at Trinity in 1972, quickly galvanising a small, demoralised congregation and bump-starting an outreach scheme that spawned 70 programmes targeting youth and the community. Under Wright, Trinity was a progressive church that welcomed gays and lesbians while embracing Aids sufferers at a time when many black churches shunned them.[t] In his autobiography Obama recalled their first meeting. Then a young community organiser waiting to go to Harvard Law School, Obama was contacting a number of ministers, but was struck by Wright’s apparent ability to hold together conflicting strains of the black experience. “ ‘We’ve got a lot of different personalities here,’ he told me. ‘Got the Africanist over here. The traditionalists over here. Once in a while I have to stick my hand in the pot – smooth things over before stuff gets ugly’.” [t] Fiery father figure putting a match to Barack’s dream[t] "Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright come from two different generations and experiences," Randolph said. "The message of Jeremiah Wright is not the message of Barack Obama." [f]

OBAMA JUST DID WHAT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. It should have been sufficient when Obama said he didn't agree with, but couldn't disown, his former pastor, Kennedy said, "but the media wouldn't let it go at that, so Obama had to distance himself. I think we need to let him do what he feels he has to do." [f] The Jeremiah Wright saga will eventually disappear, both pastors predicted.[f]

WE MUST WORK TOGETHER IN THE FUTURE OF FALL ALONE IF WE DWELL ON THE PAST. If only they could be sure the same were true of racism. [f] "I can't understand why we're still talking about the color of people's skin instead of what's in their hearts," Kennedy said. "Racism is a hideous sin, and I just can't wrap my mind around it." [f] It may be one of fate’s cruelties that Wright, who became a father figure to the fatherless Obama, could go down in history as the man whose incendiary rhetoric helped to prevent the young Democratic politician from becoming the first black president of the United States. [t]

Posted here by Terry Bankert ...
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[t] Timesonline [C] CHICAGO Tribune,0,1922890.story
[b] Barack Obamas book The Audacity of Hoper 2006
[n] The New York Times
[a] Arizona Republic
[f] The Flint journal
[TRB] Comments Of Terry bankert to include the CAP headlines 53002/13500

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