Sully says it’s our patriotic duty to accept Obama’s unbelievable claim that he did not know Jeremiah Wright was a nutty, black nationalist who hates America and is filled with resentment and venom, viz.:
Those who ask questions and seek answers about the influence of Wright are doing their democratic duty. It is equally Obama’s duty to answer them as candidly and respectfully and precisely as possible. But those who do not want to hear an answer that gives hope and reconciles our divisions are betraying themselves and this country’s potential. Reveling in cynicism and partisanship is the act of those who truly do not love America.
Sullivan, always driven by emotion, does not want us to look behind the curtain to see what the maddeningly vague Obama really believes. It simply defies reason that Jeremiah Wright’s sermon saying “God damn America” was out of character. Likewise, Wright’s blaming of America after 9/11 is not the kind of foray anyone in his position would undertake after a major national tragedy unless this were a perfectly familiar theme for the preacher and the congregation in question.
Obama’s preferred response is to say he condemns the offensive statements without saying what in particular he condemns, why he condemns these statements, and what he believes that is different. In particular, Obama never reconciles his racial healing generalities with the resentment-driven dogmas of black nationalism. He chose this nationalism by choosing this church, even though there are plenty of other left-leaning, mixed raced congregations in the well integrated Hyde Park neighborhood. Even if Obama can escape a major political cost by comparing his reverend to a “lovable old coot of an uncle who sometimes says offensive things,” we have to ask which parts of Wright’s message does Obama like? (After all, Protestant people switch churches all the time, and preachers, unlike uncles, are not blood relations.)
Did Obama join this church for cynical self-interested reasons because it was the way to get ahead in South Chicago black politics? Did his angry harpy of a wife drag him there? Did he feel obliged as a mulatto, whose loyalties are frequently questioned, to plant himself firmly in the black community through a black nationalist church membership, even though this meant hearing hateful characterizations of his white mother and white family members? Or did he endorse Wright’s radical view in his youth when his identity was less certain, only to reject large portions of this extremism later in life? And, if so, what aspects of the black nationalist program does he reject and what does he still accept? For someone running as a racial healer emphasizing a positive agenda of hope and national solidarity, there is simply no way easily to reconcile his choice of church and preacher with his broader political message.
As in affirmative action, the promise of racial healing Obama advances seems to require willful blindness to reality by whites. In the case of affirmative action, the huge differences between white and black qualifications for universities are suppressed and not well known outside of university admission departments. It is, of course, something people notice through experience, but one is not allowed to write about it or discuss it seriously. So the gap in ability and culture ends up being something of an “official lie.” Likewise, in the case of black religious feelings and experiences, whites are not supposed to mention the extent of hatred, resentment, and alienation that is fomented by hysterical black preachers every Sunday from the pulpit. We’re supposed to accept at face value claims that they believe in the same Christian values the rest of the society aspires to–values that emphasize humility before God, the example of Jesus Christ, individual moral responsibility, solidarity of the human race, and forgiveness–even though every Sunday folks at Jeremiah Wright’s churches hear a Marxist gospel where whites are essentially the devils and blacks are the elect.
Jeremiah Wright is one of many black preachers who adopted this style in the Seventies. It is a far cry from the traditional Christian language of hope and deliverance of early 20th Century black American churches, and it is also a gross deviation from the American rhetoric of equality and fair play that characterized the highly effective early civil rights movement.
If whites knew how much hate and resentment is common among significant sectors of black America–a hatred that whites saw a glimpse of in the real joy of otherwise successful American blacks after the O.J. Simpson verdict–Obama’s post-racial appeal would fizzle because whites would realize how rooted Obama is to that hateful reality. Folks who thought they were endorsing Sidney Poitier would recoil in fear when they discovered the “bait and switch”: the real product would turn out to be a clever, dishonest Al Sharpton figure with a better haircut. Whites would realize how much the Marxist undercurrents of the Sixties have poisoned race relations by inculcating hateful attitudes among blacks, even as white people have effectively abandoned the racist attitudes of yesteryear. The news about Wright is a big deal, because, unless Obama rejects him root and branch, whites would realize that Obama has promised nothing to whites and done nothing to distance himself from nut-jobs like Wright, and this could mean that he promises a great deal of harm to whites as a group. Of course, it will be “for our own good,” the necessary supplication for “healing.”