After having given some air time to my religious voice, here and here, time for my political voice to be given the floor.
My main point in those was to say that reading through the blog reaction, pro-Obama, pro-Clinton, right/left, whatever and all white voices I haven’t come across one commentator whose actually considered it even possible Wright was actually doing what he said he was out to do–defend the black church tradition which he feels is being unjustly attacked.
Even church-goers and faithful people (like A.Sullivan) fall into this trap. To me that is very telling.
Not to say there can’t be and aren’t multiple motivations going on–some personal for Wright–who knows what lurks in the hearts of men. But it’s not even contemplated by any of the white authors I’ve come across that he meant what he said–he felt the tradition of his parents and grandparents was being attacked and as a minister he is responsible and answerable to God and to the defense of the gospel.
So now a bunch of these voices (Sullivan, The New Republic, and here’s one on the HuffPost saying Obama can have his Sister Souljah moment), saying this is Obama’s perfect opportunity to disown Wright.
I guess Obama would be looking for a new church.
With the same gulf I notice in the analysis of the speech, I have a hard time seeing Obama do something like this. Because these writers miss the central argument–which I guarantee was heard in enough influential black outlets–to disown Wright would be interpreted I think by extension as disowning of the black church and more largely black culture, the very thing Obama said he could not do in his race speech. Stepping on a revered (in those circles) black pastor so he can court favor with whites and gain political power.
He may be forced into some such speech, I won’t close the door on that one, but he would take a hit in the black community. It might be equalized or even acceded by other gains, but it would further erode Obama’s image as a different kind of politician.
My political voice will now yell at Pastor Wright (he’s been waiting to get this one out):
SOB–why the f–k couldn’t you have waited until after the Indiana primary? Keep your damn mouth shut about your screw ball conspiracy theories for Christ’s sake. Way to @##$ it up mother father.
Ok. That’s better.
I actually have no problem with Wright saying he says what he says because he’s a pastor and Obama says what he says because he’s a politician. That could be spun to mean Obama is calculating and only saying what he says to get elected–that would be different than Hillary Clinton or John McCain how btw?
But I take it to mean–as someone who is studying to be a pastor and knows it from the inside–a different arena. A different set of expectations, rules, and ways of interaction.
One very important (I thought) piece in Wright’s Q&A which no one has picked up on in the blogs or MSM is when Wright says–I told Obama if you are elected president on Nov. 5th, I’m coming after you because you will be in charge of a government whose policies I disagree with (and feels are in violation of the gospel).
As he said repeatedly the issue for him is the prophetic tradition (as he understands it). He will aim his fire clearly on any politician of any stripe–he ripped Cheney, Bush, even Obama in the speech.
All the talk about race, race-hustling, the 60s Boomer mentality, Wright’s ego, whatever, a simpler explanation might be that he actually just believes those words. Or at least if the other stuff is involved (and I’m not denying it could be) it is that plus the defense line of thought.
That he believes the government’s policies (domestically and internationally) are in violation of the gospel (as he understands it). And what matters to him more than politics is the church because the church is the place of refuge and the base of an alternate humanity. One worshiping The Prince of Peace and trying to imitate their Lord.
That said, there is a middle ground I think he could find between the Sister Souljah line and where he was with Wright on the race speech. Obviously the easy low hanging fruit is the stuff on Farrakhan and HIV.
He’s already looking for that space, some video and highlights (lowlights?) here.
Update: Check that, watching the video he has gone all the way in distancing himself from Wright. Obama too easily (imo) equated the elements of Wright that were rants with the theology Wright outlined. Obama hit back saying he didn’t represent the black church. I was hoping he wouldn’t go that far, but I understand in a media age, in the incessantly, unendingly ignorant US media particularly, any attempt for clarity and yes to this/no to that never works. It’s all or nothing.