March 18, 2008
Obama's Speech: Why he is still wrong.

So we heard Mr. Obama's speech today in defense of the big controversy regarding the fiery words of Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright. After hearing the speech, one must conclude that Obama is a gifted orator. But as gifted as the delivery and flourish or words were, there was a key philosophical flaw in Obama's arguments.

In the speech there are definitely some important aspects of where we stand today that Obama properly identified. But the question voters should really be asking themselves is: How best do we move forward? Obama's speech also contained the telling revelations of why he is still wrong, and why he does not have the solution for how we can move forward.

Obama said that Trinity Church embodies the black community in its entirety. And he said that he can no more disown Pastor Wright than he can the black community. This is wrong. And here is why.

We humans are not members of a community based on our skin color, but instead based on our choice. We also do not behave according to our skin color, but according to our own free will. By Obama's logic, a white man can no more disown David Duke, nor our defacto affiliation with the KKK. And this is exactly how Obama wants and needs to explain away Reverend Wright's remarks. For if we are simply actors within the color of our skins, then we can't be held accountable for our individual actions. Many of the tenants of Progressive ideology dismiss individual responsibility and create victim class identity based on physical attributes for precisely this reason.

But, we have volitional consciousness. We humans have free will. We can and do choose superior over inferior every day. We should not equate ghetto culture with black skin color any more than we should equate country clubs with white people. The reality is that people make their own choices, and if they choose a screaming and ranting culture that defines itself through past injustice, then that is a choice. And it is a poor choice. Because none of us have any control now over the slaveholders and KKK members of the past. Our choices must be rooted in the present, and to succeed our choices need to acknowledge the world as it is today, where most people want to view each other based merit, and certainly in outward public life.

Obama is right to point out that indeed there have been past injustices directed specifically at blacks. And indeed that put black financial status at a disadvantage during all of the period where blacks were discriminated against in financial transactions. But this is not the case today. For example, with the Internet, it is solely whether credit status qualifies you, with zero basis on your physical attributes. It's not a matter of whether or not someone respects your culture or your color, it's a matter of whether you qualify as a reasonable financial risk.

If the country is going to move on, we have to put racist tendencies aside. We have to stop allowing color and culture to define us, and explain our behaviors and instead focus on merit and character.

Obama wants it both ways. He wants to be a member of the "black" community where he gets certain privileges, expectations, excuses, values etc. based on his color and the culture of others with a similar color regardless of the culture he has personally embraced throughout his life. And he also wants to be accepted based on merits, and to be looked at as the candidate who can usher America forward to a color blind era. And he had the audacity to give this speech only days after his campaign engaged in precisely the wrong behavior in their statements regarding Geraldine Ferraro.

I don't think Mr. Obama made the case that he won't make Presidential appointments based on color, continue to define himself as a member of the black community, etc. I don't think it is possible for a truly non-racist candidate of any color to emerge from the left, because the left is still so caught up in identity politics.

For a while there, I really thought that Mr. Obama might be the one who could finally put identity politics aside. And up until the Trinity Church controversy, Obama had done a great job of avoiding racism. But he clearly stated in his speech today, that we all can't help but view life through our various colors, and that color and culture define us more than our choices. And that is simply wrong.

Posted by JeffB. at March 18, 2008 12:37 PM | Email This
1. OTOH, my dad died when I was a young punk of 23. I had several role models, some of whom were quite racist (since that is what we are talking about today).

I wouldn't disown them, though I didn't agree with their whole schtick. I realized they were human.

That, I think, is what Obama was trying to say. OTOH, none of my role models were white supremacists like the Wright character was a black supremacist.

Posted by: swatter on March 18, 2008 02:41 PM
2. I don't buy those defenses, because my Dad was a racist too, and lots of other people. There were a lot of people, policies, etc. in this country's past that were racist. No one is denying that. But it's not an excuse for behavior today, i.e. my dad is a racist, so why can't I be one too.

At some point, people have to stop viewing themselves as having a particular skin color and start viewing themselves as people with ideas, values, etc. We all have personal, and sometimes group negativity from the past. But that doesn't justify our actions now, nor does it remove the need for us to put aside whatever pain we experienced and move on. I've had bad bosses in the past, but I'd be laughed at if I said that I am entitled to anger about my bad bosses with respect to my employers today. There's no connection. It's just ridiculous on every level.

I know there are people that say that whites can't possibly understand the struggles blacks have gone through, etc. To which I say, then you can't understand my past struggles either. Everyone has personal struggles and past experiences.

The only way forward is to stop the racist nonsense. Obama gives lip service to his party's widespread identity politics, but he is not willing to completely denounce them and move on. In effect, he's denying the ability of today's youth to move on to a more colorblind world by continually reinforcing the stereotypes of the past.

It's a shame. Think of the messages being sent by Reverend Wright to the children in his pews. They are not able to walk out in to the world and view themselves as anything but black, because that's what he told them matters. And similarly his remarks about whites. That's profoundly unjust.

Posted by: Jeff B. on March 18, 2008 04:31 PM
3. "I know there are people that say that whites can't possibly understand the struggles blacks have gone through, etc. To which I say, then you can't understand my past struggles either."

WHEN is the white man FINALLY going to get a fair shake in society?? WHEN I ASK?!?!


Posted by: Anon on March 18, 2008 05:07 PM
4. An anonymous coward comments.

Each individual has had to deal with many problems. Anonymous Coward did your mom die when you were young? Who is to judge what any one person has to suffer through. Have all blacks had suffering greater than all whites, just because they are black? Only a fool like the Anonymous Coward above would believe such a collective lie.

Posted by: Jeff B. on March 18, 2008 06:54 PM
5. The funny thing is that after the speech here in Iraq they showed a story on CNN about how the working white male vote is a problem for Obama and he needs to figure out how to get the working white male voter to stop voting for Hillary and start voting for Obama. Now these working white voters that they interviewed that were all Hillary Supporters where union members (I guess that makes them working men). The analysts all said that Obama had to get them to see past his race if he ever wanted to win their vote. I thought this to be intresting as the media usually protrays the Conservative White Male Voter as the ones who can not see past skin color and here they are now portraying working white voters (uinon workers) that support Hillary as racists. I am waiting to here the backlash over this one, but I wont hold my breath.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on March 19, 2008 12:46 AM
6. TS,

Oh there will be backlash. Although it might be a silent backlash. Obama accomplished two things in the eyes of the Union white men yesterday. One, he took his former ability to remain above the fray on racism, and trashed it by saying that he can no more disavow his racist pastor, than he can his racist grandma. And two, he effectively commanded all those who have ever been party to a racist like his grandma, to tolerate other racists like Jeremiah Wright, who as Obama says, they cannot disavow. Thus, a lot of people made up their minds for Hillary in the last few days.

But that's problematic too, because if Hillary does manage to get the nomination, then she'll lose much of the black vote. And everyone is now, thanks to Obama's speech, painfully aware that this is yet another election about race.

Look for the MSM to go dark on all of this over the next few days, as soon as they figure out that there really is an unintended backlash.

Posted by: Jeff B. on March 19, 2008 09:19 AM
7. I've never heard a pastor make disparaging comments about people like Wright did in the pulpit--I mean, really: "Condaskeeza?" and "Condamnesia"? Is this really passing for preaching? What has Condi ever done to him except think for herself and achieve?? She experienced negative racial behavior and lost some close friends in a bombing back in the 60's as a little girl. She doesn't wallow in that. She moves on.
And saying "G.D. America"? Taking God's name in vain in the pulpit? Bizarre.

What I've learned that surprised me is that Obama gets it from all sides in the black community. He got called an "educated fool" by a black congressional opponent during a failed run for congress. The opponent tried to tell people that O wasn't "one of them". He was just some "educated fool" who wasn't "one of them". ??? I remember some in his party were saying he "wasn't black enough." which is really weird. No one has to fit into any particular mold. They just are what they are. That's the one area I feel somewhat sorry for him. There seems to be a lot of criticism within some in the black community if you aren't just what they think you should be. That's very unfortunate.
Michael Medved reported that Obama had to do a conference call with about 50 black pastors late last week who were furious with him for trying to disassociate himself from some of Pastor Wright's blatherings. Seems he just can't please everyone in the black community.

But I couldn't trust anyone who attended a church like that. I already didn't like his uber-socialism. Now I really dislike his and his wife's anti-americanism. Not ready for the oval offcie. May never be.

Posted by: Marlo on March 19, 2008 11:04 PM
8. The thing about Obama's claim that he doesn't aggree with the "Reverends" rhetoric is that he still attends and worse that he is bringing up his children in that church. If, as he says, he want to move away from race, why then does he allow his children to be exposed to and therefore grow into, a mindset that is so thoroughly rooted in race?

Sorry, OBAAAAAAHma, your boat don't float, dude.

Posted by: Ragnar on March 20, 2008 12:16 PM
9. A Failure of Judgment? Or a Failure of Honesty and Courage?

" Sen. Obama's first presentation was very troubling. It offers two possibilities for judging his character, both of which are unsettling. "

" The first possibility is that Sen. Obama did not notice the racism, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism coming from the pulpit in 20 years of attending Pastor Wright's sermons. He failed to register as troubling Pastor Wright's trip to Libya with Louis Farrakhan to see Muammar Qaddafi or the church's giving Farrakhan a lifetime achievement award. "

" But if this is true, it is a devastating insight into any possibility that Sen. Obama is ready to be President. How could we expect him to act with judgment and responsibility in Iran and Iraq, to pick a Supreme Court Justice or to undertake any other complex act under the pressing reality of being president when he could not notice reality in 20 years at his church. "

" On the other hand, if he noticed the goings on in his church but failed to act on them, what does that tell us about his honesty and his courage? " -Newt Gingrich, March 20, 2008

Posted by: Ragnar on March 20, 2008 12:56 PM
10. I see swatter and Jeff B commenting above regarding people in their lives who were racists and it reminds me of a conversation I was having last year:

I was talking to a guy I hadn't seen in about ten years. We were sitting off to the side at a party talking about his brother who had passed away and I ask him about his brother's relationship with his father - his reply was, if you want to know every thing you need to know about our father it is that at least once per day he would go on about how he hates f-n' n-----s! and that is when our conversation was rudely interupted by someone barging in, sticking his finger in this guy's face and going on and on without having any idea what the individual was saying in the first place.

The individual I was speaking with could not get a word in edgewise to defend himself and left the gathering, policed up his wife and kids and the last I have seen of him was him simply telling the finger pointers to f-off.

After he left I explained the context of the conversation they were eavesdropping on and let them know that we had sat off to the side because we were talking about his brother, a friend of mine, who had died a year earlier because we wanted some privacy so we could talk in candor.

The brother who was deceased was no stranger to drugs and alcohol and before he passed he frequently would try to talk to me in vague ways about his father and the problems he had with his father but only in vague terms. The conversation lasted about three hours and the individual I was talking to was grateful that he finally found someone he could talk with about some issues he was having.

The finger pointers are both prime examples of today's progressive Democrats and see themselves as doing great work as professional noticers of everything wrong or unjust. What they actually are is two people who do absolutely nothing of substance to make the world better, that would actually take effort or an investment (that might cut into their beer and cigarette budget), but boy can they ever notice and point out injustice, racism or whatever else.

Posted by: JDH on March 20, 2008 02:56 PM
11. JDH,
Great story. The individual has no place in the collectivist ideology of the left. The individual is subordinate to the collective in their view. Individuals cannot be trusted to make decisions about racism, transit, guns, etc. Therefore you get the outline of Obama's speech. In brief it was, we are all racists, and the only way to fix that is by subordinating ourselves to statism.

This is all right out of the textbook collective ideology. There is a continual attempt to subjugate all to the collective's view of equality. Even if that means cutting some innocent individuals down to size. That's why in Wright's view, there is a White America and a Black America. In his mind, it's impossible to hold an individual view of right or wrong, instead you must hold a view as black or white.

And by that logic, well there is no logic. Because Obama himself is both black and white. So which view does he hold? The views on his white side that formed his upbringing, or the views on the black side that are part of the Trinity United's blackness doctrine under Wright's patronage? The correct answer is of course, NEITHER. Right and wrong is objective. There need not be racism from either angle, but in order to have that, we must stop looking first at color and race.

This leaves the left in a conundrum, because they are all too happy to use race, culture, gender, etc. as a qualifier when it benefits their goals, and all too unwilling to use it when it undermines their goals. In short, racism is fine, as long as it is in the one way directions as defined by the collective.

This strategy is guaranteed to fail, and I predict that this whole controversy will cost Obama the nomination, the election or both. There is no way for Obama to simultaneously decry and defend racism, yet that is exactly what he has done. And most of the public has taken note, hence his plunging in the polls.

Posted by: Jeff B. on March 20, 2008 04:06 PM
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