How Do You Cook a Red Herring, Anyway?
Vol: 78 Issue: 19 Wednesday, March 19, 2008
It was as breathlessly hyped and eagerly anticipated by the cable news networks as the release of a new “Harry Potter” movie is by kids, and was delivered with almost as much wizardry, only of the semantic variety.
His speech was delivered under embargo just beforehand to the news media, who were allowed only to say Barak Obama was to deliver a major speech on race and religion.
There was so much excitement generated that the speech had to be delayed for forty-five minutes just to accommodate the crush of media.
At issue, of course, was “the question of Obama’s pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright” — but was it? Let me ask you.
What, exactly, was the question again? Was it;
a) the issue of race in America
b) an issue of religion
c) a national security issue
d) the overreaction of white people to being subjected to the kind of abuse Reverend Jeremiah Wright received at the hands of the White Establishment in the 50’s and 60s;
e) or, evidence that ‘we’ haven’t yet worked through the race issue.
If the question at hand was either “d” or “e” then Obama’s speech addressed them fully.
If the question at hand were “a” or “b” — then Obama still has more work to do.
If Reverend Wright raises a national security question in your mind, then you are more troubled now than you were before Obama took to the podium to ‘put the question to rest.’
Obama spoke of ‘hope’ and of ‘confronting the racial division’ in the US, simultaneously defending Reverend Write this way:
“I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television sets and YouTube, if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way,” he said.
“But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man.”
Ordinarily, that argument might fly. After all, I don’t know much more about Jeremiah Wright than what I’ve read at his website and heard in those ‘endless snippets’, whereas he’s been Obama’s pastor for 20 years.
But if that argument managed to get off the ground, it would collide head-on with Obama’s principle argument that he was largely unaware of Wright’s virulently racist sermonizing.
If he knows the guy well enough to use that intimacy in Wright’s defense, then he can’t also argue he doesn’t know him well enough to know what he teaches. Or can he?
In a Huffington Post column last week, he reaffirmed his ignorance, writing (presumably with his own hand):
“The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation.”
If you read closely, that is not exactly the same thing as denying he was aware of Wright’s extremist views. He simply denied being present to hear them in these, particular, selected circumstances.
(It didn’t take long for Obama to master the Clintonian art of word-parsing.)
Obama let it be known to the media that he wrote this speech himself, in private, and that spent many hours working on it. So I listened intently for him to clarify his denial.
It amounted to a carefully parsed admission he was aware of Wright’s views, but, although he didn’t share them, he understood why Wright held them, devoting a good chunk of his speech to explaining why to us.
We learned about the racial divide of the sixties, and how Reverend Wright and his generation, (assuming I understood him correctly) didn’t really have much else to talk about, or something.
(Even with TiVo and a transcript, that seems to be the gist of it, although much more artfully worded.)
What began as a speech intended to distance himself from the openly anti-Semitic anti-white, anti-American racist rants being broadcast on the nightly news turned into an apologetic for all anti-Semitic anti-white, anti-American racist rants (which evidently are routinely repeated at black churches across America. Who knew?)
Obama wrapped up with a Martin Luther King flourish, “This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation — the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.”
The “young people” are our future. (Again, who knew?) Their attitudes and beliefs and openness are what will defeat racism. So, what do the ‘young people’ learn at Obama’s church about racism?
“We [by implication, white America] supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-Semitic. . . . We care nothing about human life if the end justifies the means. . . .”
“The government [of white America] lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. ”
Since Obama has now (sort of admitted) he knew Wright’s extreme views, would he let his kids go to a Jeremiah Wright sermon alone? Or recommend Reverend Wright’s DVD’s as a learning tool in the effort to heal the ‘divisiveness’ of racism?
In his speech, Obama reminded the voters; “I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain.”
‘Nagging’ questions. Like the fact that Obama attended a church where the folks who raised him would be neither welcome nor comfortable, disavowing it after twenty years only when it interfered with his political ambitions? Those kind of nagging questions?
Obama’s speech was masterfully crafted, effectively delivered, and beautifully packaged. But the real question, the one that everybody is afraid to ask, the elephant on the coffee table, is the question of national security.
And since nobody asked, Obama didn’t answer.
One recurring theme from Obama’s supporters in the media is that it is unfair to judge Obama based on the words of Jeremiah Wright, as if they were irrelevant.
That is a red herring. To argue that environment plays no role in a person’s character flies in the face of Obama’s defense of Reverend Wright that his racism evolved as as a result of Wright’s youthful environment..
To argue that Obama’s only shared view with Reverend Wright was the Bible is absurd, since by that standard, any church will do and all pastors are philosophical carbon copies.
One chooses a church home that reflects one’s comfort level, and a pastor whose values mirror those he wants inculcated in his family. Or one stays home.
You can bet that if Obama attended a church whose pastor philosophically opposed gay rights, abortion on demand, or celibacy outside of marriage, it wouldn’t have taken Obama twenty years to discover.
Why is this relevant to national security?
A man who is responsible for the education of his children, who chooses a church home whose values are antithetical with the values he wants his family to share is not responsible enough to head a household, let alone the most powerful nation on earth.
Obama urged all Americans to abandon the racial prejudices that divide us, or, in his words, “things won’t change.”
(Perhaps this is a good place to recall that urging came during a speech in which he defended remaining a member of Rev Wright’s congregation for twenty years, despite his radical racial views.)
“Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect,” Obama says of Wright.
(I watched the rebroadcast of an interview Wright gave last year to Sean Hannity. Obama would had found it instructive.)
This gets more circular as I go through the transcripts. . . Obama’s remedy for healing racism and changing America is, according to Obama’s speech, “watch me and do the opposite.”
Seek out bridges that unite, rather than divide, along racial lines, and avoid the likes of hate mongers . . . er, like Reverend. Wright.
But it isn’t merely that Reverend Wright had unkind things to say about white people, and so my nose is out of joint and I am taking it out on Obama.
Obama preaches ‘change’ and healing the racial divide and then lets his kids listen to Reverend Wright tell them that the United States government is no different than al-Qaeda because it is run by genocidal white men.
Inculcating another generation with the same propaganda brings more division and less change, not more. You need look no further than the Palestinian Authority to demonstrate the flaws in that logic.
Some might accept the unproved premise that the Obamas don’t buy into Reverend Wright’s anti-Americanism. Recall Michelle Obama’s twice-repeated statement that Obama’s candidacy marks ‘the first time in my adult life I’ve been proud of America’.
Mrs. Obama is in her forties. That’s a long time to live in shame. Is it me, or does it seem a bit of an odd statement, coming as it does from an aspiring First Lady?
“America has burdened me with shame all my adult life. But I love America.” (I wonder if she’ll still love America if the nomination goes to that ‘white lady’?)
Michelle Obama has it all; an Ivy League degree, a career, an expensive home; her husband is among the most famous men in America.
She should be proud of herself, her husband, their accomplishments; as Obama noted in his speech, his story could only be possible in America.
So what poisoned her on America for her entire adult life? (Hmmmm. She’s been a member of Reverend Wright’s church all her adult life — but that is probably irrelevant. Perhaps even racist? I’m no longer sure.)
Reverend Wright called on God to ‘damn’ America — condemn it to hell, consign it among the goat nations — for its support for Israel and it’s oppression of the Palestinians.
Five days after September 11, he said America was no different than al-Qaeda, and directly endorsed al-Qaeda’s grievances against America as justifying the deaths of 3000 Americans.
If that isn’t seditious speech in war time, then we need a new word. And both Obamas have been indoctrinated with Rev. Wright’s philosophical worldview for twenty years — a worldview that Obama himself noted in his speech that Wright has held since he was a youth growing up in the Fifties.
It is said that there are but six degrees of separation between any two people on earth. It is based in the notion that any two individuals are somehow connected to one another by at most six individuals.
The more you have in common, the fewer the steps.
Let’s apply the six degrees of separation here to the national security question and how it links to the man who could easily become the next Commander-in-Chief overseeing the war with al-Qaeda-linked Islamic terrorist groups aimed at finishing what they started on 9/11.
Obama’s pastor, who expressed sympathy for Osama’s jihad — just five days after 9/11 — is directly linked to the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan, who is directly linked to Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi, who is directly linked to the A.Q. Khan network, who is directly linked to Osama bin Laden.
Even if Barack Obama had addressed the national security aspect in his speech, (instead of tossing the voters a red herring about race and religion), at some point, somebodyhas to work up the nerve to address the elephant on the coffee table. And say the obvious out loud.
Four degrees of separation between Obama and Osama just aren’t enough.