Politics & Society

Weighing in on the Obama-Wright Furor

Sen. Barack Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Sen. Barack Obama (left) and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright AP hide caption

toggle caption AP

Lee, here ...

First, if you haven't already, have a listen to Michel Martin's commentary today. She weighs in on the furor surrounding Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor in Chicago. Many say they would've "walked out" on the pastor and his more confrontational sermons (Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama's rival, added to the tensions yesterday).

Whether you agree or disagree, we'd like to know your thoughts.

And speaking of the race for the White House, some are disputing the role of race (regarding ethnicity, that is) in this election. We talked about this today.

Now, we put the question to you: has the focus on race (and gender) in this election overstayed its welcome?

In the absence of historic times (when both a woman and a black man have an actual shot at the presidency, for example), when are these matters looked at and studied so closely? ... When else would they have such room to breath?

But, again, I ask ... do you feel smothered by these talks, or freed by them?

Let us know.

Finally, switching gears completely to offer you news you can use (which agitated me), it looks like a growing number of commercial airlines will now charge customers for checking more than one bag. A steady increase in fuel prices is being blamed for the new fees.

I must tell you, I defy the (unfair) stereotypes of most men in that I am not known to pack lightly, so I'm less than thrilled at this decision.

Guess I'll have to change my ways.



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Wow. Loved your commentary on the race issue, Michele.

Sent by Stanley | 6:11 PM | 3-26-2008

Instead of waiting to see if anyone is offended, black leaders are telling people what to be offended about, with individuals blindly agreeing. Is this not spreading racism and furthering the machine that makes money and power by the use of the keyword "racism"?
Please remember that the people we put into power are not saints, or perfect, they are just people we agree with, and not fully sometimes either.
Dr. Martin Luther King was a great speaker, a great human rights activist (not just black rights), but also a liar and a philanderer
I am a man of color, I am white, I am black, I am Native American. what I see is a bunch of people using the connotation of racism to be racist themselves!
What ever happened to free speech? In America, we are allowed to pursue life, liberty (including free speech) and the pursuit of happiness as long as it does not hurt some one else.
Everyone is prejudiced against something. I am prejudiced against women who eat chitterlings (chittlins') because kissing a women who cooks and eats pig intestines turns my stomach (besides the smell of them being prepared too!). Go to Germany, you will find Germans prejudiced against other Germans.
Everyone is allowed an opinion, when your opinion hurts others and breaks the Golden Rule is when you draw the line, and you need not be a Christian to agree with that.

Sent by Daniel Slack | 6:56 PM | 3-26-2008

Today's conversation about Senator Obama's speech on race made me meshugeneh. If Jeff Jacoby heard the
Senator's remarks as being delivered from on high perhaps the trouble is with the listener and not the message.

On the one hand we have the pundits deriding the candidates for sticking to the same old talking points and now we have Jacoby telling us that this is
improper discourse for a campaign. But Jacoby reveals his hand by telling us that it would be ok if Obama wanted to address his remarks at blacks. What
arrogance, what pomposity!

Listen, I would be the first to say that we black folk have a house to clean BUT please. It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to understand that our national
attitudes towards race and class permeate nearly every "situation" we face, from illegal immigration to who fights and dies
for this country. It would have come up sooner or later. Inappropriate? I don't think so.

Moreover, it isn't as though Obama woke one morning in the middle of a great campaign and decided, "Today I become a Race Man!" He was draw into the conversation REMEMBER! Like the speech or not he proposed a challenge for the ENTIRE nation. Do we stagnate in the blacks see it everywhere-whites don't see a problem, or do we finally move forward. That is not a "Black" question.

Besides, where were all of these thoughtful commentators when the Republican "leadership" were courting the racist, homophobic, misogynistic church leaders as their do or die constituency for years?

Now finally, I realize that this next statement could put me on one of those stalker watch lists BUT I just LOVE Michel Martin. The commentary today reminds me of why I love her smarts, I love her clearheaded way of getting to the root, and finally I love her because my NPR world is just that much brighter because she and all ya???ll at Tell Me More are in it!

Sent by Raul | 7:28 PM | 3-26-2008

Ms. Martin's speculations about the behavior of people who she has never met are one more illustration of the acceptability of stereotyping white people while at the same time giving a bombastic, racist minister a pass.

Well, I am one of those people who do not darken the doors of churches because I share none of the beliefs of those who do attend. And I can tell Ms. Martin that I would not and do not tolerate such nonsense from the people I choose to associate with.

Christopher Hitchens is quite right when he notes that there is no end to the evil and nonsense that a person can utter if the word "Reverend" is placed in front of their name. The "Reverend Jerry Falwell," the "Reverend Jeremy Wright, deserve no audience or respect from anyone. A man who claims that AIDs was invented by the government to kill black people, that the 911 attacks are somehow connected with the Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and that drugs are sold by the government to those on the street deserves nothing but contempt. This is culturally retarded and morally disgraceful, and I challenge Ms. Martin to give an argument, an actual argument to the contrary.

Sent by David | 7:56 PM | 3-26-2008

Can you please send this to Hillary!

Sent by Jordon | 7:56 PM | 3-26-2008

Your analogy of how one reacts to a racist joke in a group of their peers is right on target. Most people get itchy, butt cheeks..they squirm in the chair, but they don't speak up and they don't leave! Thank you for some sanity around this issue!

Sent by M.A. De Veaux | 8:04 PM | 3-26-2008

I have yet to read a comment from anyone who has bothered to listen to the reverend Wright,s entire sermons,the clips they loop endlessly are taken out of context
to give a false impression,don't fall for this.

Sent by Samuel Curry | 8:17 PM | 3-26-2008

Obama needs to get specific about those comments, i.e. does he agree or not. Not the broad brush gloss he's shuffling. That's what some voters would like to hear explained, sans the relationship trap.

Sent by Larz | 10:33 PM | 3-26-2008

I will second the "Loved your commentary on the race issue ..... "

Only add that "the those who fail to speak are complicit"

Thank you for your words ..

As you mentioned in you commentary from the top to the bottom there is still quite racism in many circles.

Personally I am tired of racism pre-justice is simply over rated ...

When ever I hear the words "those people" it is racism & pre-justice

I have traveled quite extensively in the Americas .. have friends work with people from all walks of life

I all my life experience it is quite obvious to me that there is not a dimes worth of difference between any person on the planet any one that says any different is lying to you .

The only way racism pre-justice goes away is if we face it head on strait no chaser .

Sent by Charles C Stirk Jr | 10:58 PM | 3-26-2008

Michel, thank you for your commentary. I have been writing the cable networks with the same thoughts. When the Civil Rights movement was being supported by the Black church, do you think that all of the white churches were preaching about Jesus? Were there not Senators, Representatives, and presidential candidates in those churches? Did any of them renounce, repudiate, disown their pastors or priests? Did they leave their churches? Did any Catholic political leaders leave the Catholic church when cases of pedophilia came to the light? The answers are a resounding no. In fact, some of the racial rhetoric from the white churches was spewed out in the statehouses and halls of Congress. What a double standard!

Sent by Will | 11:06 PM | 3-26-2008

I happen to agree with Rev.Wright, America has much to be ashamed of with regard to the Iraq war and occupation.

Sent by Timothy McGonagle | 11:15 PM | 3-26-2008


thank you for giving my feelings on this issue such an eloquent yet hard-hitting voice. It is easy to ignore instances of intolerance, judgment or prejudice, or to condemn them from a distance it is far more difficult to confront them, especially in a way that silences them rather than perpuates them even more. You demonstrated today how this can be accomplished. Thank you.

Sent by Nicole S. | 9:20 AM | 3-27-2008

Michel, your few moments of commentary at the end of todays program swept away hours and days of heavy breathing on the part of many. Thanks so much for your clarity, my only hope is that your wisdom reaches wide and deep.

Sent by Chad W. | 9:21 AM | 3-27-2008

Michel brings up interesting points that many of us have experienced. However, I think she missed the point some of us are angry about.
Its not that he didn t walk out on the church The problem is that he didnt formally condem Wright for his hate statements and honoring Farrakhan. He should have said he now needs to leave the church. If a white candidate belonged to a church where they honored a Neo-Nazi and didnt allow Blacks in the congregation, that candidate would not be running anymore. The press would have had a field day. In general I am a great fan of Michel Martin.

Sent by E. Page | 9:21 AM | 3-27-2008

I just wanted to thank you for todays commentary on Obama and Wright...I watch lots of poltiics and read the W. Post, but no one has yet made this argument. Great job--and love your show...thanks...

Sent by Judith B. | 9:23 AM | 3-27-2008

Where in the world do you get your guests? At least 3 or 4 times in the past few weeks I???ve had steam coming out of my ears listening to your show and today???s show takes the cake. I???m not sure if it was Christopher Edley, or Jeff Jacoby, who said it but the idea that the only people in this country who have a problem with race and black people are black people and they are the only ones who need to deal with racial issues is utterly asinine. I am stunned and shocked. Have racial issues gotten better in the past few decades, yes, are they wiped out, no, are their plenty of whites who are still seriously racist and who hold discriminatory views towards blacks? You bet your bottom dollar and to even hint that the racial problem only lies with blacks is dishonest, disingenuous and just plain wrong-headed. Either your guest is terribly na??ve and misguided or he is just wants to dismiss still existing racism on purpose but once again ???blaming the victim???.

Sent by Lisa J. | 9:24 AM | 3-27-2008

Great program, as usal! I was an "Essence" subscriber when the magazine began but as I got older, the subjects, folks on the cover, etc. remained the same age as I was when it I first subscribed. It was no longer for me but I understood why. Listening to your segment on magazines made me realize that I should not limit my reading to "AARP". Im going to buy one or two of the issues you discussed and from now on, keep an eye on the subjects. I also agreed with you about the Obama/Wright issue. Most of those commenting are probably not church people and are probably as hesitant to call their friends, co-workers and family when they make racist, sexist, anti-Semetic, homophobic comments as you suggested. As you know, we in the Black community regularly say, "I dont know what Pastor was talking about today. That man is crazy sometimes." We usually dont leave the church-unless he does not thank us properly for the work we did on the Pastors Appreciation Program.
Keep up the good work!!

Sent by Alma B. | 9:24 AM | 3-27-2008

I heard about half of this show on my to work this morning, but luckily it was the final half as it contained Michelles story of her debate team and its ignorance towards her in their opponents home. Michelle, your portrayal of peoples inability to confront racial injustice was incredibly poignant and oh so relevant in regards to Obama and Reverend Wright...bravo, well said and well done.

Sent by Edward P. | 9:25 AM | 3-27-2008

For the past couple of months, I have noticed that your reporting on Obama and Clinton has become rather unlistenable. Clinton supporters are not the only one who listen to NPR. Make it fair, or I will stop listening, even after the election is done.

Sent by Shamara P. | 9:26 AM | 3-27-2008


I don't get your point. Are you saying this program is pro-Clinton or pro-Obama ... or pro who?

Sorry, I have to point out that our political chat is always balanced dem/rep. Our conversation about the Obama speech was bi-partisan, our religous conversation was bi-partisan and ideologically mixed.

... And I have to point out how many interviews we've had with ...

.. oh, never mind. I'll do a separate post.


Sent by Michel Martin, host | 10:17 AM | 3-27-2008

I wonder if maybe, what makes Pastor Wright's words so uncomfortable for some, is that the firey delivery may hold within it a piece of truth?

Hopefully we can move forward with an honest conversation, which Senator Obama inviteded us to begin. Thank you, Michele, for speaking your truth, and encouraging that conversation to continue.

Sent by Martha | 10:24 AM | 3-27-2008

thank you for giving voice to this truth.

Sent by Leslie Komori | 10:40 AM | 3-27-2008

This show was very interesting. One of the guests said that he didn't think the speech by Senator Obama was needed, implying we have moved beyond race being an issues, because lots of white people are voting for Obama. Then minutes later he says the senator could be helpful if he talked to other African Americans about not thinking of white people as racist. As if Senator Obama can only talk to other black people about race. I don't think people even understand how what they say undermines their own conception of race in America today. Also, I would like to let Michel know I routed for her as she gave her commentary. I have met people involved in Freedom Summer 1964 who have said the same thing. You don't know if you would would have acted differently or not until you are in the situation yourself.

Sent by Robert Bell | 11:45 AM | 3-27-2008

This was an amazing commentary, Michel. I truly admire you for writing it. There is a great deal to this story, and we need resist the rhetoric, the bias, the snap judgments, and start listening very carefully to each other in order to piece together the true picture. I just saw an incredible statement from the pastor of the Clinton's church no less. Please read this:


The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an outstanding church leader
whom I have heard speak a number of times. He has served for
decades as a profound voice for justice and inclusion in our society.
He has been a vocal critic of the racism, sexism and homophobia
which still tarnish the American dream. To evaluate his dynamic
ministry on the basis of two or three sound bites does a grave
injustice to Dr. Wright, the members of his congregation, and the
African-American church which has been the spiritual refuge of a
people that has suffered from discrimination, disadvantage, and
violence. Dr. Wright, a member of an integrated denomination, has
been an agent of racial reconciliation while proclaiming perceptions
and truths uncomfortable for some white people to hear. Those of us
who are white Americans would do well to listen carefully to Dr.
Wright rather than to use a few of his quotes to polarize. This is a
critical time in America's history as we seek to repent of our racism.
No matter which candidates prevail, let us use this time to listen again
to one another and not to distort one another's truth.

Dean J. Snyder, Senior Minister
Foundry United Methodist Church
March 19, 2008

Sent by Molly Peyman | 12:22 PM | 3-27-2008

As a long time follower of your work ,I dare say your treatment in the news media has been on par with that dinning experience .

Sent by Greg | 1:13 PM | 3-27-2008

Many have already said it, but it bears repeating.

That "Let Me Just Tell You" ROCKED!

Once again, Michel, you have made my day!

I have been tracking the commentary on Obama/Wright/The Speech, etc., on many tv, radio shows as well as in print. Sadly, many of these programs have been unable to get beyond the guests' personal points of view.

Though I don't always agree with your guests, and sometimes don't appreciate their points of view, I feel you always put hard, probing questions to them rather than just letting their comments hang in the air as TRUTH.

I have to go back and listen to the "analysis" piece because I am truly confused by some of the comments left on this blog.

In any case, please keep doing what you do, Michel, your journalistic integrity is greatly appreciated by this listener.

Sent by Anna | 1:26 PM | 3-27-2008

Thanx for your commentary!

It get tired of people who are so indignant when they speak of The Rev Wright's comments.

This is the second time in recent history that I felt that there are 2 Americas--one Black and one White--the time of the OJ verdict was the first; this is the second.

Thanx again for putting this situation in a context that almost anyone can understand and identify with.

Sent by Andre Cooper | 2:00 PM | 3-27-2008

(with a hand raised, I say)

The "moral outrage" from some folks (cough,"Tara Setmeyer",Cough) IS more than a bit much.

Sent by James Hudgens | 2:19 PM | 3-27-2008

When I heard the speech, I felt like Obama was sitting in one of my diversity meetings held each month at work.
I have said on many occassions that the tough talks need to take place to dispell the myths and remove the ugliness out of race.
Until we each can articulate without fear of reprisal and loss of friendship about race, we have not overcome. We as a people need to be able to address snide, ignorant, humiliating, degregading remarks on the spot. And we need to be able to recieve the comments earnestly and grow from there.
I do it when it happens and accept criticisms when they come...even though they are infrequent.

And to someone above, I did send this to Hillary. No we can't pick our family members neither can we dis-associate ourselves from people we have been in the trenches with because we also know that this same person has good in them also.

Sent by Conti Gill | 2:53 PM | 3-27-2008

Michel, that was a really excellent expresion of truth. And it hit the issue right on the head.

Sent by MJF | 2:56 PM | 3-27-2008

In some ways the underlying problem is an issue with insensitivity. We don't try to understand what Wright is thinking of when he makes his statement -- and he does not think that it could hurt us.
The people who put the ad on the air didn't think how it could inflame hatred either.
I'm not saying there is no race issue, just that the insensitivity is a central problem.

Sent by Benjamin Goldstein | 3:00 PM | 3-27-2008

Ms. Martin's article although well intentioned, I think, simply demonstrates a well worn liberal tactic. I guess I shouldn't be surprised as NPR is a bastion of liberal thinking. There's no valid argument to be made on this subject, so make a parallel that isn't really a parallel at all and hope the readers don't notice. We're not talking about a single incident that catches you off guard in a friends kitchen in the 80's, and because of the uncomfortable nature of the moment you don't do what you know is right. We're talking about 20 years of teaching under a Pastor who clearly isn't concerned with the teachings of Jesus Christ, he's concerned with drawing attention to himself, gaining his 15 minutes of fame by spewing ugly, divisive, unpatriotic demagoguery. Come on I was born at night, but not last night! Sen. Obama has attended that Church for 20 years, it would be an insult to "Reverend",and I use the term loosely, Wright to learn a long-time follower of his was denouncing his statements, as if shocked by it all. Give me a break, for once liberal media don't believe your own lies. I am someone who attends Church on a regular basis and you could believe I would find another Church home in short order if I heard anything even remotely close to Mr. Wrights statements from My Churches pulpit. So it's very disappointing as another reader said, that not only is Ms. Martin "speculating about the behavior of people who she has never met are one more illustration of the acceptability of stereotyping white people while at the same time giving a bombastic, racist minister a pass" she also thinks us white folks are stupid and would even remotely identify with this silly attempt at a parrallel. BTW Ms. Martin isn't alone, Hillary tries this approach all the time with her disengenuous fabrications, i.e. coming under sniper fire in Bosnia among other whoppers.

Sent by brad Uhrmann | 3:01 PM | 3-27-2008

After Easter service, my new wife and son, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles ate dinner together. A strange thing happened; polite politics entered the conversation which was inspired by Mr. Obama's speech. Our respective families do not share their political views on account that they often lead to futile arguments and tempers lost. Not Sunday. I don't know whats so hard for some to see, but I'm elated that those around me seem to see clearly. Genuinely.

Sent by Brian Rugg | 3:43 PM | 3-27-2008

Dear Michel,

Your commentary was like an arrow of truth being shot, & hitting dead center!! You said some of the things I have been feeling, & thinking about. As of late this whole mess about Rev. Wright has been making me some what unhopeful about the state of race in America.

Even after Obama brilliant speech, it seems that a lots of Euro- Americans are fixed & obessed with Rev. Wrights words being taken out of context by the media, & refuse to see or understand the larger picture.This could have been a very teachable moment for us (ALL), to really look at race, in a way that we as a country, have not done in the past. This is what I heard in Obama's speech.

It seems like this pathological circular way of seeing or not seeing the truth that so many Euro- Americans are stuck in. I have wondered is it guilt, not being able to reconcile the past with slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings , cruel & un speakable behavior towards African Americans & other people color, just what is it?

I also wonder how could a people that profess to believe in a Christian God sit in church, Sunday after Sunday while the slave ships were unloading African Men, Women, & Children into these United States with a clear conscious.

Their is, I believe a great deal of schizophrenia in the collective unconscious of America, & I fear it is affecting us all; & if we don't deal with it,it will tear this country apart from the inside one day in the 21 century !

Sent by Robert H. | 4:22 PM | 3-27-2008

Gee Brian, I wish I could live in your wonderful idyllic world of hand holding polite politics and clear vision. What's so hard to see is....your point? Are you endorsing Mr. Obama because of a flowery speech which much like the candidate is long on hugs and kisses but short on substance? I truly am glad your family engaged in polite politics I really am, however the potential leader of the free world needs to show me a bit more depth before I buy in. I hope American's aren't so simple minded as to weigh the potential of a candidate by His or Her oratory skill alone, rather from the body of evidence which includes things like past experience, past actions and yes past and current associations. All elements which make up His or Her character. This is the true indicators of future behavior, not smooth talk that makes us tear up and feel good. I'm right there with you Sen. Obama most certainly has a magnitism and if feel good speeches were my criteria for Presidential material Barrack is my Man. but there's so, so much more to being the President of the United States and that's what worries me, people willing to come to conclusions based on who delivers the best fluff not substance.

Sent by Brad Uhrmann | 4:34 PM | 3-27-2008

OT: I always wanted to post Q&A here. But, I often listen to your podcasts 2 to 3 days after they air. I don't want to post old news. Could you hold a topic of the week up here? Based on reading the Rev. Wright responses, other listeners want to add their 2 cents.

Sent by Carlos Bibbs | 4:41 PM | 3-27-2008

I thought we lived in a democracy, a democracy where one is free to worship as you choose.

In general I have a MAJOR problems with most organized religion but I believe that people can worship where and with whom they choose just as long as those hours of worship don't become part of their politician campaign in the form of major fund raising or in the shaping of a parties platform. Both of things have happened since Reagan was in office.

Where is the outrage over the breakdown in the separation of church and state? Or has gossip and scandal really become the coin of the realm so that Obama or Britney Spears. Clinton or Branjolina are grit for the same mill. If that's true we get the government we deserve.

I know that the current administration has tried to divest of us of our democratic rights to free speech but we do still have them and they should be fiercely defended. They are rights that extend to Rev. Wright and Rev Hagee alike. It also extends to the host of this show.

By the way, I hope that none of you at Tell Me More feel the need to defend your "all sides of the issue" approach to your show. After all let's face it some people come in and leave the room with both minds and ears closed.

Sent by raul | 5:15 PM | 3-27-2008

Michel Martin concisely targeted the hypocrisy represented by the majority of people who are upset about Senator Obama's relationship with Rev. Wright in her "Can I Just Tell You?" article on Wednesday. The connection she made with her experience as the only African-American on the debate team in high school, to the, highly complex, current, and historical views of everyone in our country, from presidents down to our own friends and family, was truly encouraging to me. She really knew how to combat this bologna self-righteousness that is permeating into the political commentary of our country.
Let's just face it, much of this commentary against Senator Obama is just a fumbling for excuses to discard every productive piece of his speech in Philadelphia on race relations in America, and therefore make it easier for people to not vote for a black man. Finally we had a politician speak articulately to the American people about something very important in our culture, and many just want to claim that, "they would have taken the high road and never gone back to that church, and Obama should have done the same!"
As Michel wrote, "I don't think so."

Sent by Scott Hand | 5:19 PM | 3-27-2008

Many thanks to Michele Martin. This piece certainly rings true for me. It takes real courage to stand up when a friend or mentor offends. Give me a friend who can -- privately, publicly or both -- tell me with grace and understanding that I have done the wrong thing but they still have a place in their heart for me. That friend has my interests and my soul at heart. I wish I could surround myself with such people (and be one more often than I am).

I am glad Obama did not totally "disown" Wright. For me, it really resonated that he stood by the man to the extent of saying how important he had been as he was choosing his own spiritual path. People who spend their time accusing others of failing to distance themselves enough from biased or vehement political or spiritual leaders leave no way for such persons to redeem themselves. But everyone is redeemable. Very sad that all these Christians have so little understanding of forgiveness.

And pure, uncritical personal loyalty is often more highly valued than loyalty to one's principles. Bill Richardson was seen as personally disloyal by James Carville for endorsing Obama -- so Carville compared him with Judas. So much for putting principle above personal loyalty.


Sent by Kay Stewart | 5:22 PM | 3-27-2008

I agree with the point made by Ms. Martin that there are more people who are indignant about the "hate" than there are people who would be courageous in the face of racism, religious hatred, sexism or homophobia. If more would be courageous then these social ills would disappear.
However, she failed to point out that the video is a hit job designed to defame Rev. Wright and hurt Sen. Obama.
Seek the truth.

Sent by Debra Myers | 6:00 PM | 3-27-2008

I am a strong Believer in separation of church and state. This is like having the local baker cut your hair. Or taking your car to the Orthodontist. Churches should stick to your spiritual Well-Being. Too many Wars and Deaths have been justified by Religion.

Sent by Tom | 9:07 PM | 3-27-2008

Dean Snyder has it right!. All of us should listen carefully to what Rev. Wright has said. We should also demand that if the right wing is going to continue to use Rev. Wright as an issue, they should have all of his sermons available in their entirity along with a full explanation of the time it was said and what was going on in his Chicago community at that time.

Sent by K. Merrill-Rae | 8:36 AM | 3-28-2008

Amazing blog, with very diverse opinions and views of the world and the races that inhabit it. In the end unfortunately it comes to agreeing to disagree.

Let's see there's so many disparities and hard to understand comments from my fellow bloggers; where to start?

How about "Christians have so little understanding of forgiveness". Not sure what this has to do with anything? Where did anyone say, on this blog or elsewhere, that Obama is not a candiate for redemption or forgiveness? Of course he is, we all are, consider him redeemed and forgiven, but again that's just a rabbit trail to get off the point. Where talking about a man with a very thin resume, whom is realatively unknown to the American voter, running for the highest office in the land. All I'm looking for are indicators of who he is, not how great of a warm fuzzy speech giver he is. Don't bury your head in the sand and make excuses.

Answer this honestly, if John McCain was associating with Neo-Nazi, KKK scum, what would you do, let him be redeemed and forgiven and you'd move forward with a blind eye for that portion of his character because he gave a uniting speech that seemed genuine and elect him President? CAN I TELL YOU....I DON'T THINK SO! And guess what, if your inductive reason lead you to a conclusion that a man that admittedly supported his religious Neo-Nazi Pastor for 20 yrs wasn't the right guy to lead this Country, you'd be entirely correct and justified in that position. So why can't Euro-Americans, African Americans or Asian Americans etc. be allowed to concluded the same?

Again over and over if the liberal conscience can't stay on track with the facts and the issue on hand, just make up some parallel that has nothing to do with the discussion or many times reality.

Then let's see, there's the age old anything not to elect a black man for President cop out. Again some African American's rather cling on to old ideas that European Amercicans are all racist thus they blindly defend any African Amercican politician that comes along while accusing Euro Americans of "therefore make it easier for people to not vote for a black man." Believe me I'm a conservative Republican and if Current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, or former SOS , Chairmen of the Joint Cheifs of Staff, Colin Powell were in this race they'd get my vote hands down, both I feel are just 2 shining examples of distinguished "Amercican" Heroes. So stop hiding behind this worn out arguement and move forward stop espousing and defending the racist pastors like Wright and Louis Farrakhan and start listening to African American Pastors that get it, like Jesse Lee Patterson and Michael Steele. here's some truth from an article I read from Marie Jon as follows: "There are too many churches that exist merely to entertain the people with uplifting gospel music, a few well-placed amens, and the name of the Lord sprinkled here and there without feeding the flock. When the Word of God is not appropriately presented to the congregation, the life-changing experiences that Christ intended do not occur".

"Preaching sermons about politics and religion instead of Christ and Him crucified alone is irreverent. When those who have taken the position of leadership to preach the Word of God twist the words of the Savior to meet their own political agenda within the walls of a sanctuary, their church suffers a spiritual death because the congregation is not experiencing God's unfettered truth".

By the way I hold Rev David Lee Manning's attack on Obama as vile and below the belt as it gets, but surprisingly I don't see much of anyone in the Black community expressing outrage over Pastor Mannings direct attacks on Sen Obama.....I see a pattern here.

Ok regarding the comment above "I also wonder how could a people that profess to believe in a Christian God sit in church, Sunday after Sunday while the slave ships were unloading African Men, Women, & Children into these United States with a clear conscious." well apparently everyone conveniently forgets, that although the civil war was mostly about states rights not slavery, many Amercicans in the 1800's did oppose this abhorent practice and fought to end it. In addition where's the outrage from African Americans about Black Slave traders selling their fellow countrymen into slavery and futher Black slave owners in America? The fact is large numbers of free Blacks owned black slaves; in fact, in numbers disproportionate to their representation in society at large. In 1860 only a small minority of whites owned slaves. According to the U.S. census report for that last year before the Civil War, there were nearly 27 million whites in the country. Some eight million of them lived in the slaveholding states.

The census also determined that there were fewer than 385,000 individuals who owned slaves. Even if all slaveholders had been white, that would amount to only 1.4 percent of whites in the country (or 4.8 percent of southern whites owning one or more slaves). The country's leading African American historian, Duke University professor John Hope Franklin, records that in New Orleans over 3,000 free Blacks owned slaves, or 28 percent of the free Blacks in that city.

To return to the census figures quoted above, this 28 percent is certainly impressive when compared to less than 1.4 percent of all American whites and less than 4.8 percent of southern whites. The statistics show that, when free, blacks disproportionately became slave masters.

Slavery was a horrible thing we all see that and not for one minute do I feel as a White American it was anything but cruel and repressive. The point is that it seems for many in the African American community it all boils down to the bad white man who is to blame and who is trying to put down aspiring black Amercicans, thus you get the aforementioned quote "How could a people that profess to believe in a Christian God sit in church, Sunday after Sunday while the slave ships were unloading African Men, Women, & Children into these United States with a clear conscious." You need a good dose of "taking personal responsibility for yourself and stop drawing on the slavery of yester year as your reason for everything you believe contributes to the current state of affairs. Again I can't stress enough the disgust I feel for the whole concept of slavery and I would never pretend to know what it is like to be subjected to slavery as a race. I also regonize that racism still exists today, but I also feel if African Americans were honest with themselves they would admit it represents a small percentage of Whites today. One more time, no exuses for the sins of my and YOUR fathers, but playing the race card at every turn is exhausting and quite frankly non-productive and assaults the credibility of may of your positions.

Sent by Brad Uhrmann | 11:10 AM | 3-28-2008

I would like to point out, and it has probably been done already, that when Hillary's husband player around on her she did not walk out on him when a vast majority of the electorate said she should. If after all the times Hillary's husband stepped out why should Michelle's husband disown or stop socializing with someone who means something to him?
It's not like she needed him to support their daughter, she is a professional in her own right. Could it be that he had more to offer in other areas and putting up with him was a means to end?

Sent by Eric | 6:45 AM | 3-30-2008

No, Spare me. As a multiracial, multicultural person I have had it up to here with the "me first" attitudes of both black and white. I am tired of straddling the lines and not being accepted by either, but being condemned for not being black enough, white enough, brown enough, whatever. To all you I say ENOUGH. can't find your voice when hatred and prejudice rears its ugly head? Then look inside yourself. That's where the monster lives. Are you sitting quietly and sedately, or saying yes Amen when prejudice and hatred is preached as holy gospel? Then your god is too small and your faith rings hollow. So spare me your sense of disenfranchisement, your tired regurgitated venom. Hatred is as hatred does - skin color is merely one of its clothing.

Sent by B W Valesco White McCartt | 4:42 PM | 3-31-2008

I think people are more offended by Wright's outward disappointment in the country. Let's look at what the man said...he was repeating a line in the Bible that was used to damn Babylon...he replaced Babylon with America because of its deplorable behavior. This man thinks America's behavior is ugly in its approach to foreign policy and wars...freedom of speech. Hillary Clinton I'm sure for the most part never has been called the N word. right?

And finally, Rev. Wright was repeating someone else's statement about the Chicken's coming home to roost...ie. watch what you say and do or it may come back to you in some way...so...get past the tone and agree to disagree with his words...

Yes it's out there. Some people say that HIV was given to black people by the government, but the Tuskeegee experiment gave black people syphilis. It just doesn't seem that far fetched when you add that to the mix.

I have a white, GW Bush loving, friend that I love, whose family offends me regularly by saying how articulate I am, I'm like an oreo...as if a black person is incapable of such achievement...do I disown her or her family? NO! Even though her father will not speak to his daughter because her nieces are biracial. No...I stay around and by example show them that black people don't fit stereotypes that they have...I stay because these are the same people that over the years we have come to understand that there is more in us that is the same than different. They rented me a place to stay when I had very little money. I helped them start their roofing business. They are like family to me. Prejudices and all. I tell them what offends me and we move on. Our children play together and love each other...they are the dream...

We can't get there with out some common ground...find it!

People appreciate that Obama is asking us to all be a little tolerant to how we got to where we are...Don't you think a man that is looking for us to look at what is the same about us chose to be tolerant of his Pastor because their is more to him too? More than some offensive rebukes of America? Because he said the N word? If YOU love your country why does this offend so much? Let's all look at our own ego to see what is at work here to feel so threatened. We don't know the man...how can we judge? Or is it we don't know the man we must judge...you choose.

Sent by E. In MD | 5:49 PM | 3-31-2008

African Americans need to be made aware on how to not feel like a victim despite the possibility of being one.

This is not something easily remedied because we wish it so...This is corrected over generations. We have not completely trusted that this attitude works. We must learn to trust that if we go past the possiblity of being put out for our skin we may achieve that which was previously denied...it just has to happen. We must raise our children protected from racism on both sides...that's what I had, that is what I am trying to pass on. I'm trying to pass on how to handle something that is blantantly racist... Our elders are not all past the notion that everthing is not racism. Some people my age are not past it either...Trust is a hard thing to find...for an entire generation.

But white folks, give us some time to engrain this in our community...please! Don't assume that an angry black man untrusting of his government hates white people. There is a difference between institutional prejudice that has been over come by laws and is finally paying off by the sheer fact that I am finally seeing black people in power. Can we let some people be mad that we were treated like crap in the earlier parts of their lives? In this open dialogue, I think many black folks have learned that the way the anger is conveyed matters to those not in our inner circle. This is not gonna go away in 40 years...but boy have we come a long way...

Sent by E from MD | 6:14 PM | 3-31-2008

People say that they would have left Pastor Wright church after hearing his sermon. Sure! I'm sure they probably heard racist remarks for real and didn't say anything. Most people don't want to deal with the reality of racism in this country. I'm sure there are politicians that are already racist, who associate with the kkk (klans).

Sent by Lavasia | 10:25 PM | 3-31-2008

E in MD wrote that Wright's comments were not so "far fetched" because "some people say that HIV was given to black people by the government." My what a powerful argument! No evidence, just the usual gesture towards the Tuskegee experiment and what "some people" believe.

This is just the sort of urban myth which should be debunked by the supposedly educated Wright. Instead, he assists in continuing the myth of AIDS, the Tuskegee experiment, and thereby undermining trust in public health authorities to the detriment of African-Americans. Researchers have difficulty in finding subjects for studies, many African-Americans refuse to be tested for AIDS and receive treatment because of this unnecessary and unjustified loss of public trust.

The government did not "give blacks syphilis" in this study. The Tuskegee study was meant to be a study of men with later stage latent syphilis, who had been infected for at least five years and were not contagious. One Tuskegee research report states: "The patients [in the study] who had syphilis were all in the latent stage: any acute cases requiring treatment were carefully screened out for standard therapy."

It would appear that those who were in the early stages of infection were treated. It is only in the early stages of infection that sores appear; those sores disappear with the passage of time. It is also only during the early stages that the disease is contagious, which is also when the therapies of the 1930s were ideally administered and thought to have their greatest effect.

For most people, a syphilis infection is either a self-limiting or self-correcting disease, and in the 1930s the degree to which doing something (a year of protoplasmic arsenic poisoning) was better than doing nothing at all was at the very least uncertain, and was thus a matter of urgent medical and scientific concern.

The study emerged out of a liberal progressive public health movement concerned about the health and well being of the African-American population. The study was done with the full knowledge, endorsement and participation of African-American medical professionals, hospitals and research institutes.

That said, no study in the 1930s would meet the standards of today, especially given the concept of informed consent had yet to be invented. However, when judged by the standards of the day with a fair minded view of the intent of the researchers, the Tuskegee study was far from some program in racist science.

See Richard Richard Shweder's, essay "Tuskegee Reexamined" and the sources he cites therein. Shweder is a cultural anthropologist and the William Claude Reavis Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago, not a crackpot preacher with an agenda served by racial conspiracy theories.

The fact remains that the utterances of Wright and people like him are false, culturally retarded, and morally disgraceful because of the harm that they do to the thinking and behavior of African-Americans. And one can legitimately question Obama's motives or character in choosing such a close association with this ghastly "reverend."

Many here have invoked Hillary Clinton as if she is somehow relevant in the feeble attempts to defend Wright and Obama's relationship with him. The only relevance I see is that Wright repeatedly attacked Hillary Clinton while Obama said nothing. Wright claimed in a sermon only two months or so ago that Hillary was a member of the "4-H" club: "Hannity, Hillary, Hobbes, and Hatred." [Sean Hannity, presumably the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in a not so subtle attempt to appear erudite.]

So, the circus barker Wright lumped Hillary Clinton together with the Fox circus barker Sean Hannity and somehow with the general group, certainly including Wright himself "haters."

Ms. Martin and the others who agree with her should give an argument defending the content of what Wright said or Obama's motivation for remaining with someone whose views were causing harm to the health of African-Americans and encouraging an entrenched, embittered attitude towards white people. An argument, with evidence, not rhetoric, praise, and personal attack on others. Defend the connection between 9/11 and Nagasaki, the claims about AIDS and the selling of drugs by the government.

Therein lies the problem, not in the breasts of liberal white people like myself. Enough of the intellectually bankrupt identity politics, unless you want to hand this election to the GOP.

Sent by David | 10:00 AM | 4-2-2008

That was a great comment on the Reverend Wright. We need you on NPR. I have been outraged by Juan Williams' comments on the same issue. Different opinions are fine, but when I see Juan Williams on Fox news joining in on mindless Obama-bashing, saying over and over how he can't understand why Obama "sat there for twenty years" in Trinity Church, essentially swelling the action for the likes of Sean Hannity, I think that this should not be an NPR correspondent. We expect full and fair reporting on NPR. Michel Martin, please continue!

Sent by Jean Haley | 10:51 AM | 4-2-2008

Jeremy Wright is a convenience and a smoke screen as a cover for those who do not want Obama to become President of this country. It is a good excuse to use and say who me I am not a racist. The very nature of the issue proves that to be untrue. No rational person holds another person responsible for the views of another.Doesn't matter if one has known them for fifty years. Are people saying that Barack Obama does not or did not have his own value system in part taught by his mother and grandparents who raised him who were white. Has he rejected everything they taught him. I think not- The Kennedy's were raised to help the people less fortunate than themselves and it appears that these are the same values imparted to Obama by his family.Where he went to do it is not of importance.Nor are the comments of a pastor whom he disagrees with He remained in the church because it shared his ideals about helping people- all people white as well as black were helped by Trinity church.When are the majority of people in America going to judge a person on character and works Let us also get over the pious attitude held in America that we can do no wrong to others.This country was founded on violence and theft and we should not forget it.Where are America Indians now? I don't say this to be UnAmerican but to be honest and accept an undeniable truth, there was also slavery. Racism is still alive and well and this Fiasco with Obama trying to defend himself shows that. I have seen no other political race where the scrutiny has been so relentless and won't go away. But in the case of H. Clinton and J McCain their lies and obnoxious supporters can be explained away and explanation accepted.What a shame.

Sent by Emily Hawkins | 10:36 AM | 4-29-2008

I completely disagree with many of Rev. Wright's views, but I respect that he says what he actually believes. He is what he seems. What Mr. Obama is suddenly "outraged" at is less Rev. Wright's political views, more that Rev. Wright is ruining his image. Mr. Obama did not successfully negotiate the initial situation with Rev. Wright. Clearly his pastor was not satisfied and did not think it to his benefit to lay low. Mr. Obama did not persuade and contain Rev. Wright-instead, Mr. Obama transformed an ally into an enemy. These men have abandoned their common ground. This is good evidence that Mr. Obama is not ready to deliver on his promise to bridge political divides. If he can't negotiate with Rev. Wright is he really ready to manage Washington and beyond? Pretend they are two countries-I can see a parallel: diplomacy,sanctions, force due to political pressure. As far as "walking out", believe it or not, there are those of us that do, and in fact, confront friends and family when they voice oppressive views-I'm one of those people. But, let me say that I don't disrespect Senator Obama for sitting and listening, all pastors say things members disagree with. I do disrespect him for condemning Wright and criticizing his own grandmother without first admitting his own bias, or at least acknowledging he might have some. I disrespect Senator Obama for not supporting free speech. I disrespect Senator Obama for failing to forgive Rev. Wright, for turning his back on him-to be a new kind of leader, Obama needs to stay in the gray areas, but instead he opted to go "black and white". A big part of that race conversation is airing the hostility held by blacks and whites alike. Obama's failing wasn't in staying, it was in walking away.

Sent by Penelope Snow | 10:08 AM | 5-2-2008

I've listened to NPR on many occassions. But I have to admit it was usually on long drives when nothing else was on the radio. My bad! But today i was traversing the net looking for Obama stuff, and I found you, or at least this sight. So I've spent the last few hours going over the posted listed on your comments. And I have to admit it. I was hooked. So! Why shouldn't I have a few comments too?
I actually tried to listen to all of your Obama sessions and have to say they all made me think just a little bit more than usual. Can you smell the burning? So like a lot of others, I've got a few opinions too.
OK! On your comment section I liked the tone and the content. It made me think a lot more than my brain is used to. Being an individual I like to think my opinion is the only right one. But then my peanut sized brain started to grow a bit and like I said, you could almost hear it sizzling. I'm 61 now and my poor brain just can't stand much of that. BUT! Like the (whomever)said! No pain, no gain. At 61 I might have thought I didn't have much more to learn. My bad again.
The concept of what you were saying wasn't lost on me, and probably not many others either. At least I hope so. So let me put my thoughts in proper context before someone shouts me down. I was born in 1948, right after the war. Oh! I'm sorry. I mean wwII. So I grew up in an era when people coming back from war was fresh and all kinds of junk was happening. It was a huge boom era with great growth in may aspects. And in utter truth I didn't meet many blacks back then. And indeed the term black wasn't even in my vocabulary either. But then again neither was white or mexican or latino or puerto rican. You get the point. All I knew was Irish, English, German, French, and Dutch. The point is that was my families background.Oh! And I knew American too, because I was one.
My father died from a heart attack when I was 8, and he was still pretty young. Just another result of a war damaged body. So I don't remember a great deal about him now. But I do remember he was a good man.
After he died we went through a lot of crap. My mother became a lifelong drunk and the family fell apart pretty much after that.I guess she had her reasons though. I had one older sister and two younger ones. That, and her being a single mother was probably a lot more stress than most people can handle and stay sane. And it was from her that I learned all about bigotry and prejudice. The act of pre judging.
AS I grew older, say 8 to 12, I heard a lot of words I never understood. But it was easy to understand they weren't really nice words by just litening to how they were spoken and in what contexts they were used. And so I learned a new concept called derogatory. But what it really means is hurt,anger,fear,shame, etc. BUT the one word that stuck out all too well was NIGGER! JUst from the way it was used and tone it was said in spoke all too clearly. This was not a nice word! IT was mean and hurtful and bantied about in a manner way too casually. You might have guessed that by then I had met and befriended another boy that was black. He was the only black boy I knew, and I liked him. Mom wasn't real comfortable with that. But she usually held her peace, until she got drunk again. Then it wasn't very pretty.
Then of all the things that could have happened, a puerto rican family moved in right across the street. And they had a son my age too.The father could hardly speak english, but the mother and son could very well. In fact she was a very nice lady and I spent a lot of time in their house. My black friend lived way across town so All we saw of each other was at school and when either of us walked to the others home.
But the three of us were inseperable for a long time, until I eventually moved away. But Mom taught me the words nigger and spic. And every time she used them they became more and more harder to listen to. Until one day I just flat out told her she was not allowed to say either even remotely near me ever again. Then I learned several new words, like wooden spoon and I'll beat your ass.
Mom was hard headed and so was I. So every time she talked like that I chastized her severely, and then she castized me back. We went through a lot of wooden spoons during those years. Butr you know what? Those spoons broke, and I didn't. I don't know arounf other people. But around me the words stopped.

The point being is that for a very long time those words were not used by me or around me again. And I let every white person I talked to know how I felt about them. But you know what? The words never went away. They just were hiding, and then I heard it again. But from who! I heard one black man calling another a nigger, like it was a play toy. There's just one thing wrong with that. I spent years of my life, and multiple spankings, to defend the position that they were BAD WORDS. All that time and all that hurt for what? To listen to music and conversations and movies that bantied it about. And then being told it was all right for one black man to say it to another, just not me. No what person was alloowed to use that word. It had become a soley black allowed word. So much for my feelings on the subject.

Now! You might ask what in the world does that have to do with the commentary. Context is never an excuse for using any bad word or phrase. It never gives anyone the right to used words the way they want to for solely private meanings. You can not say that nigger in one context is ok, and in another taboo. And you can't put any slant on it's used that is legit. To do so is a very affirmative step in isolating you, and all your people. It becomes defacto segregation in it's worse form. If segregation is wrong, it is wrong no matter who does it or for whatever reasons.

Your story, for when it happened, was probably very pervasive. Not right! But almost second nature to everyone. Including you. Indeed! You asked why no one stood up for you and your rights. I ask YOU! WHY DIDN"T YOU?
All of your comments were spot on about the situation and how it was handled. But let me add, you allowed it to happen. You blame the people who wronged you. Right on! Now take some responsability on yourself. Stand up and be counted. I'd hate to think I sufered all those sore ases for nothing.

I've got a lot more to comment on. But I've probably said enough for now. So! Keep on truckin and spread the love. There's already too much hate out there.

Sent by Glenn O'Dell | 4:38 PM | 6-21-2008


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