Listeners Respond to Obama Speech, Iraq War Anniversary

Hear what listeners had to say about Sen. Obama's speech and his relationship with Pastor Jeremiah Wright; and response to a roundtable of U.S. troops.

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And now it is time for BackTalk where we lift the curtain on conversations from the Tell Me More blog and get a chance to hear from you. Producer Douglas Hopper is sitting in for Lee this week. Douglas, what's up?

DOUGLAS HOPPER: It was all about Barack Obama this week and the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. Two stories we decided to pay a lot of attention to. Let's start out with what people had to say about Obama, the speech and his relationship with Pastor Jeremiah Wright. Obama offered a very personal take on his own faith and about the racial divide in America. Glen Dunlop (ph), who heard our coverage, had this to say.

Mr. GLEN DUNLOP (Blog Contributor): As a black man, I equate this to a public lynching of a man who is truly intent on doing something positive for America. It is unfair to simply attach Obama to the pastor and not look at Obama's works as a state legislator or senator. I think Obama's public record speaks for itself.

MARTIN: Thank you for your thoughts, Glen. Not everybody came to Obama's defense. One blog reader, A.V., thinks that Barack Obama is getting off too easy. Here is what he had to say. "It is hard for me to separate Obama with his close preacher/religious leader. How can Obama say that he doesn't agree with what the pastor said? I know if I went into church one day and heard the priest say, god damned America or make fun of black Republicans, I'd be sick to my stomach."

HOPPER: Thanks for that A.V. It has to be mentioned though, that Barack Obama has strongly condemned Pastor Wright's remarks. Having said that, one of our guests, conservative commentator Tara Setmeyer also thought Obama should be questioned because of his relationship with Pastor Wright.

Ms. TARA SETMEYER (Conservative Commentator): I am running as a black man, but I am not running as a black man. Don't look at me that way, I am the uniter, I am representing everyone, but yet, he has his entire belief system. He sat under someone who has preached from a specific black perspective. It is a problem for him.

HOPPER: But one listener though Tara Setmeyer was missing the point and had this to say on the blog.

Unidentified woman: I think that the beauty of Barack's speech is that he eliminated issues that we are all talking about in our kitchens and amongst friends, both black and white, and has forced us to confront them.

MARTIN: Thank you for all your comments on this issue. Let's move on to another story we covered this week, the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. We dedicated Wednesday's show to observing the anniversary and in one of our segments we heard from a round table of service men and women who have served in Iraq.

Sergeant BRETT LINDELL (Marines): Would I do it again? I definitely would. You know I love my country. I love my marine corps, and you know, the honor in it, for my family, for everybody and I know Iraq has kind of lasted a long time, but there are definitely people over there who still need us.

MARTIN: Many listeners wrote in to say that they'd appreciated hearing from troops who had actually been on the ground in Iraq, but of course, there were critics.

HOPPER: That is right, Michel. Some listeners that the troops we had on only presented one perspective, Greg Patton (ph) wrote in to say, quote, "Your program gave a sanitized glimpse of what people have to endure during war." Greg went on to say that he wanted to hear more about the horrors of fighting in a war.

MARTIN: Thank you Douglas and thank you Greg for writing in. I do have to point out that we don't tell our guests what to say and I don't think anybody can say that an earlier conversation that we brought you, for example, with an Iraqi emergency room doctor, sanitized the horrors of the situation. But of course, we are always trying to figure out the voices we need to hear. The stories that we need to tell. To tell us more about what you think and to see what other listeners are talking about, you can go to and blog it out.

MICHEL: I'm Michel Martin. You are listening to Tell Me More from NPR News.

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