Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama treating Americans as adults...

As Jon Stewart pointed out on the Daily Show last night, Barack Obama's speech on race in America yesterday was refreshing in that it showed an American politician speaking to the nation as though they were adults, not petulant children. He talked about race in all it's complexities, including not only the resentment and bitterness still evident in the African American community, but also about the resentment present in the white community. He talked about how these feelings are real, and must be confronted, rather than denied and ignored. He talked about finally having a dialogue and working together to address real feelings, and real inequities. He condemned some of the words of his pastor, without stooping to condemning the man who married him and baptized his children.

Obama (rightly I think) draws a line between condemning a man, and disassociating himself from a man, and condemning a man's words, and disassociating himself from that man's words. Partly, this is because this man has been like family to him over 20 years, and partly (we must admit) it's because condemning Reverend Wright would amount to sticking his finger in the eye of a large swath of the African American population (who, by and large, were not at all shocked to hear a black preacher speak that way). As Obama said, the most segregated hour in America is on Sunday morning. So, it is in that spirit of honest debate (rather than a partisan "tit for tat" or counter attack) that I ask how we all think John McCain should react to quotes like these:

"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers ... AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." - Jerry Falwell

"Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history." –Pat Robertson

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this (the 9/11 attacks) because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this (the 9/11 attacks) happen.'" Jerry Falwell

"Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up" –Pat Robertson, on nuking the State Department
How do we feel about these quotes as opposed to the quotes by Barack Obama's pastor? How would we expect John McCain to react to these quotes? Would we expect McCain's reaction to be any different if he had a twenty year relationship with Robertson? If Jerry Falwell had presided over his wedding, or baptized his children? If his supporters pointed out that many white people hear this sort of thing in churches across America all the time?

For equal treatment, here's the worst of Reverend Wright's comments, imho. I think most of his comments, taken in context, aren't nearly as bad as the sound bites make one think, but this one's pretty bad:
"The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color".

Let's have a discussion.

(UPDATE: Sorry, forgot to add the links for where I got the quotes. Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson Jeremiah Wright).

Recommend this Post


Jennifer Smith said...

And then there's John McCain's ACTUAL 'spiritual adviser', Rod Parsley, calling for the eradication of Islam and claiming that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) "received revelations from demons and not from the true God."

Nice. Very nice.

Mike said...

As for the reverend Wright's AIDS comments, they are not even wrong and beyond disgusting. But I can sure understand the sentiment. When you are that roiling angry at the government and the establishment (and yes they are that angry) you will say and grasp at anything, no matter how bizzare, that paints the government in a bad light.

I hear all these wild conspiracy theories from some libertarians too. They hate the government so much, the WANT this to be true. Again, given history and circumstance, understandable agner.

Time to deal with the anger that makes people say and believe such nonsense.