Monday, March 17, 2008

Soap Opera Politics Vol 1, Issue 7: Rev Wright & Obama

Help Me Understand:
Viewers, I am asking you for your help. I don´t understand the Rev. Wright Soap Opera. I would like your input to help me understand what is happening.
By now, most of you have heard about Rev. Wright. He is Barack Obama´s long time friend and spiritual counsel and people connect the two of them. He even married Barack and Michele. He provided Barack the title for his last book. He has served as his campaign´s spiritual advisor.
Last year, on March 2, 2007, Rev Wright appeared on Shawn Hannity´s show and they angrily argued with one another about Rev Wright´s church. (see video) At that time, Shawn argued the Reverend´s sermons were racist. The Rev. angrily responded, saying Shawn did not understand the context.
I mentioned in January, as I drove down to SA, I heard Shawn talk for hours very negatively about Obama and the Reverend´s church. That was when I predicted Hillary would win TX.
Then last week, Fox purchased a video from the Reverend´s church. These clips were extremely provactive statements made by the Reverend. Some of these clips use very profane language which some say is racist and un-American. Here is the youtube about America and another about Hillary. These tapes showed various sermons of Rev Wright starting right after 9-11 through to January of this year. Taped by the church and sold to Fox. (Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr., saying, "God damn America" and suggesting that the country bore some blame for the attacks of Sept. 11 )
I am struggling to understand WHY the Reverend had his very controversial speeches taped as late as this January then his church SOLD them to Fox. Why would he do this? He knows how controversial these tapes are. He has had an on going argument with Fox and Shawn Hannity for over a year. So why on earth did they sell Fox the tapes? What could be his motivation?
The only possible reason I could draw from this is he wished for people to understand his church´s doctrine:
Black Liberation Theology: is theology from the perspective of an oppressed people. It seeks to interpret the gospel of Jesus against the backdrop of historical and contemporary racism. The message of black theology is that the African American struggle for liberation is consistent with the gospel--every theological statement must be consistent with, and perpetuate, the goals of liberation. The theology maintains that African Americans must be liberated from multiple forms of bondage social, political, economic and religious. This liberation involves empowerment and seeks the right of self-definition, self-affirmation and self-determination.
But if the reason Rev. Wright filmed and sold the tapes was to educate the American Public of his church´s doctrine, and since Rev. Wright is Obama´s spiritual advisor, then why on earth did Obama say, "I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy."
I just don´t understand the motivation for selling these tapes to Fox and for Obama to refute them if he believes in his church´s message.

22 comments:

dianne said...

Dee, I think it's a little more simple than you might think.

It is not uncommon for churches of many denominations (but especially large churches) to tape their services and sell them in the church gift shop or library. One of the churches I attended did it. You didn't even have to buy them - a donation was suggested.

I don't believe Rev Wright or his church thought then or think now there is anything wrong with what was said or what they stood for. I, of course, mightily disagree with that along with the great majority of citizens in this country.

And, I don't believe Barack Obama's denial either.

I have to tell you a little story about the church I attended that sold tapes. The pastor was undoubtedly the best speaker I had ever heard. I came out of church every Sunday feeling on top of the world. When my sister and her husband came for a visit they went with me to church and were just enthralled with this guy. This pastor had started with a small church of about 100 people and grew it into a congregation about the same size as Rev. Wright's church. It was huge. Then, one day, came the news that the pastor had been having an affair with the church secretary for many years. People were so shocked they just couldn't believe it. He had preached about the sanctity of marriage, adultery and all that stuff and, of course, there were all the tapes of those sermons. The church fired the pastor and destroyed every tape where he had preached about the very sin he had committed.

I think sometimes these kind of "holy men" believe they can do or say anything in the name of God. Well, "He" usually has the last word about that.

patriot said...

dianne, you are probably right about how and why the tapes were sold.

As far as the pastor himself, I understand him preaching against racism but when he mentioned a particular race as being racists (whites), that is where he went he went over the line. I am not denying the white on black racism of the Civil Rights Era but from the pulpit a pastor isn't supposed to put down a certain race and preach hate against them. For one thing this isn't the 1950's anymore and whites have made an effort to correct the wrong since then. Pastors are supposed to preach love and forgiveness not hate and eternal grudges.

Another thing that was totally out of line, is the way he talked about our country in a negative way. Sure some of it is the truth but from the pulpit again a pastor should not be attacking our country and preaching hate for it.

Obama knew what this pastor was all about. He knew him for 20 years, was married by him, had his kids baptised in that church, sat in the church and listened to his sermons and was a personal friend of his. If he didn't agree with his views, he would have left that church long ago. He is not a viable candidate for the president of the U.S. IMO.

Dee said...

Dianne,
I hope it is that simple.
I do like this part of the church´s doctrine, "The theology maintains that African Americans must be self empowered and seek the right of self-definition, self-affirmation and self-determination."
My Dad often said we needed to stand up on our own two feet, work hard and never rely on welfare.

From what the pundits, particularly the Black commentators are saying, the language the minister used is motivational and it is common. It is part of the fiery hell and brimstone that some churches, both Black and White, often use to motivate their members.
Today, CNN said,"More than 50 black ministers from around the country participated in a 90-minute conference call Sunday with representatives of the Obama campaign, according to Dr. Frederick Haynes, one of the participants. Haynes said the pastors -- some of whom were angry with Obama -- felt something had to be done to address the concerns of African-Americans, particularly those in the black ministry.

Haynes, pastor of the 10,000-member Friendship-West Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas -- who considers Wright a "mentor" -- said there was a sense of "outrage," a feeling that Wright was "being lynched in the media" and reduced to sound bites by those "ignorant of black culture, black expression and the black church."

Maybe the media and we just don´t understand what is said in Black churches.
I am going to watch Barack´s speech this morning, on now, and see if I understand this issue any better after his explanation.

Dee said...

Drudge has just published Barack´s prepared speech.

Barack is due to speak soon. We will see if Drudge is accurate.

Dee said...

more quotes:
"For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings."

and

"And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races."

Dee said...

one more quote

"This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union. "

Dee said...

ok....here is the money quote:

"Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."

Dee said...

I like this quote best:
"For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change. "
and
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

dianne said...

I expected Obama to deliver a great speech, and he did. Who can argue with what he said? I can't. It was the things he didn't say that bothered me. He described Wright as family, but as family, wouldn't you think he would have confronted him about his hateful rhetoric? Obama can speak about it to us, but why did he not speak about it to him? He can give us a wonderful sense of inclusiveness and tell us how we must work together, etc. but why didn't he do it in his own church?

Barack Obama had a chance to heal right in his own church, and he didn't do it. How can we expect that he really means to do so for the whole country?

ultima said...

"Haynes, pastor of the 10,000-member Friendship-West Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas -- who considers Wright a "mentor" -- said there was a sense of "outrage," a feeling that Wright was "being lynched in the media" and reduced to sound bites by those "ignorant of black culture, black expression and the black church."

Perhaps it is the black culture and black expression that it the problem not our ignorance of them. Clearly there are many positive aspects to Black culture. I love Scott Joplin's work. Some like the jazz originated by the Blacks.

Other aspects are not so admirable:
gangsta rap, foul language introduced into common usage -- words that were never heard when we were young, ebonics, etc.

ultima said...

Fox probably made it especially worth while for the church to sell it the tapes. The church's failure to recognize the potential damage they might do to Obama and to race relations in the U.S. is the real problem.

I look with great suspicion on all televangelists especially those who encourage one to mortgage his home and contribute the money to the church to assure his or her ascent into heaven. There have been enough of them who have exhibited immoral and criminal behavior to justify being very circumspect when considering whether one should be involved in this modern day purchase of indulgences.

Some of these folks are no more than snake oil salesmen or hitlerites in new garb. They mesmerize their audiences so that they are almost willing to do anything. How many of these charlatans have we already seen. Every one of them who has managed to establish a mega church should be under constant suspicion. A former nephew of mine by marriage was one of them but on a lesser scale. Yet, after 32 years of marriage and 5 children, he was an adulterer and divorced his wife to marry another. He left the church. I guess you could say here is a doctor of divinity who has been defrocked.

ultima said...

Obama's speak was a good one but I think Diane put her finger on it. He did not go far enough in denouncing his minister's words and he failed to recognize him for what he is early on and try to do there what he proposes to do for the country now. It is a stretch for me to take him seriously now.

Is he just another snake oil salesman?

Dee said...

Dianne, Ulty,
I agree this was a good speech.
I´ve also been thinking about WHY the church sold the videos to Fox.

I was re-reading this blog again last night and also re-reading the text to Obama´s speech when suddenly the reason came to me. As I was re-reading the speech I remembered that Drudge sent out his speech early, before Obama actually gave the speech. Then, as Obama spoke the words to his speech, I saw that he was READING the speech Word for Word. After the speech, the pundits kept talking about the importance and the dynamics of this speech, as if Obama was making up the words as he went along or likening him to Lincoln who wrote down the Gettysburg address on the back of a paper bag. But that is not what happened. This speech was specially formulated to address several issues. While there are those that say BHO wrote the speech himself, if you read the words, they are in response to the events that occurred between Wright and the media over the last year, Ferraro, and the history of race in our country over the last 200+ years.

Let me offer a speculation. The AMShockJocks were severely attacking Obama re: Wright for months. Obama´s campaign knew this issue was going to come to a head in the mainstream media now or in the near future. The Obama campaign had to respond. Then the Geraldine Ferraro incident happened. Obama jumped all over it. Then, immediately, Obama´s church sold the Rev Wright Videos to Fox. Obama´s strategists knew the videos would get out eventually, but they wanted to be prepared and mitigate the backlash from the Right.

Obama´s side put the videos out and Obama´s team was prepared and it showed.

The speech was well prepared. Obama responded but he did not offend either side too much. His media insiders responded as expected. Now this story is behind Obama and no one can say his team tried to suppress or hide anything.

Actually, from a political perspective, it was a beautiful strategy.
Also, think of the timing. This came out Friday (no news channels on Saturday and only a few news shows Sunday) his speech yesterday morning and now we are on to new news, silly stuff like Hillary´s papers.

Anonymous said...

dee

are you retired or are you slacking off on the job? hmmmmm

dianne said...

You could be right, Dee.

By the way, it has been reported by several news sources that the first politician to call for Imus to be fired after his racially insensitive comments about the Rutgers girls basketball team was guess who, Senator Obama. He wasn't satisfied with the suspension Imus initially got. He wanted him fired.

As my sister said this morning when we were talking about all this, we don't know this man but I've got a feeling we're going to learn a lot more before this is over.

Anonymous said...

In response to Dianne's question:

"It was the things he didn't say that bothered me. He described Wright as family, but as family, wouldn't you think he would have confronted him about his hateful rhetoric? Obama can speak about it to us, but why did he not speak about it to him? "

This kind of reminds me of Jimmy Carter and his brother Billy. Billy was a drunkard and Jimmy was a bible thumper. If Jimmy spoke to him about it, would it have changed Billy? In the end, people figured it out all by themselves: they weren't voting for Billy.

There is an awful lot of guilt by association and guilt by innuendo going on here. Just because I listen to Rush Limbaugh every day, and sometimes to Sean Hannity, that does not mean that I espouse their rantings. This is still a free country. I can listen to anyone I want to, but that should not define me.

Dee said...

Dianne,
I am not saying there is anything wrong with Brilliant Strategy. I think it was! This is all politics.

The only thing I have objection to is when they portray one thing for something else. Don´t pretend to be Kennedy or Lincoln. Just admit to the strategy.It was brilliant!

joe in oklahoma said...

Dee, do you really believe every single thing you hear in your church/synagogue/masjid?
do you think you would leave a community you loved being a part of if someone said something you thought was stupid?

Dee said...

Joe,
I like Obama and I like Hillary. I will vote for whichever is selected as the Dem Candidate.

Regarding his relationship with his minister, we all should have a good relationship with our church pastor, otherwise we should change churches. Secondly, our pastors are people and sometimes they may say stupid things. None of US would be called on it unless we were running for President.

But like I said, I am not saying there is anything wrong with what Obama´s Team did to distance them selves from the comments. I say it was a Brilliant Strategy. This is all politics.

The only thing I have objection to is, please don´t pretend to be Kennedy or Lincoln. Just admit to the strategy.It was brilliant!

patriot said...

So Obama trying to distance himself from his pastor now because he wants votes is brilliant? I would say he is trying to cover his tracks and what he is really all about. You don't sit in a church for 20 years with a pastor preaching anti-white and anti-American sentiments and then think that anyone is stupid enough to believe that you don't hold those same beliefs. I hope Obama goes down in flames. I am not a Hillary fan but she is the better choice of the two for the Democratic nominee.

patriot said...

So Obama trying to distance himself from his pastor now because he wants votes is brilliant? I would say he is trying to cover his tracks and what he is really all about. You don't sit in a church for 20 years with a pastor preaching anti-white and anti-American sentiments and then think that anyone is stupid enough to believe that you don't hold those same beliefs. I hope Obama goes down in flames. I am not a Hillary fan but she is the better choice of the two for the Democratic nominee.

Anonymous said...

I would urge you to read the actual text of Reverend Wright's controversial speeches before passing judgment as most of America has.

As Barack Obama said, if someone took 30 second snippets out of context of some of the dumbest things you've ever said and looped them endlessless...you'd end up looking pretty bad too.

As for Patriot, it may not sound very nice to you for Reverend Wright to reference "white racism" but it is a nasty historical truth that it is a direct result of white racism that blacks, native americans, hispanics find themselves in the dire conditions that they do in this country today.

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