Friday, March 21, 2008

Deepening and widening Obama's conversation

Barack Obama is getting the conversation he asked us to have about race — and then some.

For starters, make that plural: "conversations." Millions of them are happening all over the country — and perhaps all over the world in this age of the world wide web.

One friend who e-mailed me drew my attention to an anti-Semitic exchange between Richard Nixon and Billy Graham, who was the closest Nixon had to a spiritual advisor.

My friend somewhat obliquely wrote that Nixon's relationship with Graham was "something that Obama should keep in mind."

The "something" he had in mind was the sometimes toxic roles pastors can play in the lives of politicians.

Something else to keep in mind is anti-Semitism. And so is prejudice against Moslems, Hindus, gays, pacifists, agnostics and atheists. (Try running for public office in this country as an open atheist, just for starters.)

Obama's conversation needs to go was wide as he would have it go deep.

So far it has been defined by race because of Obama's life experience with racism and the fallout from it.

There are, obviously, other experiences and other prejudices.

What Obama has been able to do is articulate the duality of prejudice because he is so transparently bi-racial and inter-racial, and ultimately trans-racial. He combines whiteness and blackness and so is able to transcend both. His perspective and experience, and his ability to articulate what they mean for him (and ultimately us), create a whole new way for us to look at and, most importantly, experience race.

Following his lead, we must see that ALL is in each of us. To hate or demean anyone is ultimately to hate and demean ourselves and all humanity.

And that is a stark reminder that the opposite of hatred is love.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Cristian said...

Like you, I felt that Senator Obama was a candidate who transcended race, someone who was running for the Presidency who happened to be black - just as he/she might be white, Asian etc. After the Philadelphia speech, however, I thought differently. Senator Obama focused so heavily on race that I realized that race is in fact CENTRAL to his way of thinking. Though his speech was well crafted it ignored the issue of the senator's close twenty year relationship with an anti-semite and racist. The senator did not apologize for his poor judgment in continuing to belong to Jeremiah's Wright's church despite repeated experience listening to the minister's outrageous sermons. I now believe that other Americans are going to take note of this. In the long run the Senator's Philadelphia speech will come to haunt him. As for Richard Nixon and Billy Graham's anti-semitic comment, may I remind you that this comment surfaced many years after Nixon left office. I was no fan of Richard Nixon's when he was in office and I would have been appalled had I known of Graham's comment at the time. The comment was abhorrent. So what is your point? Graham's single comment hardly justifies Obama's twenty years of tacit support for racism and anti-semitism, does it?

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

chapter 14 page 293 he talks about setting in church and listing to write preach about "Hiroshima' hm sounds familiar and also talks about how he agreed with the church creed page 284, I think he is still not being honest. I have the book and read it myself. Dreams from my father

Obama lied read and compare to todays news..Speech on Race

There’s a lot of folks in America right now who have heard that. And I want to ask you why you have been listening to this pastor and close to him for nearly 20 years?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, Anderson, you know, I strongly condemn the statements that have been shown on the tape.

I have to confess that those are not statements that I ever heard when I was sitting in the pews at this church. This is a church that I have been a member of for 20 years. This is a well-established, typical, historically African-American church in the South Side of Chicago, with a wonderful set of ministries.

OBAMA: And, as I said, Anderson, if I had heard any of those statements, I probably would have walked up, and I probably would have told Reverend Wright that they were wrong.

But they were not statements that I heard when I was in church.

COOPER: So, no one in the church ever said to you, man, last week, you missed this sermon; Reverend Wright said this; or...


COOPER: I mean, I think I read in your books that you listened to tapes of Reverend Wright when you were at Harvard Law School.

OBAMA: I did.

COOPER: So, you had no idea?

OBAMA: I understand.

I did not. Well, I want to be clear that, when I ran for president, some of these statements started surfacing.

COOPER: I mean, you may not have been there, but have you -- you must have heard that he had said these things.

OBAMA: You know, I confess that I did not hear about this until -- until I started running for president.

And then there was a story that was issued in which I strongly objected to these statements and condemned them. But what I also understood that was -- was Reverend Wright was on the verge of retirement and that a new pastor was coming in. The church family was one that was very important to me. It's where my wife and I got married. It's where our children were baptized. And, so, my belief was that this was something out of the ordinary. Obviously, some of these statements indicate that this was happening more frequently.

But I also want to say this, Anderson. This is somebody who was a former U.S. Marine, who is a biblical scholar, who's preached and taught at theological seminaries all across the country, and has had a reputation as a preeminent preacher in the country.

And, so, I have to strongly condemn the statements that were made. They do not reflect my views or Michelle's views, or probably the views of many people in the church.

On the other hand, you know, Reverend Wright is somebody who is like an uncle or a family member who you may strongly object to what they have to say, but, as he's about to retire, I have no intention of leaving the church itself.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Rick Seifert said...

I've passed my "Dreams of My Father" along so I have no way of telling what Anonymous is referring to. It's pretty garbled in any cases.

Since Cristian is tracking this, and I presume agrees with whatever this person is trying to say, perhaps he can translate.

9:09 PM  

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