(I wind up my May Day postings, the break from a break, with a few oblique things on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.)
Keep in mind that Obama has distanced himself from Wright--out of political necessity, mind you--and the media are just lapping it all up. The media have provided us with a most blatant and easily disproved misinformation campaign regarding the "controversy" over Obama's pastor. Again, and again, and again ... and again ... columnists and pundits refer to Wright's "hateful oratory," his "bitterness." He has "praised" Louis Farrakhan as a "great American." He "mocked" the "regional dialects" of Kennedy and Johnson. He made fun of white people's dancing. He is just an old, uppity, sour grapes anti-white racist. Right? Wright? Wrong.
Perhaps it won't be available on YouTube that much longer ... but anyone with a broadband connection can see the entirety of Wright's "inflammatory" speeches to the press, to the NAACP. Not just the maliciously, intentionally decontextualized and recoded two-second soundbites that keep getting played. Regarding Obama's denunciation ... here are some of the awful, horrible, evil things that Obama wants to let us know he does not support and does not stand for:
Throughout its 99-year history, the NAACP has been built by people of all races, all nationalities, and all faiths on one primary premise, which is that all men and women are created equal. The nation's oldest civil rights organization has changed America's history. Despite violence, intimidation, and hostile government policies, the NAACP and its grassroots membership have persevered.
Now, somebody please tell the Oakland county executive that that sentence starting with the words "despite violence, intimidation, and hostile government policies" is a direct quote from the NAACP's profile in courage. It didn't come from Jeremiah Wright.
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I believe that a change is going to come because many of us are committing to changing how we see others who are different.
In the past, we were taught to see others who are different as somehow being deficient. Christians saw Jews as being deficient. Catholics saw Protestants as being deficient. Presbyterians saw Pentecostals as being deficient.
Folks who like to holler in worship saw folk who like to be quiet as deficient. And vice versa.
Whites saw black as being deficient. It was none other than Rudyard Kipling who saw the "White Man's Burden" as a mandate to lift brown, black, yellow people up to the level of white people as if whites were the norm and black, brown and yellow people were abnormal subspecies on a lower level or deficient.
Europeans saw Africans as deficient. Lovers of George Friedrich Handel and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart saw lovers of B.B. King and Frankie Beverly and Maze as deficient. Lovers of Marian Anderson saw lovers of Lady Day and Anita Baker as deficient. Lovers of European cantatas -- Comfort ye in the glory, the glory of the Lord -- Lovers of European cantatas saw lovers of common meter -- I love the Lord, He heard my cry -- they saw them as deficient.
In the past, we were taught to see others who are different as being deficient. We established arbitrary norms and then determined that anybody not like us was abnormal. But a change is coming because we no longer see others who are different as being deficient. We just see them as different.
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Many of us are committed to changing how we see others who are different. Number one, many of us are committed to changing how we see ourselves. Number two, not inferior or superior to, just different from others. Embracing our own histories. Embracing our own cultures. Embracing our own languages as we embrace others who are also made in the image of god. That has been the credo of the NAACP for 99 years. When we see ourselves as members of the human race, I believe a change is on the way. When we see ourselves as people of faith who shared this planet with people of other faiths, I believe a change is on the way.
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Please run and tell my stuck on stupid friends that Arabic is a language, it's not a religion. Barack Hussein Obama. Barack Hussein Obama. Barack Hussein Obama. They are Arabic-speaking Christians, Arabic-speaking Jews and Arabic speaking atheists. Arabic is a language, it's not a religion. Stop trying to scare folks by giving them an Arabic name as if it's some sort of a disease.
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But, since this is a nonpartisan gathering and since this is neither a mosque, a synagogue or a sanctuary, just let me say, we can do it. We can make it if we try. We can make the change if we try. We will make a change if we try. A change is going to come. Can you feel it? Can you see it? Can you imagine it? Then come on, let's claim it. Give yourselves a standing ovation while the transformation that's about to jump off. A change is going to come.
(These excerpts all from the CNN transcript of the NAACP talk.)
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Keep in mind that Barack Obama, the public figure, has distanced himself from all of these comments. He wants nothing to do with them. He not only admits, he cheerfully insists that the above comments are not what he's "about." I would bet that, deep down, Obama is very upset with himself for playing this game--his denunciation a few days ago didn't ring very true to me, it didn't feel like it came from the gut. But to stay afloat, he didn't come out fighting and straight-talking, he played the game, he bent to one knee, he did what was politically convenient. Obama, "the Washington outsider," became that much more like Hillary Clinton or John McCain.
This is why it is vital to not put all our hope on this election, and why third party protest votes will be of very limited but real strategic worth--to let each other know we're not all duped.