Following up on Barack Obama’s speech About Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the issue of race, I decided to spend a little time visiting pro-Clinton sites. I had actually already started doing this from time to time even before the Wright controversy, hoping, as an Obama supporter, to avoid the tunnel vision that can come from only listening to the hymns sung by your own choir.
But to be honest, I’m finding it harder and harder to go back.
The glee — no, more like self-righteous ecstasy — awash in these sites over the Wright controversy is becoming more than I at least want to take. What I guess is starting to overwhelm my senses is the clear willingness of many vocal Clinton supporters to overlook the undeniable racist element to the issue (as reflected in the inconsistent treatment of Wright’s comments as compared to those of controversial white clergy). Instead, they are luxuriating in the sheer joy of seeing Obama damaged, seemingly unconcerned with such details.
(In fairness, the Clinton campaign itself is, at least officially, standing clear of the controversy — or perhaps not.)
Bart, Obama has attended this church for twenty years.
He brings his impressionable daughters to hear this hateful speech every Sunday?
How in the world can we heal the racial divide if black children listen to this hatred?
How can these children listen to this kind of racially charged demagoguery on Sunday
and then sit next to white classmates on Monday and not feel hatred?
If you are taught to respect the pastor, how can these children grow up without hating white people?
If Barack Obama truly wanted to heal the racial divide, he would not participate in a church
that does not embrace people of all colors and races. If he truly believes in the the teachings
Pastor Wright and his church, how can he be the leader of the USA?
If he did not condone this hatred, he would have quit the church long ago.
Instead, he had Pastor Wright as his campaign spiritual advisor.
“Good point,” huh? So, I take it then, Bart, that you’ve concluded that Trinity United Church of Christ — a congregation of several thousand people — is unfit for small children. I mean, that has to be what you’re saying, right? It can’t be unfit for Obama’s kids, but okay for everyone else’s — only a hypocrite taking a cheap shot would suggest that.
So, Bart, I’d be interested in knowing exactly what research you did to support this condemnation. In case you’re interested — and I’m guessing you’re not — I have done some. And it doesn’t even begin to support your slander. Trinity UNC is in many ways an extraordinary church, with anything but a separatist philosophy, always welcoming to white visitors, and with a strong tradition of public service. Even Rev. Wright himself, while at times controversial, is nothing like the caricature that’s been painted of him.
Do you care about that Bart? Do you give a rat’s ass, or is this just a golden opportunity, probably the best one remaining, to bring Obama down so that your candidate can prevail (although don’t count on that being the outcome if Obama does falter)?
The post in question is fairly typical of what can be found in the reader comments at pro-Clinton sites (and in pro-Clinton posts at places like the Democratic Underground). One very common comment you’ll find in these venues goes something like this: “If I had ever heard someone say something hateful like that (Wright’s words), I would have walked out in a second.”
To be honest, I don’t know whether to question the sincerity of such comments, or to marvel at the cloistered lives such people must have lived.
Having lived most of 52 years, I’ve heard more people say inappropriate things, of one sort or another, than I can count. And, no, my response hasn’t always been to storm off in protest. Holier-than-thou only gets you so far in this life. Sometimes you have to make compromises. Sometimes have to weigh the good against the bad. And sometimes you have to accept the truth that there’s more to people than the sum of their verbal excesses.
That’s why I’ve consistently opposed the modern tendency to run public figures out of town on a rail based, not on their life’s work, but on one or more isolated stupid comments. We need to face up to the fact that sometimes good people say ugly things.
Let me give you an example that will offend some people. In times of great anger or fear, I’ve on occasion heard basically good people use hateful language they would normally find deeply offensive, including even racist language. Is speaking that way wrong? Yes, of course, it is, but it doesn’t necessarily define the person. And, no, I haven’t written all of these people off as a result, or even dramatically walked out of the room on each occasion.
My guess is that a large percentage of Americans have at least one relative or close friend of the family who’s something of a bigot, at least in some sense of the word. The advocates of the “I would walk out” philosophy (or at least that’s what they say their philosophy is when judging others), would suggest, I suppose, people should simply write off these people. But is that the only right answer?
We don’t know how many of Rev. Wright’s most controversial comments Obama heard, but he admits to hearing some. I suppose he could have followed the advice of the armchair quarterbacks and walked out. But the thing is he wouldn’t just have been walking away from those few offensive words; he would also have been walking away from a congregation that based upon everything I’ve been able to read is filled with love and service to the community.
Personally, I’ll be happiest with a president who doesn’t find that quite as obvious a choice as some of the Clinton backers now claim it to be.
Update: BartCop “responds.”