Sometimes There Really are Just Two Ways of Looking at Something

If you are a person who believes that what Jeremiah Wright said about 9-11 and white America is false and wrong, then you probably should not on principle support Obama since he approved of those statements by not leaving the church or by encouraging the removal of Wright as its pastor. Folks who sit in church silently while their minister is damning America for tolerating homosexuality endorse those statements when they fail to sack the minister or leave the church. Obama can offer no justification for why he did neither. He has admitted he lied when he claims to never have heard the statements.

If you are a person who believes that what Wright said about 9-11 and white America is true and right, then you probably should not in principle support Obama since he condemned those statements, denigrated Wright the person, and turned his back on the community. Obama gave a speech in which he came out in favor of the convenient understanding of racism, a speech aimed at making white people feel good about his presidency by making racism appear for the most part as residual anger among older black Americans. Obama betrayed Wright’s teaching. So if Wright is somebody you admire, then Obama offends you. And you see the speech for what it was: a superficial, self-serving attempt to confuse the issue.

Obama sought to walk a tightrope, as the media was constantly reminding us. But there is no tightrope to walk. There are only two ways to feel about this if you operate on principle, each rooted in your political worldview. These worldviews are represented by the establishment standpoint, on the one hand, and the popular standpoint on the other. If you are of the former, then Obama’s failing is that he is a member of a radical black anti-American church. If you are of the latter, then Obama’s failing betrays your core values as an advocate for social justice.

Following Obama’s lead, the media used empty words to make a speech that couldn’t possibly work appear as if it did. They manufactured an illusion, one that millions of the believers sitting at the feet of the Obama cult of personality needed no prompting to believe. Why can I see the speech for what it is? Because I am consistently justice oriented. I can see what Obama is up to. He’s the establishment’s black candidate.

But others who adhere consistently to the establishment standpoint also see through the speech. They can see how he changed the subject from the problem of his minister’s anti-Americanism to the problem of racism in America, a switch he exploited to gain traction among liberals seeking satifaction on the question of race. Obama’s speech was an object lesson in the importance of developing a consistent worldview rooted in principle, as well as why bipartisanship is an undesirable goal and centrism is an extremist ideology.

By the way, have you noticed that white Christian ministers can say all sorts of nasty things about America, but when a black Christian minister does it he is a racist anti-American demagogue?

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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