Until now, I’ve been reluctant to address the controversy surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s Pastor. The issue first came to light a few months ago, but was never really picked up on. At that time, Barack Obama was just one of two “top-tier” candidates expected to lose badly to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary. Since then, however, he has won the Iowa Caucus, the South Carolina Primary, and went on an amazing 11 state winning streak in February. As Barack Obama’s chances of winning the nomination have increased, so has the scrutiny of his past, and once again, the controversy surrounding Rev. Wright has come back to the forefront.
In case you are unfamiliar with the statements of Rev, Wright, he has said, among other things, “God d*** America”, that America was a terrorist state, that the U.S. Government created the AIDs virus to kill people of color, that the U.S. killed many more people in WWII than the terrorists did on 9/11 “without batting an eye”, and that we got what we deserved on 9/11.
Many people, from members of Obama’s church, to authors interviewed by the media, to members of the media themselves, have put the focus on Race – the race of Obama, the race of Rev. Wright, and so on. Obama himself is going to be delivering a “major speech” on race tomorrow to attempt some kind of damage control – probably comparable to Mitt Romney’s “Faith in America” speech. The race issue is, in my opinion, a huge distraction from the real problem: the extremist rantings of an Anti-American, well, what ever he is. Until now, Obama has managed to run a remarkably race-free campaign, attracting support form Whites and Blacks alike, and even winning in one of the Whitest states in the country. To entangle this simple cut-and-dry issue of anti-American hate with the much more complicated and divisive issue of race helps no one.
If I could have offered a piece of advice to Obama, I would have told him to avoid giving the speech, because it will almost certainly distract the campaign from a brilliant, albeit liberal, candidate and could, with even the slightest mistake, forever make him the “race” candidate – something that would surely ruin his chances in a general election, and possibly other campaigns in his future. Rather than speaking on what is really an unrelated issue, I would have told Obama to apologize for placing Wright on an advisory committee, for failing to come out more strongly earlier, and to ask America to look beyond this issue to Obama’s plans for the country if he wins the White House.
Unfortunately for him, it does not look like Obama will take that advice.