Here is the text of Barack Obama’s “major address” on race relations and Pastor Wright. Obama says he can no more disown the White America-hating Wright than he can disown his grandmother who, he says, occasionally uttered racial epithets [correction: she occasionally indulged in racial stereotyping]. “These people,” he intones “are a part of me, and they are a part of America, this country that I love.”
But there is a key difference between Obama’s grandmother and Rev. Wright. Not only is his connection with Wright voluntary, but Obama selected Wright to be his spiritual leader. Since he still says Wright is “part of me” (and he can longer claim that he doesn’t know the full scope of Wright’s hatred of “white America”), he should be judged for containing that “part.”
It will not do to say that Wright is “part of America.” Lots of deplorable people are part of America, including white racists. Political candidates are not required to embody every strand of America, much less the most noxious hate-filled ones. Political candidates embrace the strands that speak to them, and we should embrace the political candidates whose strands of thinking speak to us. No other candidate for president contains Wright’s thinking as “part of them.” In all likelihood, no other remaining candidate takes Wright’s views seriously.
Obama admits the obvious — that he does take Wright’s views quite seriously. He states:
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we