Obama's speech answered many questions his critics are still asking
I have to wonder if Barack Obama's critics on the race issue have seen or read the entirety of his speech . The truth is, Obama clearly answered some of the questions that his critics here are still putting forth as if Obama had not addressed them at all.
For instance, one critic wondered why Obama would throw Louis Farrakhan under the bus and go easy on Rev. Wright:
Why is it that Obama simply "rejected and denounced" not only statements by
Farrakhan, but rejected and denounced the man himself, and offered no excuses or
pleas for understanding, nor cited his positive contributions to the black
community as something to be weighed against HIS outrageous statements, yet has
done the opposite of each for Wright?
But Obama anticipated this very question, and answered it clearly and concisely in his speech:
Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and
ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of
condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright
in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I
confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of
those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and
You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the
caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that
I would react in much the same way.
But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I
met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my
Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love
one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who
served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at
some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who
for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing
God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the
needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison
ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
So Obama admits that firsthand knowledge of a person's good side weighs significantly in how he would treat a situation where that person had made statements worthy of condemnation.
So, we can agree or disagree with his philosophy in the matter, but the question has been answered.
And then today, more than one critic was troubled by Obama's statement that his white grandmother's use of stereotypes of blacks was "typical" of white people :
Obama... unwittingly stereotyped all whites as racists afraid of
the black man. Is this what we have to
look forward to as far as unifying the country??
It is a racist comment. That's wrong, right?
But if you read Obama's speech closely, he directly compares Wright to his white grandmother, and then strongly implies that Wright's "distorted" views on race are widely held in the black community. Thus he is acknowledging that racial bias is also "typical" in the black community. This nullifies any claims that Obama's "typical" statement is racist in itself or that Obama is singling out whites as racists, because Obama has made equivalent observations of both blacks and whites.
Here's where Obama makes the equivalence relationship between Wright and his grandmother, and implies that the "black community" shares the sins of both:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother
Obama clearly and directly equates Wright to his grandmother with this statement. And if you can connect the three dots here, it's pretty easy to see that Obama acknowledges that the black community (or, a significant percentage of the black community) holds biased views equivalent to Wright... and his grandmother. But he explicitly notes the racial bias of the congregation elsewhere:
The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce
intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes,
the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black
experience in America.
And he clearly implies that his church is "typical":
Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety
So, to recap:
1. Obama thinks the congregation of his predominantly black church is typical of black people,
2. Obama thinks that the church congregation contains "in full" racial bias
3. Obama equates the racial bias of the congregation with that of Reverend Wright
4. Obama equates the racial bias of Reverend Wright with that of his grandmother
5. Obama thinks his white grandmother's racial bias as "typical" of the white community
6. Obama equates the extent of racial bias in the black community with the extent of racial bias in the white community, seeing racial bias as typical in both communities.
I happen to think that Obama meant "typical" to mean "not uncommon". But if you want to claim, as Ender has done, that "typical of" means "all", and therefore Obama unwittingly charged "all" white people with racial bias equivalent to his grandmother, I would note that Obama did not explicitly exempt any black people as being free from bias in his speech, so you could similarly claim that he was saying that "all" black people are racially biased like his grandmother. I strongly doubt that this was Obama's intent.
If you've gotten this far, thanks for bearing with me. I know we've gone over this subject at length, and some of you are probably tired of it already. I just thought that it might be useful to bring the focus of any further discussion on the issue back to what Obama has had to say on the Wright issue and the broader black/white race issue.