What Obama Should Have Said About Wright and Race

Despite the glowing praise from supposedly impartial press representatives across the fruited plain, March 18, 2008 could go down in history as the day Barack Obama destroyed his chances of becoming the first black President of the United States.

Americans shouldn't be fooled by all the predictable fawning from the usual suspects in the mainstream media, for this was not a shining moment for the well-spoken gentleman that has generated so much enthusiasm around the country.

Rather than using his Rev. Jeremiah Wright mea culpa speech in Philadelphia Tuesday as an opportunity to demonstrably move race relations in this nation toward a brighter future, the junior senator from Illinois employed tired clichés to dredge up a past that most Americans only experienced in their history books and want desperately to move beyond.

If this is change we can believe in, Martin Luther King Jr. must be rolling over in his grave.

Consider for example the following words uttered by Obama early in his speech that won't likely be reported by press members unashamedly on his bandwagon:

[The Constitution of the United States] was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery...

The Constitution was stained?

Is telling Americans that the most important document in their history was stained a way to begin a speech that was supposed to address Obama's connections to a bigoted, hateful pastor? Is this how the presidential candidate and his media minions think he's going to unite the nation, by bringing up hundred year old images of slavery?

Forgive me, Senator, but this rhetoric is what has been spewing from the mouths of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton since Martin Luther King Jr. was shot 40 years ago, and is quite responsible for why race relations haven't improved much since.

Sadly, Obama wasn't done trying to shame Americans for a past most currently alive had no part of:

But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments - meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.

This coming from a black man that went to Columbia University and Harvard Law School, married a black woman who went to Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and had a combined household income of $1.7 million in 2005.

It seems the wealth, income, and education gap Obama spoke of hasn't harmed him or his family. You think media will point out this delicious hypocrisy?

No, I don't either.

Regardless, having painted a picture of the United States certainly different than the one that has offered him opportunity and prosperity beyond most Americans' wildest dreams be they black or white, Obama flipped the race card over:

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community...Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition? And here I thought the Reagan revolution was inspired by promises of lower taxes, less government interference in people's lives, and a strong national defense.

Silly me.

Do Obama and his media minions really think suggesting Ronald Reagan's success was a function of white anger will endear him to white voters? Is this what they believe will unify our nation? Or accusing conservative commentators of "unmasking bogus claims of racism?"

This is change we can believe in?

Of course, this type of nonsense works well with liberals such as Chris Matthews who called Obama's speech "worthy of Abraham Lincoln." What should we expect of a man who admitted that Barack's oratory gives him a thrill up his leg?

Not to be outdone, the New York Times and the broadcast networks also gushed over Obama's remarks. Yet, despite such unapologetic sycophancy, how will implying that one of America's most beloved presidents is responsible for racism play in Peoria?

More importantly, how much different is this from the tenor of much of the controversial statements made by Obama's pastor?

Think about it: to a certain extent, Obama tried to explain Wright's hateful rhetoric with somewhat similar hateful rhetoric, albeit toned down for a wider audience than that which sits in the pews at Trinity Church.

This brings to mind Cyrano de Bergerac's response to Valvert's simplistic assertion that his nose was "rather large."

After all, in settling the Wright controversy on such an enormous stage with the entire country hanging anxiously on his every utterance, Obama "might have said, oh a great many things." Why waste such a marvelous opportunity with the same monotonous, racist trivialities the country has been exposed to by the likes of Jackson and Sharpton for so many decades?

Mon dieu.

For example, thus:

Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been part of my life for twenty years, and no one has had a bigger impact on my faith than he. However, I am quitting his church, because his kind of hateful rhetoric is part of the problem in our country, and race relations will never improve as long as black people condone speeches that continually blame white people and the United States for all the world's ills.

America has given me, my wife, and my family almost unthinkable opportunities, and we are extraordinarily grateful. Such is available to all in our nation that are willing to work hard. In fact, what the success of my presidential campaign up to this point demonstrates is that Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream is very close to becoming a reality.

Of course, there is still a lot left for us to do for his vision to fully materialize. First and foremost, African-Americans around the country must immediately denounce the anti-American and anti-white rhetoric that is so common in our churches and our music. If we really want there to be one America, we have to start behaving like that's the case rather than constantly depicting ourselves as victims.

When I am president, I will work tirelessly to make this happen. Thank you, and God Bless America.

With such words or something similar, Obama might have not only sealed the nomination, but also made himself almost unbeatable in November.

Instead, the junior senator from Illinois showed the nation that he really doesn't disagree much if at all with Wright's hateful rhetoric. He's just sorry the country was exposed to so much of it during his quest for the White House.

Despite the hopes of many Americans spellbound enough by his exemplary elocution skills that they believe he can finally improve race relations in this country, Obama showed himself to be nothing more than the Reverends Jackson and Sharpton. This will come as a great shock and maybe even greater disappointment to millions of Americans on both sides of the aisle.

Though there are likely few Republicans who will vote for Obama if he wins the Democrat nomination, there are plenty that would be very proud of our nation if a black man was elected president, especially if he could end our racial divide.

Count me amongst them.

Sadly, it now appears Obama is as capable of doing this as Rev. Wright. Too bad.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.