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Friday, September 23, 2011

From TruthDig: "The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Recalls Obama’s Fall From Grace"

This piece by Chris Hedges is an important contribution to our understanding of President Barack Obama.  In his interview with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, many of the President's basic instincts, his fundamental values, are revealed.  Yet, Hedges paints a picture of the President as one who sold out his pastor.  It was Hedges who provided us with Cornel West's demeaning characterization of the President.  Hedges is to be applauded for his principled progressive ideas when it comes to "the system."  On the other hand, it must be recognized that the ideas he promotes, in their unadulterated form, are not compatible with pragmatic politics.  
Obama did not sellout Reverend Wright.  When Fox News went on its campaign to discredit Obama's candidacy, in an endless loop of video clippings,  Fox displayed Wright with his rant to "goddamn America" as Obama's pastor and close confidant.  In response to Fox's determined and racist efforts to derail his candidacy, Obama was so committed to maintaining his relationship with Reverend Wright, he gave what was considered to be a historic speech on race.  In essence, that speech was in defense of Wright, whose relationship he in some ways maintained to be as important as that of his grandmother.   
On Sunday April 28, 2008, I attended Detroit's NAACP Freedom Fund dinner at which Wright was still a hero in the Black community.  Later that week, he appeared on the Bill Moyers show in which Moyers allowed Wright to show is allegiance to America  by presenting the record of his military service and an opportunity to explain to the nation the precepts on black liberation theology.   But then Wright made a mockery of himself at the National Press Club on that following Monday, leaving Obama no choice but to distance himself from Wright.  Obama did not sellout Wright.  Wright's behavior was an embarrassment.  He discredited himself and his theology at that press conference.
What is revealed in this interview is Obama's integrity and commitment to the American people and the black community.  The Hedges, West/Smiley and Wright criticisms of the President have more to do with America's economics and politics than Obama's personal commitment, or lack thereof.  Wright discusses an Obama who did not want to run for the Illinois senate if Carol Mosely Brawn was going to run.  Wright also pointed out the Obama being brought to tears when he came to understand the limitations of the Congressional Black Caucus.  Wright pointed out as well, Obama's commitment to the poor as exemplified by his community organizing to combat poverty in Algelt Housing Projects.  Wright pointed out this essence of Barack Obama, a person of compassion, integrity, and fairness.  
Yet Hedges uses Wright and West criticisms as examples of Obama having "squandered ...[his] soul" through "cowardice and moral bankruptcy."  These personal attacks are disgraceful because they lie about the man.  It was his decency that got him elected.  The attacks ignore the fact that Obama must perform the role of president in a hostile white nationalist America and obstructionist Republican party.  He is not a dictator.  Obama was elected to the "institution of the AMERICAN presidency."   Any major deviation from his "responsibility" as president in protecting "American values" would lead to his being discredited and delegitimized.  As Obama said on the night of his election, he was elected to be the president of "even those people who did not vote for me."   To not recognize that is naive at best or nihilist, at worst.  These attacks make it hard to hard to distinguish which is which.  RGN

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Recalls Obama’s Fall From Grace 

Barack Obama’s politically expedient decision to betray and abandon his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, exposed his cowardice and moral bankruptcy. In that moment, playing the part of Judas, he surrendered the last shreds of his integrity. He became nothing more than a pawn of power, or as Cornel West says, “a black mascot for Wall Street.” Obama, once the glitter of power fades, will have to grapple with the fact that he was a traitor not only to his pastor, the man who married him and Michelle, who baptized his children and who kept him spiritually and morally grounded, but to himself. Wright retains what is most precious in life and what Obama has squandered—his soul.
The health of a nation is measured by how it treats its prophets. When these prophets are ignored and reviled, when they become figures of ridicule, when they are labeled by the chattering classes and power elite as fools, then there is no check left on moral decay and the degeneration of the state. Wright, who spent 36 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side, since the 2008 presidential campaign has endured slander and calumny and weathered character assassination, misinterpretation and abuse, and yet he doggedly continues Sunday after Sunday to thunder the word of God from pulpits across the country. 

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