Obama Takes on Race, Religion in Speech Today

Barack Obama is in Philadelphia today, where he is going to deliver a speech about race, religion, and with it, cultural differences and perceptions. The dustup over the contentious comments by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of Obama's church, who stepped down from his religion advisor to the campaign after inflammatory recorded comments of Wright's sermons surfaced cast a pall over the campaign -- and the Right ran with it.

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Wright said. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."
Barack Obama has to give this speech because he has sold himself as a uniter, a bridge builder and when you have someone like Wright connected to the campaign railing that Hillary Clinton didn't understand what it was like to be black, saying "Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain't never been called a n-----," you have to cut them loose.
However, the message delivered is not a lie, it's true. She cannot know. Black men are too often bear the brunt of an unequal and unfair criminal justice system. In this case, the fiery, condemning delivery does nothing to address how people can come together in greater understanding and empathy -- I gather that wasn't the point of that particular sermon, but to allow the rage of injustice out from the pulpit to those who understand.
That said, people have to acknowledge part of the reason for the discomfort lies in Wright's delivery of the message. It's so black, isn't it? It sounds militant to tender ears outside the traditional black church. For that matter, it doesn't resemble the delivery of sermons in other denominations of black churches -- I was raised Episopalian, and those folks aren't the hooping and hollering types of congregations. That said, what does that all mean? If the same messages were delivered with a velvet glove, with less inflammatory language, would it generate the same reaction? I doubt it. But what does that mean in the bigger picture. I'm not sure. I think it requires more dialogue. Dialogue too many of us are afraid to engage in.
A message from Trinity United Church (Obama's house of worship), provides some insight on how the commentary about Wright's remarks are viewed on that side of the fence. Read after the jump.
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