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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright.

Andrew Sullivan makes the crucial point about the controversy that is currently engulfing Barack Obama over statements made by Jeremiah Wright:

The relevant — the only relevant — question is: are Obama's beliefs represented by the handful of video clips of the most incendiary of Wright's sermons? Or to unpack it a little further: Does Obama believe that black people should damn America? Does he believe that racial separatism is a viable option? Is he a black liberation theologian?

Seriously, I can find absolutely no evidence that he is, and if anyone can, I will gladly eagerly air it.

Give me a speech or a sentence or an off-hand remark in the last twenty years in which Obama has said such a thing or reflected such a worldview and I will gladly post it. On the other hand, we have many, many, many examples of Obama's own thoughts on these issues, several extraordinary sermons and speeches, two books, one of which is searingly honest about race and faith and identity. The notion that this immense record should be displaced by a few YouTubes by someone else seems, well, disproportionate.

I still believe airing all this is important and salient. God knows there is plenty in Wright's theology I find repugnant — although my knowledge of the tradition from which he springs is limited. But the same could be said for the Southern Baptist Convention, for example, or the eccentric but obviously sincere former hippie, Arthur Blessit, who brought our current president to Christ. Or my own [Roman Catholic] church, for that matter. What they have all said about gay people is horrifying to me, and I do not share all the political views of my spiritual leaders. The key — it seems to me — is the candidate's public positions on these issues — not what his pastor has said and says in the pulpit. I remain in a church which describes gay people as "intrinsically disordered." But my own record in the secular world is obviously radically different. Exactly the same standard should apply to Romney or Obama or McCain. No one should get a pass; but they also all deserve a chance to say what they think in the secular world on the relevant issues.

Read the rest. Obama plans to deliver a speech later today on race in America, which will refer in part to the controversy about Wright's statements. I've been collecting other links to relevant coverage.

Copyright © 2008 by Philocrites | Posted 18 March 2008 at 8:21 AM

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Next: Obama's speech on race: 'A more perfect union.'





March 18, 2008 11:00 AM | Permalink for this comment

A reminder, readers: You're welcome to leave comments that disagree with me or things I post -- but you MUST use an actual email address. I delete comments left by readers who refuse to leave an address that would allow me to reach them.

Dudley Jones:

March 18, 2008 12:54 PM | Permalink for this comment

Does unpack mean the same as explain? Or is it some kind of deconstruction concept? If you Google unpack you get a lot of sites for Perl coding.
Philocrites should provide a glossary for older readers.


March 18, 2008 01:39 PM | Permalink for this comment

Dudley, I have no idea how the term "unpack" came to mean "to elaborate," but that's what I think most people mean when they says that they're "unpacking" a statement.

h sofia:

March 18, 2008 02:48 PM | Permalink for this comment

To "unpack" means to put the statement or term (or whatever is being unpacked) in a more tangible context - often in the form of real life examples. In a sense, to put it to use (just as one would do with clothing or items would had packed in boxes).

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