By Christopher Wilde
It has long seemed to me that a final hallmark of social equality for minority groups is to have the freedom to criticize the group you are from without turning back the clock on the gains that group has made.
White men don't fear to criticize one another in any terms their conscience will allow. Black men should have, should feel free, and should criticize themselves and everyone else with impunity.
I originated this line of thought in thinking about Hillary Clinton, particularly the vast silence of women regarding her candidacy. There seems to be so much enthusiasm over the prospect of a black or female candidate that a wall has risen that creates an invisible barrier to fair discourse.
Today Barack Obama again spoke out about Reverend Wright's comments. He started his speech by saying, "I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people."
He addressed the very reason I find him an attractive candidate. Not just because he says it but because the sentiment is realized when you look at his supporters.
The comments of Reverend Wright do not bother me, I am not bothered that Barack sat in his church. I would be more bothered if he didn't. I understand what it means to sit between races and wonder where you belong. If you have ever straddled the fence between two dispirit groups, two races, rich and poor, healthy and sick, good looking or homely you have a sense of what it means.
A desire to bridge those two groups is a far more noble thing than all the efforts of second generation guilt ridden rich who think they need to swoop in and save the world. More often than not that common elitist sentiment does more harm than good by failing to understand the very problems sought to be fixed.
Barack Obama continued his speech saying:
You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.
They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought, either.
He is right to strongly criticize Rev. Wright, as Rev. Wright is to fully reveal himself with his comments. This is all right and proper, necessary for equality. Social movements are evolutionary by nature and the people that propagate those movements must make the choice to grow and evolve with them in order to own the gains they've achieved.
This is a very important time for equal rights, not just for people of color but for anyone craving equality. My generation has grown up with an idea that we should not be racist. Many of us have strived to do so even when that means speaking out against racist comments heard in the office, among friends, and among family.
That Barack Obama is a black candidate, for me and I'm sure many others, the reason he is a "viable" black candidate is because we don't want to see him as just black, we want to see him as our candidate. We don't want to see him as being owned, like a slave, to the black community. We, I, want to see him as understanding where I have come from, where you have come from, and leading us both to where we want to go and this can not be done if he is beholden to one group.
I have spoken and written about the need for us to all recognize each other as Americans, regardless of race or religion or region of the country; that the only way we can deal with critical issues, like energy and health care and education and the war on terrorism, is if we are joined together. And the reason our campaign has been so successful is because we had moved beyond these old arguments. - Barack Obama
If Barack Obama's campaign loses the support he has built as a result of the Wright controversy then it will only confirm what I have always believed about the democratic party. I have always believed that the party pays lip service and uses minorities to promote it's self serving leaders.
Hillary Clinton's supporters should take heed as this controversy has been fanned by the Clinton campaign. When Hilary says that she would have left the church she is doing her best to string Wright around Obama's neck and hang them both.
As if that were not crime enough, she is setting back the gains of equality everywhere for the sake of her own political fortune. Today she is immune to the sentiments of every member Trinity United Church of Christ who does not leave their church in response to Rev. Wright.
It's ironic that Hilary would suggest that Barack should leave the church when she refused to leave her husband. Some may bristle at the comparison but to paint Barack with Rev. Wright's weaknesses is to wear the mantel of Bill Clinton's transgressions in all things.
This just in from the New York Times :
"“His comments regarding statements made by Reverend Wright showed me another aspect of Senator Obama’s leadership — a strength of character and commitment to our nation that transcends the personal...One of the tests of a true leader is his ability and willingness to come to a new conclusion based on new events. Senator Obama did just that yesterday.” -Representative Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat and Super Delegate.
From the International Herald Tribune:Huckabee says Obama's former pastor needs him to lose
"Jeremiah Wright needs for Obama to lose so he can justify his anger, his hostile bitterness against the United States of America," Huckabee said.