Patterico's Pontifications

7/5/2008

The Levi/DRJ Debate

Filed under: — Patterico @ 2:09 pm

This page reflects the ongoing Levi/DRJ debate on Barack Obama and Rev. Wright. (The background, rules, and relative positions are all set forth in this post.)

When I have time, I’ll simply cut and paste their arguments so that they can be followed without having to wade through all the comments.

Thanks to Dana for the suggestion.

DRJ begins:

I accept these rules.

Levi,
I won’t waste any more time explaining why I think Jeremiah Wright is hate-filled and anti-American. I already made you suffer for 100+ comments as I searched for reasons other than racism and hate to explain Wright’s statement and, as you know, I couldn’t find any. Thus, the remaining issue is: What does Obama’s long-term, close relationship with Jeremiah Wright, a person who publicly espouses racism and hate, say about Barack Obama?

You think it means nothing and, as you know, I disagree so let’s consider the facts: Barack Obama was a member of Wright’s church for 20 years. Over the years, Obama credited Wright with his commitment to Christianity and repeatedly identified Wright as his spiritual mentor and moral compass. Wright officiated at Obama’s marriage and baptized his children. In addition, Obama chose Wright to pray with him as he began his Presidential campaign and named Wright to a formal role in his Presidential campaign.

Religion, marriage, children, and career are the most important elements of an adult’s life and it’s impossible to believe that Barack Obama repeatedly and exclusively chose Jeremiah Wright to participate in those moments while remaining ignorant about Wright’s core beliefs. It’s equally impossible to believe that Obama was unaware of the enthusiastic response Wright’s message received from the members of their church congregation. Bill Bennett in an NRO article viewed it this way:

“It strained credulity to believe Obama was unaware of Wright’s previous rants — especially after a 20-year membership in Wright’s church, especially when in February of last year Obama asked Wright not to attend his campaign announcement because of he “could get kind of rough in sermons,” and especially when his church’s magazine honored on its front cover such a man as Louis Farrakhan. Nonetheless, once he ceased being a political asset and turned into a political liability, Obama dumped him.”

Perhaps Obama supported Wright for 20+ years because it helped Obama further his political and personal ambitions. Or maybe Wright is more of a soulmate, someone who shares the same message, values and goals. Obama’s persistent focus that Republicans like to “mention he’s black” suggest Obama agrees with Wright’s poor opinion of white America.

As you know, Obama initially refused to disavow Jeremiah Wright or his message, and he only condemned Wright when political expediency required that he do so. At that point, even Jeremiah Wright admitted that he knew Obama had to distance himself because “If Senator Obama didn’t say what he said, he’d never be elected.”

It’s politics, not a rejection of hate, that made Obama disavow Wright and his message. How does that make you feel about your candidate?

Levi responds:

I accept these rules.

I won’t waste any more time explaining why I think Jeremiah Wright is hate-filled and anti-American. I already made you suffer for 100+ comments as I searched for reasons other than racism and hate to explain Wright’s statement and, as you know, I couldn’t find any. Thus, the remaining issue is: What does Obama’s long-term, close relationship with Jeremiah Wright, a person who publicly espouses racism and hate, say about Barack Obama?

Well to start off, I’ll never agree with you that Rev. Wright is racist or un-American. I obviously don’t know what entirely you’re basing that judgment on, but if it’s the two minutes of YouTube video that we all saw on the news over and over again, that’s pretty flimsy. I’m a white guy, I don’t think Rev. Wright hates me, I’m not afraid of him or his opinions, and I don’t find anything particularly offensive about anything he’s said. If you wanted to discuss his specific comments, I wouldn’t mind. I will never understand how saying, “God Damn America” makes some un-patriotic.

But definitely, I’m not just going to cede to you the point that he’s a racist or hates this country.

You think it means nothing and, as you know, I disagree so let’s consider the facts: Barack Obama was a member of Wright’s church for 20 years. Over the years, Obama credited Wright with his commitment to Christianity and repeatedly identified Wright as his spiritual mentor and moral compass. Wright officiated at Obama’s marriage and baptized his children. In addition, Obama chose Wright to pray with him as he began his Presidential campaign and named Wright to a formal role in his Presidential campaign.

No, this oft-repeated litany of complaints means nothing to me. If you’re operating under the assumption that Rev. Wright is some crazed racist, I could see how it would cause a problem for Obama, but that has not been reasonably demonstrated.

Religion, marriage, children, and career are the most important elements of an adult’s life

I disagree wholeheartedly with that, and I would further diminish the importance of most of those things as far as electing people to represent you in government goes (career is obviously an important consideration.) Whether or not someone has enough kids, or goes to the right church, is totally tangential to being a strong, effective governor. I will talk later about how unimportant these ‘character issues’ are.

and it’s impossible to believe that Barack Obama repeatedly and exclusively chose Jeremiah Wright to participate in those moments while remaining ignorant about Wright’s core beliefs. It’s equally impossible to believe that Obama was unaware of the enthusiastic response Wright’s message received from the members of their church congregation.

I don’t know what you think Jeremiah Wright’s ‘core beliefs’ are, but I’m willing to bet they are totally inaccurate. I really think we need to talk about the man before we start crafting our arguments around some caricature.

Perhaps Obama supported Wright for 20+ years because it helped Obama further his political and personal ambitions. Or maybe Wright is more of a soulmate, someone who shares the same message, values and goals. Obama’s persistent focus that Republicans like to “mention he’s black” suggest Obama agrees with Wright’s poor opinion of white America.

This is the entire basis of Republicans’ argument, rampant speculation and damning innuendo. Either Obama is some conniving fake Christian only attending church to satiate his political ambition, or he’s a flaming racist. What Obama has to say on the issues of race is entirely irrelevant, he can gives pressers and write speeches and conduct interviews, but nope. Republicans looks to Rev. Wright and dream up conspiracy theories to make up their minds about him.

As you know, Obama initially refused to disavow Jeremiah Wright or his message, and he only condemned Wright when political expediency required that he do so. At that point, even Jeremiah Wright admitted that he knew Obama had to distance himself because “If Senator Obama didn’t say what he said, he’d never be elected.”

I don’t agree with the way that Obama handled the Rev. Wright controversy. I also don’t blame him, however, he is in a terribly ineffective political party that does nothing but cower in the face of Republicans and the media. He made an admirable effort at the beginning, I believe, but it would be quite too much to expect him to stand up to such attacks all by himself. I would have liked to have seen that, of course, but what can we do? Democrats are whipped.

It’s politics, not a rejection of hate, that made Obama disavow Wright and his message. How does that make you feel about your candidate?

Again, it hasn’t been demonstrated to my satisfaction that Wright is a racist.

Now that I’m through with yours, I will lay out my position.

‘Character issues’ were invented by Republicans, who are great politicians and campaigners but terrible governors, to win elections. By running on ‘character issues,’ Republicans can effectively minimize the importance of all of their very unpopular positions on real, substantive issues, and instead play elections as popularity contests. The 2000 election was not difficult to explain; Bush was a cool cowboy you wanted to have a beer with, Gore was boring and stiff. 2004 was similar, Bush was a cool warrior-cowboy that landed a fighter jet, Kerry was a French windsurfer.

Enter Barack Obama. There is absolutely no way that a geriatric like John McCain is going to be able to out-cool a 45-year old black man, so Republicans (and Hillary Clinton, to be fair), aided by their all-too-eager giddy schoolgirl enablers in the media, manufactured this Rev. Wright controversy, to portray Obama as some sort of brainwashed racist, or something. It really is frivolous on so many levels; Rev. Wright is not really a racist, Barack Obama has stated over and over again that he does not agree with the ‘controversial’ things Wright said, Obama himself is half-white, and on and on. These things matter not, because the media got mileage out of playing those clips over and over again. And yes folks, there are still quite a few racists in this country, eager to jump at the chance to mistrust a black man.

So now we just repeat the same things over and over, that Obama went for 20 years, he was married by Wright, his kids were baptized by Wright, and that’s all supposed to convince us not to vote for him. The issues, once again, are brought out behind the shed and killed, ‘character politics’ is the name of the game. Not so much the character of John McCain, who we should remember, left his wife for a much younger woman, and who courted the endorsement and political aide of an infinitely more influential pastor that thinks the Holocaust was part of God’s master plan, but mainly just the character of Obama, who doesn’t wear flag pins, and whose wife expresses opinions. Republican Election-Year Politics 101.

One final thing, because I’ve been warned about my ‘tone’ before. I am doing my best not to insult DRJ, and what I mean by that, is I’m not saying, “DRJ is a blankety-blank-blank.” But the whole premise of my argument is pretty much dependent on establishing that Republicans and their positions are often hypocritical, dishonest, contradictory, and illogical. I can definitely sit here and not drop F-bombs and not call people names, but it is very hard to talk about those things in anything but a somewhat derisive ‘tone.’ So if I’m going to lose this bet because of that, whatever, they’re your rules Patterico and you have the power to ban me, DRJ, but I’m just warning you.

Finally, MONTGOMERY GENTRY!!!

DRJ responded at comment 420:

Levi,

I appreciate your detailed response to the conservative position and I’ll return to it later. At this point, I want to respond to your defense of the liberal position, both as stated in your agreed statement and in your expanded comments here. I believe the heart of your position is that Republicans are counting on appeals to racism to beat Barack Obama.

The facts don’t back up your belief that Republicans will use or benefit from racism in this election. First, as you note, race was an issue in the Democratic primary but it was largely focused on Bill Clintons’ claims that it was Obama who played the race card. Note comments like this one on the linked thread:

“Bill and Hillary Clinton will say and do anything to get back into the White House.”

Does that sound familiar? Isn’t it exactly what you say Republicans will do to Obama, only this is Democrats complaining about other Democrats? If anyone has made race an issue in this race, it’s Democrats. Republicans haven’t made race an issue and there’s no reason to believe the GOP would benefit from racism as I address in my second point.

Second, there’s no evidence that Republicans would benefit from racism and history suggests the opposite. Michael Barone addressed this notion in his 7/6/2008 RealClearPolitics’ article in which he explored whether Americans could pass the racism test by supporting a black candidate like Barack Obama. Specifically, Barone analyzed polls comparing Democratic support for Barack Obama in 2008 with Republican support for Colin Powell in 1995. Here’s what he found:

Obama’s candidacy by itself is not a test of whether Americans are unwilling to vote for a black candidate; to determine that, you would have to take into account whether those unwilling to vote for him would be willing to vote for a different kind of black candidate. And as it happens, there is such a test case. In the fall of 1995, Colin Powell, fresh from a boffo book tour, was (or was widely thought to be) contemplating running for president. There were plenty of polls matching him as the Republican nominee against incumbent Democrat Bill Clinton. And running well: A typical Gallup poll had him leading Clinton 54 to 39 percent.

That’s bigger than any lead Obama has had over John McCain this year. And an analysis of 1995 and 2008 polls show that these two black candidates (putative candidate in the case of Powell, if you like) shows that they were attracting many different voters. In 1995, Powell was winning virtually all Republicans, a majority of Independents and a small number of Democrats. In recent polls this year, Obama has been winning virtually all Democrats, about half the Independents and a small number of Republicans. In other words, they have largely non-overlapping constituencies.

That seems to leave considerably less than 10 percent of American voters either (a) unwilling to vote for Powell in 1995 and (b) unwilling to vote for Obama in 2008. And some of that small number are surely motivated by factors other than race. So I would submit that the vast majority of American voters have already passed the test. They’ve shown they’re willing to vote for a black candidate, provided he has acceptable views on issues and appropriate experience for the job.

Obama was right when he said “They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?” But what we’re afraid of is his youth and inexperience, not his race.

DRJ added in comment 424:

Levi, you said this in your first comment:

Well to start off, I’ll never agree with you that Rev. Wright is racist or un-American. I obviously don’t know what entirely you’re basing that judgment on, but if it’s the two minutes of YouTube video that we all saw on the news over and over again, that’s pretty flimsy. I’m a white guy, I don’t think Rev. Wright hates me, I’m not afraid of him or his opinions, and I don’t find anything particularly offensive about anything he’s said. If you wanted to discuss his specific comments, I wouldn’t mind. I will never understand how saying, “God Damn America” makes some un-patriotic.

Please explain why the following eight statements made by Jeremiah Wright are anything but hateful, racist, or anti-American:

1. “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. …

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.” (Sep 16, 2001)

2. “In the 21st century, white America got a wake-up call after 9/11/01. White America and the western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.”

3. “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.”

4. “Racism is alive and well. Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. No black man will ever be considered for president, no matter how hard you run Jesse [Jackson] and no black woman can ever be considered for anything outside what she can give with her body.

5. “America is still the No. 1 killer in the world. … We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers … We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Ghadhafi … We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”

6. “We supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-Semitic. … We care nothing about human life if the end justifies the means.

7. “We started the AIDS virus … We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty.”

8. “Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary would never know that. Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger. Hillary has never had a people defined as a non-person.”

She further asked at comment 427:

While you’re at it, Levi, please also explain why Jeremiah Wright’s Black Value System isn’t racist:

“Trinity United Church of Christ
The Black Value System
***
These Black Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered. They consist of the following concepts:

1. Commitment to God
2. Commitment to the Black Community
3. Commitment to the Black Family
4. Dedication to the Pursuit of Education
5. Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence
6. Adherence to the Black Work Ethic
7. Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect
8. Disavowal of the Pursuit of “Middleclassness”
9. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the Black Community
10. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions
11. Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System
12. Personal commitment to embracement of the Black Value System.”

Substitute ‘white’ for ‘black’ and this could be the platform for a racist white supremacist.

And she piled on at comment 429:

Levi,

There are so many points you raised that deserve discussion but I can’t let this one go without mention:

I don’t agree with the way that Obama handled the Rev. Wright controversy. I also don’t blame him, however, he is in a terribly ineffective political party that does nothing but cower in the face of Republicans and the media. He made an admirable effort at the beginning, I believe, but it would be quite too much to expect him to stand up to such attacks all by himself. I would have liked to have seen that, of course, but what can we do? Democrats are whipped.

How do you expect Obama to stand up to terrorists, America’s adversaries, his political opponents, or even his own political allies – both civilian and military – if he can’t stand up for himself as he runs for office?

You’re right to be concerned that “Democrats are whipped” and, seemingly, always willing to flip-flop on their principles. We should all be concerned when a vital American political party is spineless.

And continued at comment 433:

Levi,

This comment does not address the merits of our discussion but I hope you will think about it anyway. You said this in your initial response:

But the whole premise of my argument is pretty much dependent on establishing that Republicans and their positions are often hypocritical, dishonest, contradictory, and illogical. I can definitely sit here and not drop F-bombs and not call people names, but it is very hard to talk about those things in anything but a somewhat derisive ‘tone.’

I hope you won’t treat me and my opinions with derision or you risk being labeled as a performer, as Jeremiah Wright was in this Time Magazine article, instead of as a serious contributor to the discussion:

“But while Wright is a theologian, a teacher and a pastor, he is ultimately a performer. In front of a cheering crowd of supporters that included a whistling Cornel West, he gave into temptation and lustily went after his critics. As soon as the questions began, Wright transformed into a defiant, derisive figure, snapping one-liners at the unfortunate moderator tasked with reading the questions and stepping back with a grin on his face after each one, clearly enjoying himself.”

In addition, I don’t think the point of this discussion is to show the other person or party is hypocritical, dishonest, contradictory, or illogical. I think the point is to flesh out the issue so that people can be informed and come to their own conclusions. My goal is not to change anyone’s mind. My goal is to bring out the facts and help us all think about this issue as carefully and accurately as possible.

Levi replied in comment 457:

I appreciate your detailed response to the conservative position and I’ll return to it later. At this point, I want to respond to your defense of the liberal position, both as stated in your agreed statement and in your expanded comments here. I believe the heart of your position is that Republicans are counting on appeals to racism to beat Barack Obama.

The facts don’t back up your belief that Republicans will use or benefit from racism in this election. First, as you note, race was an issue in the Democratic primary but it was largely focused on Bill Clintons’ claims that it was Obama who played the race card. Note comments like this one on the linked thread:

“Bill and Hillary Clinton will say and do anything to get back into the White House.”

Does that sound familiar? Isn’t it exactly what you say Republicans will do to Obama, only this is Democrats complaining about other Democrats? If anyone has made race an issue in this race, it’s Democrats.

I included the Clintons and their wing of the Democratic party in my criticism for trying to play up the Wright thing. There wasn’t anything Hillary wouldn’t do to get into the White House, I agree. But Republicans were running against Obama in that primary, too. This story only went anywhere because talk radio and the mainstream media made it happen. It’s a perfect example of what constitutes a modern American news item: it’s mindless, irrelevant, and can be looped over and over again a hundred times a day.

Second, there’s no evidence that Republicans would benefit from racism and history suggests the opposite. Michael Barone addressed this notion in his 7/6/2008 RealClearPolitics’ article in which he explored whether Americans could pass the racism test by supporting a black candidate like Barack Obama. Specifically, Barone analyzed polls comparing Democratic support for Barack Obama in 2008 with Republican support for Colin Powell in 1995. Here’s what he found:I appreciate your detailed response to the conservative position and I’ll return to it later. At this point, I want to respond to your defense of the liberal position, both as stated in your agreed statement and in your expanded comments here. I believe the heart of your position is that Republicans are counting on appeals to racism to beat Barack Obama.

The facts don’t back up your belief that Republicans will use or benefit from racism in this election. First, as you note, race was an issue in the Democratic primary but it was largely focused on Bill Clintons’ claims that it was Obama who played the race card. Note comments like this one on the linked thread:

“Bill and Hillary Clinton will say and do anything to get back into the White House.”

Does that sound familiar? Isn’t it exactly what you say Republicans will do to Obama, only this is Democrats complaining about other Democrats? If anyone has made race an issue in this race, it’s Democrats. Republicans haven’t made race an issue and there’s no reason to believe the GOP would benefit from racism as I address in my second point.

Second, there’s no evidence that Republicans would benefit from racism and history suggests the opposite. Michael Barone addressed this notion in his 7/6/2008 RealClearPolitics’ article in which he explored whether Americans could pass the racism test by supporting a black candidate like Barack Obama. Specifically, Barone analyzed polls comparing Democratic support for Barack Obama in 2008 with Republican support for Colin Powell in 1995. Here’s what he found:

Colin Powell didn’t even take the first step towards running for President, I don’t see how any comparison to Obama is valid. Some old hypothetical versus the here and now reality? You refer to some poll about Colin Powell as ‘history,’ but did anything even happen? No. It was just a poll.

Republicans haven’t use racism as a wedge issue before because they haven’t had to, but they’re doing it now, because they’re running against a tremendously popular black guy against whom they have very few counters. They used anti-gay sentiment in 2000 and 2004 to great effect as a wedge issue to motivate their base, so it’s not like anti-minority election tactics are beneath them.

Rev. Wright is the new gay marriage. They didn’t get you people thinking you were being anti-gay, of course not, you were just standing up for tradition and all that. They’re also not being that overt with Obama, they’ve made you think that it’s Wright and half-white Obama that are the real racists, and you’re merely reacting to them. Gore was boring, so you ran against that. Kerry windsurfed, so you ran against that. Obama has a pastor, so you run against that. Left behind are the issues, and Republicans are told to vote for or against caricatures. Happens every four years.

He continued in comment 460:

While you’re at it, Levi, please also explain why Jeremiah Wright’s Black Value System isn’t racist:

“Trinity United Church of Christ
The Black Value System
***
These Black Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered. They consist of the following concepts:

1. Commitment to God
2. Commitment to the Black Community
3. Commitment to the Black Family
4. Dedication to the Pursuit of Education
5. Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence
6. Adherence to the Black Work Ethic
7. Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect
8. Disavowal of the Pursuit of “Middleclassness”
9. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the Black Community
10. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions
11. Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System
12. Personal commitment to embracement of the Black Value System.”

Substitute ‘white’ for ‘black’ and this could be the platform for a racist white supremacist.

Well, black churches are not white churches. Black people are not white people. Blacks are still a very small minority in this country and black communities are facing a whole slew of very unique issues across the country. We’re supposed to be opposed to the idea of them forming their own advocacy and community groups all of a sudden?

And he argued in comment 463:

This comment does not address the merits of our discussion but I hope you will think about it anyway. You said this in your initial response:

But the whole premise of my argument is pretty much dependent on establishing that Republicans and their positions are often hypocritical, dishonest, contradictory, and illogical. I can definitely sit here and not drop F-bombs and not call people names, but it is very hard to talk about those things in anything but a somewhat derisive ‘tone.’

I hope you won’t treat me and my opinions with derision or you risk being labeled as a performer, as Jeremiah Wright was in this Time Magazine article, instead of as a serious contributor to the discussion:

“But while Wright is a theologian, a teacher and a pastor, he is ultimately a performer. In front of a cheering crowd of supporters that included a whistling Cornel West, he gave into temptation and lustily went after his critics. As soon as the questions began, Wright transformed into a defiant, derisive figure, snapping one-liners at the unfortunate moderator tasked with reading the questions and stepping back with a grin on his face after each one, clearly enjoying himself.”

That is total bullshit. Time magazine is going to fault a man for responding to two months of non-stop news coverage where everyone on TV denigrated him and labeled him a racist on a nightly basis? He doesn’t have a right to do that? He’s simply doing it for the theatrics? You’ve got to be kidding.

In addition, I don’t think the point of this discussion is to show the other person or party is hypocritical, dishonest, contradictory, or illogical. I think the point is to flesh out the issue so that people can be informed and come to their own conclusions. My goal is not to change anyone’s mind. My goal is to bring out the facts and help us all think about this issue as carefully and accurately as possible.

Again, that qualities of the Republican party and the conservative base are the basis of my position, which you apparently still do not understand. You can be doing this for whatever reasons you want, why do I care?

DRJ responded in comment 467:

Levi,

Your comment #457 is rebutted by my Michael Barone link in which he addresses why the fact that Colin Powell never actually ran for President shouldn’t matter. He also notes that polling has consistently underestimated support for Obama. It sounds like you aren’t reading my links. I urge you to do so before you respond so we can have a more meaningful discussion.

In addition, as noted by AMac (who is doing my job better than I am), we still have to talk about Dr. Cone’s black liberation theology. If my responses so far incite you the way the past ones have, brace yourself.

DRJ argued at comment 548:

Levi,

Let me give you an example of a way you could respond to the claim that Jeremiah Wright’s statements are racist, hateful or anti-American. Let’s take Wright’s “chickens coming home to roost” statement.

The best argument I’ve read that Wright’s statement was not hateful and anti-American was made by CNN’s Roland Martin in this March 21, 2008, column. Martin states that Wright’s comment came from a sermon he gave on Sunday, September 16, 2001 – the first Sunday after 9/11 – entitled “The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall.” Martin claims Wright was merely quoting US Ambassador Edward Peck when he used the phrase “chickens coming home to roost”:

One of the most controversial statements in this sermon was when he mentioned “chickens coming home to roost.” He was actually quoting Edward Peck, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and deputy director of President Reagan’s terrorism task force, who was speaking on FOX News. That’s what he told the congregation.

He was quoting Peck as saying that America’s foreign policy has put the nation in peril:

“I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday did anybody else see or hear him? He was on FOX News, this is a white man, and he was upsetting the FOX News commentators to no end, he pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, he pointed out that what Malcolm X said when he was silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true, he said Americas chickens, are coming home to roost.”

An extended excerpt from the sermon is provided at Martin’s link. I think this would be a good addition to the “chickens coming home to roost” discussion because it provides context to Wright’s statement and claims they were not Wright’s words, although he embraced and apparently endorsed them.

If you had raised this point, I would have responded that, according to the PBS Ombudsman who reviewed the Fox News interview with Peck, Ambassador Peck did not say those words. Here’s what Peck said:

“They [the terrorists] came to do to us what they perceive, it doesn’t make them right, but what they perceive is we’ve been doing the same thing now for a long time in various parts of the world. It doesn’t make them right or us wrong. Don’t misunderstand me.
***
But the point is that some of the things that we have done in the firm, honest belief that we are advancing the cause of justice, human rights, and freedom and all of that are not perceived that way by the people that we bomb. I offer you Panama. I give you Haiti. Take Cambodia. What about Iraq?”

To me, this is not the same as saying America’s chickens have come home to roost, and it obviously doesn’t contain the phrase “chickens coming home to roost” at all.

Wright’s sermon also refers to Malcolm X and if we read Wright’s sermon carefully, we realize he was saying the phrase “chickens coming home to roost” was said by Malcolm X, not Peck. On December 4, 1963, Malcolm X delivered a speech entitled “God’s Judgement [sic] on White America” also referred to as The Chickens Come Home to Roost speech. You can read the full speech at the link but here are the website editor’s notes (emphasis supplied):

Note – this speech was delivered before Malcolm left the Nation of Islam and accepted true Islam — so his views in this speech do not reflect his own or those he held near the end of his life.

This speech is sometimes called “The Chickens Come Home To Roost,” because of an answer Malcolm X gave in response to a question following the speech. The question concerned the late President John Kennedy. It was Malcolm X’s answer, that the Presidents death was a case of “chickens coming home to roost” — that the violence that Kennedy had failed to stop had come back to him, this resulted in the Elijah Muhammad silencing him. Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam a short time later.

As noted, the speech was given during Malcolm X’s Nation of Islam phase, i.e., when he was an advocate for black separatism and black liberation philosophy … and that brings us to Jeremiah Wright’s views on black liberation theology that I’ll save for another day.

Of course, you did not respond this way. Instead, you simply stated you don’t think Wright is racist, hateful or anti-American. There’s not much I can say to that other than “Is, too” and so forth and so on. So I’ll try aunursa’s approach:

Levi, How do you define ‘racist’?

DRJ argued at comment 557:

Levi,

I’m ready to address the similarities and differences between McCain-Hagee and Obama-Wright as raised in your first comment and specifically in reference to your Holocaust link at The Republic of T blog. I’ve taken a day to think about the points raised in that blog post and I’ve summarized the main points below.

The Republic of T believes Jeremiah Wright is right. Wright tells white Americans something about their country they either rarely hear or don’t want to hear:
“This country was built on the backs of African slaves on land that was robbed in the slaughter of Native Americans. I’m sorry if this offends your bourgeois sensibilities as it isn’t the totally awesome, God-fearing, flag-waving, USA #1!!!1 narrative that we teach to school kids, but it is historical fact.”

He thinks America is the best hope of human liberty but it’s a work in progress that is too often controlled by white men. Wright may say that in a way we don’t like to hear, but it’s not wrong.

The author also describes why this debate is a result of race and class conflicts, and then he concludes by discussing the relevance of patriotism. He believes conservatives have a contentless patriotism because they love their country no matter what it does. And that brings him to the difference between Hagee and Wright: Hagee never challenges white America in a way that makes America better, while Wright speaks truth to power by remembering the past “in hope of a better future.”

First, there is a qualitative difference between accepting an endorsement as McCain did with Hagee (an endorsement McCain subsequently rejected after learning of Hagee’s statements about Hitler and the Jews), and making that person an integral part of his life for 20 years as Obama did with Wright.

Second, IMO Hagee and Wright are similar in that they both are on the fringe when it comes to their beliefs. Of course, they both have significant influence in certain areas and command the attention of thousands, but neither one appears to speak for a significant segment of American society.

Third, Wright is not right. Slavery is part of America’s history, not its present or its future, and it was the US and Britain that ended the scourge of slavery. Western Civilization, which is not race- or class-based but reason-based, is responsible for making America a bastion of that most liberal of values — tolerance of civil rights in the pursuit of human liberty.

Somewhere alone the line, modern liberals decided the best way to achieve that goal was through government regulation and socialism while modern conservatives embraced free markets and capitalism. We won’t resolve that debate here but, fortunately, we don’t have to. It’s enough to note that a regulatory approach is all about critiquing the model to achieve better results. A free market approach lets the process find its own balance without interference. Thus, it’s not surprising that liberals view critiquing the process as the best way to love their country, or that conservatives think believing in the process is the best way.

But whether someone thinks it’s more patriotic to “Love your country – right or wrong” or believes that “Criticism is the highest form of patriotism,” that doesn’t change the fact that Jeremiah Wright lives in one of the few countries in the world where he could come from humble beginnings and end up leading a church with 8000 members, meeting with Presidents, and pastoring people of all walks of life including Barack and Michelle Obama – people who share his humble background and now hold positions of wealth, influence, and power. Instead of illustrating America’s inequality, Wright and Obama are the archetypes for equality in America.

DRJ argued at comment 563:

Levi,

This will probably be my last substantive comment since, at this point, I’m talking to myself. I never did get around to talking about black liberation theology but I don’t want to end without addressing why character matters in a Presidential election.

Unlike parliamentary systems, US Presidents are more than the head of a political party. A President is also the Head of State and, in that role, wields enormous power. Thus, it’s important to evaluate more than just the candidates’ policy positions. We also need to know about the candidates’ background, intellect, experience, associates, values, and history of decisions and behavior.

Very few American voters actually know the Presidential candidates so voters need some way to evaluate candidates and what kind of decisions they will make if elected President. Policy statements give voters a good idea of the candidates’ positions, but character helps voters evaluate how likely it is that candidates will stick to those positions. As Michael Beschloss explained:

“Knowing the beliefs and purposes of Presidential candidates is important. But unless you have some understanding of their character, you won’t know very much about whether they will take political risks to fulfill those purposes, once elected — or which of their beliefs will supersede others when they (inevitably) come into conflict. In the 1960 campaign, John Kennedy promised to improve the lot of American blacks “with a stroke of the pen.” But, nervous about antagonizing powerful Southerners in Congress whose votes he wanted for other things, JFK did very little for civil rights during his two-and-a-half years in office.”

Levi replied in comment 570:

First, there is a qualitative difference between accepting an endorsement as McCain did with Hagee (an endorsement McCain subsequently rejected after learning of Hagee’s statements about Hitler and the Jews), and making that person an integral part of his life for 20 years as Obama did with Wright.

Says you. Personally, I don’t see why either of these men should have any bearing on who we’re voting for for President. You can scream ’20 years’ all you want, that will never convince me.

Second, IMO Hagee and Wright are similar in that they both are on the fringe when it comes to their beliefs. Of course, they both have significant influence in certain areas and command the attention of thousands, but neither one appears to speak for a significant segment of American society.

Hagee founded an Israeli lobbying organization and is beamed into millions of homes across the country. You can buy some atrocious coffee-table book with pictures of John Hagee throughout his life for the low, low price of $100.00, I’ve seen the ridiculous commercial. He’s hardly on the fringe, he’s pretty typical as far as Christian evangelical Republicans go, and his ideas about how we’re supposed to handle our foreign policy with regards to the Middle East are more in line with the Republicans’ positions than anything coming from Wright, who had some tiny little slice of the black church-going community and was minding his own business, helping the poor and whatnot.

Neither of them are on any sort of fringe. Hagee is mainstream, Wright is in a minority.

Third, Wright is not right. Slavery is part of America’s history, not its present or its future, and it was the US and Britain that ended the scourge of slavery. Western Civilization, which is not race- or class-based but reason-based, is responsible for making America a bastion of that most liberal of values — tolerance of civil rights in the pursuit of human liberty.

Somewhere alone the line, modern liberals decided the best way to achieve that goal was through government regulation and socialism while modern conservatives embraced free markets and capitalism. We won’t resolve that debate here but, fortunately, we don’t have to. It’s enough to note that a regulatory approach is all about critiquing the model to achieve better results. A free market approach lets the process find its own balance without interference. Thus, it’s not surprising that liberals view critiquing the process as the best way to love their country, or that conservatives think believing in the process is the best way.

But whether someone thinks it’s more patriotic to “Love your country – right or wrong” or believes that “Criticism is the highest form of patriotism,” that doesn’t change the fact that Jeremiah Wright lives in one of the few countries in the world where he could come from humble beginnings and end up leading a church with 8000 members, meeting with Presidents, and pastoring people of all walks of life including Barack and Michelle Obama – people who share his humble background and now hold positions of wealth, influence, and power. Instead of illustrating America’s inequality, Wright and Obama are the archetypes for equality in America.

None of this makes any sense to me. Inequality and racism isn’t something we’ve put behind us, as easily as you seem to be suggesting, DRJ. Rev. Wright went to segregated schools. Obama’s parents’ marriage was illegal in most places when he was born. Look at statistics and demographics, why are blacks poorer? Why are there more blacks in jail? Why aren’t there more blacks in government? The Republican answer to all of those questions is to dispense with some unsympathetic platitude about how at some point, blacks need to ‘pull themselves up by their bootstraps.’ It’s not your problem anymore, right? Those were the sins of our fathers, we’re in the clear, we don’t have to think about these issues, we can just blame blacks for it, right?

DRJ at 571:

Levi,

I don’t see any evidence that Hagee is a mainstream American or Christian. First, Protestants aren’t that common in America anymore. In 2007, Gallup reported that, while 82% of Americans identify themselves as Christians, only 52% of Americans self-identify as Protestants.

Second, according to a 2005 Gallup survey, only 18-22% of Americans could plausibly be considered evangelicals and it’s clear from the Gallup questions that not all of them would be followers of Hagee’s brand of evangelical Christianity.

DRJ at 573:

Levi,

If you want to describe Hagee as mainstream, then by that definition Wright and his church are even more mainstream than Hagee. Not only is Wright’s church, Trinity UCC, the largest congregation in the nationwide United Churches of Christ but UCC leaders across the nation made a point of responding to the “misleading attacks” on Jeremiah Wright by proclaiming their support for him, his ministry and his beliefs.

DRJ added at 574:

Levi:

None of this makes any sense to me. Inequality and racism isn’t something we’ve put behind us, as easily as you seem to be suggesting, DRJ.

Let’s assume you are correct that there is still systematic inequality and racism in America, 54 years after Brown v Board of Education and after 50 years of integration and affirmative action. If that’s true, then these policies didn’t work. It’s time to try something else.

On the other hand, success stories like Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama (not to mention Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Thomas Sowell, Bill Cosby, and others) suggest there are equal opportunities for blacks in education, the military, business, and government.

Levi replied at comment 578:

If you want to describe Hagee as mainstream, then by that definition Wright and his church are even more mainstream than Hagee. Not only is Wright’s church, Trinity UCC, the largest congregation in the nationwide United Churches of Christ but UCC leaders across the nation made a point of responding to the “misleading attacks” on Jeremiah Wright by proclaiming their support for him, his ministry and his beliefs.

Does Wright have his own TV broadcasting company? Is Wright heavily involved with D.C. lobbying firms? Millions of people can watch John Hagee every day, shit we even get him out here in Montana. And again, his ideological beliefs pertaining to the Middle East are way more at home in the Republican party’s platform than anything that Wright has to say.

And added at comment 579:

On the other hand, success stories like Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama (not to mention Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Thomas Sowell, Bill Cosby, and others) suggest there are equal opportunities for blacks in education, the military, business, and government.

But blacks in general are still not proportionally represented in government, higher income brackets, prisons, or very much of anything else. You’ve got a handful of success stories. They don’t prove anything.

DRJ concluded at 586:

With thanks to Pablo and AMac, I adopt by reference comments 580, 581-582, 583 and 585. In addition, this Newsmax article has more details on Jeremiah Wright’s middle class life and early education:

“Described by Obama as his sounding board and mentor for more than two decades, Wright was born in Philadelphia in 1941. He lived in a racially mixed section called Germantown, which consisted of homes on broad tree-lined streets in northwest Philadelphia. The owners then were middle-class families.

For 62 years, Wright’s father, the Rev. Jeremiah Alvesta Wright, was pastor at Grace Baptist Church of Germantown. He was one of the first blacks to receive a degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

Wright’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Henderson Wright, was a schoolteacher. She was the first black to teach an academic subject at Roosevelt Junior High, the first to teach at Germantown High, and the first to teach at the Philadelphia High School for Girls. She became vice principal of Girls High in 1968.

Rather than attend the more racially mixed Germantown High School at 40 East High St., Wright traveled a few miles to the elite Central High School at 1700 West Olney Ave., graduating in 1959. Opened in 1838, Central High has a distinguished past and admits only highly-qualified applicants who are privileged to attend from all over the city. It is comparable to the Bronx High School of Science and Boston Latin School, both public schools known for academic excellence.

When Wright attended Central High, the student body was 90 percent white, according to students who attended around the same time. At least three-quarters of the students were Jewish. Former students of the period say racial tension did not exist.

Bill Cosby, who attended the school until transferring to Germantown High, has referred to Central as a “wonderful” school. In contrast to Wright, Cosby has denounced blacks who take refuge in self-pitying victimhood and seek to blame whites for problems in the black community.

“Central High was a marvelous academic environment,” says Tod Mammuth, who graduated in 1965 and is now a Philadelphia-area lawyer. “You had to have high academic credentials to be accepted and a high IQ score. Many later said it was more rigorous than college. We had no racial friction.”

And there it appears to have ended.

69 Responses to “The Levi/DRJ Debate”

  1. The title of Reverend Wright’s sermon that morning was “The Audacity of Hope.” He began with a passage from the Book of Samuel—the story of Hannah, who, barren and taunted by her rivals, had wept and shaken in prayer before her God. The story reminded him, he said, of a sermon a fellow pastor had preached at a conference some years before, in which the pastor described going to a museum and being confronted by a painting title Hope.

    “The painting depicts a harpist,” Reverend Wright explained, “a woman who at first glance appears to be sitting atop a great mountain. Until you take a closer look and see that the woman is bruised and bloodied, dressed in tattered rags, the harp reduced to a single frayed string. Your eye is then drawn down to the scene below, down to the valley below, where everywhere are the ravages of famine, the drumbeat of war, a world groaning under strife and deprivation.

    “It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks’ greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere…That’s the world! On which hope sits!”

    And so it went, a meditation on a fallen world. While the boys next to me doodled on their church bulletin, Reverend Wright spoke of Sharpsville and Hiroshima, the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House. As the sermon unfolded, though, the stories of strife became more prosaic, the pain more immediate. The reverend spoke of the hardship that the congregation would face tomorrow, the pain of those far from the mountaintop, worrying about paying the light bill…

    ricky (3fe308)

  2. I think comment #1 by Ricky is an excerpt from Obama’s book Dreams of My Father.

    DRJ (a0ba79)

  3. It is. Got it from the National Review link you supplied. Thanks.

    ricky (3fe308)

  4. This is an excellent idea for a debate. Isn’t it telling that rules of engagement must be defined in advance so that the liberal side can be forced to stick to the “facts”. No way that Levi can win.

    Krusher (0f88b5)

  5. Where is Levi’s response? Did he already give up?

    Richard Romano (3df804)

  6. We don’t know if Levi has agreed to the rules for the debate.

    steve miller (724340)

  7. And now we know. Levi has accepted the rules.

    steve miller (724340)

  8. that last paragraph is such a cop out! its “if i resort to ad hominen attacks it’s Bush’s fault”!

    he pretty much conceded. i read that as an admission the he will go into the gutter shortly. he knows his hide will get tanned and he’s laying groundwork for his retreat.

    chas (12a229)

  9. The left is all about feelings. Facts are patriarchal. For example

    And more about the patriarchy.

    Forget about logic and rational thought. Feelings trump them all.

    MIke K (b9ce3e)

  10. Levi did not make it through his first comment without utterly distorting the caricature of the fantasies in his head.

    JD (a6d772)

  11. Again, it hasn’t been demonstrated to my satisfaction that Wright is a racist.

    Since Levi has already made up his mind that Wright can’t be racist, demonstrating such an inconvenient truth will be an impossible task.

    Bradley J Fikes (0ea407)

  12. Much like even attempting to explain a simple concept to harpy.

    JD (a6d772)

  13. What a lame response — honestly, he doesn’t argue any points really, but says “Nope, don’t agree” and then moves on…this is not a debate, but a leftist’s feelings gushing all over the page. Sad.

    Richard Romano (3df804)

  14. obviously don’t know what entirely you’re basing that judgment on, but if it’s the two minutes of YouTube video that we all saw on the news over and over again

    Hugh Hewitt played the entire context for his audience, and the entire sermon is available…it is incredibly racist and anti-American…you have to be blind not to see that this is the truth.

    Richard Romano (3df804)

  15. What? What?!! Listen up, Levi, when you say “God Damn [You]“, you are pretty much (even if you do not believe) asking the Creater and Sovereign of this Universe to send [You] straight to Hell for all eternity; do not pass GO, do not collect $200, in fact, just stay there.

    Jeremiah Wright (I refuse to call him Reverend of anything) is supposedly a Christian; hence, he at least must believe in this statement as a prayer of sorts. And if not, that what was he doing leading a church for 2 decades and some?

    Commandment No 3: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

    You note that he is not saying ‘Goddammit, America! What’s wrong with you?” which could be charitably conceded as a heated outburst at some perceived injustice (or even series of injustices). He is using ‘God Damn America’ in its exact and deliberate opposite of ‘God Bless America’, which calls for the Creater and Sovereign of this Universe to preserve and protect the USA and its people under His wings.

    At the very least, for me to call you, Levi, a goddamned mofo is to heap insult and contempt on you, won’t you agree? It would be to denigrate not only your positions, but your very essence, your being, your personality.

    And if J. ‘Duckhead’ (that’s an i, not a u) Wright says God Damn America, then he, too, is at the very least denigrating America’s being, positions, essence and ‘personality’ (in this case, culture).

    And if that’s not un-American, or anti-American, what the hell is it?!!!!

    I swear, a largish number of liberals must be a few spokes short of a unicycle wheel. Really.

    Gregory (f7735e)

  16. Comment by Gregory — 7/6/2008 @ 9:37 pm

    You’re right there could be ambiguity elsewhere, but in that speech (I will not call it a sermon) there was no ambiguity about it. Jeremiah Wright was not saying “God damn it, America, what is wrong with you?!” He was saying “I want God to damn America!”

    He is supposedly a pastor and knew what he was saying. He has no excuses. Contemptible man.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  17. Of course he said “God damn America!” He said it over and over. He just thought he’d get an exemption from responsibility because he is a “revrund.”

    I don’t know how that works. Imagine some non-liberal pastor saying the same thing. And recording it. And distributing the recording under his official imprimus.

    Would that be taken as a jocular “you know, sometimes I think America does things that are sub-optimal”?

    Or would it be taken as proof that that pastor is (a) speaking out of turn and (b) incredibly hateful about America?

    Wright has the 1st Amendment right to (a) preach (b) what he thinks. Thank God for that.

    What he doesn’t have is any right to avoid judgment for preaching stupid, hateful things. He hates America, and curses her. Why would I want to support a man who says that? And why would I want to support a man who sits under that type of preaching for 20 years and quotes him, over and over again, in his best-selling book? And why would I support a man who lets that pastor baptize his children and marry him? And who makes that man an official part of his campaign?

    Well, I wouldn’t and I won’t. Wright is an America-hater, and while I will in no way say Backtrack Barack hates America (I really don’t think he does), BB does show incredible lack of judgment in sitting under Wright for 20 years without protest. Hatred hatred hatred preached Sunday after Sunday, and it took unfavorable news to make him reluctantly disassociate himself from Wright. That doesn’t show courage or integrity. That shows cowardice and political expediency.

    Where is the emotional outrage over what Wright said, Sunday after Sunday, from the man who admired him and use his sermons as a title for his book? Instead, it’s a cool, calculated say-as-little-as-possible speech. And a cry “can’t I just have my waffle?”

    steve miller (724340)

  18. Levi responds:

    You think it means nothing and, as you know, I disagree so let’s consider the facts: Barack Obama was a member of Wright’s church for 20 years. Over the years, Obama credited Wright with his commitment to Christianity and repeatedly identified Wright as his spiritual mentor and moral compass. Wright officiated at Obama’s marriage and baptized his children. In addition, Obama chose Wright to pray with him as he began his Presidential campaign and named Wright to a formal role in his Presidential campaign.
    No, this oft-repeated litany of complaints means nothing to me. If you’re operating under the assumption that Rev. Wright is some crazed racist, I could see how it would cause a problem for Obama, but that has not been reasonably demonstrated.
    Religion, marriage, children, and career are the most important elements of an adult’s lifeI disagree wholeheartedly with that, and I would further diminish the importance of most of those things as far as electing people to represent you in government goes (career is obviously an important consideration.) Whether or not someone has enough kids, or goes to the right church, is totally tangential to being a strong, effective governor. I will talk later about how unimportant these ‘character issues’ are.
    and it’s impossible to believe that Barack Obama repeatedly and exclusively chose Jeremiah Wright to participate in those moments while remaining ignorant about Wright’s core beliefs. It’s equally impossible to believe that Obama was unaware of the enthusiastic response Wright’s message received from the members of their church congregation.Perhaps Obama supported Wright for 20+ years because it helped Obama further his political and personal ambitions. Or maybe Wright is more of a soulmate, someone who shares the same message, values and goals. Obama’s persistent focus that Republicans like to “mention he’s black” suggest Obama agrees with Wright’s poor opinion of white America.

    Levi fails to address the point, only dismisses them because he disagrees with them.

    He dismisses what any reasonable person hearing Wrights Sermons or performance at the NAACP or Nation Press Club knows; Wright is a racist and has a very low view of the USA. I listened to every minute of those performances and how you could conclude differently would have to depend on if you shared Wright’s views.

    I don’t know what you think Jeremiah Wright’s ‘core beliefs’ are, but I’m willing to bet they are totally inaccurate. I really think we need to talk about the man before we start crafting our arguments around some caricature.

    Unlike Levi I have studied Liberation Theology and Black Liberation Theology and understand that the basis of Wrights dogma and world view is Marxist and racist. Wright stated he was a believer and follower of Cones’ BLT and Cones in an interview stated when asked where BLT had be placed in practice he stated at Wright’s church.

    One has to ask if Wright is an effective preacher, and I believe he is, would Wright, like every other effective preacher, have his theology interlaced with everything he says and does? As any serious Christian will tell you, that is what they expect from their Pastor. And that is what the Senator sat and listened to for twenty years and what his daughters were receiving as indoctrination.

    So this goes to the Senator’s views and what he holds dear. Do his and Michelle’s comments about patriotism, race, and American values show adherence to the BLT. For example was his opposing to the Iraq was just a knee jerk liberal response of was he opposed because he saw it as another case of white American oppressing men of color? Was he reflecting Wright’s pro ISLAM views?

    Levi definitely is way behind after round one.

    rpk (1db44f)

  19. “Levi definitely is way behind after round one.”

    Well don’t hold that against him, he’s starting from way behind.

    Amused Observer (203cb7)

  20. Levi definitely is way behind after round one.

    This is round two.

    I’d ask Patterico and DRJ who they think won round one.

    Levi (74ca1f)

  21. Given how you posted one link that weakly supports your position (if at all), while DRJ’s post has many, I wonder if you’re really engaged in this debate.

    steve miller (724340)

  22. I’d ask Patterico and DRJ who they think won round one.

    Comment by Levi — 7/7/2008 @ 7:41 am

    I thought both of you “won” in that you both stated each others’ positions to each others’ satisfaction. I assume that’s what you meant, as I trust you don’t think this was all about getting $10. This was about having a civil discussion, of which the first step is stating another’s position accurately.

    The only difference is, you seemed to require an incentive to do so, while DRJ does it naturally. The evidence of this is continuing, as you don’t seem to have changed your style of discussion at all in other threads, except in this one, when there’s $20 at stake. So I’m with steve miller (7:57 am) on this one.

    no one you know (1f5ddb)

  23. Levi,

    You won Round One because you stated the conservative position more quickly and directly than I stated the liberal position.

    You’ve made it clear that you don’t care what I think or what my motivations are, but I know (and you said) that your motivation is to win. I respect that. Competition is important in life and, although I’m not motivated by a desire to win on the internet, I’ll do everything I can to provide you with worthy competition here.

    DRJ (d5bcc5)

  24. Comment by DRJ — 7/7/2008 @ 2:54 pm

    All the more respect, DRJ. Would that Levi had a desire to “win” at something more important than to score a point on the internet. As Winston Churchill might say, “the something at which DRJ just won.”

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  25. no one you know — 7/7/2008 @ 4:39 am

    Comment no 16:

    Er, ain’t that what I said, more or less? Or did I screw up my wording somewhere? Maybe I should have said something like

    “You will note that…”

    or

    “Take note that…”

    Gregory (f7735e)

  26. Comment by Gregory — 7/7/2008 @ 6:00 pm

    D’oh! You’re right, of course. Where I got confused was where you said

    At the very least, for me to call you, Levi, a goddamned mofo is to heap insult and contempt on you, won’t you agree?…And if J…Wright says God Damn America, then he, too, is at the very least denigrating America’s being, positions, essence and ‘personality’ (in this case, culture).

    implying (or so I thought) there was ambiguity. But we did say the same thing, my bad. :)

    Have found his debate a fascinating exercise and am (obviously) watching it w/ interest. I do wish Levi would learn something from it about how to discuss things. I think he’d have more fun, not to mention be much more effective w/ having people see his point of view on things, if he weren’t so (ironically) intent on pounding everyone else down.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  27. his debate = this debate

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  28. Ah, the ‘if’. I guess I’m used to using it in lieu of ‘since’.

    Yeah, thishere debate is real interesting.

    It’s 550+++ comments long, though. I think I’ll follow along here; probably lots easier.

    Reminds me of some of LGF’s mid-level threads. Something like a few thousand is not impossible on his creationism ones, to be sure.

    But for Patterico, isn”t this something close to epic? :)

    Gregory (f7735e)

  29. You won Round One because you stated the conservative position more quickly and directly than I stated the liberal position.

    You call it ‘more quickly,’ I call it ‘right off the bat.’ You weren’t even in the ballpark on your first try. And we only ever got this far because I definitively proved with your own words that you were arguing semantics. The way you describe it makes it sound like it was close.

    It wasn’t.

    Levi (74ca1f)

  30. Levi #29 wrote:

    And we only ever got this far because I definitively proved with your [DRJ's] own words that you [DRJ] were arguing semantics.

    Levi, it seems that you are stating that the difference between your position and DRJ’s is about semantics. To copy-and-paste from the post DRJ and Levi Debate Obama and Wright, here is your position:

    Liberals believe that Jeremiah Wright’s statements are irrelevant because Barack Obama is not responsible for statements other people make. The overwhelming national support for Barack Obama, extensive anti-Bush sentiment, and McCain’s lackluster support from his base make it virtually impossible for the GOP to win this election so conservatives are willing to do or say anything to win, including exploiting racism.

    and here is DRJ’s:

    Republicans believe that Jeremiah Wright is racist and un-American, and they evidence this with statements excerpted from his sermons such as ‘God Damn America’ and ‘America’s chickens coming home to roost,’ as well as Wright’s church’s citing of David Cone’s black liberation theology as one of their core philosophies. Further, they believe that due to the fact that Barack Obama attended Wright’s church for 20 years, was married there, and had his kids baptized there, there is a fatal flaw in Barack Obama’s judgment that would permeate through his potential Presidency and do great damage to the country, and that Obama might very well be as racist and un-American as Rev. Wright.

    That’s a difference of substance not semantics.

    Why not get on with supporting your position, as you began to do with comments #393, #399, #457, and #460 in the linked post?

    If you believe that the debate is over because you have already scored more than 12 runs to DRJ’s 0 (T-Ball’s Mercy Rule), please say so: until then, the suspense will keep killing me.

    AMac (e54c94)

  31. Levi #29 wrote:

    And we only ever got this far because I definitively proved with your [DRJ's] own words that you [DRJ] were arguing semantics.

    Levi, it seems that you are stating that the difference between your position and DRJ’s is about semantics. To copy-and-paste from the post DRJ and Levi Debate Obama and Wright, here is your position:

    Liberals believe that Jeremiah Wright’s statements are irrelevant because Barack Obama is not responsible for statements other people make. The overwhelming national support for Barack Obama, extensive anti-Bush sentiment, and McCain’s lackluster support from his base make it virtually impossible for the GOP to win this election so conservatives are willing to do or say anything to win, including exploiting racism.

    and here is DRJ’s:

    Republicans believe that Jeremiah Wright is racist and un-American, and they evidence this with statements excerpted from his sermons such as ‘God Damn America’ and ‘America’s chickens coming home to roost,’ as well as Wright’s church’s citing of David Cone’s black liberation theology as one of their core philosophies. Further, they believe that due to the fact that Barack Obama attended Wright’s church for 20 years, was married there, and had his kids baptized there, there is a fatal flaw in Barack Obama’s judgment that would permeate through his potential Presidency and do great damage to the country, and that Obama might very well be as racist and un-American as Rev. Wright.

    That’s a difference of substance not semantics.

    Why not get on with supporting your position, as you began to do with comments #393, #399, #457, and #460 in the linked post?

    If you believe that the debate is over because you have already scored more than 12 runs to DRJ’s 0 (T-Ball’s Mercy Rule), please say so: until then, the suspense will keep killing me.

    AMac (e54c94)

  32. Whoops–spam filter tagged me, then let me pass. Cleanup in Aisle #30.

    AMac (e54c94)

  33. To assert that one has proven a fact is not, in fact, to prove the fact.

    steve miller (724340)

  34. Levi’s MO is to make assertions, and to state that everyone that disagrees with him is teh stoopid. No surprise that he resorts to same here. SHOCKA!

    For a good example of same, look at his interaction with WLS in the FISA hypothetical thread. Mendoucheity in action.

    JD (75f5c3)

  35. That’s a difference of substance not semantics.

    Why not get on with supporting your position, as you began to do with comments #393, #399, #457, and #460 in the linked post?

    If you believe that the debate is over because you have already scored more than 12 runs to DRJ’s 0 (T-Ball’s Mercy Rule), please say so: until then, the suspense will keep killing me.

    Yeah, you do not know what you’re talking about. Nice try though.

    Levi (74ca1f)

  36. Levi: Again, it hasn’t been demonstrated to my satisfaction that Wright is a racist.

    Levi, please define “racist”.

    Alterately, let’s play the $100,000 Pyramid. You’re giving the clues and the answer is “Things a racist might say”.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  37. aunursa – Great comment.

    JD (75f5c3)

  38. If Larry the Cable Guy dropped a bowling ball from his gut on to Levi’s foot, would Levi have a concussion?

    PCD (5c49b0)

  39. Levi #35, referring to #31:

    Yeah, you do not know what you’re talking about. Nice try though.

    Sorry, I don’t understand what you mean. Could you elaborate?

    AMac (0f4b0c)

  40. Why not get on with supporting your position, as you began to do with comments #393, #399, #457, and #460 in the linked post?

    DRJ has disappeared, as far as I can tell. This whole thing is being very poorly run.

    Levi (74ca1f)

  41. Sorry, I don’t understand what you mean. Could you elaborate?

    The very first thing that DRJ did in responding to my statement of the conservative position was to trot out some ridiculous semantic nonsense about how she didn’t think Rev. Wright was a racist or un-American. She said he ‘embraced black separatism’ and sometimes said racist and un-American things, but she believed that he wasn’t a racist, and that he wasn’t un-American. I cried foul, and after a few hundred comments where she struggled to explain the differences between the words I used and her opinion of Wright, I dug up an old post of hers where she explicitly stated ‘I think Wright is un-American,’ proving I was right about her arguing semantics, and forcing her to accept my original statement as accurate and fair.

    Levi (74ca1f)

  42. I think “God Damn America” and “America’s chickens … have come home … to roost” (with the added bonus of the glee you can clearly hear in his voice) would be very high up on the list of “Things An Anti-American Might Say”…

    Being the pastor of the nation’s largest church encouraging separatist policies would also be up there in the “Racist? SI!” column, too.

    Even David Duke and Former Kleagle Bobby Byrd doesn’t wander around saying “nigger” every minute, so routine statements that are not explicitly racist – either way – do not count as counter evidence.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  43. I think “God Damn America” and “America’s chickens … have come home … to roost” (with the added bonus of the glee you can clearly hear in his voice) would be very high up on the list of “Things An Anti-American Might Say”…

    Do you know he was quoting the Ambassador to Iraq about the chickens?

    And Jesus Christ, I will never understand what ruffles all you peoples’ feathers about ‘God Damn America.’

    Levi (74ca1f)

  44. Levi, thanks for the clarification in #41.

    I wasn’t reading it that way, but I only scanned the original comments thread–it was already too long when I first saw it.

    Can you cite the post that contains the thread where “The very first thing that DRJ did in responding to my statement of the conservative position was to trot out some ridiculous semantic nonsense” and then you (Levi) later cried foul? It doesn’t jump out when I query Google or Yahoo.

    As for the substance of your complaint, I suppose DRJ is in the best position to address it.

    AMac (c822c9)

  45. Levi,

    I haven’t disappeared. I hope to respond to your character point later today but I’m curious if you’ve said all you plan to say in response to my comments. For your reference, those comments are ## 5, 420, 424, 427, 429, 433, and 467.

    For instance, I don’t think I’ve seen a substantive response to my request that you explain why the specific comments made by Jeremiah Wright that I listed in my comment aren’t racist, hateful or anti-American.

    Round One was about stating the arguments to each other’s satisfaction and that is in part an issue of semantics. Round Two is about substance. Thus far it seems to me that you have responded by copying and pasting my comments and claiming I’m wrong. That’s not a substantive response.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  46. And Jesus Christ, I will never understand what ruffles all you peoples’ feathers about ‘God Damn America.’

    Because it is explicitly wishing harm upon America. And Jesus Christ, I will never understand why you peoples’ want to claim that saying ‘God Damn America. is no big deal.

    Oh, and he wasn’t “quoting” anyone. The speech he claims to have been quoting has NOTHING to say about chickens or roosting. Those words were made in the Sunday sermon immediately following 9/11, so would be especially offensive, just as Jerry Falwell’s “9/11 was because of the gays” nonsense was offensive.

    Trouble is, Falwell later retracted his comments, and apologized. Jewrry Wright? Not so much, and you want to give him a pass because he’s black?

    No wonder you can’t see racism. No more than a goldfish can see the water in his bowl.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  47. DRJ has disappeared, as far as I can tell.

    I think DRJ is waiting for you to respond to her latest rebuttal.

    This whole thing is being very poorly run.

    How can you tell if you’re not checking the thread?

    Pablo (99243e)

  48. And Jesus Christ, I will never understand what ruffles all you peoples’ feathers about ‘God Damn America.’

    Are you talking to Jesus Christ, Levi?

    I won’t speak for others, so I’ll say the three things that bother me about it:

    1. The same thing that bothers us about people throwing around “Jesus Christ” indiscriminately. Especially a pastor doing it.

    2. Even more so, the likelihood, given the context, that a pastor was NOT using God’s name in vain as in (1) but actually was praying for God to damn, or curse, the country Jeremiah Wright and I both live in. This says a lot about Jeremiah Wright and his utter ingratitude to God and to the benefits this country affords him and everyone else in it.

    3. the utter contempt for a wonderful country that such a statement says about anyone, much less a pastor who knows full well how blessed (that’s “fortunate” for Levi’s benefit) we all are to live in a country that while certainly very flawed, is arguably the freest, most generous to the poor, and most opportunity-rich for its people in the entire world.

    But you’re convinced that you will “never” understand others’ reasons for objecting to “God damn America.” I suggest you open your mind a bit – the utter lack of desire to understand anyone else’s point of view is, to be charitable, not commendable in the least.

    no one you know (1f5ddb)

  49. DRJ,
    Which post’s comment thread is Levi referring to in #41?

    AMac (c822c9)

  50. AMac,

    In the Tim Russert thread when we were crafting the opposing statements, I stated I thought Wright’s statements were related to his belief in black liberation theology. I struggled with explaining his statements based on those beliefs.

    Levi reminded me of a post I had written last Spring stating that Wright’s comments were hateful, racist and anti-American. He was correct that I initially said that about the statements and that I then argued otherwise – that there might be another explanation. I have now returned to my original position that Wright’s statements were hateful, racist and anti-American. In other words, I tried to see another explanation but I couldn’t come up with one.

    I still think black liberation theology is relevant and important to this debate. Hopefully I’ll have time to address that tomorrow. I hope my attempt is as good as your earlier comment on the topic.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  51. Here’s the Tim Russert thread, AMac.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  52. but actually was praying for God to damn, or curse, the country Jeremiah Wright and I both live in.

    The actual quote: “No, no, no. Not ‘God Bless America’, but ‘God DAMN America’!” (Emphasizing the last three words with clear gesticulation, then interrupted by cheers and applause)

    Seems pretty clear to me. The context doesn’t make it better, it makes it worse since he is giving reasons (such as the US developing AIDS to kill off black people) that are clearly false-to-fact. And the thousands of church members are neither offended nor upset. They are cheering, clapping and hooting in glee, which means that this was a normal part of the service – if not every Sunday, at least often enough that no one is surprised.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  53. And Jesus Christ, I will never understand what ruffles all you peoples’ feathers about ‘God Damn America.’

    SHOCKA!

    JD (75f5c3)

  54. And the thousands of church members are neither offended nor upset. They are cheering, clapping and hooting in glee, which means that this was a normal part of the service – if not every Sunday, at least often enough that no one is surprised.

    A lot of the congregation objected on the video I saw. Including members of the choir. Wright tried to spin it as though it were in consideration for the whites present but it rang hollow. They were simply trying to tell him that he was an asshole.

    nk (479e05)

  55. A lot of the congregation objected on the video I saw.

    Got a link? because I saw not one person objecting. I saw LOTS of people laughing and clapping.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  56. DRJ,

    That backstory (#50) helps a lot, thanks.
    Levi’s first comment in the Tim Russert thread that is relevant to the current Debate might be #92.
    Your (DRJ’s) first relevant comment might be #99, I think.

    Levi,

    It was my impression that the point of the Debate was for you and DRJ to leave behind any posturing that went on in the Russert thread. By starting afresh, with the agreed-on position statements in the Debate post, you and DRJ could focus on the issues that make Rev. Wright relevant or irrelevant to our evaluation of Sen. Obama’s candidacy.

    Levi and DRJ,

    The quotes and links that are in my comments in the Debate thread were provided in the hope that one or both of you would find them useful in advancing your arguments. Please incorporate them in your own comments as you see fit.

    Given the 20-year-long personal and professional mentoring relationship, I think Rev. Wright’s theology and politics has a good deal to tell us about the sort of person Sen. Obama is, and the sort of President he is likely to be.

    But I’m open to being convinced (a) that Wright and his beliefs and conduct are irrelevant to an Obama presidency, or (b) that we should see Wright in a neutral or positive light.

    AMac (c822c9)

  57. Levi,

    Please respond to my request in comment #36.

    Give us your definition of “racist”.

    Alterately, let’s play the $100,000 Pyramid. You’re giving the clues and the answer is “Things a racist might say”.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  58. #43 Levi

    Do you know he was quoting the Ambassador to Iraq about the chickens?

    What was the date of this quote, and the ambassador’s precise words? A link to a transcript or an article from a major newspaper that provides the quote in context would be useful.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  59. Those people standing up are not doing so in protest. That seems to be a standard expression of support in black churches (especially the palm raised to heaven). There are lots of people cheering and clapping as he talks about the country being controlled by “rich white folk”.

    I see no protesting. I also heard nothing about the chickens coming home to roost, which was the quote I was specifically talking about.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  60. Things a racist might say

    I’ve got one…

    “Is you their black-haired answer-mammy who be smart? Does they like how you shine their shoes, Condoleezza? Or the way you wash and park the whitey’s cars?” (Left-wing radio host Neil Rogers)

    Another:

    Blacks and Hispanics are “too busy eating watermelons and tacos” to learn how to read and write. (Mike Wallace, CBS News)

    Yet another:

    “I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” (Lyndon B. Johnson to two governors on Air Force One)

    I’m sure there are plenty of others.

    Such as Spike Lee referring to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as “a handkerchief-head, chicken-and-biscuit-eating Uncle Tom.”

    And:

    “I will not let the white boys win in this election.” — Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s Campaign Manager

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  61. Re Drumwaster’s #60 comment,

    The “Chickens Coming Home To Roost video. Maybe one person in five is cheering and clapping. Even in the Trinity United Church of Cthulu most black people do not hate America.

    nk (2336ef)

  62. Do you know he was quoting the Ambassador to Iraq about the chickens?

    He’s quoting Malcolm X. You can tell by the way he says that he’s quoting Malcolm X.

    Pablo (99243e)

  63. Maybe one person in five is cheering and clapping.

    So “only” 20% are showing active approval. The other 80% are sitting there nodding.

    How many are getting up and leaving? Or even shaking their heads?

    I remember reading a statistic that says that only 10% of the population has to like an entertainer for that entertainer to be a huge success. Not “be their biggest fan”, not “buy every album/watch every movie ever made”, just … “like”.

    Jerry has twice that within his own church after one of the most offensive comments imaginable under the circumstances.

    Let’s picture it. September 11, 2001 was on a Tuesday. This sermon was delivered five days later.

    While people are still frantically scrabbling through still-smoking wreckage of the largest buildings on the continent, breathing in all that caustic dust in a wasted effort to find survivors, he is busy writing this sermon, and while the nation is still mourning, he gloats about it.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  64. Trinity United Church of Cthulu

    I just saw this.

    Heh.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  65. Levi #40,

    Maybe the dual threads are contributing to your impatience. If you agree, I’ll ask Patterico if I can resume my posting privileges for the purpose of taking the comments you and I made on the debate thread and moving them to this new post.

    Let me know if that’s okay with you. I won’t do it unless both you and Patterico agree.

    DRJ (d5bcc5)

  66. Come back, DRJ, come back, we all miss you (well, at least I do)… please…

    Gregory (f7735e)

  67. And Jesus Christ, I will never understand what ruffles all you peoples’ feathers about ‘God Damn America.’
    Is it that you, Levi dont understand that “God damn America” is a curse word? That line of argument does not help the democratic debate. It gives even Obama a bad name. You are not helping your candidate nor party talking like that. A retraction would be appropriate.

    love2008 (6e616b)

  68. Great stuff DRJ – your arguments are well reasoned and supported, and the dry style you use makes Levi appear quite infantile. After reading the whole debate I have to wonder at the age of your opponent, and would offer only this advice to him – try again in five years, after you graduate from high school!

    Great entertainment, and thanks for the dedication DRJ…

    Shane

    Evrviglnt (8ad4cf)


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