Patterico's Pontifications


Mark Steyn on Obama

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 2:37 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Writing at NRO, Mark Steyn has joined the chorus of people who deplore the anti-American statements made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright and are hard-pressed to believe Barack Obama was unaware of those statements.

Steyn first recounts the anti-American and racist rhetoric Wright has employed over the past 20 years and then moves on to Barack Obama’s response, with some input from Michelle Obama. Steyn’s points may be similar to others but with his keen political insight and his knowledge of music and its history, nobody says it better:

“The song the Reverend Wright won’t sing is by Irving Berlin, a contemporary of Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin and Lorenz Hart, all the sophisticated rhymesters. But only Berlin could have written without embarrassment “God Bless America.” He said it directly, unaffectedly, unashamedly — in seven words:

God Bless America
Land that I love.

Berlin was a Jew and he suffered slights: He grew up in the poverty of New York’s Lower East Side. When he made his name and fortune, his marriage to a Park Avenue heiress resulted in her expulsion from the Social Register. In the Thirties, her sister moved in with a Nazi diplomat and proudly flaunted her diamond swastika to Irving. But Berlin spent his infancy in Temun, Siberia (until the Cossacks rode in and razed his village) and he understood the great gift he’d been given:

God Bless America
Land that I love.

The Reverend Wright can’t say those words. His shtick is:

God damn America
Land that I loathe.

I understand the Ellis Island experience of Russian Jews was denied to blacks. But not to Obama. His experience surely isn’t so different to Berlin’s — except that Barack got to go to Harvard. Obama’s father was a Kenyan, he spent his childhood in Indonesia, and he ought to thank his lucky stars that he’s running for office in Washington rather than Nairobi or Jakarta. Instead, his whiney wife Michelle says that her husband’s election as president would be the first reason to have “pride” in America, and complains that this country is “downright mean” and that she’s having difficulty finding money for their daughters’ piano lessons and summer camp. Between them, Mr. and Mrs. Obama earn $480,000 a year (not including book royalties from The Audacity of Hype), but they’re whining about how tough they have it to couples who earn 48 grand — or less. Yes, we can. But not on a lousy half-million bucks a year.

God has blessed America, and blessed the Obamas in America, and even blessed the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose bashing of his own country would be far less lucrative anywhere else on the planet. The “racist” here is not Geraldine Ferraro but the Reverend Wright, whose appeals to racial bitterness are supposed to be everything President Obama will transcend. Right now, it sounds more like the same-old same-old.”

There’s far more gold in Steyn’s essay at the link. Read it all.

According to Rasmussen’s daily Presidential tracking poll, Obama’s support fell 7 points overnight. He is viewed favorably by 50% of likely voters nationwide, unfavorably by 49%.


43 Responses to “Mark Steyn on Obama”

  1. As someone else noted, it’s like I buy tickets for the Lakers games for 20 years, I have a Lakers jacket, I take my kids to Lakers games, and I have an autographed Lakers basketball – but I’m not a fan of the Lakers.

    steve miller (3a9833)

  2. but I’m not a fan of the Lakers

    I don’t condemn the Lakers, but I deplore all of their personal fouls that are at issue now.

    There are lots of other basketball teams near my home, but I didn’t want to change teams because voters might think I was wishy-washy and indecisive.

    Here’s a call from the clue phone: if you’re behaving like a coward because you don’t want people to think you’re indecisive, it means you’re a cowardly, indecisive little weasel.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  3. Whatever it is that offends you about the Lakers, I deplore. However, if you are white, I expect you to apologize to me for making me deplore something you are offended by.

    huey (9558ff)

  4. Obama gave a pretty thorough response to this.

    Of course, nobody who wasn’t going to vote for him before they saw the statements is going to believe him when he condemns the statements.

    Believing Obama is a secret racist is too much fun — they can’t give that up just because he categorically denies it.

    Phil (0ef625)

  5. We left the church where we were married and two of our children were baptized because we didn’t like the direction the church was going in (nothing like at Trinity however). A year or so after we left the pastor who had married us and baptized the children was fired for having an affair with the preschool teacher. There’s no reason to stay with a church just because you were married there or because your children were baptized there. We’ve been at our new church for 5 years now and really like it.

    kimsch (2ce939)

  6. Phil seems to have an amusing definition of “thorough”.

    I didn’t think it was a synonym for “mendacious”.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  7. Phil seems to have an amusing definition of “thorough”.

    I didn’t think it was a synonym for “mendacious”.

    Phil, like several commenters here, thought that no one would read (or view) his link.

    Paul (249390)

  8. Phil said something?
    Who knew?
    Or, cared!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  9. Obama stayed at that church for 20 years, all the while this man of the whole cloth sermonized about Devil Whitey. And now – now – when it’s inconvenient he suddenly finds his voice to protest? And yet still cannot repudiate the man, but only repudiates the statements if they’re objectionable?

    How weaselly is that? This isn’t Hope, this is Dope.

    steve miller (3a9833)

  10. Wright’s ideology seems to be pretty endemic to the black community; presumably Obama figured his racism was a sign that the church was an authentic black church. Of which, you may recall, he had very little experience before he joined.

    Being a member of this church was part of Obama’s effort to prove he was a real black. Now, with a little luck, it will backfire and demonstrate that black racism is as bad as white racism.

    I would, however, dispute the idea that Berlin’s experience was very much like Obama’s. Berlin was escaping from Czarist police, Cossacks and violently anti-Semitic peasants, and arrived here as someone looking for, and finding a refuge. The closest parallel in US history is blacks in the South between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement–the one part of the African American heritage that Obama has absolutely no personal linkage to.

    kishnevi (a117ab)

  11. I always turn to uneducated theater critics for my political analysis.

    Vergil (ec0a96)

  12. BTW, can someone please enlighten me what “Sharpesville” refers to in this post?
    (found via doubleplusundead via Stashiu)

    As far as I know, calling the battle which allowed Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation by its Confederate name is not a big grievance in the black community.

    kishnevi (a117ab)

  13. “Wright’s ideology seems to be pretty endemic to the black community”

    Yes, racism and anti-semitism are very common among American blacks–and hardly anyone is willing to speak out against this cancer.

    pst314 (49bdf5)

  14. kishnevi…
    Could it be referring to the Sharpesville (South Africa) massacre in 1960?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  15. kishnevi, I read the post, but I don’t understand your question.

    steve miller (3a9833)

  16. Sharpsville was the site of a massacre in South Africa.

    Which was America’s fault, of course.

    Don’t worry, I had to Google the heck out of it to find it.

    Cuffy Meigs (9a654f)

  17. Then he should distence himself as far as he can from ranting extremists like JEREMIAH WRIGHT and have nothing more to do with this extremists

    krazy kagu (a2e13d)

  18. I’ve read quite a few good posts at various blogs about this and at almost all of them, some moonbat will be in the comments basically giving Obama a pass because he ‘denounced’ the preacher man. Of couse when the media FINALLY notices that you are using an anti-American, racist, anti-semitic, hate-mongering idiot as a spiritual advisor; you have to do something to keep your ‘Audacity of Hope’ going.

    Thanks Phil for helping me prove that point.

    Verlin Martin (f359ef)

  19. Obama might have got out of it if he had said, right off the bat, “yes, I knew how bad Wright’s rhetoric is, but I always treated it as hyperbole and overstatement.” But now that he has denied knowing about the comments, he has picked the worst possible path. A knave can be tolerated by many people, but never a fool.

    ras (fc54bb)

  20. Kishnevi,

    I think Wright was referring to the South African Sharpsville and that he combined “Sharpsville and Hiroshima” to point out events that were, in his view, white-engineered atrocities in foreign countries. I guess it’s possible he thinks Americans were responsible for Sharpsville but I think it’s more likely he believes that black Americans and black South Africans share a common history because both protested racist government policies during turbulent periods of their nation’s history.

    Here’s a link to an article that discusses how some American blacks view Sharpsville as a shared legacy.

    Either way, Wright’s overarching theme is that whites are responsible for much of the world’s suffering.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  21. Believing Obama is a secret racist is too much fun — they can’t give that up just because he categorically denies it.

    Yes, it’s not like anyone got on tv and said, “George Bush hates black people.”

    Now that a Democrat is being held up to the same standards as Republicans, it’s a bad thing.

    Steverino (2c9e20)

  22. DRJ (and others) thanks. I do love the implied logic of that article. Afrikaners killed black Africans in the mid 20th century in South Africa, therefore US whites need to pay “reparations” to American blacks.

    kishnevi (2b3e28)

  23. pst314:

    “Endemic” doesn’t mean “common.” Wright’s ideology is endemic to the American black community because it can arise only there (it’d be something else anywhere else) and while its mere existence is troubling, I have a difficult time believing it’s “common” (as in, believed by a majority of American blacks).

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  24. Yes Black Racism and scapegoating and conspiracy theories are common. They are (and Wright’s views) mainstream among Blacks. To go against that is to risk exclusion and expulsion from the black community. Which is why Obama did not object.

    Like Hitler’s Stab in the Back theory, Blacks use scapegoats to excuse and refuse to examine the internal problems and pathologies in the black community: fathers abandoning their kids, women seeking men who will not marry them, fatherless kids growing up to be thugs, glorification of thuggery, violence. The idea the deferred gratification, education, literacy, and achievement through steady hard work is “acting white.” The idea that being a macho thug is “acting Black.” The tests of “being black enough” etc.

    White racism in the 1960’s and past has nothing to do with the epidemic of gang violence and murders that imprison the people of South Central — by their own kids.

    But it’s far easier to blame Whitey(tm) and describe a stab in the back than to confront the deep cultural flaws stemming from separatism and a pathological fear of intermarriage and absorption by the White majority.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  25. Obama appears to be severely lacking any powerrs of observation. Whether he wasn’t aware of Wright’s specific comments because he wasn’t there when he made them, adults are generally capable of culling insights and having discernment as to another’s basic disposition, priorities and overall mindset especially when its coming from the pulpit they are sitting under.

    Cluelessness doesn’t strike me as a characteristic advatangeous to one who is looking to be the next POTUS.

    As far as Wright goes, well, the audacity of hate is an ugly, very ugly thing indeed.

    Dana (9dbe41)

  26. Believing Obama is a secret racist is too much fun —

    Obama’s racism isn’t a secret anymore. Not only did Obama do nothing to stop this racist for for 20 years, Obama donated tens of thousands of dollars to Wright enabling him to continue spewing his hate.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  27. What Reverend Wright really means, but did not have the guts to say, is not “God damn America” but “God damn white people.” Like Jesse Jackson, he is making a living in the racial hatred industry.

    dchamil (793092)

  28. I was greatly alarmed by Obama’s pastor’s hate tapes and I understand there are hours of them and that Obama’s church is so proud of them they are for sale on their website.

    It seems to me that this is legitamate issue for discussion that a candidate for President has such a long-standing and close personal relationship with such a person, so close a relationship that it can’t be dismissed as merely guilt by association.

    It is my understanding these tapes were known by the press for quite a while.

    My question is why is so much attention given to minor little things surrogates say…like “fairy tale”,, mentioning Jesse Jackson had done well in a state, “lucky”, “monster”,..all of these are real reaches to find any real fault in them…and so very little was mentioned about what is HUGE in my opinion…a possible future president of our country being extremely close to a pastor for 20 years who is obviously radically predjudiced and full of hate and a member of that church.

    ANY candidate that wasn’t black with that sort of association with similar but opposite radically hateful rhetoric would be fried by the media. Whenever Obama’s pastor’s radical comments ARE covered by the broadcast media it is tied with the very minor comment by ferraro as if both are of equal importance.

    Why the double standard?

    Larry B (03ef2b)

  29. I’m going to stick a quote in here because I think that to take Wright’s statements at face value and then project some dysfunction onto blackfolks and Obama is the very definition of being cluelessly white.

    Where where all you anti-racists yesterday, before you ever heard of Jeremiah Wright? How did he not show up on your radar? Why could you not connect the dots? I’ll tell you why, because you’re not really disciplined, don’t know the difference between cultural nationalism and racial bigotry, never heard of James Cone or liberation theology before and are generally ignorant of what goes on in black churches and the sophisticated relationships therein. That is why you all must satisfy yourself with Obama’s paragraph of dismissal and quell the uneasy feeling that there’s something more going on, Mr. Jones.

    I will quote from Craig Nulan:

    Ethnic nationalists have made hay this week pretending that Jeremiah Wright’s decontextualized fire and brimstone sermonizing is “racist” or “seditious”. By extension they argue, Obama is a seditious stealth racist unfit to lead. Some I’ve encountered online have argued that the 1960’s Black exposure to the radical liberal counterculture was the genesis of this “dissent”. Those caught up in this narrative seek to pretend that Blacks across class lines began to reject mainstream norms. This is precisely why I linked the text and audio of Martin Luther King Jr.’s A Time To Break the Silence speech to demonstrate the patent falsity and ahistorical absurdity of this claim. Is there a more mainstream moral or political authority to whom we might turn our moral compass than the late Dr. King on this issue?

    The boundless hypocrisy of ethnic nationalists has been brought into full view. These people are projecting their own motivations and ways of living on Wright for daring to give voice to righteous dissent. To date, I’ve not heard a single critic question the mainstream propriety of Jeremiah Wright’s curriculum vitae. They are instead seeking to read their own psychological realities into a handful of his words taken out of the context in which they were spoken. What we have seen demonstrated this week, is that for a man to question the historical and continuing collective psychological tendencies of American ethnic nationalists is literally psychologically intolerable.

    If one is truly above the fray in this pitch and moment of namecalling, it seems to me that the honest discussion has more to do with why the black church is what it is and how exactly it is that politicians go there for votes.

    Obama has been called a fraud. But you cannot cheat an honest man, and an honest voter is not voting for Obama as a referendum on race relations in America, nor is the honest critic denying his vote on that same basis. If you have something to say about Wright that is not mearly another bean to tip the scales of political opinion, the context in which to say it is that of the black church itself.

    Cobb (d077c2)

  30. They are instead seeking to read their own psychological realities into a handful of his words taken out of the context in which they were spoken.

    I thought I got the context of the “God damn America” comment. I thought I got the context of the comment that our chickens were coming home to roost with 9/11. What context was i not given that would make those statements acceptable?

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  31. The Rev. Wright, and others in the Black Community who believe that the White Man is responsible with all that is bad in their lives, should sit down and read a book (whose title and author escape me at the moment) written by a distinguished WaPo journalist (black) who returned to Africa to find his “roots”.

    Everywhere he went, people would come up to him and ask him if he was from America. Even if he was wearing local “costume”, he was asked that question.

    Upon returning to the States, he wrote a book whose central theme was that he believed that his fore-bearers’ enslavement, and shipment to the New World, was the best thing that could have happened to him. That even under the best of conditions that he found in Africa, life was not as good as if he lived in one of the “hoods”.

    We have created a society of victims, and are now reaping the whirlwind.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  32. Another Drew, were you thinking of Keith Richburg who some years back wrote ‘Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa?’ Its been a while since I read it but did find this quote from Richberg that might speak to what you mention:

    “Maybe if I had never set foot there (Africa), I could celebrate my own blackness, my own African- ness. But while I know that Afrocentrism has become fashionable for many black Americans searching for identity, I know it cannot work for me. I am a stranger here (Africa). I am an American, a black American. And I feel no connection to this strange and violent place. Africa chewed me up and spit me back out again.”

    Dana (443780)

  33. Yes by all means, use the Nation of Islam’s broadsheet to illuminate the issue. South Africa, was not unlike the South of the 1877-1964period; although the demographics were inverted. Sharpsville, was an extension of that dynamic not unlike the Rosewood massacre in this country; or the British actions at Amritsar in roughly that period. The ANC could roughly be seen as following W.E.B.Dubois NAACP, had they faced the likes of a James Byrne or lets be frank another Woodrow Wilson type administration.How the South African liberals were so divided as to let the Afrikaner Nationalist to prevail, and continue to rule, is still a bit of mystery. Umkhonto du Sizwe, or “Spear of the Nation” adapted the path that the Black Panthers or more appropriately the US Afrocentrists of Ron Karenga. might have chosen in that circumstance. Mandela’s actions, toward a violent overthrow of that Govt,covered in the Livonia trials; were considered so
    aggressive that Amnesty International, could not consider him a ‘prisoner of conscience’. It’s true that some figures like Mr. Millard Shirley, son of American missionaries, did help apprehend
    Mandela, but that was clearly in the Cold War context; the irony of the Soviet Empire, pretending to be ‘liberators’ in this context
    was vile but predictable. The chaos brought by the sanctions and other factors, have made South Africa a violent place where Islamist leaning groups like PAGAD and Quibla have risen in prominence. A distressting thought to consider
    in an all but declared nuclear power.

    narciso (c36902)

  34. Dana, #32…

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  35. I thought I got the context of the “God damn America” comment. I thought I got the context of the comment that our chickens were coming home to roost with 9/11. What context was i not given that would make those statements acceptable?

    Exactly the same context that McCain’s campaign has given, which is that you cannot control the opinions of everyone that supports you. Considering the fact that Wright has been dissed and dismissed, as was completely predictable to me, we are left with nothing, I think, but suspicion of some unknown fraction of America as described in comment #31.

    Cobb (d077c2)

  36. We are left with a preacher that is comfortable saying “God damn the US” from the pulpit, and a congregation that is comfortable with hearing it. (The church itself apparently includes this video snippet in its DVD of “Greatest Hits of Revrun Wright’s ‘Get Whitey’ Sermons.”)

    And, we’re left with a major party’s presidential candidate showing his appalling inability to speak out against racial lunacy until someone points out that it’s … well, lunacy. Where was Barry’s finely tuned sense of outrage when Wright dissed his white self?

    I know, context. At least he didn’t blame white people for spreading AIDS in the black community.

    Oh wait. He already did that, too.

    steve miller (3a9833)

  37. Well, Cobb, actually, the language you quoted with approval alleged:

    They are instead seeking to read their own psychological realities into a handful of his words taken out of the context in which they were spoken.

    So I asked you what was the missing context that would supposedly make Wright’s assertions less outrageous? You appear to concede that there is no missing context; your claim is, rather, that Obama can’t control what his pastor says.

    True enough — but he can choose where to go to church. And any claim that analogizes the Obama/Wright relationship to the McCain/Hagee relationship is, frankly, bullshit. Obama/Wright is a much closer relationship, by several orders of magnitude.

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  38. This is a good summation.

    One understands why that might not seem obvious to black people of a certain age: Condi Rice, for example, has childhood memories of a segregated south and racial violence. But that’s what makes Obama’s association with Wright so significant. He’s not from Alabama. He’s a biracial middle-class Kenyan-Kansan Hawaiian-born Indonesian-raised Columbia and Harvard graduate who chose to immerse himself in the most corrosive and paranoid end of a racial-grievance ghetto mentality that is nothing to do with him, his family or his upbringing. He doesn’t have the same excuse as a Jackson, Sharpton or Farrakhan.

    Why would he do such a thing? I wouldn’t expose my kids to the four-letter ravings of Jeremiah Wright because I wouldn’t want them to grow up loathing their country. I find it hard not to think less of a man who does.

    Mark Steyn

    steve miller (3a9833)

  39. Oh, even more fun. Seems Barry brought the tapes with him to Harvard to “fortif[y] himself.”

    Perfunction: Awaken the Giant Within

    It [Trinity United Church of Christ] also helped give him spiritual bona fides and a new assurance. Services at Trinity were a weekly master class in how to move an audience. When Mr. Obama arrived at Harvard Law School later that year, where he fortified himself with recordings of Mr. Wright’s sermons, he was delivering stirring speeches as a student leader in the classic oratorical style of the black church.

    steve miller (3a9833)

  40. Oh my. That links to a New York Times article. This has gone beyond entertainment. It’s bloodletting.

    EDIT: The New York Times article is from April 30, 2007, so they may not have known what they had.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  41. Well, it’s still entertaining.

    In a sad sort of way. Beware of those whom you step on on your way up the ladder, because they will be there to watch you as you come down at a faster pace.

    steve miller (3a9833)

  42. I think it’s big, Steve Miller. Obama had the tapes. How many could there have been?

    DRJ (a431ca)

  43. I don’t think anyone has pieced all the information together yet. But Barry better have a good story on Monday, something like, “Well, you know, I fell asleep a lot during the sermons.”

    Still, there is the idea that he brought his kids along for the Get Whitey sermons. And that this man who wants to be there to pick up the Red Phone took 20 years to figure out that Revrun Wright is one maraschino cherry short of a fruit salad.

    steve miller (3a9833)

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