Patterico's Pontifications


More on Obama’s White Grandmother

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In an earlier post on Barack Obama’s March 18 speech, I linked without comment to James Taranto’s Best of the Web in which Taranto discussed Obama’s white grandmother. Taranto focused on a section of Obama’s speech in which he compared his white grandmother and Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The comparison occurred halfway through Obama’s speech in consecutive paragraphs:

“And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

Here is an excerpt from Taranto’s WSJ Best of the Web from the same day:

“So here we have, on the one hand, an old white woman who would be completely ordinary and anonymous but for her grandson’s astonishing political success, and who harbors some regrettable prejudices; and, on the other, a leader in the black community who uses his pulpit to propagate an ideology of hate.”

Taranto concludes by wondering how Obama can heal racial wounds when he can’t even speak up against the bigoted rhetoric of his own spiritual adviser. I agree with that, and I’d like to add these thoughts:

In the first paragraph above, Obama recounts a close, 20+ year relationship with Wright. In all that time, Obama can’t recall ever hearing Wright say anything derogatory about an ethnic group. In contrast, in the very next paragraph, Obama clearly remembers details and conversations with his white grandmother in which she “confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street” and “on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes.”

Obama’s memories of his grandmother are vivid and detailed and yet he can’t recall ever hearing Wright engage in derogatory rhetoric over the past 20 years. Is it possible that, despite documented examples of Wright’s inflammatory rhetoric, Obama simply can’t remember whether Wright said anything derogatory about an ethnic group? Given his strong mind and keen memory, that seems highly unlikely.

The other possibility is that Obama never heard Wright say anything controversial; however, Obama has now admitted that he already knew about “one or two statements” but did not realize this was “happening with more frequency.”

Thus, the question becomes: Why would Obama willingly overlook inflammatory statements by Wright when he so clearly remembers the details and feels the pain of his grandmother’s slurs?

Let’s face it. It’s easier to remember offensive statements than statements you agree with or believe are true. Thus, even though he heard at least “one or two” of Wright’s statements, Obama’s grandmother’s words were more memorable and offensive because they hurt.

However, Wright’s message of hate, anger, and white guilt was easy to overlook because it didn’t hurt. That’s something to remember when a candidate like Obama promises he is the best person to heal differences among us.

Finally, one last political thought: Obama’s speech, which I think was masterfully crafted, may ultimately do him more harm than good because it keeps the focus on race. Obama’s speech pays lip service to the notion that it’s time to put racial divisions behind, but in fact he has refocused the debate on whether racial groups are treated fairly in America. That is a return to the 1960’s and ’70s, a time of black power, white guilt and anti-war activism. Some may be glad to see those days return but the average voter won’t see that as change we can believe in.


And the Winner is …

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 8:58 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s Official: The winner of the prime-time soap opera naming contest is Vermont Neighbor with Apocalypse Now. Congratulations, Neighbor!

Second Place to Daleyrocks for “Three’s Company.”

Honorable Mention to Scott Jacobs and Gahrie because I enjoyed your wit and wisdom.


Lithwick on the Heller Argument

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,General — Patterico @ 8:02 pm

Dahlia Lithwick on the Heller argument:

That’s five votes to create a fundamental right to bear arms, only eight minutes into the argument.

Excuse me? How do you “create” something that’s already in the Constitution?

Today we have four liberals rediscovering the beauty of local government and judicial restraint and five conservatives poised to identify a fundamental personal right that will have judges mucking about in gun cases for years to come. After all these years of deep conservative suspicion of turning over policy matters to the courts, the Roberts Court has fallen in love with a new constitutional right.

Excuse me? What is “new” about a right that has been in the Constitution since 1791?

If you can get past this type of Orwelllian bullshit, the piece is a fairly entertaining rundown of the argument — capturing most of the important nuances, all with Dahlia’s inimitable snarky, disingenuous style.

Why Wright Will Remain Important — How Many Degrees of Separation Between Obama and Black Nationalist Separatist Movement?

Posted by WLS:

This would have been a kooky post 2 weeks ago, but I think this subject may now find its way into the bloodstream of the body-politic, and I think the events of this week elevate it above crackpot conspiracy theory.

For several decades since the advent of the Civil Rights Movement, there has existed at the fringe of that movement a BlackNationalist  movement.  One of the tenets of the “Black Nationalist” movement is the idea of “racial separation” in the United States — the creation of a majority black sovereign entity within the confines of the United States as a remedial measure to redress the long-standing impact of institutional racism.   

This Black Nationalist movement found intellectual heft in the writings of W.E.B. DuBois, but was most prominently embodied in secular terms by the creation of the Black Panther Party by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton.

At the same time, however, the Black Nationalist movement found traction in the Mosques of the Nation of Islam …… in Chicago.  Black Muslims advocated the establishment of a separate African American homeland in the United States. Wallace D. Muhammad, who succeeded his father Elijah Muhammad in 1975, downplayed black nationalism, admitted nonblack members, and stressed strict Islamic beliefs and practices. In the late 1970s, however, a dissident faction, led by Louis Farrakhan assumed the original name Nation of Islam and reasserted the principles of black separatism.

This is the same Louis Farrakhan that was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Trinity United Church and Rev. Wright.

And, as pointed out in his column  today by Michael Medved, a heretofore unexplored aspect of the political theology of the Trinity United Church that Obama has been a member of for 20 years is the Church’s self-described “Black Value System”. 

The website for the congregation begins with an introductory paragraph under the heading, “About Us,” that unequivocally proclaims: “We are an African people, and remain ‘true to our native land,’ the mother continent, the cradle of civilization.

For many years, the next paragraph (recently removed due to the Wright controversy) appeared on the website and shamelessly explained explained: “Trinity United Church of Christ adopted the Black Value System….We believe in the following twelve precepts and covenantal statements. These Black Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered.” Those “precepts and covenantal statements” include, “Commitment to the Black Community” (Number 2), “Disavowal of the Pursuit of ‘Middleclassness’” (Number 8), “Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System (Number 11) and “Personal Commitment to embracement of the Black Value System.” (Number 12).

  Medved points out that still on the Church’as website is a Rev. Wright’s “10 Point Vision” for the Church, which begins with “A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITTMENT TO AFRICA.” 

So, Obama has been a member of a Church for 20 years, and developed a close and abiding relationship with a minister who preachs hate from the pulpit, who advoctates in writing a “Black Value System” that is based on racial identity, and has a vision that is fixated on an ancestral land and not the land and country of one’s birth that is responsible for the blessings he has received in life.

How are these “values” different from the racial separatism values of the Nation Of Islam and the Black Nationalism movement?  They arose in the same city by religious leaders who are contemporaries, friends, and political allies. 

Does Barack Obama’s embrace of the political theology of Rev. Wright, and all that it entails given its foundation and city of origin, create less than Six Degrees of Separation between Barack Obama and the Black Nationalist movement for racial separatism? 

These are questions that deserve to be asked now.

Is Barack Obama simply a the smiling face and eloquent voice of a new Black Panther Party built upon the twin spires of racial identity and liberal white guilt?


Breaking News!!!! Germans Bomb Pearl Harbor!!!!!!

Filed under: General — WLS @ 1:20 pm

Posted by WLS:

And Andrew Sullivan laments that the reaction of the right to Obama’s speech merely confirms that he could never be a Republican again.

Hey Andrew — we were through with you years ago.  Didn’t you get the memo?  It came with the GOP endorsement of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Jeremiah Wright Is Not the GOP Pathway to Victory

Filed under: 2008 Election,General,Race — Patterico @ 6:11 am

Is Rev. Wright the GOP pathway to victory?

My response to that is: don’t get cocky, kid.

I still believe that whichever Democrat wins the nomination will win the Presidency. The war is just too unpopular and the economy is just too shaky.

A commenter asked: would I still rather have us run against Clinton than Obama? The answer is yes. I still think Hillary’s years of negatives add up to more discomfort than one Jeremiah Wright can cause.

We have seen Jeremiah “God damn America” Wright on our TV screens nonstop for days — but in the general election, Big Media will back him up. They will be like the Los Angeles Times and run dishonest stories to minimize the controversy in people’s memories. They will be like the New York Times and declare him absolved when he gives a speech that fails to show any understanding of why people are so upset by this.

And it will work. It doesn’t always work, but this time, with the war and the economy, it will.

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