FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Speech: a Touch of Bigotry

by JOHN V. WALSH

I did not hear Barack Obama’s great speech on race when he gave it live, so I read the text as I listened to it on You Tube. The hype surrounding it seemed over the top, reminiscent in fact of the highly praised (at the time) speech given by Colin Powell at the UN, making the case for the war On Iraq. The following passage in the Obama speech struck me:

“I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? (At first Obama had denied being there when Wright made some of his “controversial” comments. But Obama lies often. J.W.) Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely–just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.” (Emphasis mine.)

“Pastors, priests or rabbis,” but one religion was missing. There was no mention of imams. You may say that there are not enough muslims in the United States to merit mention. But there are more muslims than Jews, and many of them are black. This was not an oversight in the spoken text; this was part of the written text. Nor could this be put down to the idea that Obama had labored alone through the night to work on the speech after he put his daughters to bed–a claim reminiscent of Bob Newhart’s instruction to Abe Lincoln to copy the Gettysburg address, written for him by his PR people, onto the back of an envelope to make it authentic. Such speeches as this one from campaigns with hundreds of millions in resources do not include passages not run through focus groups or passages bearing late night gaffes.

When one reads the next paragraph in Obama’s speech, it is easy to see what he is getting at:

“But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived (sic) injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country–a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.” (Emphasis mine)

“Perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.” Are those words of reconciliation? Are there not perverse and hateful ideologies in Christianity and Judaism also? Why does Islam get such unfavorable mention? And in the same breath, Obama mentions “stalwart allies like Israel.” Is it OK to be bigoted for the sake of a stalwart ally? In this passage not only does Obama throw “family” in the person of Wright under the bus, but he also seems to have forgotten his earlier alleged sympathy with Palestinians. It is very clear that he wants to dissociate himself from any empathy Reverend Wright may have had for oppression of Palestinians. And how careful Obama is to say “perceived injustice.” You see Wright, many of whose sermons sound damned good to me (with the exception of the AIDS conspiracy), was only speaking about “perceived” injustices, according to BO. We are only one step here from a Sistah Soljah moment of “imagined” injustices.

Now perhaps you may say that I am being overly harsh, that is only a “touch” of bigotry. But it is of a piece with Obama’s expressed sympathy with the Israeli actions in Gaza, with his hawkish stand on Iran, his desire to ratchet up the war in Afghanistan, his love for Samantha Power’s “humanitarian’ imperialism and hid consistent votes for hundreds of billions in Iraqi war funding to slay hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Clearly one of the aims of Obama was to show the Isreal Lobby–once more – that he is on its side. There has been concern in certain corners of the Lobby about Obama although in others he is welcomed with open arms. Here Obama shows he can denounce the “perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam” with the best of them. So how did it work? Not too well, it seems. A week later, Bill Kristol, a reliable voice for the Neocon men and the Lobby, was having none of it, writing in the NYT that “The real question, of course, is not why Obama joined Trinity, but why he stayed there for two decades” So Obama has rendered up his first ounces of flesh to the Lobby, but he has farther, much farther, to go before it will be enough. From his performance so far, it is quite clear that the ambitious Obama will get there eventually–no matter how much blood will have to flow, albeit from others, as the full pound is extracted.

JOHN V. WALSH can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 30, 2016
Russell Mokhiber
Matt Funiciello and the Giant Sucking Sound Coming Off Lake Champlain
Mike Whitney
Three Cheers for Kaepernick: Is Sitting During the National Anthem an Acceptable Form of Protest?
Alice Bach
Sorrow and Grace in Palestine
Richard Moser
Transformative Movement Culture and the Inside/Outside Strategy: Do We Want to Win the Argument or Build the Movement?
Nozomi Hayase
Pathology, Incorporated: the Facade of American Democracy
Jan Oberg
How Did the West Survive a Much Stronger Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact?
Linda Gunter
The Racism of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Bombings
David Swanson
Fredric Jameson’s War Machine
Dmitry Kolesnik
In Ukraine: Independence From the People
Omar Kassem
Turkey Breaks Out in Jarablus, as, Fear and Loathing Grip Europe.
George Wuerthner
A Birthday Gift to the National Parks: the Maine Woods National Monument
Logan Glitterbomb
Indigenous Property Rights and the Dakota Access Pipeline
National Lawyers Guild
Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline
Paul Messersmith-Glavin
100 in Anarchist Years
August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail