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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Women’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail