FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Speech: a Touch of Bigotry

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

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

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

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail