Obama’s speech and VFR commentary

The speech (here is the text) is very long, almost 5,000 words, but I’ve read the core of it. He is not running away from Wright’s anti-American message but excusing it within two contexts: the context of Obama’s own membership in the church which means so much to him and which he is not going to disown; and the context of American racism. Obama justifies Wright’s racist anti-American message as an understandable but wrong response to white racism. He’s saying the Farrakhan view of America is wrong, but tolerable and acceptable.

Responses to the speech will be posted in this entry.

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Hannon writes:

This story today about Obama’s speech reminded me why I almost never read mainstream news. It quotes Geraldine Ferraro’s now well-known line about the advantage Obama has by virtue of his racial background, but instead of quoting Wright it only says this:

“Those sermons from years ago suggest the United States brought the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on themselves and say blacks continue to be mistreated by whites.”

How they distilled “blacks continue to be mistreated by whites” from Wright’s racist vitriol is beyond my imagination. And how does post-9/11 qualify as “years ago”?

It is interesting that whenever I suggest to a (liberal) acquaintance that the mainstream media contains a discernible liberal bias they react with incredulity. This incredulity is only manifest when the bias is pointed out, resulting in denial rather than a search for truth.

Adela Gereth writes:

Well, the Great Evader finally said something with which I am in complete agreement: “But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now.”

Of course, until now, he’s sidelined it but he’ll trot it out (as he does his grievance-mongering black wife) when it serves his purpose. And he’ll turn it back on his white audiences so that they either feel guilt for the vestiges of racism still extant in this great nation of ours or intimidated into keeping quiet about their own resentments.

Just as I predicted: masterful.

Irwin Graulich writes:

I think that Obama is a master manipulator who used his skin pigmentation to get where he is and understood EXACTLY what he was doing. Obama is no fool—he is very savvy.

My question has always been, is he more white or more black? I say he is MUCH more white. Why? His mother was white and his father who abandoned him at a very young age was black. He had virtually no interaction with his black father. Therefore, he was raised exclusively by a white woman and white grandparents.

I think he concluded, and rightly so, that if he plays the white Obama role, he may become a moderately successful lawyer with a house in the suburbs, dog and kids. However, if he plays the black Obama role, his chances of rapidly climbing the political/success ladder increase tremendously. A black Irwin would do much better than a white Irwin in today’s culture. Can you imagine if I spoke the way I did, thought the way I did, and was Jewish and black—how many people would hire me to do my talks (and probably pay me a lot more than I get now).

Your comments on the Obama matter are excellent. You should be doing the interviews on Fox—not Sean Hannity.

Sebastian writes:

I think Obama’s speech should be dissected line by line, but I want to make sure VFR notices that he compares the anger in the black community as expressed by Rev. Wright to the “resentment” over welfare and affirmative action that forged the Reagan coalition. These, he says, are “white resentments.” I find this an extraordinary reading of history that makes it impossible for him to disassociate himself from Wright’s more radical positions. He explicitly excuses Wright’s excesses as the understandable rage of the black experience. He claims incidences of black racism are “bogus” and distract from “legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality.” There is in my opinion no going back from this speech. He has dug a bigger hole for himself and cannot recover—the cat is out of the bag: this man is a black nationalist pretending to be an American. How can someone take up with this mentor after having been raised by white women? The Democratic Convention will be one party worth staying up for.

Mark K. writes:

Obama admitted he had sat in church and heard his former minister make controversial remarks.

“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.”

There seems to be some ambiguity whether Obama heard Wright’s strident sermons, or missed just a particular one. Is this evasiveness on his part? For the record I have never “strongly” disagreed with my minister since his function in the church is not to make political pronouncements but deliver the word of God from the Bible. Obama assumes that “many” of us have had “strong” disagreements with our ministers.

Tim W. writes:

I see the speech as just an open-ended excuse for permanent racial preferences and anti-white attitudes. Blacks don’t do as well as whites because America is racist. Therefore, it’s understandable that someone like Wright might go over the line in his rhetoric, but not understandable that a white might go over the line in the other direction. America was just a horrible, horrible place until its cultural shift to the radical left began in the 1960s.

Obama’s speech is a blank check for a permanently enshrined double-standard in which blacks are given extra leeway in their personal conduct. As long as whites outperform blacks, which they always will, blacks are entitled to be angry, to receive race preferences, and to have Afro-centric churches, clubs, schools, organizations, and neighborhoods. Whites, of course, are not so entitled. Black crime against whites will always be excused as nothing more than an overreaction to white oppression. White crime against blacks, no matter how rare, will be highlighted and prosecuted as hate crimes above and beyond the actual assault. Hanging a noose as a joke will be as bad, or worse, than killing a white coed for a pocketful of bling.

The media seem to be going crazy over the speech, which was the Pavlovian response I expected.

Howard Sutherland writes:

I just scanned the speech (I would probably lose my breakfast if I read it word-for-word). Although Obama ducks the issues less than usual, it still scans like the standard mix of platitudes, bromides and total lack of specificity about just what an Obama administration would actually do about anything—should, God forbid, there be one. Still, this jumped out at me:

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community.

Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience—as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

There are reasonable statements here. Not a word, though, about what Obama would do to dismantle the racial preference regime that rightly leads to the resentment he notes. Because, of course, that racial preference regime is the only reason any of us have ever heard of Barack Hussein Obama.

He is the person on Earth least likely, with the possible exception of his wife, to do anything to end anti-white affirmative action in America.

Most interesting to me is this: In the Obama view of Americans, there seem to be several categories of people: black Americans (brought to America in bondage and terribly scarred by white racism), non-white immigrants (who come to America to enrich us with their diversity and who are being scarred by white America’s systemic racism), and white Americans. It’s the view of white Americans that is most interesting, because Obama seems to apply a cultural Marxist class/ethnic warfare analysis to us.

Working class and middle class white Americans: their experience is the immigrant experience. What then is the experience of the unmentioned (but presumably racist and oppressive) upper class and upper-middle class white Americans? Are they exclusively descendants of those evil Indian-killing, African-enslaving British settlers who founded America in the first place? Are there no working class and middle class white Americans of colonial settler stock? That would come as a great surprise to most of my relatives. Are there no upper class, not to mention spectacularly wealthy, white Americans of immigrant stock? That would come as a great surprise to, say, Michael Bloomberg—or Eliot Spitzer. Is Obama trying to drive wedges between groups of white Americans? That’s a tactic that has worked well for Democrats in the past. It was Franklin Roosevelt’s stock-in-trade.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I think this passage makes clear that Obama shares at least one preconception with the mainstream “conservatives” he affects to disagree with: America is a nation of immigrants, with no historic or ethnic core of its own. Thus, there is no reason other than racism to object to unending mass immigration of new “Americans.” If we should be stuck with a B. Hussein Obama administration, expect to endure GW Bush-style open-borders mania—on steroids.

As for McCain, I have been assuming that if the Democrats nominate Obama, McCain could beat him. But, based on his refusal to require any explanation from Obama of Obama’s 20 year association with Wright, I wonder if our intrepid, if incompetent, former Naval Aviator wouldn’t crash his own campaign should he face the Obamessiah in November! That would be the apotheosis of suicidal liberalism, but would it really be a surprise? McCain may know he is too beat up to be president anyway.

LA replies:

Mr. Sutherland’s guess about McCain’s ultimate actions makes complete sense to me. I think the logical, predictable, and perfect fulfillment of McCain’s career will be to throw the election to the Democrats. Remember, he’s already fulfilled his main personal ambition in life, which was to defeat the conservatives whom he hates and win the GOP nomination. He has no desire to defeat a left-liberal Democrat, let alone a black, for the presidency. That would be, in McCain’s view of things, too divisive.

How can conservatives support McCain as the anti-Obama, when McCain is the excuser of Obama?

Derek C. writes:

I voted for the man in Texas. I figured Obama would be better for the country than Hillary in personal example if not in policy. His speech, however, has changed my mind, and right now I regret my vote. The most stomach-churning passage was the line where he threw his grandmother under the bus. This is the woman who raised him when his flighty mother was off attending to more pressing concerns, like Indonesian blacksmiths. Yet he had no problem elevating her private unguarded fears and concerns to the same level as his minister’s planned and clearly hate-filled sermons. What kind of man would do this? Certainly not one I’d want to put in the Oval Office.

The rest of his speech is filled with straw men about talk radio and the Reagan coalition, red herrings about little kids with cancerous mothers and tu quoques about issues long since settled. I find his complaints about building codes and inadequate schools the most annoying. What large black-populated city isn’t run in some part by black politicians? Who ran Detroit as it cratered? Or Washington, D.C.? There have been black mayors in almost major city: Chicago, Houston, New York and even Seattle. Blaming whitey might still work politically, but it will not fix the problems he’s talking about.

Stephen F. writes:

Obama’s speech is quite impressive in the way it acknowledges all sorts of white concerns while granting full rhetorical understanding to black and other nonwhite anger. I believe he will get away with this. He does have a genuine understanding of what blacks, whites, and others want to hear, and unlike Mr. Bush, he is intelligent and “articulate” and has even read his American history.

Of course at the core of his speech is the profound negation of America as a historical nation, as a “proposition” of equality and non-discrimination that was allegedly written into the original Constitution. But then, this is identical to the Bush/McCain view of America, so why should voters reject Obama for it?

The significance of Obama is, it seems to me, not that he is secretly a white hater but that he is (insofar as any politician can be so) genuine in wishing to “reconcile” the black and white, the historic and the progressive. And the lesson whites need to learn from this is that the racial problem is NOT ABOUT INDIVIDUALS. Obama could have developed an ambiguous biracial persona, but he wanted to be genuinely black, and that meant exploring the deep stream of anti-whiteness in black culture and learning to come to terms with it. And as a candidate and as president he will be an agent of the erasure of America’s white, Christian heritage even as he attempts to take a stand that is not anti-white, even as he, with his Muslim name, calls himself a Christian and believes himself to be so. For to “reconcile” the races means nothing other than to erase the white, no matter how good-willed the effort.

LA writes:

By the way, in giving this full-scale rationalization of why he ultimately has no problem with anti-white Wright, Obama is revealing that his earlier statement that he hadn’t heard the particular sermons at issue was dishonest. Yes, he may not have heard those particular sermons, but he heard others just like them, and indeed, had a complete justification for them in his mind. So let’s underscore the fact that Obama’s statements of last week are now, in the immortal words of Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler, inoperative.

LA writes:

Below is a sampling from the Corner. I’m glad to see that, with the exception of Charles Murray, they’re not buying it.

Here is Charles Murray:

I read the various posts here on “The Corner,” mostly pretty ho-hum or critical about Obama’s speech. Then I figured I’d better read the text (I tried to find a video of it, but couldn’t). I’ve just finished. Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I’m concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we’re used to from our pols…. But you know me. Starry-eyed Obama groupie.

Murray, as so often in the past, shows himself as someone who is not reliable from a conservative point of view. (Remember his disparaging comment about preferring to live in a Hispanic neighborhood to a “white-bread” neighborhood?)

A more sensible and moral reaction comes from Kathryn Lopez:

The more I think about this speech, the more I think Obama said: Damn straight, Rev. Wright is angry. That’s how I wound up at his church. That’s why I stay there. I’m mad too, I just control it better. Now let’s get electing me president so we can all feel good.

Here is James Robbins:

Senator Obama said, “We can tackle race only as spectacle—as we did in the OJ trial…” Was that trial really about race? I recall that OJ’s defense brought race in as a red herring. Is that the spectacle to which he was referring? Maybe worth a few reporter inquiries as to where he comes down on that issue. Does he think OJ was guilty? Hmmm. Probably not the best example to put into play.

John Derbyshire indignantly points to the sheer unresconstructed black-anger left-liberalism of the speech, as though Obama had learned none of the painful lessons of the last forty years, and he repeats his mantra that Obama is “toast.”

What Derbyshire means by “toast” is that Obama cannot even win the Democratic nomination. It appears he has been predicting for the last year that a Clinton-Obama deadlock will result in the nomination of Al Gore. That is not a far-fetched thought.

Charlotte Hays is also indignant:

Obama is no longer a post-racial candidate. In his speech (it’s still going on, but I’ve heard enough) today, he has embraced the politics of grievance. He says that the Rev. Wright has “elevated what is wrong” with America—elevated?

Not fabricated but elevated. Does that mean the Rev. Wright is correct about America’s deserving the attacks of Sept. 11—but he just elevates it to undue prominence? Obama says that we shouldn’t “condemn without understanding the roots” of remarks like those Wright made. Whatever the roots, these remarks are to be condemned. Within what context is it correct for the Rev. Wright to say “God damn America?”

I stopped listening when the senator started talking about immigrant Americans and it was clear that he was going to extend the roster of victims to include everybody. There is no excuse for Wright and his ugly sermons. Obama could have said he loved the man, but he’s wrong in his hatred of America. But that is not what Obama said. There is no excuse for Wright’s brand of hatred.

Michael Graham writes:

Was it just me, or did anyone else note that for the first half of the speech, Sen. Obama seemed annoyed, put out by having to give the speech in the first place?

And maybe it’s just because his put down of “talk show hosts and conservative commentators” hit close to him, but I thought Sen. Obama spent quite a bit of time disparaging others. All churchgoers hear insulting or offensive preaching? His grandmother’s a racist? Low-income white Americans are angry and irrational, too?” Evil business meanies are throwing Americans out of work for “nothing more than profit?”

Gee, this country is kind of “mean,” isn’t it?

And here is Stanley Kurtz on Obama’s speech (very interesting, but too long to copy).

Jack S. writes:

I was struck by Obama’s excusing his pastors’s comments by pointing out that his grandmother had used racial slurs and was was fearful of street blacks.

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.

This is astounding. He compares a vicious race hustler whose revealed comments place him an equal footing with Farrakhan with his grandmother! On page 88 of his autobiography “Dreams from my Father,” he describes an incident involving his grandmother when he was in his late teens, attending the exclusive Punahou prep school. He was living with his grandparents who raised him while his mother was in Indonesia with her second husband. His grandmother was afraid to take the bus to work one morning, asking her husband (Obama’s grandfather who famously served in Patton’s army) to drive her to work. The grandfather refused saying that her fear was irrational. She had been menaced by an aggressive beggar the previous day at the bus stop. Obama’s very liberal grandfather later confided in Obama that she was only afraid because the beggar was a black man.

Obama’s reaction to this is telling. He felt wounded that his grandmother was afraid of a black man. A black man who got in her face aggressively demanding money on a public street. A man who looks just like him. So, Obama feel more affinity to a black street thug than to his own grandmother. His own grandmother, who accounts for 25% of his genetic makeup, who is raising him while his mother is Indonesia with her latest third world lover, who is getting up early to go to work so that Obama can attend the exclusive prep school where he first learned to hate whitey.

LA replies:

One thing is clear. Now we know what Obama’s transcendence of race means. It means he makes a moral equivalence between his grandmother being afraid of a black man who had accosted her, and Jeremiah Wright’s 30 year career in the pulpit of teaching hatred of America and whites. Then, having drawn that equivalence, Obama says, “Let’s leave all this ill-will behind us, and adopt a socialist system which will make blacks equal and thus put an end to these nasty squabbles.”

Obama is very clever in his packaging, but his core thinking is unreconstructed radical-left anti-Americanism.

LA writes:

Obama’s famed mental agility leaves him when he indulges over and over in the rankest of false equivalencies:

“Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church?” Obama said. “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.”

Yeah, right—“many” of us have heard our pastor say from the pulpit that the U.S. government delibetately created AIDS in order to kill blacks. “Many” have our pastor say from the pulpit that the 9/11 attack was “chickens coming home to roost”—just recompense for America’s bombing of Hiroshima in WWII and for all the other crimes in American history.

LA writes:

And here is Roger Simon:
Obama also said, in effect, that some white people simply don’t get black churches.

“They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear,” Obama said. “The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and, yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.”

It was the key to his speech and his toughest sell: that the black experience in America has been different from the white experience and that white people have to expect the “bitterness and bias” of black people while recognizing their own history of white racism.

Hey, we’re back in post-O.J. acquittal time! It’s ok for blacks to respond ecstatically to the acquittal of an obviously guilty black double murderer because blacks and whites have “different perspectives.” And it’s the black perspective which is the correct one and which whites need to “get” if we are to “go beyond race.”

It’s not that Wright is Obama’s Sister Souljah, from whom Obama must dissociate himself. Obama is his own Sister Souljah, and it’s impossible for him to dissociate himself—from himself.

In my view Obama-god is cooked and ought to be cooked. But we must never underestimate the power of the dominant liberalism, in cooperation with the political stupidity of most people, to normalize Obama’s views. If his views are normalized and he gets elected, it will mean that it has now become the mainstream consensus that blacks have the right to hate America and hate whites and make up fantastic conspiracy theories about America and whites, all because of past and supposed continuing white oppression of blacks. And this is the race-transcending messiah!

In fact, this is Obama’s own version of the basic script of Wright’s sermons. In his sermons, Wright portrays a world hideously ruined and debased by the evil of “rich white people.” Then, having gotten his listeners into a state of despair and rage, at the end of the sermon Wright shows how this totally corrupted world is magically healed through Jesus Christ. In Obama’s version of the Wright script the thing that heals the world of white evil is not Christ, but the election of Obama himself. That’s where the transcendence comes in. As things are now, we’re under the reign of white evil, and therefore black racism, vicious conspiracy theories, and hatred of America, are justified. But if we elect the messiah, the white evil, and the black anti-white racism which is a regrettable but justified response to it, will go away

Paul T. writes:

You said:

Hey, we’re back in post-O.J. acquittal time! It’s ok for blacks to respond ecstatically to the acquittal of an obviously guilty black double murderer because blacks and whites have “different perspectives.” And it’s the black perspective which is the correct one and which whites need to “get” if we are to “go beyond race.”

To spell out what is perhaps obvious: if whites won’t adopt the black perspective, and blacks (certainly!) won’t adopt the white perspective, the whole post-racial project falls apart and we are really only left with separation. The candidate of hope’s analysis ends up justifying the deepest pessimism.

Paul K. writes:

Several things struck me about the Obama speech. The first is that he did a very good job trying to defend the indefensible. I had been trying to imagine what I would say were I in his situation and I couldn’t possibly have done as well. It will undoubtedly reassure those who are eager to put this behind us.

Obama has spoken about how important words are, and his facility with words has served him very well. However, effective rhetoric is dangerous when used to undermine clear thinking, to blur distinctions and promote pie-in-the-sky programs. The extent to which Obama is able to convince people that he will bring about profound and positive change is the extent to which they’ll be in for profound disappointment if he elected. This is why I think there is something sinister about his talent as a confidence man. He’s selling something that he can’t deliver, and I suspect he knows it. Granted, all politicians do the same thing, but Obama’s messianic quality makes him particularly dangerous. (McCain and Hillary lie too but only in the unconvincing way typical of politicians.)

Obama is being disingenuous when he tells whites not to look at policies benefiting minorities as if this were a “zero-sum game,” saying his program “requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams.” Of course they do. As is made clear by the image of America painted by Jeremiah Wright, we don’t all see America the same way and we have divergent interests. The ways in which Obama would seek to benefit blacks (and illegal aliens, too—he tossed them in there) will necessarily harm whites, who will be expected to surrender those things they value about their society and to bear additional economic and social costs.

When I hear Obama talk about his own mixed-up and dysfunctional family background as if it were a unique asset he brings to politics, I am not persuaded. The America he envisions, in which George Washington and Jeremiah Wright can both be heroes, sounds to me like a house divided against itself.

Alan Levine writes:

After scanning Senator Obubba’s speech, I have concluded that we have finally achieved a miracle of racial synthesis.

Obama, or Obubba, is Senator Claghorn with melanin.

Jokes aside, it seems to me that many commentators here are correct, but have made things more complicated than necessary.

The prime question is, how would a white candidate closely associated with a pastor who made remarks even remotely as hostile toward blacks as those Wright has made about white Americans be treated?

We would never hear the end of the screaming.

Second, has Obama even remotely approached offering an adequate explanation for his association with Wright?

The answer to that question is no.

James M. writes:

It’s plain from the speech that he’s profoundly dishonest, arrogant to the point of psychopathy, and views the American people with utter contempt. He’s the perfect man to succeed Clinton and Bush.

Peter A. writes:

Angry words by Derbyshire at NRO’s Corner, refuting Charles Murray’s praise for Obama’s speech:

Obama’s Lies [John Derbyshire]

Not so much lies as a sort of slippery sleight-of-mouth. I’m starting to really dislike Obama.

“Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation … came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land.”

Segregation was not “the law of the land” in the 1950s. It was the law in a minority of states.

“For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger … occasionally … finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews.”

If, as Obama seems to be claiming, those are the sentiments only of Wright’s generation, how come those whooping and clapping their approval in those sermon clips include lots of young people?

“Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends.”

Fear of crime is not a legitimate emotion? Or is it just not legitimate for politicians to appeal to it? If, oh, say, some liberal Democratic governor of some state gives weekend furloughs to the perpetrator of a hideously callous murder who then, while on furlough, commits armed robbery and rape, why should criticism of that governor for that act be out of bounds in a political contest? Or should it only be out of bounds if the murderer is black?

“But it also means binding our particular grievances … to the larger aspirations of all Americans—the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family.”

Well, I’m an immigrant, and I try hard to feed my family. And yes, I have grievances. For instance, I think I pay far too much tax in support of far too many public sector workers, most of whom do nothing useful. So … how will you bind your “particular grievances” to mine, Senator? Or am I somehow unrepresentative of immigrants?

“This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care…”

The lines in the Emergency Room at far too many U.S. hospitals are filled with illegal immigrants, preventing citizens from getting timely emergency help. What’s your line on illegal immigration, Senator? Oh, right—you’re fine with it, as is the rest of your party.

“Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.”

What on earth does this mean? It’s true that there is widespread school segregation today. In my state, 60 percent of black students attend schools that are at least 90-percent black. From what I can see, the main reason for this is the great reluctance of nonblack parents to send their kids to schools with too many black students, which they assume are beset by all the problems associated with poorly run public schools. Do you think that they—actually we, as my wife and I share this reluctance—are wrong to think like this? How will you persuade us to think otherwise? Or will you depend on judicially-imposed forced integration of the schools?

And so on. You can go through Obama’s speech pulling out questionable points like that from nearly every paragraph. The speech is slippery, evasive, dishonest, and sometimes insulting. Sorry, Charles. “

03/18 02:39 PM

LA replies:

Good work by Derbyshire, revealing the shallowness of Murray.

As I read his post, it strikes me that Obama the Benign Race-Transcender has in one fell swoop turned into Obama the Invoker of Perpetual Unappeasable Black Grievance Against White America.

Wow! That’s as big a transformation as Spitzer the relentless crusader against lawbreaking turning into Spitzer the relentless customer of interstate prostitution.

After what he’s said here, I don’t see how Obama, other through Orwellian opinion manipulation, can win back his mantle “post-racial” candidate. It’s over. It turns out that “post-racial” America he supposedly invokes can only be brought about through a total revolution in our country in which blacks become economically, psychologically, intellectually and in every way equal to whites. Far from promising a beyond-race America, he’s at least implicitly calling for a radical socialist revolution in America as the only way to reach the beyond-race America. Sort of like trying to achieve a classless society by means of a dictatorship of the proletatiat.

Richard B. writes:

No matter what he says, he’s a con man. Uneducated Americans will fall for the pied piper music in their ears. Now focus on who he’s going to bring with him to the White House. A cabinet of Black Liberation sympathizers? Hold on to your “reparations” wallets for starters.

Adela Gereth writes:

Obama described his white grandmother as 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.”

His white grandmother? Is he sure? Sounds more like another black minister to me—the Reverend Jesse Jackson, with his remarks about “Hymietown” and his admission that he knew what it was “to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” (U.S. News, 3/96)

I wonder how much cringing Obama did when he heard those remarks. Oh, wait, he never heard them, he wasn’t even in the room when Jackson said them.

Brandon F. writes:

Of course any honest white woman, even the most liberal, would feel afraid of a black man in the right situation. Crime statistics and reality are the cause of this fear, not just racism.

Of course in the right situation I feel the same fear since the only times in my life that I have had a knife pulled on me or been confronted by a gang asking for my wallet has been by blacks.

Ortelio writes:

Five times, explicitly, and many more times implicitly, it divides America, not between white and black and other individuals, but between “the black community” and “the white community”. This drumbeat may well keep sounding in people’s minds, canceling his offer of hope, of transcending race. Individuals coming together is one thing, but it’s quite another for whole “communities” to dissolve themselves. Especially “communities” defined by race (color), and divided by the many deep-going characteristics recalled in this speech. And there was no suggestion that the black community—in which this speech irrevocably locates him—will dissolve, or should take even a first step towards dissolving. Masterly, but self-destructive—inherently if not actually.

Mark K. writes:

Just finished reading Obama’s address. he gist of it as I see it is the following equation:

Wright’s words / America’s racism -> Obama’s racial transcendence

The first part of the equation: Wright’s sermons are understandable given the social and historical context.

The second part of the equation: the acknowledged fact of American racism.The first over the second (or divided by) should yield Obama’s effort at racial transcendence.

This is sort of a Hegelian approach—dialectical. Two negatives—thesis (America’s racism) and antithesis (Wright’s words) working against each other to yield a positive result—synthesis (Obama’s transracial campaign).

In this equation, the component “Wright’s words” in fact is a variable that can be any black person’s sense of grievance. The second component (America’s racism) is a constant. As a constant it is the fundamental variable in the equation (what Obama in the speech termed “America’s original sin”).

How fundamental is this “original sin?” the rest of Obama’s speech tries to show how overcoming this fundamental aspect of American history will lead to the solution of other problems (health care, unemployment, etc.). If the phenomenon of race is that basic to American culture, then he is right. If it is not, then he is wrong and his equation is simply bogus. The other problems will niot be solved when and if the issue of race is “solved.”

Mark O. writes:

I think we’re all going to have to step up our game. We’re dealing with the real thing here. Nothing less than perfection will be required to defeat him.

LA writes:

If anyone was doubtful when I said that an Obama presidency would be the equivalent of a four year long OJ Simpson acquittal aftermath, i.e, four years of white people CLEARLY SEEING what black people in this country really believe and thus realizing the fundamental incompatiblity between whites and blacks, consider this post by Byron York at the Corner where he got the responses of Obama supporters to the speech:

Obama And His Audience [Byron York]

I have a new story up on Barack Obama’s speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The audience was filled with guests invited by the Obama campaign, who—no surprise—thought the speech was great. What was surprising, for me, was the number of Obama supporters I spoke to afterward who not only thought the speech was great but also didn’t see anything particularly wrong with the “controversial” remarks of Rev. Jeremiah Wright:

“[Obama’s speech] was amazing,” Gregory Davis, a financial adviser and Obama supporter from Philadelphia, told me. “I think he addressed the issue, and if that does not address the issue, I don’t know what else can be said about it. That was just awesome oratory.”

I asked Davis what his personal reaction was when he saw video clips of sermons in which Rev. Wright said, “God damn America,” called the United States the “U.S. of KKK A,” and said that 9/11 was “America’s chickens…coming home to roost.” “As a member of a traditional Baptist, black church, I wasn’t surprised,” Davis told me. “I wasn’t offended by anything the pastor said. A lot of things he said were absolutely correct…The way he said it may not have been the most appropriate way to say it, but as far as a typical black inner-city church, that’s how it’s said.”

Vernon Price, a ward leader in Philadelphia’s 22nd Precinct, told me Obama’s speech was “very courageous.” When I asked his reaction to Rev. Wright, Price said, “A lot of things that he said were true, whether people want to accept it, or believe it, or not. People believe in their hearts that a lot of what he said was true.”

Rev. Alyn Waller, of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia, was effusive about Obama’s performance. “I thought it was masterful,” he told me. Waller explained that he knows Rev. Wright and the preaching tradition from which he comes. “I think much of what he had to say was on point in terms of America needs to challenge her foreign policy,” Waller told me. “While it may be divisive to talk about 9/11 as chickens coming home to roost, what was really being said there is that America cannot believe that our hands are totally innocent in worldwide violence. So at the core of his arguments, I think there is a truth.”

03/18 04:14 PM

LA writes:
Amy Holmes’s comment at the Corner is also worth reading.

Also from the Corner:
“The Throw Your Grandmother Under the Bus Speech” [Rich Lowry]

That’s what a friend of mine calls it. She only raised him—to get compared to a raving anti-American pastor in his hour of political need.

By the way, my friend—who has shrewd political instincts—thinks the speech means Obama gets the Democratic nomination, but will have a big problem in the general election.


E-mail responding to an earlier, incorrect version of this post:

I’m sure someone has already told you, but Obama’s grandmother is still alive.

Paul K. writes:

Regarding the “Throw Grandma Under the Bus” line; according to Obama’s biography, after he heard his grandmother telling his grandfather that she wanted to be driven to work because she’d been frightened by an aggressive panhandler at the bus stop that morning, his grandfather told Obama that she had only been frightened because the panhandler was black. What a mensch, that grandpa, putting his desire to score political points off his wife above concern for her safety!

Obama says, “The words were like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure. In my steadiest voice, I told him that such an attitude bothered me, too, but reassured him that Toot’s fears would pass and that we should give her a ride in the meantime.”

Obama then goes to visit an old CPUSA friend of his father, a black man, seemingly a Rev. Wright type, who tells him that his grandmother is right to fear black men because black men “have a reason to hate.”

Like a heroine in a Victorian novel, Obama gets the vapors: “The earth shook under my feet, ready to crack open at any moment. I stopped, trying to steady myself, and knew for the first time that I was utterly alone.”

All these feelings—but where is the manly outrage at the man who made his grandmother afraid? If a woman under my charge had been frightened like this, my first instinct would have been to accompany her to the bus stop the next day armed with a large cudgel and see if this lowlife would make another appearance. It sounds like Obama is too preoccupied with his racial-identity angst to act like a man—but then look at his role models!

Obama has compared Jeremiah Wright to an old uncle several times, and that comparison has been dismissed, but perhaps Wright seemed the strong male figure that Obama never had in his life.

KPA writes:

I don’t see how Obama’s speech will alienate liberals (white or black).

He managed to jumped from “us” to “all of us.” He’s still the race-bridge builder.

Isn’t that what liberals want anyway, a way to have everyone meet at the same place?

His speech was passionate but level. Personal, but universal.

If you watch the speech on youtube (or even read it), he comes across like a statesman. And I would think, if elected, he will be very careful to have this underbelly of black sentiment (equally toxic here in Canada, if not more so) hidden from the public.

His confidence is unnerving.

Mark K. writes:

The fraud of Obama’s transracialism is exposed in this video. This is his commemoration of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Also notice his praise of Jeremiah Wright at the beginning of the video.

Notice how in the video Obama’s speeking has subtly changed. In the debates with Clinton, his speech is quick, his words well formed, his accent Anglo-American. In this video, he slows down his cadence to a more sing-song black rhythm (how he drags his words) and injects the black invocations of “praise God” (which he never does at any other speeches, especially with the LGBT crowd). This is a man who affects a different style of speech given the context (a Democratic political stage majoritarian white) versus a black gathering of ministers. The man’s a fraud. This speech is entirely about black grievance (where once we blamed solely his wife).

LA replies:

He actually changes his accent, intermittantly using a familiar kind of African-American pronunciation. For example, the sound of the final “y” in words ending with “y,” like “country.”

LA writes:

Mickey Kaus’s analysis of Obama’s speech is pretty tough. Among other things, he shows Obama as seriously confused intellectually, as when, a few paragraph after making his grandmother’s fear of young black men on the street the moral equivalent of Rev. Wright’s systematic anti-white racism (which Kaus calls “the most disastrous sentence in the speech”) Obama turns around and says:

So when [whites] are told … that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

To which Kaus replies:

Who would tell them such a thing? Obama, a dozen paragraphs earlier, dissing his own grandmother.

A palpable hit. Maybe BHO ain’t that smart after all, at least when it comes to his deeply ingrained liberal attitudes.

At the start of the article, Kaus says that the speech “gave me a much better (and basically appealing) idea of where Obama is coming from.” But it’s hard to see any sign of this in the piece—Kaus is very negative about the speech. Is he perhaps trying to disarm liberals by saying something nice up front?

David G. writes:

People don’t generally leave successful societies; nor do they immigrate to totalitarian or racist ones. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Barack Obama had noted that more Africans have come here voluntarily than were brought here as a result of the slave trade? Does Jeremiah Wright know this?

But even then the black left-wing has an answer for that statistical fact, appearing in the New York Times:

Basically, people are coming to reclaim the wealth that’s been taken from their countries,” said Howard Dodson, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in Harlem.

Note, too, that the Times attributes the election of Barak Obama to the influx of black immigrants:

In the 1960’s, 28,954 legal immigrants were admitted from all of Africa, a figure that rose geometrically to 80,779 in the 1970’s, 176,893 in the 1980’s and 354,939 in the 1990’s. In 2002, 60,269 were admitted, including 8,291 from Nigeria, 7,574 from Ethiopia, 4,537 from Somalia, 4,256 from Ghana and 3,207 from Kenya.

To many Americans, the most visible signs of the movement are the proliferation of African churches, mosques, hair-braiding salons, street vendors and supermarket deliverymen, the controversy over female genital mutilation and the election last year of Barak Obama, son of a native Kenyan, to the United States Senate from Illinois.

LA writes (March 19):

Like Mickey Kaus, Kathleen Parker begins her article with high praise for Obama’s speech, and then proceeds to savage it. I sent her this e-mail:

Dear Kathleen Parker

In your column, you criticize Obama’s speech very severely. You say that Obama is justifying Wright’s behavior in “advancing lies and conspiracy theories that pit black against white,” something, you say, that “is not, in fact, defensible.” You say that Obama is scamming his white audience into accepting Wright:

Then Obama took another pre-emptive gamble and implored Americans to look at Wright’s anger, rather than avert their gaze, and to embrace that anger as a prompt to change.

In other words, he artfully shifted focus from his still-perplexing relationship with Wright to our own dark hearts. The choice is ours, he said:

We can focus on one ol’ crazy uncle who sometimes gets a little carried away—and in so doing, destroy the audacity of hope. Or, we can keep our nation’s date with destiny, fulfill the dream imagined 221 years ago to form a more perfect union.

And elect Barack Obama.

Anyone who fails to embrace the only appealing option—eschewing cheap spectacle for a dance with destiny to the tune of hope—begins to feel a little woozy and, oddly, un-American.


Given your harsh condemnation of the speech, why do you start your article by saying,

“Obama’s speech Tuesday from Philadelphia—the city of brotherly love—was eloquent, inspiring and will be read in schools for generations.”

This makes no sense at all. If you disapprove of the speech, then you should not be touting it as a speech for the ages. It passes belief that you would do this.

Or, perhaps, were you covering yourself? Meaning that in order to speak the truth about Obama, you felt you first had to praise him to the skies, so as to disarm liberals who would otherwise think you were being anti-black?

Lawrence Auster

LA writes:

Here is a very important and disturbing angle on Obama’s speech, from a reader of the Corner and from Mickey Kaus, quoted by Mark Steyn, underscoring Obama’s anti-Americanism which he has now revealed

Steyn writes:

A reader makes the following point:

How can we call on the “good Muslims” to bravely denounce and actively counter the jihadi terror-endorsing clerics who give their children permission to kill and to hate on behalf of Allah when we seem to be afraid to ask the good African-American Christians to stand up against those, like Wright, who call for the “damn”-ing of America, blame everything on “rich white” people, blame Israel and Jews for a host of imagined sins, and tell their children it is their duty to Jesus to “destroy” people because their skins are white?

Pre-speech, Mickey Kaus offered the following advice, untaken by the Senator:

There are plenty of potential Souljahs still around: Race preferences. Out-of-wedlock births. Three strike laws! But most of all the victim mentality that tells African Americans (in the fashion of Rev. Wright’s most infamous sermons) that the important forces shaping their lives are the evil actions of others, of other races. …

That is the psychosis that has left so much of the Muslim world mired in backwardness—political, social and economic. It’s sad that the first viable black candidate for the US presidency has chosen to endorse it domestically.

It’s so bad that even the relentlessly upbeat Steyn is disturbed by it.

Btw, Does Charles Murray still think it was a great speech?

Michael N. writes (March 20):

Obama said in his speech:

“In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination—and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past—are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds.”

Reduced to its essence, the conclusion is thus:

(1) What ails the black community is racial discrimination—past and present. (2) Whites must acknowledge that discrimination. (3) The solution to what ails the black community lies in the hands of whites—not blacks.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 18, 2008 11:57 AM | Send

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