On Obama’s Other Race Speech
October 2, 2012 - 6:26 pm
In March 2008, as America got to know the young Democratic presidential candidate from Illinois and met the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright for the first time, Candidate Barack Obama wrote: “The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation.” The statements to which the future president referred were ones in which Rev. Wright, Obama’s pastor and mentor of 20 years, said racist and anti-American things. Clips of Wright that had hit conservative radio and blogs and, after some time, the mainstream media, had shown Wright blaming American foreign policy for the 9-11 attacks, and saying that “Racism was how this country was founded and how it’s still run.” Wright had described America as “the US of KKK” and one clip showed the future president’s mentor saying “God damn America.”
As the controversy surrounding Rev. Wright gathered force, Obama wrote: “He has never been my political adviser. He’s been my pastor.”
Obama had said that he came to be a Christian in Wright’s Trinity Church in Chicago, and would use the title of one of Wright’s sermons as the title of his second autobiography, The Audacity of Hope. The pastor and the politician were very close for about two decades. Obama’s daughters were both baptized in Wright’s church. Wright married Barack and Michelle Obama on October 3, 1992.
The Wright controversy built for another month in the spring of 2008. In April, after Wright let free another series of incendiary racial statements, Obama was forced to denounce not just Wright’s statements as he had done in March, but the man himself. Obama said: “What became clear to me is that he was presenting a world view that contradicts who I am and what I stand for. And what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I’m about knows that I am about trying to bridge gaps and I see the commonality in all people.”
As president, Obama would betray the last part of that statement in October 2010, when he exhorted Hispanic voters to “punish their enemies” by voting for Democrats.
As we now know thanks to a 2007 video unearthed by the Daily Caller, then Sen. Obama said quite a bit more about his relationship with Rev. Wright. In that speech, Obama called Wright “my pastor, the guy who puts up with me, counsels me, listens to my wife complain about me. He’s a friend and a great leader. Not just in Chicago, but all across the country.”
Obama delivered that address before an audience that knew both men. Those words do not describe someone whom Barack Obama barely knew.
Obama said more in that 2007 speech. He said that the federal government responded differently to the terrorist attacks in New York on Sept 11, 2001 and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 because of the race of the victims.
“Down in New Orleans, where they still have not rebuilt twenty months later there’s a law, federal law — when you get reconstruction money from the federal government — called the Stafford Act. And basically it says, when you get federal money, you gotta give a ten percent match. The local government’s gotta come up with ten percent. Every ten dollars the federal government comes up with, local government’s gotta give a dollar.
“Now here’s the thing. When 9-11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act — said, ‘This is too serious a problem. We can’t expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you gotta put in. Well, here’s ten dollars.’ And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, ‘Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with y’own money, here. Here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not gonna wait for you to scratch it together — because you’re part of the American family.’
“What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money? Makes no sense! Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much!”
Barack Obama offered no evidence to back his claims that the federal government responded differently to disasters based on the race of the victims. In making the claim, Obama may have been channeling entertainer Kanye West, who during a national relief telethon on Sept 2, 2005 blamed the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina on his opinion that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
Obama delivered the 2007 speech at a time when Rev. Wright was already a known quantity nationally. Wright’s statements had already become controversial. But he was not yet controversial enough for Obama to denounce him.
The Rev. Wright whom Obama praised had blamed the AIDS epidemic and the crack addiction epidemic on the federal government. The Rev. Wright whom Obama praised had already sermonized that “white folks greed runs a world in need.” Wright had trashed America and said that we had the terrorist atrocities of 9-11-01 coming.
Obama would denounce that Rev. Wright when their relationship threatened Obama’s run for the presidency. But as the newly released tape reveals, Obama’s denunciation of Wright was done out of pure political expediency. Obama had heard and internalized Wright’s race-based, anti-American teachings over the course of about two decades, and during that 2007 speech, Obama regurgitated those teachings before a receptive audience. He explicitly said that America is a racist country that treats black people as if they are not members of the national family. This is not the sort of rhetoric Barack Obama says to his larger audiences, and he delivered the speech in a cadence that he normally edges off his public remarks.
Simply put, Barack Obama was and still is Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s most studious and successful disciple.
More: Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson show and discuss the new video on Fox.