I was once sympathetic to the Weather Underground.
But I’m not running for President.
I was also a donor to the Black Panther Party Breakfast Program
But I’m not running for President.
Still, that was a long time ago. Does it matter now?
But I didn’t stay friends with these people. I grew up and lived a life. I put away childish things, as it is written.
Now Barack Obama is younger than I am, by more than a decade, but he is running for President and he didn’t, as they say, entirely put away childish things. In fact, he cleaved to some of them.
In the case of Jeremiah Wright, this is particularly disturbing. Obama has spent twenty years in the church of this man whose basic ideology is Black Liberation Theology. This is nothing more than black separatism dressed up in fancy religious clothes. It stems from a movement that has been opposed to racial integration for more than a century. The Trinity Church has been exploiting this theology for many years, urging its African American congregation to abjure the so-called “middleclassism” of white society (until the phrase mysteriously disappeared from their website in recent days).
Who benefits from this —and from the race and America-bashing of the church’s ministers? Not the average African American (they suffer from it), but the leadership of the church itself, including Reverend Wright, now about to move into a ten thousand square foot home.
There is nothing progressive about this behavior in any sense of the word. In fact, this kind of identity politics based on separatism has become an increasingly reactionary force in modern American life. Yet Barack Obama, unlike Oprah Winfrey who cut her ties eight years ago, never severed his relations with this church. We are supposed to wink at this because, after all, Obama, of mixed race, was trying to make it in black Chicago politics and wanted street cred (twenty years’ worth). But Obama is a gifted man and had many choices. He chose to embrace the Reverend Wright.
He also chose to embrace Bill Ayers. At first I thought this was no big deal. After all, I had many friends in various radical movements (some violent) and if I ran into them on the street today, I would try to be cordial. And guilt by association is pretty sleazy behavior.
But at that point I didn’t realize the extent of Obama’s ties to the former Weatherman who wrote in 2001 “I don’t regret setting bombs [during Vietnam]. I feel we didn’t do enough.” Do enough?! Folks were blown up, including some of Ayers’ friends. Did he want more?
I protested the Vietnam War. People like Ayers prolonged it with their actions. By using violence, injuring and killing innocent people, they made our protest seem juvenile or psychotic — possibly both. I can forgive that, but I don’t forget it. Ayers, apparently, can’t even find it in him to apologize.
According to a column in the Chicago Tribune, Obama has “appeared on panels with Ayers, served on a foundation board with him and held a 1995 campaign event at the home of Ayers and his wife, fellow former terrorist Bernardine Dohrn.” The last of these three does it for me. Obama made a choice, as John Hinderaker makes clear.
I am an agnostic, so it is perhaps presumptuous of me to be quoting the Bible. But it is certainly great literature and there is no better explanation for why I would have difficulty voting for Barack Obama than those magnificent phrases from First Corinithians:
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (I Cor. 13:11)