On Tuesday, Senator Barack Obama finally spoke out about anti-American remarks attributed to his pastor Jeremiah Wright. I initially thought that Senator Obama was going to address the issue of attending a certain church and the loyalty he felt to that congregation as a Christian.
In fact, it was his Reverend who had given Obama the title for the book “Audacity of Hope.” It was his Reverend that had pulled together the spiritual pieces to make Senator Obama a believing Christian and give a sense of purpose to his life.
But that wasn’t really what he talked about.
To use the vernacular, Senator Obama “took it to the next level.” He talked about race, hatred, stereotypes and the unique promise of the U.S. to those of a multi-racial background.
It was a great speech. But I’m not sure it was the right one.
I will say, first of all, that my sympathies are firmly with Obama. The reasons why people attend a certain church or synagogue are much deeper and more important than their political aspirations. (I know this, believe me). Your fellow members are your “brothers and sisters” in a common purpose. Politics is trivial.
I will say, secondly, that personally I have never felt more welcomed as a Christian than in my travels and visits to African-American congregations in Virginia. For example, I consider First Baptist of Vienna and Rev. Kenny Smith my “home church” when I’m in Vienna. I highly doubt that any parishioner of Wright’s (white or black) felt threatened by these incendiary comments.
Having said that, Obama needs to do something more. We are aware of his gifts as an intellectual. We are also aware of his speaking gifts. What we need for him to do (and say) is something that breaks through the cone of political correctness and actually shows some muscle.
Sometimes you must say to a friend: “I love you. But your statements are wrong and they have to stop.”
Obama can say the first. Can he manage the second?