Barack Obama is giving a speech on race today in Philadelphia. The reason for the speech is because of the uproar that has been created because of the inflammatory language that his former pastor used. The press has labeled this a do or die speech for Obama. Some would say that his entire campaign is resting on his ability to somehow convince America that he should not be associated with the rhetoric of his pastor.
He is being asked to somehow defend himself from the political rantings of his spiritual advisor. I am certain that Barack Obama never asked Rev. Wright for help in crafting his political campaign. I'm am sure that he never asked him for his advice on Iraq. I am sure that he has never asked him about what to do about the economy. I am sure that Rev. Wright is not the architect of his health care plan. I am sure that Rev. Wright is not chief advisor on the educational system. What I am sure of is that in spiritual matters, he has relied on the guidance of Rev. Wright. He has credited Rev. Wright with being the one who brought him to the church (by the way, for all of you who believe that he's a Muslim, the comments of a Christian preacher certainly wouldn't have had any effect on him, so you can't use this as proof of anything). Rev. Wright is the one who baptized him as a Christian. As a member of Rev. Wright's church, he was of course married by him and his children were baptized by him. The church has given Obama a spiritual base from which to operate. That is about the extent of Rev. Wright's influence over Obama.
Rev. Wright (who is an ex-marine, a point which somehow has not made it's way into any press coverage of this topic), has led a church which has helped to uplift his community. Has he gotten overzealous on the pulpit at times? Certainly, as the clips that have been circulated demonstrate. Does that mean that his worthiness as a spiritual advisor is worthless or at worst harmful and negative? It does not. I am fairly sure that every person has ties to multiple people with whom they do not agree with at all times. I know I do. I have lifelong friends whose views on race, or politics or baseball or Duke Vs. North Carolina, do not agree with mine. If your Doctor says something that is racially insensitive, do you then decide that his medical advice is worthless? If your mechanic says something that you perceive as being anti-American is his ability to fix your car compromised in some manner?
Rev. Wright is not now, nor has he ever been a political advisor to Obama. Obama in his manner and in his actions has shown nothing but a willingness to bring people together and be a uniter. His very heritage (being half black and half white), and upbringing are illustrative of the person that he has become. His campaign was born out of the fact that a person should be judged on the content of his character and not the color of his skin. This latest controversy has brought race to the forefront of this campaign. It is not what Barack Obama would have wanted. Did he belong to a "black" church in Chicago? He did, (although the church does have white members) but that does not mean that he practices exclusionary politics anymore than it would if John McCain belonged to a church in Arizona that was mostly white.
This latest controversy is an overblown attempt by his detractors to find a reason that makes them feel comfortable with their opposition to him. The great majority of people who are not voting for Obama have perfectly legitimate reasons for doing so. They support other candidates and feel strongly that they would do a better job of running the country than Obama would. There is a percentage however (perhaps 25%), who would never vote for him for simple reason that he is a black man. For those people, this controversy gives them an easy reason to point to for their opposition. They're not racists, you see, they just oppose him because his "spiritual advisor" is anti-American or a racist. They don't have anything against Obama but his advisor is evil and therefore he can't be trusted to run the country. This, of course, ignores the fact that right-wing preachers have been teaching hate for years. Hatred of minorities, hatred of gays, hatred against other religions, hatred against those who hold opposing opinions, all the while espousing the teachings of Jesus. It would appear that the concept of irony is lost on these people. Oh, one more point, when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson endorsed George Bush for President, I never heard one peep from anyone, despite both of them having taken stances that could be viewed as anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist. Once again, it just shows how lucky Barack Obama is to be who he is.