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Barack Obama—Is it a Message of Hope for the Future or a Plea to Forget his Past OK

March 31st 2008

Barack Obama headshot
Barack Obama

BRAVO, Senator Obama. You gave a speech of inspiration which this country greatly needed. However, it’s a matter of too little--too late, and smacks of self-serving damage control.

Why not give this speech when you announced your presidential candidacy? How truly inspiring it would have been then: a message of solidarity and unification that would have been a catalyst for all races to set aside their differences, work together, and fight together to raise our country to its feet once again. It would have been a message of hope that potentially all of America could have believed in.

Now it simply resounds as a plea for the American public to forget that for 20 years you have supported a man whose hate for the United States of America and many of its residents is apparent.

You cannot and do not deny your support of him. For 20 years you attended his church. He married you and your wife and baptized your children. You donated time to his efforts, considered him your spiritual leader and mentor, utilized his sermons as a basis for a book, and contributed money to his church.

In 2006 alone you donated more than $22,000 to it. No one donates that amount of money to a church whose philosophy they don’t share. You cannot be held accountable for Wright’s words but the American public can hold you accountable for displaying a terrible lack of judgment in your continued association and support of him.

In a recent speech in Pennsylvania you denied having been in the congregation when Dr. Wright made inflammatory remarks and said, “If I had heard them I probably would have gotten up and I probably would have” expressed unhappiness with Dr. Wright. Yet, you finally admitted that you sat in the pews of his church and heard him make controversial remarks. This was no true revelation because much of the general public already knew you were aware of the controversy that surrounded Dr. Wright. We learned of it when you uninvited him from giving the opening invocation on February 10, 2007, when you announced your presidential run. The New York Times quoted you as saying to Wright, “You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we’ve decided is that it’s best for you not to be out there in public.”

Your recent message on race relations resounds as a way to “guilt” America into voting for you. Your message was clear, Senator Obama: Be ashamed, white America, for what you have done to the African Americans. Feel guilty, white America, for what you have done to African Americans, and vote for me. If you don’t, you are just stepping right back to the time when you enslaved us.

And honestly, America should be ashamed. But, let’s not be ashamed of just slavery. Let’s be ashamed of what we did to the Native Americans who potentially experienced the greatest “rape” of all, long before African Americans arrived here. Let’s be ashamed that for years women were oppressed, were unable to vote, and were not believed or told “you must have done something to lead him on” after they had been raped. Let’s be ashamed that 36.5 million people in the United States live in poverty. Let’s be ashamed that the United States refused to see the necessity of seriously exploring alternative fuel sources before we became dependent on foreign oil that costs more than $108.00 a barrel. As a country we have much to be ashamed of and it extends far beyond race relations.

Yes, Senator Obama, we can “move beyond racial wounds,” but that will never happen as long as the hatred and racism spewed forth from the likes of Dr. Jeremiah Wright is supported by the American people. It cannot be dissipated or watered down through explanations of age-old anger, by minimizing it as “sound bites,” or by passing it off as something akin to an elderly relative farting in church who embarrasses you.

It need not matter whether the church congregation is predominantly black, predominantly white, predominantly Hispanic, or some other form of religion, there is no room for rhetoric of hate and racism in any church, nor in society for that matter. And as long as there is we will never conquer the division of race in this country. We cannot conquer it with stupidity, hate, fear, and accusations. It can only be conquered by rising above the hate, anger, and fear on all sides, and stretching forth our hands in love towards one another with forgiveness in our hearts.

I wish I could believe in your speech of hope which was delivered so eloquently. Certainly no one can argue that you have an oratory gift. Unfortunately, it was a speech given much too late and for the wrong reasons. And what a crying shame that is for all of America.

Jan Terry is an ordinary citizen leaving in Las Vegas with no prior experience or involvement in politics.

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