Monday, April 28, 2008

Speaking Up

By now, most of you have heard about the latest Rev. Wright bombshells.

I could link to transcripts from his speeches and interview, but I'm not. I've seen some videos posted across the web, but I won't embed them here. The content of the speeches and interview in this whole crisis really isn't my focus.

Instead, I want to talk about my thoughts on the Reverend's motives. I can understand what drove him to speak. After all, as an outspoken and combative person myself it would have been very difficult for me to tolerate the mainstream media's distortions if I was in Wright's shoes. It's ridiculous that salient facts about the source of some of Wright's inflammatory quotes, and the context surrounding his comments failed to make it into many initial reports.

Even if I ignored his role as a pastor and as a civic leader, I would still believe Wright had earned the right to present his version of the facts because he is a man. Barack Obama has already chosen the path he wanted to take in this controversy, and supporting his bid for the presidency should not force Wright to stand aside and let Obama dictate Wright's role.

Some will argue that if he really supported Obama he would have just gone quietly into retirement, but I think that places undue restrictions on his personal freedom. After all, I am an Obama supporter and I share some fairly, "divisive" viewpoints on this blog; should I muzzle myself in order to avoid offending other Americans or to prevent the media from possibly taking my comments the wrong way?

I think not.

No, Wright deserves to define himself, and as long as the media give him an opportunity he should use his voice to speak to the issues he deems important. Some black people have wondered if his actions are a betrayal of Obama, but I must disagree. Speaking against injustice is rarely a betrayal, and certainly not in this situation.

See, I recognize the game Obama has to play to get where he wants to go, but I reject the idea that all of us have to play that game as well. While it may have seemed biting and cutting for Wright to dismiss Obama as just a "politician," it was really just a simple nod to the reality of the situation.

Barack is no messiah or savior, he is just a man who wants to be president. I firmly believe he's the best candidate for that job, but I am not deluding myself into believing that his political campaign is anything more than that.

I know that we as black people want Obama to be more than a politician, to do more than a politician, but I believe that is unfair of us. I also think it's unjust for any of us to expect our fellow black people to sacrifice everything to help Obama reach his goal. Yes, black poeple should speak out against the racist attacks, the media double standards and the ridiculous expectations thatObama has faced, but we are not required to subvert our own dreams and desires to make sure that Obama reaches his goal.

Being president is Barack Obama's dream; it is the goal he is willing to sacrifice to attain. All us set our own goals and pursue our own dreams. We are not beholden to Obama or any politician just because we support their candidacy. In fact, politicians are the ones that are beholden to us as citizens.

I'm glad Pastor Wright decided to share his voice and while I don't agree with everything he has said, I would never muzzle him.

He deserves to speak for himself.

22 comments:

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You have expressed some very hard truths here that many don't want to hear.

I think that ultimately, expecting Reverend Wright to cease expressing himself out of respect for Obama's campaign reeks of the mentality that would call Barack Obama "a credit to his race" because it implies that all Black people share one brain and one heart and want the same things out of life.

We know that's not true.

I also support Obama because I consider him the best candidate we have. In fact, he is by far the best presidential candidate we have had in my lifetime.

So I believe that he would never ask Reverend Wright to put a sock in it because that would be completely opposed to the personal freedoms he is fighting for and holds dear. We should all defend Wright's right (!) to speak his mind because if he is not allowed to, it is only a matter of time before all of us cannot speak our minds.

If we truly support change in this country, it is time for differing viewpoints to be heard and respected even when we disagree with them.

Big Man said...

I hope Obama doesn't attempt to muzzle Wright, but I'm worried that if the media continues to pressure him he might ask Wright to shut up, or attempt to divorce himself from his church.

Both of those would be bad moves.

The media has placed Obama in a position where he has been labeled as the black candidate all while being penalized for doing anything that is overtly "black" because it supposedly goes against his message of unity.

I am going to write a post about this, but in short I think that Obama's penchant for trying to appeal to everyone has partially been his undoing. He has sacrificed some of his fire to avoid offending any constituency, which I think was a mistake.

WNG said...

What else can he do, Big Man? As a black man in the spotlight he cannot afford to be seen as angry. He has to walk a fine line and always err on the side of conciliation. I think he's sacrificed more than we know and I know that I couldn't do it.

Big Man said...

WNG

I agree with you that the tightrope he's walking is high and I wouldn't want to balance on it.

Really, I want him to take a stance on the way the media is treating him, but I know he would quickly be labeled a whiner or angry. Yet, at a certain point, his current stance his hurting him more than it's helping him.

I honestly think he needs to consider pointing out media hypocrisy on a regular basis, or at least pointing out the erroneous assumptions that support most media arguments. The biases and blindspots that abound. Not because it will make me feel better, but because I don't see how he wins if he keeps letting the media force him into a box.

Danielle said...

Good post Big Man. At the end of the day he is a politician and I think many pin their hopes, dreams and aspirations on to him. It's dangerous.

WNG said...

Ok, I understand what you're saying, I just think it's dangerous for him to do it because of those very blind spots.
I also agree that it's dangerous to pin our hopes to a politician - at best my hope is that he can inspire people across the country to take action instead of complaining about things...an 'ask not' kind of moment.
If he ever gets there...

Truthiz said...

Ya know Big Man_before posting my thoughts on this subject, I asked myself_ "do I really want to do this?

But the truthiz, open and honest dialogue for Independent thinkers is what I appreciate most about your blog! More often than not, some pretty Intelligent discussions jump off here. This topic is no exception!

You wrote:

“Barack is no messiah or savior, he is just a man who wants to be president. I firmly believe he's the best candidate for that job, but I am not deluding myself into believing that his political campaign is anything more than that.”

On point Big Man! I also strongly Agree with your comment_ “we as black people want Obama to be more than a politician, to do more than a politician, but I believe that is unfair of us.”

Now about Rev. Wright:

My grandparents always warned me to stay away from “double-minded” folk. They’d say to me “a double-minded man is dangerous man because you never know what he’s gonna say or do.”

Truthiz, I thought he did a decent job in presentation and good job on substance during the Bill Moyer interview and the NAACP speech. The “tone” of his NAACP speech left a little something to be desired. But on the whole, his intelligence came through loud and clear!

But here’s how I see it_the Rev Wright who showed up for the interview with Bill Moyer and, to a lesser degree, gave the speech at the NAACP_was one man.

The Rev. Wright who showed up and showed out at the National press club yesterday was another man entirely!

Just what the H*LL was his objective?!

If it was to PISS AWAY much of the good that he’d achieved with the 2 events aforementioned? If it was to hurt Obama and cause him to denounce him?

....then MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Now Barack has denounced Wright.

So what's next?!

Arrogance and Narcissism _the twin curse of most preachers and politicians!

Big Man said...

Yeah, it's a crazy position. I heard the Press Club event was really crazy. I didn't see that.

I don't know about Wright or his motives. What I am angry about is that the world we live in allows Obama to constantly be defined by another black man.

THIS IS NOT RIGHT.

I know this is reality, but I think Obama needs to spend more time saying, "I'm tired of being defined by the actions of another adult. Judge me on who I am."

He doesn't do this enough.

Truthiz said...

I hear ya Big Man and I agree_

Barack should "Man-Up" and put the media on notice that he is NOT responsible for_and he Refuses to be defined by_ "the actions of another adult."

He should have made those points when the Rev. Wright "news" broke in March!

Big Man said...

I'm going to write about this some more in way for tomorrow. I think his reaction is partially due to the political realities of his campaign, but also due who he is a person.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, The way I see it, the problem is with the majority of white americans. Why should a black man temper his speech for the benefit of white folks?

Look what these white mothafukas, are doing. They are using someone else words to undermine Barack. They are saying to Barack, unless you admit that we are not racist, murdering warmongers, you will not get into the whitehouse. Any job you have to lie to get, is not worth it.

These white folks are totally ignoring Rev. Wrights words. Instead of examining his claims, item by item, they dismiss the whole, and try to paint the brother as some kook malcontent.

It's not only Rev. words that frighten them, it's also his tone. White folks is afraid of a loud talking black man. When a black man's voice rises above that of a white man's, the white man recognize a loss of control. And will proceed to demonize or ridicule the brother, and totally be dismissive of the brother.

As far as I'm concerned, the majority of white americans have a ways to go to catch up to Rev. Wright.

We should never need the white house that bad to were we have to sell our soul to ge in!

dewfish said...

great post.

Lolo said...

I had a dream last night and I woke up feeling strong. In my dream I was on phone banking for the campaign (good grief, I'm even doing it in my sleep now) and the person on the line was expressing the fairly common "I want to believe in him, I do. He is a good man but how can he keep to his goal once he gets into the reality of Washington? Clinton and McCain do know what they're doing, etc."

I said "Once you brush aside all the many, many, MANY things that have been brought into this campaign by everyone else besides Obama you're left with what he's been saying since Day One. He hasn't changed his message, his goal, his motto, his theme, himself, not once. Look at how his campaign has been managed nad financed. Look at everyone else's. That's all I can offer you and if that's not enough then I'm sorry for your fear but hope you're brave enough to make the choice for the right man."

I felt so much better, even though I woke up in the middle of the night, because that is exactly what I said on phone calls tonight and I'm going to keep saying it till the end of this race.

There really are people out there who are hungry to be told why we're supporting this guy. It's a bit unsettling to hear grown up people wanting to be convinced that he is the right choice because it seems so very plain to me.

Big Man said...

Thanks for coming through with your inspiration Lolo. Your comments always improve my mood. If you are still doing that blog could you send me the link again?

jjbrock said...

@Imhotep I agree 100% with your statement: We should never need the white house that bad to were we have to sell our soul to get in!

Obama is being control by the CNN MSM FOX and the others. Now they are asking this questions why did he stay there that long if Wright was that bad. He will never satisfy racist folks.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Well Obama didn't do himself any favors by caving in and going on Fake News to give that weasel Chris Wallace an interview after boycotting that network for the better part of two years.

Agree or disagree with Rev. Wright, couldn't Obama find a way to disagree with the man without slinging him under the bus?

Lolo said...

http://separate-equal.net/?p=510
There you go, those guys serve as a lighthearted take on all of this noise.

Honestly though, I haven't near enough time these days to blog and such but I will tell those of you who are able ~

Sign up to volunteer and phone bank. It's seriously poignant, how much of a diff it does make.

Big Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Man said...

CPL

I have conflicted feelings on Obama's press conference.

Yeah, at first it seemed really callous for him to distance himself from Wright so sharply, but then I realized that Wright had done the same thing while also acting in a bizarre fashion at the Press Club event.

I just think both men had some hurt feelings and reacted as men often react; stupidly.

Actually, i might write about that, how this is a case where the bruised egos of men have caused serious problems.

MODI said...

great dialogue here. Imhotep, there is no question that the racist structural environment is at the root of all this, and there is no question that the way Wright has been painted is terrible, but I can't help wondering... couldn't Wright wait until November 8 to assert himself and set the record straight? Or at the very minimum, at least where there is a larger gap between primaries or when Obama secures the Dem nomination?

This fallout might effect North Carolina/Indiana if it lingers over the weekend... and could sway superdelegates on electability

Big Man, I think you need to write that column on "ego", Obama will not cure all the nation's ills, but there is simply too much at stake to not put yourself second to the big picture... Wright coming out this weekend, no matter how much truth he spoke, was a Naderesque move...

Imhotep said...

Modi, I believe that Rev. Wright spoke at precisely the right time. Barack himself said the Rev was living in the past. if that's the case, what the Rev said should have no bearing on Barack.

If you evaluate Barack's body of work, his years as a community activist, his 2 terms in the state senate and his recent stint in the U.S. senate, there is nothing there to suggest any "angry black man motive", nothing. But this is what the majority of white america is concerned about as they link Barack to the Rev.

For white america not to be able to view Barack on his own merits, after 20 years of public service, and his only "flaw" is ties to a Black Leberation theology, then we're stuck in the 19th century.

For me, the timing of Rev. Wright's
comments become a measuring stick for where we are as a society. If the Rev's comments sink Barack, then the Rev is right. We're still mired in a deeply racist society. If Barack becomes POTUS, then Barack was correct in that we have entered an age of a post racial society.

My money is on the Rev.

Big Man said...

Imhotep

Damn, I don't think their are many black people who would go against you on that bet. We might hope you are wrong, but we wouldn't bet against you.

Raving Black Lunatic