Yesterday we read, as we always do, James Taranto’s Best of the Web. It mostly treated the various responses and takes on Barack Obama’s race speech. Byron York reported on the scene in Philadelphia. Lisa Miller addressed the response of black religious leaders. Taranto reminded us that Obama (rightly) led the charge against Don Imus. Mickey Kaus pointed out that many voters like to be able to vote for Obama.
The least interesting point, initially, was the one made by John McWhorter, a pundit we’ve referenced before. Among other things, McWhorter discussed the tone and supposed entertainment value of Wright’s rhetoric.
They hear a stirring articulation of rebellion, listenable according to a sense that fealty to one’s race entails at least a gestural nod to sticking a finger in whitey’s eye now and then. The tone, the music of the statements is more vivid than the content. Sermons like this are Sunday morning’s version of gangsta rap.
That comparison struck us as a bit odd. “Sunday morning’s version of gangsta rap?”
We’ve long enjoyed hip hop music and some people, including some readers of this blog, have chided us for it. We enjoy some of the silly lyrics and the fun beats like those found in a song Friend of Lybberty, Morgan Habedank, recently wrote about.
After having read Taranto’s column, we were driving down the canyon, and we started listening to a song by hip hop philosopher, he of George-Bush-hates-black-people fame, Kanye West. We were particularly struck by some of the lyrics from his song “Heard ‘Em Say.” (caution: explicit language in link)
And I heard ’em say, nothin ever promised tomorrow today.
From the Chi, like Tim its the Hard-a-way,
So this is in the name of love, like Robert says
Before you ask me to get a job today, can I at least get a raise on a minimum wage?
OK, mostly words that kind of rhyme with a little political plug thrown in for good measure. But then there’s this:
And I know the government administered AIDS,
So I guess we just pray like the minister say,
There’s that pesky little conspiracy theory of Reverend Wright’s, that the government somehow gave black people AIDS in order to have an African-American genocide. But it doesn’t end there. From his song “Crack Music.” (again, caution, explicit language in link)
How we stop the black panthers?
Ronald Reagan cooked up an answer
You hear that?
What Gil Scott was hearin
When our heroes and heroines got hooked on heroin.
Crack raised the murder rate in DC and Maryland
We invested in that it’s like we got Merril-Lynched
And we been hangin from the same tree ever since
This time, Ronald Reagan concocted crack-cocaine to “lynch” African Americans. Later on in the same song, Kanye asks,
Who gave Saddam anthrax?
George Bush got the answers
Back in the hood it’s a different type of chemical
Kanye West’s lyrics are of a piece with the so-called Black Liberation Theology preached by Reverend Wright. Kanye isn’t alone in propagating this garbage, he’s just the most current and prominent. Nor is Reverend Wright the only pastor who teaches this to a very receptive audience (according to the video we’ve seen).
Regrettably, this theology can be found in many African-American churches (those churches that teach the aforementioned Black Liberation Theology) and the hip hop culture (Kanye and other hip hop artists like him). It is a theology of conspiracy, hate, racism, and other divisive language. It teaches African-Americans to believe that white Americans want nothing more than to keep them down and will do anything–AIDS, crack, etc.–to keep them in de facto slavery.
Barack Obama is supposed to be the post-racial Presidential candidate who helps America move past the ugliest parts of its history–slavery, Jim Crow–and yet for 20 years he associated with, was married by, received counsel from, had baptize his daughters, had as one of his campaign advisors, one of the major purveyors of this theology of hate.
And this is the thing that gets us: not all, or even most, African-American churches teach this crap. There are plenty which teach the Good Word of God. Why couldn’t Obama have attended one of those?
None of this should be interpreted to mean that we think Obama believed or believes Wright’s racist, hateful rhetoric. We don’t. When he repudiated Wright’s statement, we took him at his word. Of course, it was a politically expedient move. But his longstanding attendance at that Chicago church seemed to indicate a sort of tacit approval.
For over 20 years, Barack Obama was willing to look the other way in order to maintain the support of a very influential African-American leader, church, and congregation in Chicago.
At the very least, this reveals that Barack Obama is just like every other politician, willing to do whatever it takes to boost his electoral appeal.
(sorry to burst the bubble)
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