Maybe someone can explain this to me. How is it that we are to believe that someone can listen to inflammatory and divisive rhetoric for nearly 20 years and NOT buy into at least some part of it?
Barack Obama claimed last week that he condemned the views of his former pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, while a minister at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago that he has attended for nearly 20 years. Yet he failed to condemn those views until now, and only when confronted about them.
Let’s think about this. Suppose I as a white woman had attended a church for 20 years that week in and week out proclaimed to be against those who are not white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant and women. Yet when confronted – and only when confronted – I merely stated that I did not support those views.
Would you believe me? No, I didn’t think so. Truth be known, I wouldn’t believe me either! The fact is, I’d be called a racist and liar and likely not be able to show my face anywhere without fear of retribution.
Let me be clear on this point – I am NOT espousing these views. I have friends of various religious and ethnic backgrounds and I love them all. I firmly believe in equal (though not special) rights for all who are legal American citizens.
I am very proud to be an American and I uphold the spirit of this country’s founding fathers. I also believe that we are at a crucial crossroads in this country with our upcoming presidential election. The person we elect to lead our nation will continue to face a world much different from any that person’s predecessors have faced. This person will need a strong sense of ethics to do the right thing and not merely follow the sway of popular opinion at the moment. He or she should be expected not to do that which is merely politically expedient.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama claims his mission, if elected to the office of President of the United States of America, will be to unite people. Yet in his private life he refuses to take any action other than to say he disagrees with the “incendiary language” of Dr. Wright’s comments “that have the potential to widen the racial divide.” He also did not take action against the erroneous and anti-American rhetoric of Dr. Wright that claims, among many other things, that the U.S. government is in the business of infecting black Americans with HIV. If we are to believe Mr. Obama’s unifying position, if he truly disagreed with these hate-mongering comments, he surely would have felt compelled to walk out of these inflammatory sermons, or better yet, moved his and his family’s church membership elsewhere.
Furthermore, he supposes we are to give him a pass on his stance of inaction by assuming we have all heard commentary from our “pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.” Mr. Obama assumes that we too do not take action against those things with which we disagree. With this assumption, he expects us to give him a pass on his nearly 20-year membership in and financial support of this church and Dr. Wright. Without actually expressing it, he expects us to be pragmatic and understand that his membership in this church was to establish influential connections in the black community in Chicago.
If we are to understand this from him, then surely we are also to understand that making those connections was more important to Mr. Obama than doing the right thing, the patriotic thing, the American thing, and not supporting people and institutions that are in opposition to the things he claims are important to him as a political candidate for the highest office in our country. Make no mistake; Mr. Obama’s lack of action tells us that establishing connections to further his political interests is more important to him than taking a stand for the unity of the American people that he discusses on the campaign trail. By upholding Dr. Wright and his inflammatory and anti-American positions with inaction, Mr. Obama has created a tremendous conflict of interest.
How can a man who wants to unify and lead our country, through his inaction, condone this kind of anti-American and discordant language? Do not actions speak louder than words? It is not too much to demand that a candidate for the office of the President of the United States be patriotic and loyal to his or her country in both words and actions? Our founding fathers did not think action was too much to ask when they stood against England in protest that brought about the founding of this country. Surely we should expect the same from their political descendants.
Copyright © 2008 by One Write Angle™
All rights reserved.
In response to Politics and News Media Bashing
The bashing goes both ways.
A few weeks ago after Fred Thompson gave a speech to thank his supporters in South Carolina, Chris Matthews of MSNBC could not wait to jump in on the last word of Mr. Thompson’s speech to state how much of a “waste of time” it was. The worst part was that he, like so many in the media these days, was smirking about his comments. It was evident he thought his commentary was quite clever.
As supporter of Mr. Thompson, I was deeply offended. I thought it was a very nice gesture for a candidate, any candidate not just my pick, to politely thank the people who worked for him and those who voted for him. And even though it was obvious at that point that Mr. Thompson would soon be pulling out of the race, I felt Chris Matthews comment was a stinging smack in the face to Thompson, his staff and supporters. The idea Mr. Matthews conveyed was that expressing thanks is a waste of time.
His comment felt very politically motivated.
Of course, I am not in Mr. Matthews’ head and do not know what he was thinking at that point in time. But I have a strong idea had it been Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or any of the other Democratic presidential contenders making this same speech, this comment would not have been made.
I generally don’t watch MSNBC because I’m a conservative and tend to like Fox News more than most of the other media outlets. Not that holding conservative views automatically mandates I watch Fox News. Neither does holding a liberal point of view necessarily require someone to only watch CNN or MSNBC. My perception is that Fox News is more conservative-friendly. On this particular day I was on a treadmill at the gym and somewhat locked into watching and listening to politics on MSNBC, a college basketball game in which I had no vested interest, or something akin to a rerun of BET’s Hell Date. Maybe Hell Date would have been more entertaining, but I chose politics.
However, for as much as I enjoy Fox News, I recognize that “fair and balanced” is balanced a great deal of the time toward the conservative point of view. I often say Fox News is balanced in the ‘right’ direction – pun intended.
As a former media person and an aspiring blogger, I know and fully understand that if a person passionately believes in something, it is virtually impossible to write a story that does not reflect those values and beliefs. Each word chosen often has an alternative expression. That alternative expression, while meaning the same thing, carries different connotations and feelings for those who hear or read those words. For example, when discussing abortion, do I choose to say that someone is pro-life or are they anti-abortion? Even the order of those word choices in that question can color a person’s perception of what I am attempting to convey.
Nonetheless, I still believe that when writing and reporting the news, it is just that – the news. There is a time and place for sharing personal opinions about the news in an editorial forum.
I am appalled by the way the some (but not all by any means) in powerful positions in the media now try to unashamedly shape our views. Even more, I am disgusted by the dismissive attitude that certain individual reporters as well as the “powers-that-be” have toward stories they see as unimportant. You can find this regardless of whether they represent the liberal, conservative or moderate point of view.
When did the media change from simply reporting the facts to assuming their audience is interested in their personal opinions? Or is it that they think “the rest of us” are not well enough informed to make intelligent decisions based on the facts? Do they think we need their “star-powered” opinions to help us sort through everything?
In journalism classes 20-something years ago, I was taught that a journalist was expected to avoid inflammatory rhetoric. I was also taught to try to avoid injecting blatant personal biased into what I said and wrote. My job was to write and report the facts and leave my personal feelings out of it as much as is possible. I was also taught to fairly represent both sides of a story, giving not only equal time but equal respect.
I believe the root of the problem is a basic lack of respect not only for the story being covered but for the audience as well. And it is a problem not just in the media. This lack of respect is a huge problem in general in our society. Many people are far too interested in expressing their own thoughts, projecting their feelings and keeping their schedules to bother with having respect for anyone else. They would rather keep their agenda in tact than to think of how their words and deeds affect others.
Media in a free society is a reflection of the society that surrounds it. Unfortunately, instead of being leaders and rising above this type of behavior, our media is reflecting some of the worst of our society. No wonder so many around the world seem to have so little respect for us as a people. We apparently have little respect for ourselves or each other. Until we as a society find a way to reject our self-centered attitudes, our media will continue to be a mirror of this type of behavior.