Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Mike Huckabee

The story broke: Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's longtime pastor -- their relationship went back twenty years -- was on record as having said some outrageous -- or at any rate discriminatory -- things about whites to his congregations. As Americans began taking note of Obama's radical-sounding preacher, Obama's candidacy stood at a crossroads. What would Obama do? Well, Obama chose to address the issue of American race relations directly in a speech that has already been viewed a million times on YouTube; that has been compared to John Kennedy's famous speech on his own faith in 1960.

"What is evident, though, is that he not only cleared the air over a particular controversy — he raised the discussion to a higher plane" wrote the New York Times in a recent editorial on the speech.

And the country may indeed be moving with him.

Wednesday, Mike Huckabee, the presidential candidate who recently dropped out of the race, addressed the controversy in an interview. The white Souther conservative Republican preacher had this to say about Obama's long-time black preacher, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
And one other thing I think we've gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say "That's a terrible statement!"...I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack -- and I'm gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who's gonna say something like this, but I'm just tellin' you -- we've gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told "you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus..."

And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.
Such unifying candor is remarkable, especially coming as this does in the midst of a presidential election. Whether or not Obama succeeds in his bid for the presidency, he made some impressive contributions to improving race relations.
Hat-tip: Fallows who expounds on this further. He also has some good things to say about John McCain.

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