We, The People
By absentee Posted in Archived | Obama | wright — Comments (68) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Senator Obama, four score and one years ago, my forebears came to this continent, seeking liberty and dedicated to the proposition that Nazis were evil. Five score and more years ago, my great, great grandmother, a Native American, married someone who was, to her, a newcomer to this continent. I have ancestors from the Revolution to the Civil War, from here and from abroad. All sought life, liberty, and happiness.
My story, like yours, is a story of America, a story only possible in America. Yet there is a difference between us. You think that difference is slavery.
You are right, Senator, when you say that the good and the bad are part of the tapestry of American history. They are part of world history; they are a part of the individual life of each and every one of us flawed and sinful creatures huddling outside the gates of Eden, struggling to find our God.
However, the difference between you and me is not slavery. The difference is not the past. The difference between us is the future. I can not, and must not, live in the past. You said today, quoting Faulkner, "The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past."
It is past.
True, we must learn from and remember our past. The echoes of racism and slavery are here; they are in our every day. The echoes of the past ripple through these United States, they stain our conscience, they strain our unity. However, they are echoes. By their very nature, they come from the past. Echoes weaken over time and distance. They diminish. They die.
Those who, with courage and honesty, look at the great American landscape and see those echoes are right, and they are just. But they who take those echoes, who reinforce them, and give them greater amplitude ... they are wrong. Reverend Wright is wrong.
There can be no unity or reconciliation when the foundation is forever the stain of cursed evil. The future you design will have the same blood on its hands as the past. What unity, I wonder, can prosper, when the blood of the past remains unwashed.
No hope for a more perfect union can long endure while the echoes of the past are cast forward onto our future.
When Jesus spoke of forgiveness, it was not with strings attached. Jesus wants us to stop living as we did in the past, but also to stop living in the past. The tax collector and the prostitute were shown mercy and forgiveness. Do unto others is not the only social admonition in the Bible.
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" ... just words?
You say you cannot disown Reverend Wright any more than you can disown the Black Community. That is not true. I do not tolerate racism in my life. If someone I call my friend turns out to be a Nazi, I do not shake my head and cluck my tongue, and then proceed to invite him to dinner. That is it; we are through. Would you honestly forgive me any less?
You know a little something about words, Senator. Words have power. Reverend Wright's words have power right now, out there in the world. You have disowned their application, but not their meaning. You have disowned their conclusion, but not their philosophy. You say he is wrong because his words imply stasis; that their profound mistake is not that they are about racism, but that they imply no achievement.
I suggest that the mistake in his words is far more profound than either of those things. The profound mistake is that they accuse me and my family of a mortal, unconscionable sin: That we hate, that we design to impede, that we intend to destroy, that we murder. His words are not simply about racism, Senator, they are about evil ... and not abstract evil; real, palpable, current evil. You cannot disown this man because of what he does for his community? Well I can, and I do. Teaching that white people are evil, that America is evil ... that is no community service at all.
You speak of your children; I have children too. Two sweet little girls who don't even know what racism is ... but they will. When people from the left side of the aisle are through with them, they'll know. Because what they are being taught, what they are learning from churches like yours, and from their schools, is that they carry that blood still. The blood of the past is on their hands. This will continue to be the lesson as long as politicians like you are willing to entertain, indulge, and encourage words like Reverend Wright wants to use.
You speak of hope for the future, Senator Obama, but all I hear are those echoes of the past.
I can forgive Reverend Wright, the man. You must forgive him, too. However, you must not excuse him, as you did today. This is what I mean by disown. You can forgive him, and you can love him, but you must stop enabling him. Don't have him over for dinner, as I would not have an unrepentant racist for dinner with my family.
Today you gave a great speech. You spoke some truths about race. However, your speech fell critically apart on the most important points. You tied your message of perfect union to partisan left-wing goals, and you refused to surrender the hatred in your own house.
If you believe, as you say, that now is the time, that we are who we have been waiting for, then lead by example.
Disown those who would live in the past, Senator. Own the future.