Friday, March 14, 2008

Guilt by Association?

One thing I've been consistently amused by during this extended primary season is the Republican hackery's clumsy campaign to disparage Barack Obama. Their initial ploy was to cast doubt on his religious affiliations. They did everything possible to get people to believe that he was a Muslim. Why that should matter relative to his aspirations for the presidency... I have no idea. Obviously the framers of the Constitution didn't mean to prohibit followers of Islam from becoming chief executive. This was a transparent ploy to tie Obama in with the terrorists. It didn't matter that the man had attended a Christian church for the last twenty years. Somewhere deep in his core, he was a treasonous follower of Mohammed. They've been flogging this canard for almost an entire year. It got so bad that the mythbusters over at Snopes had to post about the rampant lies. Still I've had to hear the AM radio talking heads refer to him as Barack Hussein for the last several months.

Of course we all know that this shit never quite stuck to the wall, no matter how often it was parroted. Watch now as the strategy shifts. They've given up on trying to make Obama the external enemy. Now they have begun the process of coloring him as the enemy within. It's now openly acknowledged that Obama is a member (in good standing) of the Trinity United Church of Chicago. Bear in mind though that this is no "ordinary" Christian" house of worship. It has all the trappings of Christianity, but it is somehow "other", and in that otherness something wicked lurks. While nominally devoted to Jesus the savior, it is in reality devoted to an insidiously divisive purpose. It preaches a message of hate for the United States (or so we are now told).

The presiding pastor of Trinity is Dr. Jeremiah D. Wright, Jr. If you visited the official church site, you would get the impression that Dr. Wright is an exemplary American. He started out his adult life in elementary education, served in the Marine Corps, and earned his doctorate in theology. He has served at Trinity since 1972, and now ministers to a flock of 6000 members (actually he is semi-retired as of February, 2008, yet he has remained active and is still considered the head of the Church). Apparently he subscribes to Trinity's mission statement, which includes serving not just the oppressed- but all of God's family. And, if you take the organization at its word, "it's not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and (...) does not apologize for its African roots!" Perhaps that's what some anonymous GOP think tank researcher found most suspect about Obama's relationship with Wright and Trinity.

Anyone who has unsuccessfully spent years trying to dig up dirt on Obama knows that he is virtually unimpeachable. So what better way to attack him then to establish "guilt by association"? It's absolutely true that Obama has credited Jeremiah Wright, Jr. as being an important influence in his life. The thing to do is to make the good Reverend Wright look like a black separatist. And the best way to do that is to comb over all the speeches that Wright has made throughout the years, and selectively quote the most inflammatory remarks that can be found. This isn't at all difficult because the man has been genuinely incensed about the treatment his people have received over the years. He has directed some serious accusations against this nation and its government. And it also helps his detractors that he has been closely associated with Louis Farrakhan in the past. As a result, it's not hard to cherry pick and make Wright sound scary to your average Middle American kool-aid drinker.

But what does all of this have to do with Obama? The implication is that this presidential hopeful will carry all of Wright's values and attitudes into the White House. It evidently doesn't matter that Obama has explicitly denounced the statements that many have found so offensive. He's frankly expressed his disagreement with Wright's views. In addition, his public rejection of Farrakhan's endorsement carries no weight with his critics. The mere fact that Obama has sat in the pulpit while Wright has preached his "message of hate" is enough to condemn his integrity and expose his dangerous deception. Whatever else has been said in Wright's nearly-40-year career is beside the point. By extension, we shouldn't pay any attention to Barack Obama's own words and deeds during his time in the political spotlight. There's no reason to give credit to anything Obama says, because someone he's been associated with has controversial beliefs. Would that we could apply that standard to all politicians- would we ever be able to find an electable candidate?

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