Obama’s Rhetoric — Responsibility, Civility, Come Together and Righteous Winds
For the past week, Senator Obama has basically stuck to the same speech. While on the stump in Jackonsville today, he made the same pitch. I take three statements from the stump speech that I find the most interesting:
“We need a return to responsibility and a return to civility.”
“All of us have to come together.”
“We have a righteous wind at our backs.”
I love rhetoric. I like words just for the sake of words and how they are strung together. I can be motivated by a good speech and a good speaker, but I always go back and filter the words through my own logical mind in an attempt to try to make sense of the rhetoric. Today, I take these three statements, and I’ve decided to filter them through the mind of the only public figure we know in Senator Obama’s life, his pastor of 20 years, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
Jeremiah Wright on a return to responsibility and a return to civility. Was Jeremiah Wright being responsible and civil in his discourse just 5 days after 9/11 occurred when he gave the following sermon in his church:
“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terroism against the Palestinians, the black South Africans, and now we are idignant because the stuff we have done overseas has been brought right back into our own front yards. Americas’ chickens are coming home to roost.”
Now let that sink in for a just a second. Think about what you were thinking about 5 days after 9/11. I remember clearly what I was thinking about. I was truly afraid for the first time. I was afraid America was under seige. I took comfort in the fact that the country was rallying together in a common cause. I took comfort in seeing the images on my TV that showed us as a nation coming together to stand up against the attacks that took place against our innocent citizenry. Had I heard Reverend Wright’s words at that moment in time, I would have lost some of that comfort and would have become afraid again. Wright’s words don’t bring us together as a country, his words divide us. Wright’s words were not responsible, they were not civil to the civilians of this great nation. Wright’s words were not a righteous wind at the backs of all Americans whom had just witnessed the greatest terrorist attack within our borders. But Barack Obama must have taken some comfort in those words. This was his pastor, his spiritual adviser. Reverend Wright was his man, and Senator Obama didn’t leave this church of divisiveness, not even during the most critical time in our history where we had to come together, where we had to be responsible and civil to one another, where we were required to have a righteous wind at our back to defeat terrorism. Is 7 years such a long period time that you would forget all of this, that you would choose to follow the words and theology of Reverend Jeremiah Wright?
Does Senator Barack Obama have a righteous wind at his back, or is that wind blowing in a different direction. When Reverend Wright says:
“God Damn America. That’s in the Bible. You’re killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating her citizens as less than human. God Damn America.”
Is that the America that you live in? Is that America that Barack Obama lives in? Is God Damn America the righteous wind at your back Senator Obama? Is God Damn America the America of civility and responsibility. When you sat in this church for 20 years, why didn’t you ever stand up for civility. Why didn’t you walk out of this church in the name of responsibility? How does this church bring all Americans together? How is this church a righteous wind at your back?
Has this church changed? Is there hope for this church? 20 years have passed since Senator Obama first joined this church. What has changed is amongst the politics of a Presidential campaign, Senator Obama finally left the church after 20 years of sitting in her pews. Reverend Wright retired this year from Trinity United Church of Christ and was replaced by Reverend Otis Moss III. The current history of the church as reported on their website states the following:
“We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian… Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain “true to our native land,” the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.”
Before Trinity United Church of Christ became part of this year’s Presidential election, its website went on to say the following:
“Trinity United Church of Christ adopted the Black Value System written by the Manford Byrd Recognition Committee chaired by Vallmer Jordan in 1981. We believe in the following 12 precepts and covenantal statements. These Black Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered. They must reflect on the following concepts:
- Commitment to God
- Commitment to the Black Community
- Commitment to the Black Family
- Dedication to the Pursuit of Education
- Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence
- Adherence to the Black Work Ethic
- Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect
- Disavowal of the Pursuit of “Middleclassness”
- Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the Black Community
- Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions
- Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System
- Personal commitment to embracement of the Black Value System.
The Pastor as well as the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ is committed to a 10-point Vision:
- A congregation committed to ADORATION.
- A congregation preaching SALVATION.
- A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION.
- A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA.
- A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION.
- A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION.
- A congregation committed to the HISTORICAL EDUCATION OF AFRICAN PEOPLE IN DIASPORA.
- A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
- A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
- A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY.”
You will no longer find this second quoted section on their website, but it was there earlier this year when Barack Obama was still a member of this church. I will not fault a church for bringing together a community based on experiences in this country that I have not suffered myself as a white American. But I will ask the questions, is a segregated Christian Church a church that has come together through responsibility and civility to all Americans? Is this the type of church with a righteous wind at its back as we attempt to elect the first African American to the highest office of our land, the United States Presidency? I would argue it is not; therefore, I would further argue that Senator Obama’s rhetoric once again is not grounded in the truth of his actions. It is just another example of telling us what we want to hear through his words which are completely devoid of his actions.
Go vote tomorrow, and vote for someone whom has lived the words that he has spoken. Let’s bring our nation together again responsibly, civily and from the direction the true righteous wind blows.