Pondering, Yet Again, That More Perfect Union

In case you missed Obama’s speech yesterday, here it is. And in case you haven’t pondered the unique “double consciousness” we grow in American, SPR’s Tom Baxter does so for you:

When W.E.B. Dubois introduced the concept of double consciousness, on the eve of the 20th Century, he was talking about the dilemma of African-Americans in his own time, of “measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.”

Those aren’t words Obama or those of his generation would use to describe their inner selves today. But in an ever more hyphenated world, Dubois’ idea of seeing things through different lenses in the same set of eyes has proven to be intellectually elastic, and useful for talking about many aspects of modern life.

The Obama speech could be read as a new – and to those used to thinking of a fundamentally divided America, surprising – twist on the concept of double consciousness. Its critical section is the one in which he relates his divided feelings about the black minister who baptized his children and the white grandmother who helped raise him, and who both expressed racial sentiments he rejected. To understand its importance fully, we have to think of this in a generational perspective.

More here.


  1. John Konop says:

    I disagree with Obama on many issues, yet this speech open up dialogue that could transcend race relations in our country.

    I was very touched by his story about his white grandmother. I am Jewish and my wife is Christian and her grandparents made comments with similar insensitive type tone about Jews in front of me. Yet when they were alive they treated me like their own son.

    I had many mix feelings about what they said and how they open their hearts to me. It was comforting to know and refreshing that America can have this real conversation about race and religion.

  2. Doug Deal says:


    He made a speech that was politically necessary; to rally support of white voters, not because of any deeply held belief. He is the one that has chosen to associate with this hate mongering pastor for 20 years, yet he expects us to give a pass because of all the good things he has done?

    Obama called for the eviction of Don Imus from radio for making much less inflammatory comments.


    Also, he has clearly lied about this situation. He said earlier that he has never said Wright say these things while he was in attendance. Now, when rumors start to circulate that he was indeed in attendance, he suddenly was there, but didn’t agree. (I think most reasonable people would walk out of a church that has a pastor suggesting what the good pastor has suggested.)

    Did he really say something about his core beliefs, or is he simply another sleazy politician playing the race card when it serves him, and playing innocent victim trying to “transcend” when it does not?

    I do not believe that Obama is a racist. I do think that he has used it to further his political ambition (locally in Illinois) by associating himself with such a racist church to gain “credibility”. Now that the need for “credibility” has passed, and the need for “electability” is on the horizon, he felt it a good time to throw his mentor under the bus and dismiss him as a kook. Obama cannot, with any moral authority, claim to be a “post racial” candidate, when he has involved himself so intimately with such hate filled nonsense for 20 years.

    In any event, there are plenty of reasons to not vote for Obama, his inherent dishonesty is only one.

  3. jsm says:

    A black co-worker who has been an Obama supporter asked me yesterday how I felt about the speech. After mentioning how touchy this subject is, we had a good discussion about it.

    He was really disappointed at Obama’s unwillingness to disassociate himself with Rev. Wright due to their personal connection. We both agreed that we know people who have unacceptable views toward other ethnic backgrounds, but we also agreed that those people would not be our advisors, mentors, leaders, or pastors. Double consciousness does not excuse being led by someone with immoral views. We agreed that we both would move our membership away from any church that preached racial superiority, hate, or anti-Americanism of any kind. Obama failed to take the right steps to correct this situation.

    Obama’s defense of Rev. Wright’s motivation to make hateful comments was irresponsible and wrong. It is never okay to stir up anger and hatred in thousands of people from the pulpit, especially with false information. If Obama wants to lead this country, he should disassociate himself with Rev. Wright and Trinity United Church of Christ.

  4. Roy says:

    I agree with John’s take on the speech, it was touching and can and maybe will open dialogue.
    However, I thin k there’s a possibility Sen. Obana’s relations with the rev. Wright could very well be his undoing.

  5. Rogue109 says:

    Yes, it was awfully touching to learn that Obama is willing to throw his grandmother under the bus and label her a bigot on national television.

    There simply is no way that he didn’t know about Wright’s diatribes from the pulpit and for 20 years was associated with that church which preaches its perverted “black liberation theology.” jsm is spot on with regard to this issue.

  6. Skeptical says:

    And are any of you who are so quick to jump on this ready to denounce Falwell or Robertson or any of the other white “Christian” leaders who call for elected officials to be killed or that say the US was attacked because we harbor gay people? It’s not double consciousness – it’s a double standard.

    If you were to simply read the words of Rev. Wright instead of listening to his nearly rabid delivery, you would most certainly have to admit that his reasoning’s make a lot more sense than most. Perhaps he just might be on to something that the reason the US was attacked on 9/11 didn’t have to do with the US having policies that protect a segment of its population, but rather that when you push around the world for a little too long like a school yard bully, finally someone pushes back.

    Or at least that’s my privileged white take on it.

  7. Ms_midtown says:

    If the government is causing AIDS and giving out drugs, I just hope Obama puts an end to it on his first day in office.

  8. Doug Deal says:


    Good work in tearing down that straw man. Too bad it is far from reality. Falwell and Robertson are idiots, and I have made a fare number of comparisons of the more rabid “Christian” leaders to theocracies like that under the Taliban.

    If something is wrong, it is wrong. No defense can be made of the fact that someone else is doing something just as bad. If this is the best excuse that one can come up for Obama’s admiration for this hate mongering racist, then Obama is completely undeserving to be considered as a candidate for President.

    If you want to lump him into the bucket with Falwell and Robertson, be my guest.

  9. drjay says:

    i thought there was a rule when gracey made a post someone is suppose to question its relevance to ga politics…so i’m waiting…

  10. Rogue109 says:


    I’m giving SpaceyG a temporary pass since her last few posts have actually been about Georgia and haven’t been so obtuse.

  11. Roy says:


    As an Episcopalian all my life, I’ve never found much in common with what I feel is Christianity insofar as men like Falwell and Robertson are concerned.

  12. John Konop says:


    Do you feel the same way about anyone who is associated with Jerry Farwell, Sadie Field, Bob Jones university who have made similar hateful comments like Rep. Sally Kern: “Gay are worse than terrorists”?

    I have friends and relative who support what I would call gay bashing and have made racist comments. I disagree with them but I still associate with them.

    The truth is most of us said very little when it happens with friends and relatives. I am not defending anyone only being honest that most of us have been in the same shoes as Obama.

    I have no answers; I only think that if you reflect back at your life this is not as cut and dry as you make it.

  13. Rogue109 says:

    I only think that if you reflect back at your life this is not as cut and dry as you make it.

    John, I respect you dude, but this is wholly different. Obama’s close mentor for 20 years espouses “Black Liberation Theology” which has its origins at the feet of James Cone. What does Rev. Cone think about his theology? Here’s one example:

    Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community … Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.

    (Source: William R Jones, “Divine Racism: The Unacknowledged Threshold Issue for Black Theology”)

    That is quite a perverted view of Christianity which Obama has been sitting in the pews hearing for two decades. This goes beyond just having a friend make an off color joke or use a racially insensitive term. It is a complete repudiation of the religious tenants which serve as the foundation for the Republic and which should not be held as part of a belief system by a President of the United States.

  14. Skeptical says:

    I am by no means lumping Obama in the bucket with the hate mongerers of Falwell or Robertson. I am merely pointing out that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. There is a disconnect on this site and many others that take a decidedly right wing slant when it comes to seeing the big picture.

    The easy thing for Obama to have done would have been to throw the man under the bus like the overwhelming majority of people running for public office do nowadays. It takes a far bigger person to stand up to the nation and say that he doesn’t agree with what he said, but that Rev. Wright can say what he chooses because that is his perspective on the issue.

    Whatever happened to not agreeing with what someone says but defending to the death their right to say it?

    And I am more than pleased to see people backing away from the extremists who have hijacked the Republican Party for the last 20 to 30 years. Now when McCain – the newly anointed GOP standard bearer – condemns Hagee’s comments or once again shuns the “agents of intolerance” that he so actively courts now, then perhaps I will believe that all the hullabaloo over Rev. Wright’s statements isn’t political to the core instead of the fake outrage that seems to have permeated the fabric of today’s public discourse.

  15. Doug Deal says:


    So, as long as hate is spewed by people whose politics you do not agree, it is egregious and they must be silenced immediately, but when spewed by people you support, it is acceptable, and you are just defending free speech.

    Duly noted.

  16. John Konop says:

    Donkey Kong and Rogue109

    You have many valid points, but I do think the speech did open up the dialogue. And did hit on points I can relate with in my life.

  17. Skeptical says:

    Unfortunately for you Doug, I do happen to believe that when hate is spewed by whomever, it is egregious. I don’t happen to think that it needs to be silenced. How else would we know to shun the person spewing it?

    I am simply pointing out the hypocrisy in the reporting of this incident and I suppose therein lies the rub. No one likes to be proven to be a hypocrite. I just wish it wasn’t so easy these days to do it.

  18. John Konop says:


    The problem is many of us including myself look the other way at times. And why and when I speak out depends on the relationship. I think it is hard to have an honest dialogue about race and religion without fear of offending someone. That is why many times the people who are closets to you are the people you avoid the confrontation or rationalize their behavior.
    I do not know the right answer, but I think more dialogue not less would help.

  19. CHelf says:

    If McCain had Hagee and Robertson on his campaign as advisors and called them both mentors, writing books based on and inspired by their preaching, you’d have a point Skeptical. If McCain was a member for 20 years of either’s church or a card carrying member of the 700 Club I could say you have a point. Just because I am a member of the GOP, I don’t necessarily agree with everything George Bush says or does. But if I called him my mentor and wrapped myself around him, writing books based on his policies as my own, there would be the issue. Bringing Hagee, Falwell, and Robertson into this is a far stretch. I don’t think any candidate within the GOP has anywhere close to an association with any of them as Obama does with Wright.

  20. jsm says:

    “Do you feel the same way about anyone who is associated with Jerry Farwell, Sadie Field, Bob Jones university who have made similar hateful comments like Rep. Sally Kern: ‘Gay are worse than terrorists’?”

    Yes, insomuch that I would not be part of any organization headed by any of these, nor would I have any of them as my mentor, advisor, or pastor.

    “I have friends and relative who support what I would call gay bashing and have made racist comments. I disagree with them but I still associate with them.”

    Are any of them your pastor? If so, you need to make a change.

    I second CHelf’s remarks on this matter.

  21. John Konop says:


    Before I got married about 18 years ago I played basketball twice a week, went to his services and ate at the home many times with a Rabbi friend of mine and his family. When he found out I was engaged to a Christian woman he refused to go to my wedding and told he had would not allow his own brother in his home when he married out of faith.

    Our relationship was strained for awhile but over time we worked things out. I still have tremendous respect for my friend and how he helps the community and treats his family.

    All I am saying is relationships can be very complicated. And many of us just try to do the best we can.

  22. Skeptical says:


    McCain went out of his way to court and win the endorsement of Hagee. He may not be McCain’s pastor, but that is right up there with Wright being Obama’s pastor for 20 years.

    Personally, I don’t see why there must be any such religious litmus tests for anyone running for president today. Hell, if the Founding Fathers were running today, they couldn’t get elected.

    In all honesty, the only way to truly promote democracy is to firmly protect the wall of separation between Church and State.

    A candidate’s private life is just that- private. If by their public deeds you can’t tell whether they would be fit to lead, then it is your inherent right not to vote for them.

  23. Rogue109 says:

    In all honesty, the only way to truly promote democracy is to firmly protect the wall of separation between Church and State.

    Since there is no such separation mandated in the Constitution other than for the establishment of a State-sponsored religion, I totally disagree. Besides, we aren’t protecting democracy, we are protecting a Constitutional Republic.

  24. CHelf says:


    The difference between McCain/Hagee and Obama/Wright is that McCain courts the block that Hagee represents. McCain is not fully aware of every single sermon or even his doctrine. This is in no way excusing ignorance or the ability to investigate but there is a difference between someone courting a block led by someone and someone who has closely devoted their life to someone’s teachings. Obama became a member, grew as a Christian, got married, and kids baptized by Wright. Obama’s life choices, influences, and spiritual growth are defined by Wright’s teachings and influences. I doubt McCain is ANYWHERE close to Hagee as Obama is to Wright. McCain and Hagee are acquaintances in passing. Obama and Wright are protege and mentor. Wright is the nutty uncle remember?

  25. Doug Deal says:

    WOW, now even Morton Kondracke is a racist.


    He seems to have the same opinion that I do:

    The options aren’t particularly good for Senator Obama. He either agreed with the views and core beliefs of Reverend Wright, which would essentially disqualify him as a serious candidate for the presidency; or he didn’t agree with Wright but for decades sat passively by and accepted Wright’s teaching and rants. Didn’t Obama consider, even once, pulling Wright aside and pointing out — as any true friend would, in a civil but forceful way — that hailstones of hate simply have no place in a church and that the “social gospel” is not synonymous with preaching bigotry and anti-Americanism?

    And he went on to say…

    It also begs the question: What exactly did Wright say that Obama strongly disagreed with? Was Wright in fact presenting a “profoundly distorted view of this country”? The odds are a good deal better than even that he was. But Obama has yet to answer those questions — and he probably won’t, at least with any specificity, unless he’s forced to do so. This story, which seemingly changes in every re-telling, is beginning to resemble nothing so much as Bill Clinton’s evolving explanation about his draft notice. It was then that most of America was introduced to “Slick Willie.”

    It’s a pretty well written article, and I think addresses what Obama will face going forward by people who don’t have “A tingle going down” their leg when he speaks.

  26. David says:

    If he doesn’t renounce this clown, Obama will crash in the general. This is tailor made for McCain to use to seal barrack’s fate.

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