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Obama: Wright Not Racist, Grandmom Is

From Mr. Obama’s defense today of the Reverend Doctor Wright:

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

“[H]er fear of black men who passed by her on the street”?

That’s not how the incident is described in Mr. Obama’s first autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” p 46:

I took her into the other room and asked her what had happened.

“A man asked me for money yesterday. While I was waiting for the bus.”

“That’s all?”

Her lips pursed with irritation. “He was very aggressive, Barry. Very aggressive. I gave him a dollar and he kept asking. If the bus hadn’t come, I think he might have hit me over the head.”

I returned to the kitchen. Gramps was rinsing his cup, his back turned to me. “Listen,” I said, “why don’t you just let me give her a ride. She seems pretty upset.”

“By a panhandler?”

“Yeah, I know — but it’s probably a little scary for her, seeing some big man block her way. It’s really no big deal.”

He turned around and I saw now that he was shaking. “It is a big deal. It’s a big deal to me. She’s been bothered by men before. You know why she’s so scared this time? I’ll tell you why. Before you came in, she told me the fella was black.” He whispered the word. “That’s the real reason why she’s bothered. And I just don’t think that’s right.”

The words were like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure. In my steadiest voice, I told him that such an attitude bothered me, too, but assured him that Toot’s fears would pass and that we should give her a ride in the meantime. Gramps slumped into a chair in the living room and said he was sorry he had told me. Before my eyes, he grew small and old and very sad. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him that it was all right, I understood.

We remained like that for several minutes, in painful silence. Finally he insisted that he drive Toot after all, and struggled up from his seat to get dressed. After they left, I sat on the edge of my bed and thought about my grandparents. They had sacrificed again and again for me. They had poured all their lingering hopes into my success. Never had they given me reason to doubt their love; I doubted if they ever would. And yet I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears.

This is a weird anecdote on several levels. At the very least it is hard to see how Mrs. Dunham’s fears were not justified.

Moreover, Obama puts the charge of racism in the mouth of his now deceased grandfather, who in the book seemed to delight in discovering racism in everyone.

Meanwhile, his grandmother is being carefully sequestered from the media.

But isn’t it amazing that Mr. Obama is happy to call his sainted grandmother who raised him a racist, but he still can’t bring himself to say that Mr. Wright is one?

Weren’t Mr. Wright’s racist comments also “a fist in his stomach”? Isn’t Mr. Obama half white?

Isn’t he an American?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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