Why Obama Should Denounce Wright
Barack Obama has run a pretty good campaign. He got people excited from the start, forged a likable, engaging image, and destroyed Hillary Clinton’s aura of inevitability. He will probably win the Democratic Party nomination, and still has a good shot at the Presidency. His ascent to the likely nomination of his party is, from a political point of view, stunning and inspiring.
And he could lose the whole thing because of Jeremiah Wright’s seemingly pathological inability to shut up. Wright is ruining Obama’s campaign—and seems to be enjoying the unexpected chance of notoriety.
When Wright’s controversial comments first surfaced, Obama handled them as well as could be expected given the circumstances. He distanced himself from Wright’s comments, gave an “inspirational” (to liberals) speech with some nice soundbites, and moved on. (Unfortunately for him, he moved on to another easily avoided gaffe—his “bitter” comments). A major part of his fairly effective defense was that Wright’s comments were taken out of context; that they do reveal his true underlying philosophy.
Jeremiah Wright got a chance to expand on his philosophy over the weekend. He was invited to give a speech to the NAACP (I’m pretty sure that William Dean Howells and the rest of that organization’s founders are rolling in their graves) which gave the nation a chance to come to a better understanding of his view of the world. And after that performance, Barack Obama must be wondering if maybe it wouldn’t have been a better idea to renounce Wright.
That theme of Obama’s campaign is the idea that blacks and whites can live together as equals. The theme of Wright’s speech was that they can’t. I know Obama claims he didn’t hear much of Wright’s worldview, but that’s ridiculous. Wright explained his views on education, language, and change, and even reminded everyone of the deep philosophical concept that “different is not deficient.
Wright’s views on education seem to come from those e-mails that the people at Snopes.com spend so much time debunking. He thinks that “African and African-American children have a different way of learning.” Apparently, whites are “logical and analytical”, while blacks are “creative and intuitive”, who learn best by “experiencing” an object. So whites are better at learning concepts like math or science, while blacks are better at…rapping? Wright’s vision of the learning style of black children is pretty limiting.
Wright claims that this different style of learning is “different, but not deficient”. Actually, if these learning differences existed, (I don’t have to tell you that that they don’t, do I?) they would be a pretty good justification for racial discrimination. If it were accepted that blacks weren’t as good as whites at learning math, for example, and using Wright’s thesis it’s hard to argue that they would be equally good (how can you make the derivative of 2x^5+4x^2+9 “intuitive”?), then wouldn’t that be ample basis for denying blacks a job involving mathematics out of hand? Wright’s educational theory sounds like something out of one of David Duke’s most pleasant dreams.
Many commentators have rightly called for Obama to disown Wright because of Wright’s many anti-American comments. Obama has refused to do so. If Wright’s disdain for America is not reason to disown him, Obama should denounce him for his recent destructive and racist comments.
Wright’s latest controversial comments are not harmful to whites, but to blacks. For years, bigoted whites told blacks that they were not as clever or capable as whites. Now, Wright is saying precisely the same things. Wright’s notions are complete pseudoscience (the main point of his theory is partly based on the different ways blacks and whites clap), and are not supported by any serious cognitive psychologists. Being told it is inferior is the last thing the black community needs. If Obama will not disown Wright for saying “God Damn America”, perhaps he will do so for claiming that “blacks learn differently”. Such ideas are baseless, harmful, and have no place in our society.