Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday has been widely hailed as an attempt to deal honestly with the race issue in the U.S. and his longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright, but Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer is having none of that.
In an Op-Ed article headlined “The Speech: A Brilliant Fraud,” Krauthammer acknowledges that Obama condemned Rev. Wright’s inflammatory remarks as “wrong and divisive” — without specifying the remarks he was referring to.
But Krauthammer goes on to say: “The question is why didn't he leave that church? Why didn't he leave — why doesn't he leave even today — a pastor who thundered not once but three times from the pulpit (on a DVD the church proudly sells), ‘God damn America’?
“Obama's 5,000-word speech, fawned over as a great meditation on race, is little more than an elegantly crafted, brilliantly sophistic justification of that scandalous dereliction.”
Krauthammer opines that Obama’s defense of his relationship with Wright rests on “moral equivalence” and “white guilt.”
For moral equivalence, Krauthammer notes, Obama places his white grandmother at the “other end of the spectrum” from Wright, since according to Obama she “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."
Krauthammer writes: “Does he not see the moral difference between the occasional private expression of the prejudices of one's time and the use of a public stage to spread racial lies and race hatred?”
As for white guilt, Krauthammer observes that Obama's purpose in his speech was to put Wright's outrages in the context of history — and by history, “he means the history of white racism…
“What lies at the end of his recital of the long train of white racial assaults from slavery to employment discrimination? Jeremiah Wright, of course.
“This contextual analysis of Wright's venom, this extenuation of black hate speech as a product of white racism, is not new. It’s the Jesse Jackson politics of racial grievance, expressed in Ivy League diction and Harvard Law nuance. That's why the speech made so many liberal commentators swoon: It bathed them in racial guilt while flattering their intellectual pretensions.”
Krauthammer asserts that Obama “flatters himself as a man of the future transcending the anger of the past as represented by his beloved pastor…
“Then answer this, Senator: If Wright is a man of the past, why would you expose your children to his vitriolic divisiveness?”
The writer concludes: “Why did you give $22,500 just two years ago to a church run by a man of the past who infects the younger generation with precisely the racial attitudes and animus you say you have come unto us to transcend?”