- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2008

When Sen. Barack Obama had problems deciding whether to reject or renounce remarks from his bigoted spiritual leader, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., during the most recent televised debate with Sen. Hillary Clinton — his internal conflict became blatantly apparent yet confounding.

On one hand is this awe-inspiring candidate with an uncanny ability to unify the races — on the other — he’s befriended and consistently defended arguably one of the most racially divisive leaders of our time.

The retired, now emeritus, senior pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ is the same man who awarded Louis Farrakhan its “Trumpeter Award” and said that Farrakhan “truly epitomized greatness.” This is the same Mr. Wright who also reportedly prayed with Mr. Obama before the senator announced his run for the presidency. Should Mr. Obama become president, one might wonder if he will call on his spiritual leader once again.

That could be problematic and even more disturbing, considering thatMr. Wright’s tirades condemn the United States and its government as one “controlled by rich white people,” which Ms. Clinton could never understand because “she ain’t never been called a n—-er” (Mr. Wright used the entire word).

He refers to our country as “the U.S. of KKK” and insists that it should be: “not God Bless America but God d—n America!” These are words one might expect to hear from the likes of Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro, but this is the same America that Mr. Obama does pledge his allegiance to, as he made clear in his call for unity at the 2004 Democratic National Convention: “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America. [sic] there is not a black America and a white America and a Latino America and Asian America; there is the United States of America. [sic] we are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.” All except for the Rev. Wright.

And while free speech is a right in the same country this pastor condemns, this kind of race-baiting should not only be rejected in the public square, but should also be absolutely repudiated by a political leader who is seeking the highest office of the land. Instead, Mr. Obama has continued to defend the man (but not his remarks) and has seen fit to appoint Mr. Wright to his campaign’s National African American Religious Leadership Committee, as reported by Brian DeBose of The Washington Times. And while Mr. Wright was apparently asked not to appear because of his separatist remarks, why would Mr. Obama — who has dismissed the message but not the messenger — assign Mr. Wright this post in the first place and continue to allow him to be a part of his campaign?Perhaps Mr. Obama doesn’t want to jeopardize the support he enjoys from the nearly 10,000 members the church boasts and whom he addressed last summer, while having his volunteers staff campaign tables on the other side of the doors.

In Mr. Obama’s “movement for change” there should be no room for racism, real or perceived. His “movement for change” should include repudiating intolerance and bigotry, even if it comes from someone you’ve called pastor, friend and spiritual leader for 20 years. Mr. Wright’s “preaching” is not only political but hateful and runs the risk of further dividing a country Mr. Obama insists on unifying. If, “[Obama] transcends race” as FOX News analyst Fred Barnes put it last week, not only does he have a duty but a responsibility — as a candidate, leader, American — to reject the man and his message.

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