Posted by: Christine Johnson | March 19, 2008

Hate Speech Against Grandma? (Update Includes Question Mark)

I will admit that I haven’t read the whole speech. I haven’t listened to or watched it all, either. I have gotten the sound bytes only so far. (I will print it and read it right after I post this, though.)

But I have to say that, based on what I’ve read and heard and seen so far, I agree with everything The Mom says here. Here’s a sampling, but please click through to her site and read it all:

I watched the Obama speech yesterday and hoped to hear something new. I wanted him to explain how he could spend 20 years in a church which appears to be at least partly based upon hating white people. I wanted him to explain it in a way that made sense.

What he said was the same old tired excuse I’ve heard given for every racist to whom I’ve ever been subjected to listening. “He grew up in a different time. He’s speaking his anger at his own experience as a _____ man in America.” You can fill in the blank with any race or ethnicity you choose. The excuse is the same, the the hatred is the same. It does not matter who the racist happens to be; it should never be acceptable. The level of hatred spewing forth from Rev. Wright is identical to the hatred I hear in the speeches of the skinheads I see on the news.

Mr. Obama compared the rhetoric of his preacher to the comment by his elderly white grandmother that sometimes when she walks by black men on the street she’s afraid. Guess what? So am I. I don’t think that fear makes us racist; I think it makes us human and female. First of all, Barak seems to misunderstand what is a fact for every woman in America namely that the biggest threat we face is from men. It’s a statistical fact, look it up. I am not always afraid of black men, and am rarely afraid of other ethnic groups, not because of the color of my skin but because of the hatred, animosity and contempt that is evident in the way I am glared at and the threatening motions they make towards myself and my children. While his grandmother may be a racist, I’ve never met her so I don’t know, she may also just be a frightened old lady who her grandson has just defamed on national television for his own political gains. Nice.

Yeah, very nice. (You do know his grandmother is still alive, right?)

Another thing here. Why is Obama just black? Why aren’t we calling him white, as well? I mean, his mother is white, so he is, too, right?

Or are we back to the old slaveholder’s idea that if there is a single drop of black blood in you, you’re black, period, end of story?

Gosh, for that matter, my father brought up an excellent point. His ancestors included French pirates that sailed with Jean LaFitte. (You’ll actually find that my maiden name is quite popular in New Orleans.) For all we know (and Dad’s pretty certain it’s probably true somewhere along the line) we’ve got ancestors who are black, too. Who knows?

So, hey, I can claim that, too, right? And let’s add in my Puerto Rican family, too. (My mother’s grandfather was full-blooded, her paternal grandmother was English.)

So I’m two minorities, or three if you count that I’m a woman.

Oh! I can feel the victimhood creeping up on me already! Where do I sign up to complain about American??

UPDATE: I’m about halfway through reading the speech, and the grandmother bit, while jarring because it equates her with a man who preached such hatred (even if it was once in a while and he missed it), is not as bad as some people make it out to be. I think to say that, to hold her up as an example like that, is not a good thing. I think it lacks the class that he’s shown in the past. (Yes, I think that he’s shown some class while campaigning. So sue me.) But The Anchoress brings up an interesting point about this, as well. She writes:

I take no offense at the “Grandma Cracker” bit in Obama’s speech because I think it is a very important clue as to how Obama could remain with Jeremiah Wright for 20 years.

Having been raised in an environment where I often felt like “the other” and the outsider (when very small I once spent a summer nosing about the house, searching for the birth-certificate which I was sure would prove I was adopted, or had been left at the doorstep) I can picture Obama as a child, doing what children do – wondering about love, about the mother who dropped him off with her parents to go live her life, flinching in confusion when the woman who hugged him and sacrificed for him said something about black people that, while wholly unconnected to him, still stung, still made him aware he was different from her. Perhaps on a soft Kansas night he would sit at a window and dream glamorous dreams of his father – the exotic man from Kenya – who would come back and love him and make him feel whole instead of splintered.

Looking at Obama that way, one can understand how he became so attached to Wright, an educated black man with authority and power (you might call Wright the “president” of his church) a man who, one-on-one and beyond the firey rhetoric of his pulpit, had a great deal of personal charm and warmth, and held an Afrocentric world view that connected with the imagined Kenyan father.

I would imagine that for Obama, such a man would offer an irresistible sense of homecoming. He offered something unambiguous, which must have been refreshing after the white grandmother offered confusion, and he was a father-substitute, besides. Obama could love him, and be loved black, and if the white part of him was challenged by the sermons, well, his white mother left him; his white grandmother confused him, so maybe they (and he) needed that challenge.

This is an excellent commentary on the speech, and I recommend that you click over to read it all. (Also be sure to read the entire speech, which can be found here.)

The lesson learned here (so far) is that I shouldn’t blog about something I haven’t seen or heard or read myself. Hearsay isn’t so hot, you know? This is why my update to this post includes the updated question mark in the title of the post.

However, I do see some problems with his speech, which I’ll get into in my next post. I just have to finish reading it for myself. As for the videos, maybe I’ll have to see those, too, for myself, but not until the girls are in bed.

One more thing, though. I find it interesting that any of the mainstream media is talking about this much at all, given the general idea that seems prevalent that one doesn’t need to believe everything one’s church believes just to be a part of it. If Obama and his wife disagree with the teachings of the church they attend and yet they stay, they are merely being Protestant in that they take what they like and leave what they don’t. The idea that you ought to abide by all the beliefs and doctrines of your church is a Catholic one (and one that even Catholics don’t follow well), whereas the Protestant churches all began because of a desire to pick and choose the doctrines that you wish to follow. This is why I attend my parish, imperfect though it is, even though I disagree with some of Father’s ideas and have even taken issue with a few things he’s said in the pulpit. But when I disagree with what he says, it’s because I agree with what the Catechism teaches – that foundational set of doctrines for the Church.

But Obama is just acting as a Protestant. And so, in the end, I don’t think that any of this will stick to him.

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