The Double Standard Against Barack Obama

Brother Richard at Life Without Faith wrote an article on the “Obama double standard,” about how Barack Obama is criticized for something his pastor said, but Republican candidates are not criticized for the same thing.

Some background: In old sermons, Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright had made statements like this:

“The government gives [African-Americans] the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people”

Obama was supposed to respond to (and possibly apologize for?) those remarks. Here’s what he said about his pastor:

The pastor of my church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently preached his last sermon and is in the process of retiring, has touched off a firestorm over the last few days. He’s drawn attention as the result of some inflammatory and appalling remarks he made about our country, our politics, and my political opponents.

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.

Seems like the issue is settled. Amazingly, you don’t have to believe or agree with everything your church/pastor says.

Yet, Brother Richard points out that certain other candidates did not have to go through this much trouble to explain away things their religion believed or religious supporters said.

I ask you, did Limbaugh and Hannity dedicate entire shows repudiating Mitt Romney due to the Mormon Church’s racist views against our darker skin brothers and sisters? No. In fact, it was proclaimed to be a violation of Romney’s first amendment rights. It was bigotry to even question his association.

To be fair, Romney did get questioned about this by other sources, but his explanations were unsatisfactory. Still, no one pressed him on it any further.

Brother Richard has another example:

When it was revealed that Billy Graham made anti-Semitic statements in a private conversation with Richard Nixon, did anyone demand Graham no longer associate with Presidents? Of course not, he is still called “America’s Pastor,” and has counseled every President since.

If you want some more background on this, there’s a video included in the article.

Many conservatives have credited Jerry Falwell and his “moral majority” for the election of Ronald Reagan. When he and Pat Robertson made their despicable remarks concerning September 11th, the media brought attention to their lunacy, but did anyone use it to disavow Reagan’s legacy? Did anyone demand that the “conservative movement” reject these buffoons? Of course not…

When Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani, did the “talking heads” scream and demand that Giuliani deny and denounce all the idiotic and evil sermons of Rev. Robertson? No…

Recently, theist wacko John Hagee gave his endorsement to John McCain. There was very little condemnation in the press, and the “Righteous Right” was satisfied with McCain’s statement that the endorsement didn’t mean that he (McCain) supported every thing Hagee believed. This apparently was enough for Limbaugh and Hannity, so they didn’t need to dedicate much time to this fiasco…

So why does Obama have to explain away something his pastor said during sermons at which Obama was not even present?

Brother Richard says we should “condemn and denounce” all of those religious bigots and rightly so. It’d be political suicide for presidential candidates to condemn their church or religion, so I don’t expect the candidates to say anything too harsh. But if the media is scrutinizing Obama for what someone else said, they should do the same thing to all the candidates.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Christian Prophet

    It’s possible you are missing an important point. Barack Obama would lose the election if his THEOLOGY is exposed. See:
    http://miraclesdaily.blogspot.com/

  • Kevin L.

    Well, of COURSE there’s a double standard for Hussein Obama! He’s a fascist! And a Communist! And, shucks, he’s even one of those Demmy-carts! If we let Hussein Obama pollute our beloved WHITE House, the terrists will win for sure!

    I don’t do sarcasm well. I think I just killed a few of my brain cells.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I thought the pastor was actually right in quite a bit of what he said.

  • http://www.brigno.tumblr.com Alex

    Are Obama’s pastor remarks a new thing? Is it something that Obama has not heard before in church? Did his pastor went crazy just a couple of days ago?

    Let me tell you, if you know your pastor is a crazy, bigoted lunatic, why stay at his church? Why take the decision to be president after prayer with such a person? Either Obama is overplaying his membership in his pastor’s church (for religious pandering reasons) or his lack of judgment of character has no comparison. Either way it leaves a lot to be desired.

    This is not about an endorsement (as the other candidates situation). It is about critical judgment. I think all the criticizing is fair. His decisions on religion and on the people he surrounds himself for 20 something years tells me a lot more about his future decisions than 20 flowery speeches he could give tomorrow.

    That some crazy religious lunatic endorses you is one thing. That your personal, close knitted pastor and mentor for 20 years IS a crazy, religious,bigoted lunatic is another whole different ballgame.

    Denouncing his pastor now for politically expedient reasons does not impress me at all. Is not about double standards. Obamas campaign is running on his supposed good judgment. Good judgment should not be measured only by his position regarding iraq war (specially if you considered where would obama be now if the iraq war was managed correctly.)

    Kudos to the press for at last trying to stop treating Obama as a political prima donna. It was about time.

  • Aj

    Hemant,

    Seems like the issue is settled. Amazingly, you don’t have to believe or agree with everything your church/pastor says.

    Then why go there for so many years? I agree with the main point of this post, there is a double standard. Conservatives never stop spouting outrageous, disgusting statements, and the Republican Party never says a word.

    Trying to disassociate the church and pastor from Obama is completely disingenuous, he’s like an “uncle”, “mentor”, the source of “The Audacity of Hope” title, and Obama “seeks guidance” from him.

    Obama claims he didn’t hear the crazy stuff coming from Wright in many sermons or conversations. I can’t say that’s believable unless he’s been overplaying his involvement in the church. He didn’t know that this guy thinks the government gives black people drugs and AIDS, that he is overtly racist and advocates nationalism? Wright’s magazine gave a lifetime achievement award to Louis Farrakhan, with a gushing statement from Wright himself.

    His church “isn’t controversial” according to Obama? I think this and the homophobic religious nuts he’s associating with show severe lack of judgement. I can’t understand why any reasonable person would choose to go to that church.

  • robin

    I thought the pastor was actually right in quite a bit of what he said.

    Agreed. He said treatment of black men has sucked. That 911 was the backlash of American geopolitics. He’s not the only who has said this… it’s just he wasn’t very polite about it.. “God Damn America” is almost as bad as insulting Mohammed.

  • The Unbrainwashed

    Yes the government is engaging in a conspiracy to keep black men down!

    Seriously, writerdd and robin, do you believe this?

  • robin

    Nice straw man.

    Are you denying that there are systematic issues which result in the incarceration rate for black men being that much higher than for whites? It doesn’t mean that there are a bunch of men in a room plotting away. But it is still a legitimate issue that the community has a right to be upset about.

  • Paul V

    I Voted For Hilary Clinton
    But camparing Jeremiah Wright to John McCain Minister ,,You
    Can not compare,,, John McCain,, the minister he know just gave him Money,,he does not Go to his church,,, He did not Baptise john McCain kids,,, he is not on John McCain Campaign,, Just gave John McCain money,,, to compare him with Jeremiah Wright is something the Media, and the Obama Camapaign,, doing,,Barack Obama Has a Racist man who worked on his Campaign,, Jeremiah Wright, ,, who helped Barack with the title of his book,,, who baptise his kids, Barack Obama Miinister, gave Louis Farrahkan life time achievement award, ,,, Barack Obama who went to this Racist mans church,,, for 20 years,

    Whats even sad is Barack Obama, followers don’t even Care, He can run over a person right now ,,, and people will still follow him,,, but one thing is for certain Barack no matter what, just lost this election,,, even if he wins the primary,,, from Hilary,,, Barack can not win a big state, Hilary followers will not back Barack Obama,,, just like if Hilary wins the primary,,, Barack Obama followers will not back Hilary ,,,,,
    Obama is definitely Muslim, but he is a closet Racist, who employed a racist,, of all Racist, ,,,,, he is done
    Watch Obama weblink
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Prhnc2fxAzg&feature=related%20…%20http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4YxPBAkfp4&feature=related

  • The Unbrainwashed

    “Systematic issues which result in the incarceration rate for black men being that much higher than for whites”

    If by that, you mean blacks engaging in unlawful acts more than whites (drug dealing, prostitution, stealing, etc…), then yes I agree. I’m so exasperated with this communist paranoia that the “ruling” class is a force of oppression. Where’s the personal responsibility? Where’s the people criticizing how the black community, at large, glorifies violence and street cred over education and social mobility (thankfully Bill Cosby and Charles Barkley have said this)? Why don’t people mention how reverse discrimination (or the euphemism affirmative action) makes it exceedingly easy for blacks to be accepted over more qualified whites?

    Yes I am aware of how slavery and segregation aversely affected blacks. But what about the loads of foreigners who come here with less money and educational opportunities and thrive?

    Oh but of course, the white man is bringing everyone down.

  • Claire

    Good points, Unbrainwashed. I also wonder about those who focus their attention exclusively on the horrors of a system outlawed here a century and a half ago, when it still exists in many other parts of the world. There are estimated to be 27 million slaves worldwide today. It seems to me to be more to the point to be outraged about them, but then again their plight can’t be blamed on the preferred target, the US government (or white people either, for that matter).

    There may be a bit of a conspiracy here, but it isn’t the government. The prison guard’s union spends a huge portion of their collected dues on lobbyists campaigning against repeal of those three-strikes laws. Prisons are big business – if one insists on a conspiracy, look first to who profits.

    As much as I like Obama, this does concern me. There is a difference between simply being endorsed by a bigoted nut job on one hand, and having chosen to associate yourself closely for 20 years with that bigoted nut job and then claiming you never noticed. Not the same thing at all….

  • GoDamn

    I think blacks in America have a major part of the reponsibility for their continuing woes. You don’t see enough black activism, enough attempts to improve education, enhance social stability and most importantly, there does seem to be a growing reverse racism. Its ok for blacks to do somethings but if whites do it, theyre racist. I remember a so-called expert in race relations on Oprah who said that if a white woman sees a group of blacks and feels threatened and decides to cross the street to avoid them , she is being racist. He quite ignored the fact that black women do the same just as often. The fear stemmed from the fact that most violent crimes are comitted by blacks, not racism. Poverty and lack of education are the biggest reasons for the high crime amongst blacks and their communities are not doing enough to combat it. There seems to be a victim syndrome rampant. Its ironic, but in the gun debate, blacks would be the ones who benefit the most from a gun ban but they are practically unheard. The debate is dominated by rich white re-piglicans who get a kick out of shooting defenseless animals with high powered sniper rifles.

  • RitaJ52

    Hello,
    I have posted the following comment on several other blogs since yesterday, but I offer it again here as I am an African-American female who attended Trinity United Church of Christ. I am writing to offer a perspective on this situation that I hope will provide some insight. I was a member of Trinity UCC for over twenty years, and I attended regularly until I relocated, several years ago. I have a large collection of sermons preached by Rev. Wright that span the 20+ years I attended. The clips that are getting played across the Internet represent a few minutes extracted out of thousands of minutes of sermon footage. Here’s what I would hope the readers of this forum will consider:
    In the African-American worship tradition and experience, the black pulpit is a symbol of freedom and catharsis. Congregants, many of whom have experienced more nuanced but still painful instances of racism during the week, are set free. Worshippers experience this freedom vicariously in the freedom of the preacher. When I attended Trinity and heard the sermons preached by Rev. Wright, I heard his words in context. I therefore clearly understood (and I believe most who attended understood) that his messages gave voice to very real racism and pain experienced by older and not-so-old African-Americans. Most important of all, his sermons offer hope that by coming to know Jesus’ example as a healer and liberator, we would be inspired to follow the example, go out into the world, reach out to others, and work to bring about change in our communities, cities, and country. When I left church after services ended, I wasn’t filled with hatred or venom towards anyone. I was usually hungry, in search of a decent meal, and ready to get on with whatever the week was to bring. Trinity’s members are not “haters”, and certainly possess the ability to make the distinction between hyperbole and homily. Knowing what I do about the church FIRSTHAND, I understand why Mr. Obama did not cut ties to the church—his experience at Trinity (and mine) was simply not what some in the media and the political arena are trying to portray.

    BTW I noted that several earlier posts made reference to African-Americans taking responsibiIity and action towards the social ills in our communities. For the record, Rev. Wright has preached that message consistently,(I have copies of the sermons) and was doing so years before Bill Cosby or Charles Barkley, but those clips are not being shown. I do believe that more African-Americans need to participate in discussions such as this one via blogging, in order to share our experiences and understandings, so I will continue to post and share, and hope my comments are helpful.

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  • Josha

    Are you guys saying that many people don’t hold prejudices against black people? I think this is something many people don’t want to talk about. Yes, the black commnity should take responsibility for themselves but they tend to be poorer than the average American and therefore on average receive less education. I’m not saying the system should be blamed but not a lot of people are fighting for them and bringing money into black communities to create better schools and housing.

    I drove through a black community around DC and I was appalled at their living situation. I can’t help but to think if that was a white community someone would have cleaned it up already. I still don’t think this means they should adopt a victim-syndrome (there’s a better way to fight for change). You don’t think these people want to change or want a better life? I am sure they do.

  • Spurs Fan

    I know this is a bit off topic from the original subject matter, but…

    Poor white people. We have it so bad here in the U.S.

    De jure segregation hasn’t been ended for 40 years and we’re crying about the “big problem” of reverse discrimination.

    Where’s the people criticizing how the black community, at large, glorifies violence and street cred over education and social mobility (thankfully Bill Cosby and Charles Barkley have said this)

    You can play the McCarthy and “red scare” cards all you want, but do you realize how wealthy Cosby and Barkely are? Poverty still plays a huge role in this situation and the fact is that the African-American population has a higher percentage of people in poverty than whites. If you say that our 400+ years of official racism in this country (and continuing unofficial racism)have nothing or little to do with that, then what are you saying? That black folks in the U.S. have some sort of innate crime-propogating gene?

    But what about the loads of foreigners who come here with less money and educational opportunities and thrive?

    It seems to me that most foreigners who “thrive” actually don’t have less money or education opportunities. Many Asian immigrants who come to the U.S. are the most educated in their home countries and usually have more wealth than many white folks here in the U.S. Poorer immigrants from Latin America are surviving, but definitely not “thriving”.

    Again, class is a big issue and for our entire history, race has been intertwined. Personal responsibility is important, but is relative to opportunity. Let’s not oversimplify.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    There is a difference between being endorsed by someone and being a member of a person’s church. If the crazy guy on the corner supports me for president that is one thing and I don’t have to answer for his crazy talk. However, if I have been listening to him talk the crazy talk for 20 years and given money to support his crazy talk, I am supporting him and I should have to defend my association with him.

    Also, I have seen McCain get quite a bit of heat for the John Hagee endorsement.

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  • L Lindsey

    You know, I hear this, “they come from poorer communities and therefore have less education” argument all the time. I came from a poor mid-western, bible belt, white community where there were forty-five people in my senior class. We had some horrible teachers and few resources. Sports were the big money pit. I remember my Civics teacher repeatedly yelling about the Bible from his podium rather than teaching about the government. I remember my English teacher being far more interested in flirting with the older boys than in teaching. I remember the Math teacher going over the playbooks with jocks rather than teaching math.

    But, my family made it clear to me how important an education was. I studied, and they paid attention to what I studied. When I got to high school I took the tougher classes. I could have done what a lot of my female friends did, take Home Ec, Typing, and the basic classes, then get pregnant or go to VoTech and learn how to style hair or nursing skills (not saying those aren’t valuable professions, but they were the easy way out at my school).

    When I applied for colleges, I discovered that I would have been eligible for a lot more scholarships if I’d been a minority. Even though I’d studied hard, my SAT scores weren’t high enough to get me into the colleges my parents wanted me to attend. I had two choices: attend the local university (which had a pretty good reputation) or join the military. I made my choice.

    With all the programs out there to help minorities get higher educations, you really have to put the blame on minority families and communities. The opportunities are there, but they aren’t being taken advantage of. They need to quit focusing on being victims and “being owed”, and instead, focus on getting ahead and taking advantage of all the special privileges they have available.

    If I’ve accomplished what I have after starting out with so little, then they can, too.

  • Karen

    I am an African-American female who attended Trinity United Church of Christ. I am writing to offer a perspective on this situation that I hope will provide some insight.

    Thanks for your post, RitaJ. I appreciate getting some perspective on this. It’s too bad that some of Wright’s other sound bites – about personal responsibility and community development – aren’t getting publicized, but then those aren’t sensational enough, I suppose.

    I think the comments that have been publicized recently are disturbing, but I had heard about some of the Rev’s polarizing statements and ideas a long time ago, when first researching Obama. He surely must have realized that he would have to distance himself from these ideas.

  • Spurs Fan

    But, my family made it clear to me how important an education was. I studied, and they paid attention to what I studied

    L Lindsey,

    I think this statement is the key. You and anyone else, no matter their race who defies odds should be commended. But, as a teacher, I see the cycle of poverty all of the time. Many of my high school students have 30 year-old parents who work a couple of jobs and at best, stress education but don’t have the time or the resources to engage with their children. I’m not saying it’s an excuse, I’m just saying it’s logical. And when our government has policies that don’t necessarily recognize this fact (keep in mind that most of the programs to help minorities are privately run), I don’t think it’s a stretch to say some of the things the Reverend has said.

    You can encourage people to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” all you want, but to ignore the fact that race and class have played a role with the poor today, is to make the assumption that skin color, by itself, has something to do with poverty.

  • Maria

    here’s a video with an interesting take on it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQHG9VSA-tA

    I have to admit I agree with a lot of what he says.

  • Aj

    One thing that really should come from this is that someone somewhere has documented all the conservative media sources, talk radio, fox, blogs telling people Obama is a muslim, and now they’re calling them on it while they’re criticizing Obama’s reverend like it’s no big deal. Perhaps video editors are combing video archives as we speak for youtube videos.

  • Joseph R.

    Forget about what his pastor said. Here in the small town that I work, even the elected officials believe that he is Muslim, as if that were some horrible thing. I have also heard comments along the lines of…”His middle name is Hussein, therefore I will not vote for him because his middle name is bad.”

    If we are using that logic, then I am just like Joseph P. Franklin. Former KKK and neo-Nazi member and serial killer. He had over 15 murders linked to him. He shot and wounded Larry Flynt.

    WTF?

    Although I support Obama, he has a whole lot more to overcome than what his inflammatory pastor said.

  • gsb

    I just want to say that I’m a 40-something year old white male, who spent his politically formative years as a Conservative reading the National Review and watching Reagan, and I can genuinely say that Obama’s speech today addressing race was the most moving, inspiring 35 minutes I’ve ever spent listenting to a politician.

    This nation could do far, far worse than Obama. I do hope America will see through the verbal chaff of the idiotic Sean Hannities of the world, and listen to what this man has to say. It is rare to see someone like this come along on the national stage, someone who seems to genuinely want to inspire and not divide.

    Whether he gets nominated or not, elected or not, what he said today needs to be heard, and needs to be understood. I want to live long enough to live in a nation where when my very dear friend is called a “nigger spic” by her rotten husband’s racist family because she is Cuban, that it is a cause of near unanimous and heartfelt revulsion and incomprehension among 99.9% of this country. And I want to live long enough so that when the next Obama comes along, he is simply “the candidate” and not “the black candidate” any more than Hillary Clinton is “the white candidate”. A man can dream, I suppose.

  • The Unbrainwashed

    someone who seems to genuinely want to inspire and not divide.

    Is that why he stayed in a church for 20 years listening to man who genuinely hates America and believes the “white man” is consciously oppressing blacks? Is that why he considers this man a close spiritual adviser? Because he wants to unite us?

    That closet Muslim should go back to where he came from. (That last line was entirely sarcastic.)

  • http://www.webng.com/poetrybyagirl Lise Yates

    An you wonder why none of you know any Black atheists? This is why I would hesistate to associate with many white atheists. The prejudice obviously doesn’t end when you leave religion.

  • supernoob

    You can play the McCarthy and “red scare” cards all you want, but do you realize how wealthy Cosby and Barkely are? Poverty still plays a huge role in this situation and the fact is that the African-American population has a higher percentage of people in poverty than whites.

    Are you stupid? As somebody who has lived in six major cities in the U.S. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that there’s no “red scare” to be had. If you’re white, just take a walk through the local African American neighborhoods of any major metro area and you will be targeted because your race… but of course it’s not a hate crime because white people don’t count.

    I was born in the early 70′s an am from a poor white working class neighborhood. Somehow in that neighborhood it was not cool to deal drugs on the street corner or to put holes in people with your “9″. I’ve been derailed by affirmative action on at least three occasions (sorry kid, we know you’re poor and fourteen but you’re the wrong color). Thankfully I joined the military and have since prospered as a civilian. The short version: sorry guys, Jim Crow laws weren’t my baby and I’m not paying for the aftermath of them. Deal with it.

    My point: the African American community needs to quit glorifying violence, start valuing hard work, and discard the feelings of entitlement. If they think they’re frustrated and marginalized now, just wait until the Latinos start asserting themselves in earnest. And no, the Latinos do not vote lock step with African Americans.

    The short version: if Hillary gets the nod, I’ll vote for her. Up until about three weeks ago I would have voted for Obama in the general election.. this is no longer the case. If he wins the nomination I’ll vote for McCain (while barfing in my mouth just a little). By not preemptively distancing himself from his racist reverend he torpedoed his chances with many of us in the white male camp. And don’t even get me started on his wife.


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