1995 Barack Obama: Mean, Cruel Times, Christian Right - Narrow Minded
As reported by NewsBusters earlier, Michelle Obama debased America by characterizing it as a mean nation of "cynics, sloths, and complacents". Although this sort of talk is becoming a theme for Michelle-O she wasn't the first Obama to call America mean. A similar sentiment was echoed by Barack Obama in 1995 as he tried to rally the African-American vote for his Senate run after the Million Man March.
"This doesn't suggest that the need to look inward emphasized by the march isn't important, and that these African-American tribal affinities aren't legitimate. These are mean, cruel times, exemplified by a 'lock 'em up, take no prisoners' mentality that dominates the Republican-led Congress. Historically, African-Americans have turned inward and towards black nationalism whenever they have a sense, as we do now, that the mainstream has rebuffed us, and that white Americans couldn't care less about the profound problems African-Americans are facing."
"But cursing out white folks is not going to get the job done. Anti-Semitic and anti-Asian statements are not going to lift us up. We've got some hard nuts-and-bolts organizing and planning to do. We've got communities to build." (t.t. - all emphasis mine)
In 1995 when Barack Obama was running for his first Senate seat in Illinois he was profiled by Chicago Reader reporter Hank De Zutter. The article was resurrected by the Reader sometime in January of this year and has shown up sparingly in the national media; typically in the form of small excerpts that are meant to demonstrate that Barack Obama is a grass roots "organizer, teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them".
Normally such examples of Mr. Obama's thought provoking organizational prowess would receive glowing coverage. After reading the comments made by Barack Obama in the Zutter article I understand why the Obama friendly press has taken a pass on disseminating this particular article to a wider audience. Rather than paint Barack Obama as the nation's next unifier in the mold of John F. Kennedy we get a snapshot into the mind of a man who solicited the support of Chicago's African-American community by making some comments that could be construed as disparaging by whites, the Christian right and of course republicans.
For instance, Barack Obama spells out how Americans can rebuild communities by leveraging a moral agenda that is tied to concrete community-building efforts.
"What we need in America, especially in the African-American community, is a moral agenda that is tied to a concrete agenda for building and rebuilding our communities," he said.
This is a great sentiment, one that is often advocated by the conservative right and chastised by those who have an irrational fear of being subjected to the moral beliefs held by people of faith.
A strong moral agenda is the basis for lasting communities. When properly nurtured it becomes the glue that holds society together. A bond that may be used as a ruler by which elected officials are judged and held accountable. Barack Obama recognized this when he used that message to campaign for votes back in 1995. The only problem was that Barack Obama's message came at the expense of the Christian right in a statement that appears intended to stir the emotions of intolerant voters on the left.
We would come together to form concrete economic development strategies, take advantage of existing laws and structures, and create bridges and bonds within all sectors of the community. We must form grass-root structures that would hold me and other elected officials more accountable for their actions.
"The right wing, the Christian right, has done a good job of building these organizations of accountability, much better than the left or progressive forces have. But it's always easier to organize around intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and false nostalgia. And they also have hijacked the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility.
Hijacked the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility? Organizing around intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and false nostalgia? I didn't know that Barack Obama felt this way about me. Perhaps that's because the Obama campaign has been using a willing American press to tell a different story, one where Barack Obama is embracing the Christian right; especially Catholics.
There is plenty that a responsible press could discuss about Barack Obama based on his comments mentioned above. For instance they could demonstrate that Barack Obama is playing both sides of the coin, in one breath implying that the religious right is intolerant and in another pretending that it is others who are making those claims, but not him. (Double Talk Express?)
At worst, some liberals dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word “Christian". (src. - 2006, Chicago Sun Times)
Similarly the mainstream media could go out looking for people on the "Christian right", i.e. anyone that is religious but not towing the liberal line, to comment on Barack Obama's claims of their intolerance. But who are we kidding? The press has no need for the views of that crowd. They would much rather find comments from republican Catholics that support Barack Obama than discuss the views of those that disagree with him. This way they can tell me how I should think instead of discussing what I actually think or why I actually think it.
The quotes I mentioned above are just a small glimpse of words that would be hung around any republican's neck had they been spoken about any group deemed "special" or "victimized" by the American left. In that case you can bet your bottom dollar that there would be more than the 146 google hits that appeared on the Zutter article at the time of this writing. Don't believe me? Just ask former Senator George Allen.
Who would have figured that the mainstream media, outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, could dig up all sort of writings, rumor and innuendo critical of John McCain yet these same reporters don't have the skills to look up the statements from the old days of Barack Obama? Especially considering that the Zutter article is referenced in Wikipedia, the Washington Post and even Barack Obama's own web site!
In today's world this sort of lazy bumper sticker style reporting is passed off as professional journalism. But I have a different phrase for it, I call it the audacity of propaganda.
Terry Trippany is the editor and publisher at Webloggin.