Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Company We Keep

Suppose Senator John McCain were discovered to be a member of, say, Westboro Baptist Church pastored by the infamous Fred Phelps who believes that America's problems are God's judgment on our tolerance of homosexuality. Should McCain's affiliation with that kind of thinking matter to people who are trying decide who is best suited to be our next president? Would the MSM be interested in the story? The answer to both questions is "of course".

Well, we're faced with a somewhat similar situation in this primary season, but it doesn't involve John McCain - it involves Barack Obama. Obama has belonged to a church in Chicago for twenty years the pastor of which, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, can fairly be described as a bigot. Wright has honored the anti-semite Louis Farrakhan with a lifetime achievement award and traveled with him to Libya. He employs in his sermons racially charged rhetoric that is certainly divisive and potentially incendiary. He has said that the United States brought the 9/11 attacks on itself through its own "terrorism," and that "the government gives [blacks] the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' He says we should be singing "God damn America." (No wonder Michelle Obama says the things she does)

If a Republican belonged to such a church and contributed to its "ministry" I'm pretty sure he'd be flayed alive by the media. Nevertheless, MSNBC's Dan Abrams, for example, doesn't think anyone should judge Obama by the church to which he belongs and to which he takes his children.

To get a taste of what Obama listens to whenever he attends Reverend Wright's services go here and ask yourself these questions as you're watching: Aren't churches that engage in political partisanship supposed to lose their tax exempt status? How much of what this man says is factually correct? What if a white preacher were to give a similar sermon but talked about blacks the way Wright talks about whites? Why don't the same standards that apply to white pastors apply to their black counterparts?

Bill O'Reilly had an interesting segment on this topic on his television show:

Obama has said he doesn't agree with his pastor's views, but if so why does he contribute to the church? Why does he take his daughters to hear the man preach? Why has he been a member for twenty years? So many questions. I wonder why Hillary, or her surrogates, aren't asking them.


Damascus Road

Playwright and movie-maker David Mamet has the scales fall from his eyes and consequently finds himself converting from "brain-dead" liberalism to, well, a more mature and thoughtful view. He describes his journey from darkness into light at The Village Voice. Here are a couple of excerpts:

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind. As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the f--- up?" she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been-rather charmingly, I thought-referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."

This is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself disenchanted: that everything is always wrong.

But in my life, a brief review revealed, everything was not always wrong, and neither was nor is always wrong in the community in which I live, or in my country. Further, it was not always wrong in previous communities in which I lived, and among the various and mobile classes of which I was at various times a part.

And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.

I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism.

Mamet has more on his ideological journey at the link.

The observation has been misattributed to Churchill but whoever said it nevertheless hit upon a great truth: a man who's not a liberal at 20 has no heart. If he's still a liberal at 40 he has no head. Not wishing our liberal friends over 40 to despair, we want them to know that, like Mamet, it's better to find one's head late than to never find it at all.

HT:Hot Air


Speech Nazis

Geraldine Ferarro has resigned from Hillary Clinton's campaign because she's been mugged by her fellow Democrats for daring to note the obvious: Barack Obama is where he is in the contest for president largely because of his skin color. Why anyone should think this is offensive, or even mistaken, is beyond me, but even Sean Hannity was saying yesterday afternoon that he thought it was incorrect and insensitive. What's wrong with people?

Obama has made it this far against Senator Clinton largely on the basis of overwhelming black support and the votes of white Democrats eager to vote for a credible black candidate in order to innoculate themselves against any future charge of racism. Does anyone really think that an inexperienced first-term white senator with Obama's same charisma would have attracted so many African-Americans to his side? Does anyone seriously believe that a white male candidate, other things being equal, would have gotten so much support from the MSM against Hillary Clinton?

We are a nation afraid to talk openly about race. We're cowed into refusing to say things that everyone knows to be true but which are guaranteed to gain one the opprobrium of the speech Nazis who preemptively censor all unapproved mention of race. Almost any reference to race in our society - unless accompanied by a truckload of qualifiers, demurrals, and clarifications - risks being interpreted as "racist". This is quite bizarre and a symptom, I think, of some sort of national psychosis. It's certainly not intellectually mature or honest.

Why should people pretend that race hasn't played a critical part in the presidential contest? We're certainly not skittish about observing that gender has been a prominent factor. Blacks are turning out in large numbers and Obama is taking 90% of their votes. That phenomenon has largely propelled him into contention, and to avoid seeing that requires a kind of willful contortionism at which liberals seem to be quite skilled.

Geraldine Ferarro made a perfectly reasonable observation, and she's been forced to resign because what she said offends foolish liberal conventions. We might well ask in what sense are the people who think it racist to mention the advantage Obama's color has conferred upon him "liberal" in any classical sense of the word?