Local Politics

Obama Condemns 'Incendiary' Comments on Race

Posted March 18, 2008

— The day before a visit to North Carolina to talk about ending the war in Iraq, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama spent Tuesday discussing racial politics and condemning comments made by his former pastor.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently retired from the Chicago church Obama attends, has used past sermons to blast President George W. Bush's policies, including the Iraq War, and to criticize racism in the U.S.

Obama on Tuesday labeled some of the comments as "incendiary" and said they were wrong. But he defended his long-time friend and his long-time ministry.

"Rev. Wright's comments were not only wrong, but divisive at a time when we need unity, racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems," Obama said. "I can no more disown him than I can the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother."

Some political observers said the Wright connection could hurt Obama's presidential bid, while others said the way Obama handled the issue Tuesday could boost his campaign.

A year ago, Wright brought his fiery views on race, religion and politics to Raleigh, speaking at a ministry conference organized by Shaw University. He again criticized the Bush administration and took shots at clergy, including the Rev. Billy Graham, who he said don't challenge authority.

"His method is inflammatory, obviously," said J.T. Roberson, dean of Shaw's Divinity School, who has known Wright for nearly 20 years. "I agree wholeheartedly with his cause and the way he lifts up the issues. Jeremiah and I have differed in our methods and our approaches to issues."

Beyond his style, Wright's core concern over years of social and racial injustice is deep-seated in African-American churches, Roberson said. Presidential politics stirred it, but it won't settle it, he said.

"Can this country heal without dealing with this issue?" he asked. "We've got to get past that to find out, what is the pain? What are the covered wounds that need to be healed?"

North Carolina Republican Party Chairwoman Linda Daves called Wright's statements "hate mongering" and said Obama's longtime ties to Wright could derail the Illinois senator's  campaign.

Daves said people should question Obama's stance on issues Wright has addressed. "Do you hate Americans? Do you feel angry and bitter like what we're hearing from your pastor?" she said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • dmpaltman Mar 19, 2008

    Monday's....everybody hates Mondays.

  • unaffiliated Mar 19, 2008

    I found this to be less a condemnation, than an attempt to rationalize some very racially divisive views held not only by Rev. Wright and, undoubtedly his congregation and many others in this country. Racial harmony and "coming together" as one America apparently hasn't been the goal of our more liberal brethren after all.

  • common_sense_plz Mar 19, 2008

    "he wants america to be divided" We already are, and Obama divided it even more yesterday with his speech. After reading his speech on the huffingotn post, so much of what he says, he just flip flops. Being a memeber of his church, he has no other choice but to continue to live by the churches rule that his own kind come first. Obama is free to have who ever he wants as his friends and his pastor, but when you disagree with your pastor and do not like what he say on several different occasions, like Obama says, then typically you chose to leave, and find another church that is not so controversal, especially if you are aspiring to be a politician.

    Show me who your friends are, and I will show you who you are. Obama has friends such as Rezko, William Ayres & Louis Farrahkaan, the last one is Muslim, and is racist, Rezko a slum lord with connections to Al-Queda, and Ayres is a known US terrorist of hte 60's and 70's.

  • enoughsenough Mar 19, 2008

    If you don't like it here, and it is so oppressive and terrible, then get your tail on a plane and go somewhere, nobody is forcing you to stay. We will be better off in your absence.

  • emeraldgirl Mar 19, 2008

    Mungo, women submitting to their husbands may not be hate, but it is certainly disgusting. When an entire gender is expected to do as their told by another gender - and supposedly because of God's will - that is beyond dysfunctional.

    Trivr - I've heard Obama say the pledge and I've heard him sing the national anthem. These rumors about his patriotism and religious beliefs are just another typical smear campaign and unfortunately many Americans just believe whatever they happen to hear along the way. If more citizens would actually take the time to research issues and the supposed facts they hear, we wouldn't be so backwards.

  • Mungo Mar 18, 2008

    To say the Reverend's remarks were "incendiary" is an understatement. I am not Christian, and I find this preacher's remarks, not offensive, but very divisive. It's only fuel to a fire that has been smoldering for the past hundred years.

    And to those who compare his words to those of submission of a wife? Big difference. Huge difference. Submission of the wife has nothing to do with hate. Granted, it's not up to date in todays' society, but again, it is not hate.

  • colliedave Mar 18, 2008

    I wonder how a presidential candidate who is baptist would respond to his/her pastor saying that a woman should subject herself to the will of her husband.

    And the husband MUST be willing to die for his wife. If she needed a heart transplant he must be willing to take a bullet to the brain to give her his. Also, there is submission with the Trinity. I guess you realy don't understand the role of submission.

    Don't think Slick would do this for Hillary nor Barack for Michelle.

  • Trivr Mar 18, 2008

    Barack refuses to say pledge of alegiance. His campaign success causes his wife to be proud of her country for the first time in her life? Now this all makes much more sense. They chose to attend this church and stayed for 20 years.

    He refuses to pledge alegiance to the country he wants to lead? How can anyone still favor this candidacy?

  • cbsconsult Mar 18, 2008

    It is truly amazing to me that a presidential candidate (or anyone else for that matter) is to be held accountable for what their pastor says. I wonder how a presidential candidate who is baptist would respond to his/her pastor saying that a woman should subject herself to the will of her husband. I also wonder how a catholic candidate would respond to the Pope saying that all forms of birth control are immoral. For those of you who attend church regularly - how would you feel if you were held accountable for things your pastor says that may be "offensive" to someone? Last time I read the constitution, I got the distinct impression there is separation of "church" and "state". Oh well - I suppose if you just have to find a reason to bring someone down, just repeat everything their pastor says. For that matter, repeat everything one of their boneheaded friends may have said.

  • justwondering2 Mar 18, 2008

    Obama is a racist and wants America to be divided. He talks a good talk but he clearly don't walk the talk....