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Friday, March 21, 2008
posted by Kyle Hampton | 10:22 AM | permalink
E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post starts off his column by asking the wrong question:
Let's ask the hard question about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright: Is he as far outside the African American mainstream as many of us would like to think?
Dionne answers his question:
I cite King not to justify Wright's damnation of America or his lunatic and pernicious theories but to suggest that Obama's pastor and his church are not as far outside the African American mainstream as many would suggest.
I don't doubt that Dionne is correct in his assessment that Wright is not far out of the mainstream of African-American thought. Many black leaders and pastors have essentially shrugged their shoulders at Wright's statements. Those calling Wright's statements fanatical are the usual names: Sowell, Steele, Blackwell, etc.

It is not Dionne's assessment of the African-American mainstream that I question, but why that is relevant. If Obama was seeking to replace Sharpton or Jackson as leader of the African-American community, there would be little reason to object to Wright's statements or Obama's association with Wright. Certainly Sharpton and Jackson regularly espouse similar views.

Yet, Obama is not seeking to be leader of the black community. Obama is seeking to be the elected leader of ALL Americans. Thus, it is insufficient to be in the mainstream of African-Americans if that falls outside the American mainstream. It is insufficient for Obama to be in the mainstream of ANY sub-group of Americans if that is not within the larger mainstream of all Americans. Dionne's sleight of hand tries to legitimize Wright's anti-Americanism by placing it in the mainstream of the black community. However, that skirts the issue of whether Wright's statements fall within the American mainstream. Dionne's failure to ask the correct question betrays its answer, which undoubtedly is no.

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