Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama defended the anger of his longtime friend, “spiritual guide” and controversial pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright in a major speech on race and religion Tuesday.
Obama said in his prepared remarks that he agrees with the feelings of anger in the black community as embodied by Wright in some of his sermons.
In his speech, Obama said, “anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning... but the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”
In the last week, video clips have surfaced of Wright blaming the U.S. government for AIDS and 9/11 as well as invoking racial slurs while discussing Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in the pulpit.
In the clips, Wright repeatedly blames “the culture of rich, white men” for the modern day problems of blacks in America
“As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me,” said Obama.
“I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community,” the Illinois senator emphasized.
Anger was a dominant theme in Obama's speech. He said the word 10 times in his 30-minute speech.
The kind of political anger expressed by Wright isn't exclusive to the black community Obama said. He noted, "welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition" and that "talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism."
Although Obama largely defended Wright and his church, Obama did reiterate his condemnation of Wright’s anti-American statements Wright made in some of his sermons, replayed by many news outlets.
“Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course,” Obama said. “Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”
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