For someone whose campaign supposedly brought with it the promise of racial healing, Barack Obama has so far done little to effect any meaningful interracial understanding. His press conference yesterday, announcing his departure from Trinity United Church of Christ, is just the most recent indication that Obama’s status as a “great hope” for racial healing has been considerably overrated.
Neither explanation for some of his remarks yesterday is likely to burnish Obama’s credentials as a racial reconciliator. Either Barack Obama doesn’t understand what the Wright controversy was really about – or he understands all too well, and has decided that exacerbating racial tensions is preferable to voters believing he was a little too comfortable for two decades at a church where nasty racialist rhetoric emanated regularly from the pulpit.
After offering his statement about leaving Trinity, Obama engaged in the following exchange with a reporter:
Q: Senator Obama, do you think that it will be possible for you to join another black church or historically black church, or do you think that as a matter of sort of – do you think that political correctness is going to be an issue in this election and that’ll be a factor in the racial mix of the church that you join?
A: You know, it’s an interesting question. I mean, I do think that – and I said this earlier, that there is – there is a different religious tradition or a worshipping style in some of the historically African American churches and other churches. But you know, I’m confident that we’re going to be able to find a church that we feel comfortable with and that will reflect our concerns and our values. But I do think that there is – you know, there is a cultural and stylistic gap that has come into play in this issue.
Remarkably, his comments seem to attribute the brouhaha over his attendance at Trinity to the “stylistic and cultural gap” between black churches and the wider culture. What he means by this isn’t clear, but there only two logical conclusions one can draw from the remarks, and both are disturbing: Either Obama thinks that anyone who objected to his attendance at Trinity was a racist – or that his fellow congregants at Trinity (and members of other black churches) are.