Then we remember that advancing lies and conspiracy theories that pit black against white is not, in fact, defensible. And that what many find offensive in Wright's statements is not comparable to the minor differences they likely have with their own pastors and rabbis.
The question still remains: Why did Obama, future author of racial harmony, stay with a preacher whose black nationalist leanings were no secret?
Obama said he could no more denounce Wright, who is "like family," than he could denounce the black community -- or his white grandmother. Instead, he praised Wright's larger presence and purpose in the black community as outweighing the YouTube replays of a profane man on the verge of paranoiac hysteria.
Moreover, the minister whom Obama first got to know 20 years ago spoke of "our obligations to love one another." But given Wright's racist eruptions, white Americans are justified in wondering whether those charitable thoughts also apply to them.
Finally, Obama suggested that if Wright is occasionally angry, he has a right to be, as does the community he serves. And if white Americans are startled to witness that anger, they haven't been paying attention.
That was a risky message, but one that counted on a reliable well of white guilt. Then Obama took another pre-emptive gamble and implored Americans to look at Wright's anger, rather than avert their gaze, and to embrace that anger as a prompt to change.
In other words, he artfully shifted focus from his still-perplexing relationship with Wright to our own dark hearts. The choice is ours, he said:
We can focus on one ol' crazy uncle who sometimes gets a little carried away -- and in so doing, destroy the audacity of hope. Or, we can keep our nation's date with destiny, fulfill the dream imagined 221 years ago to form a more perfect union.
And elect Barack Obama.
Anyone who fails to embrace the only appealing option -- eschewing cheap spectacle for a dance with destiny to the tune of hope -- begins to feel a little woozy and, oddly, un-American.
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