I suspect that many whites are unaware of the social dynamics of certain black churches. Their members are devout Christians, but they suffer the inevitable routine indignities of being black citizens of an overwhelmingly white republic, and their churches are among the few places where the resulting frustrations can be expressed collectively and relatively safely. Every now and then, some black pastor (and some far more than others) will give voice to a bellow of pain that serves as a useful catharsis for such sentiments.
That is what I think happened -- perhaps quite frequently, over the 20 years in which Obama listened to Wright's sermons. And Obama, who became a public figure of note only in recent years, sat quietly through these fulminations rather than tackling his pastor about them head-on. If he had done otherwise, he would swiftly have forfeited whatever leadership role he hoped to play among his fellow blacks.
That, I think, is the only reasonable explanation of the rather muddled situation in which Obama now finds himself. It doesn't cast him in a particularly courageous light. But if he was guilty of moral cowardice, whether that fact disqualifies him for the presidency is a question every voter will have to answer for himself or herself.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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