How much of Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s race-based “theology” does Barack Obama really share?
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Ironically, Wright’s Afrocentrism, implicit segregationism, and explicit reverse racism didn’t prevent him from retiring to a $1.6 million home his church built for him in the lily-white Tinley Park neighborhood in 2008. The luxurious four-bedroom house features an elevator, a butler’s pantry, exercise room, four-car garage, master bedroom with a whirlpool, and spare room for a future theater or swimming pool. It abuts the Odyssey Country Club and golf course. (Its mortgage was paid for by the corrupt ShoreBank, with which Wright, along with most of the Chicago black elite, always had a cozy relationship before it went bust in 2010.)
WHERE DID OBAMA FIT in all of this? It seems he too rejected assimilation in favor of Wright’s separate-but-equal-yet-superior status for black Americans. A December 1995 article, “What Makes Obama Run,” by Hank De Zutter in the Chicago Reader, a local black newspaper, suggests as much in its profile of Obama’s first bid for the Illinois Senate. Obama, thanks to Reverend Wright’s Trinity Church, “learned that integration was a one-way street, with blacks expected to assimilate into a white world that never gave ground.” Obama bristled at the “unrealistic politics of integrationist assimilation which helps a few upwardly mobile blacks ‘move up, get rich, and move out.’”
Obama was merely following the teachings of Wright when he railed at Trinity against corporations that, Wright explains in his history of Trinity, “discriminated against women, corporations that discriminated against Blacks and Browns, corporations that supported sweatshops in Third World countries and corporations which stood in direct opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Capitalism was part of what led to slavery, Wright had argued. He often mentioned the black sociologist Chancellor Williams’s jeremiad, The Destruction of Black Civilization, which argues that African civilization was destroyed by the acquisitiveness—the capitalist nature—of white European civilization.
But when Wright became too embarrassing, it was time for Obama to distance himself from him. That was the not so subtle message behind Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech in March 2008 in which he rejected Wright, not because he disagreed with him, but he had to protect himself from the charge that Wright and Trinity disliked white people. “Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect,” Obama improbably claimed. The speech, much celebrated and quickly forgotten, did what it had to do: it derailed the whiteness issue as a campaign issue.
And yet Obama never explicitly rejected the black power, anti-capitalist core of Wright’s teachings. That includes beliefs like Wright’s credo that “White folks’ greed runs the world in need.” For all Obama’s talk, he can’t claim to never have heard Wright say it. Obama titled his second book, The Audacity of Hope, after the very sermon where that line appears. Candidate Obama’s declared intention to “spread the wealth around” echoed what he had absorbed at those Trinity sermons. Now President Obama’s thinking clearly shows the same imprint, as when he preaches that “at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”
“Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., took me on another journey,” Obama once said. He merrily went along, every step of the way.
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H/T to National Review Online