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Destiny's Child: The Radical Roots of Barack Obama

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carpe diem Donating Member (769 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-14-07 10:47 PM
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Destiny's Child: The Radical Roots of Barack Obama
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/13390609/cam...

(excerpt)

The Trinity United Church of Christ, the church that Barack Obama attends in Chicago, is at once vast and unprepossessing, a big structure a couple of blocks from the projects, in the long open sore of a ghetto on the city's far South Side. The church is a leftover vision from the Sixties of what a black nationalist future might look like. There's the testifying fervor of the black church, the Afrocentric Bible readings, even the odd dashiki. And there is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a sprawling, profane bear of a preacher, a kind of black ministerial institution, with his own radio shows and guest preaching gigs across the country. Wright takes the pulpit here one Sunday and solemnly, sonorously declares that he will recite ten essential facts about the United States. "Fact number one: We've got more black men in prison than there are in college," he intones. "Fact number two: Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!" There is thumping applause; Wright has a cadence and power that make Obama sound like John Kerry. Now the reverend begins to preach. "We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional KILLERS. . . . We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. . . . We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. . . . We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means!" The crowd whoops and amens as Wright builds to his climax: "And. And. And! GAWD! Has GOT! To be SICK! OF THIS SHIT!"

This is as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr. Wright is not an incidental figure in Obama's life, or his politics. The senator "affirmed" his Christian faith in this church; he uses Wright as a "sounding board" to "make sure I'm not losing myself in the hype and hoopla." Both the title of Obama's second book, The Audacity of Hope, and the theme for his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 come from Wright's sermons. "If you want to understand where Barack gets his feeling and rhetoric from," says the Rev. Jim Wallis, a leader of the religious left, "just look at Jeremiah Wright."

Obama wasn't born into Wright's world. His parents were atheists, an African bureaucrat and a white grad student, Jerry Falwell's nightmare vision of secular liberals come to life. Obama could have picked any church -- the spare, spiritual places in Hyde Park, the awesome pomp and procession of the cathedrals downtown. He could have picked a mosque, for that matter, or even a synagogue. Obama chose Trinity United. He picked Jeremiah Wright. Obama writes in his autobiography that on the day he chose this church, he felt the spirit of black memory and history moving through Wright, and "felt for the first time how that spirit carried within it, nascent, incomplete, the possibility of moving beyond our narrow dreams."

Obama has now spent two years in the Senate and written two books about himself, both remarkably frank: There is a desire to own his story, to be both his own Boswell and his own investigative reporter. When you read his autobiography, the surprising thing -- for such a measured politician -- is the depth of radical feeling that seeps through, the amount of Jeremiah Wright that's packed in there. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising. Obama's life story is a splicing of two different roles, and two different ways of thinking about America's. One is that of the consummate insider, someone who has been raised believing that he will help to lead America, who believes in this country's capacity for acts of outstanding virtue. The other is that of a black man who feels very deeply that this country's exercise of its great inherited wealth and power has been grossly unjust. This tension runs through his life; Obama is at once an insider and an outsider, a bomb thrower and the class president. "I'm somebody who believes in this country and its institutions," he tells me. "But I often think they're broken."
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Miss Chybil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-14-07 10:52 PM
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1. "I'm somebody who believes in this country and its institutions," he tells me. "But I often think
-they're broken."

Amen.
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Hekate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-14-07 10:54 PM
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2. Very, very interesting. I want to know more about what Rev. Jim Wallis thinks of Obama...
...and I want to finish reading Obama's two books.

The quote from Rev. Wright seems to be pretty factual, though the MSM and a lot of other people don't want to look at our history this way.

Barack Obama is a deep and complex man.

Hekate

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illinoisprogressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-14-07 10:57 PM
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3. One of the best articles written on Obama
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Dean Martin Donating Member (426 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-15-07 12:15 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. There was nothing that preacher said that wasn't true
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Hekate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-15-07 01:43 AM
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5. I may have a chance to see Obama in Los Angeles next week...
Edited on Thu Feb-15-07 01:44 AM by Hekate
...A progressive activist friend of mine was a seminar student of his when she was in law school. She'll be driving out to hear him speak and has let it be known there may be a few extra seats in her car. I hope I can get in on this -- I'm unlikely to drive a hundred miles by myself.

Hekate

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