Obama has made a big deal over the years out of his being a churchgoer rather than the ultra-educated agnostic he looks like -- it's crucial to his viability as a candidate for President. But that naturally raises questions about what kind of church he picked out for himself 21 years ago.
After all, an enormous amount of talk has been devoted to, say, Mitt Romney and his church, even though Romney was born into being a Mormon. In contrast, Obama knew dozens of Chicago pastors through his ethnic organizing job, but, when he figured out that he had to belong to a church to have an effective political future on the South Side, he shopped around and chose Rev. Wright's church.
It's not exactly a secret that Obama's Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. is a radical leftist black racialist. After all, Rev. Wright went with Louis Farrakhan to Libya to meet Col. Gadaffi in 1984, and just last November Wright gave his Lifetime Achievement award to Farrakhan at a big gala at the Chicago Hyatt Regency.
Wright calls his stance "black liberation theology" and relates it to Nicaraguan Marxist liberation theology. But I doubt if 2% of the voters know that. The media haven't been in any hurry to alert the voters, perhaps because Obama's supporters have tried to brand the Scarlet R on anyone who mentions anything about Obama other than that he will bring us together to bring about change. (Just as there has been more coverage of Romney's great-grandfather's polygamy than of Obama's father's polygamy, even though Obama has emphasized his family background so heavily to get nice white people to make nice assumptions about how nice it must have been for Obama to come from a nice mixed race home, even though, in fact, his parents' bigamous marriage was a short-lived disaster that traumatized him psychologically for decades.)
Furthermore, reading Obama's account in his autobiography (for an overall analysis of Obama's 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, see my American Conservative article "Obama's Identity Crisis"), it's evident that Obama's concern was not whether Wright was, say, the far left blowhard that he appears to be, but whether Wright's church was leftist enough for Obama. Or was it too bourgeois for Obama? (Not that the preppie from paradise has a non-bourgeois bone in his body, but he was against the bourgeoisie in theory.)
Obama's early relationship with Wright is the main theme of pages 274-295 of Obama's memoirs. Obama recounts his first encounter with Wright's Trinity Church's "Black Value System:"
"A sensible, heartfelt list ... There was one particular passage in Trinity's brochure that stood out, though, a commandment more self-conscious in its tone, requiring greater elaboration. 'A Disavowal of the Pursuit of Middleclassness,' the heading read. 'While it is permissible to chase 'middleincomeness' will all our might,' the text stated, those blessed with the talent or good fortunes to achieve success in the American mainstream must avoid the 'psychological entrapment of Black "middleclassness" that hypnotizes the successful brother or sister into believing they are better than the rest and teaches them to think in terms of "we" and "they" instead of "US."'"
"My thoughts would often return to that declaration in the weeks that followed ..."
When the Ivy Leaguer meets Wright, he interrogates Wright about whether his church isn't secretly too middle class for him:
In other words, Obama is wondering, in effect, whether Wright can help him reconcile his black racialism with his vaguely Marxist class-strife ideology. See, the "problem," as Obama saw it in 1987 (and in 1995 when he wrote his autobiography) is that some blacks are getting ahead in the America, which lessens racial solidarity among blacks, and raises contradictions between racialism and socialism, both of which the young Obama wants to believe in. Fortunately, Wright's powerful sermon "The Audacity of Hope" --
"'Some people say,' I interrupted, 'that the church is too upwardly mobile.'
"The reverend's smile faded. 'That's a lot of bull,' he said sharply...
"Still, I couldn't help wondering ... Would the interest in maintaining such unity [between the black classes] allow Reverend Wright to take a forceful stand on the latest proposals to reform public housing. And if men like Reverend Wright failed to take a stand, if churches like Trinity refused to engage with real power and risk genuine conflict, then what chance would there be of holding the larger community intact."
"It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks' greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere ...-- overcomes Obama's doubts about covert middleclassness and he is accepted into the bosom of this authentically anti-middleclassness racialist church.
Now, it's possible that if anybody were to ask Obama about all this, he might say,
"Yeah, I was young and stupid back then, and maybe not quite right in the head. These days, I'm not into black racialism and anti-middleclassness. After black voters broke my heart by rejecting me in 2000, I came to accept that I'm half white and all middle class. And I'm not lonely anymore, so I'm not so hung up on why Daddy and Mommy didn't want to be around me, which means I'm no longer such a sucker for father figures like Rev. Wright.Or, then again, maybe not.
I just stick with his church because, while it's embarrassing to be associated with it, it would be politically even more embarrassing to leave it. I just hope it all blows over. But if that bastard keeps trying to stab me in the back for dumping him from speaking at my Springfield kickoff rally by giving the "Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award" to maniacs like Farrakhan -- Who's he going to give the next one to? The Beltway Snipers? -- I will have to do a Sister Souljah on his ass."
But, the crucial point is, nobody has dared press Obama on it. Because, as everybody knows, wanting to understand the man who would be President would be racist. We must just take his faith on faith.