Hear the message, don’t bash the messenger

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Suddenly, a politician is being confronted about his religious affiliation and held to account for what his pastor said. It’s convenient hypocrisy and exposes racism, that Barak Obama is being bashed for Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s sound-bite comments. For over 30 years, the Religious Right–and many of the Republicans they support–have spewed a vast array of vile comments supporting murder of Gay people, second-class status for women and nuclear war on Muslim countries. Yet, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell and Christian Coalition hate-mongers are regular guests on the very same media condemning Obama and his pastor.

Read full text of Obama speech.

Opinion: Hear the message, don’t bash the messenger

br>The STYLE of Rev. Wright’s comments would understandably be a culture shock to most white people. However, anyone informed about U.S. history and foreign policy would recognize that the SUBSTANCE of most of Wright’s comments is true.

America was established and made wealthy with genocide of American Indians and enslavement of African people from 1620 through the late 19th century–with perfectly LEGAL discrimination continuing through the late 1960s. Black voting rights only became real in 1965–and since 2000, those rights have been under attack. It may be more comfortable for many white Americans to believe a mythology that’s discredited by facts, but people of color don’t have that luxury.

Barack Obama’s speech on race was too diplomatic for some people, but, it’s the most honest speech about race I’ve hard an elected official give in my lifetime. Obama quietly spoke of the scars, stereotypes and mutual resentments that undermine our diverse society. Sadly, some of the loudest white people now bash Obama for talking about race at all.

But, as my fellow Texan, TV psychologist Dr. Phil says, “You can’t solve a problem you don’t acknowledge exists.” I witnessed 30 years of Texas-style racism and I’ve seen Minnesota Nice racism for another twenty–they’re two-sides of the same affliction.

Obama pointed to the only real path of racial reconciliation: breaking the statement we’ve been locked in since the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968–which means, breaking the silence about racism.

Divide and conquer works very well for the elites running our economy into the ground while promising us only endless war–war that ordinary people are expected to bleed for while those elites profit. Racism has long been a major tool of that divide and conquer strategy. Once it used “Whites Only” signs and lynchings by the Klan; now it’s targeting sub-prime loans to people of color, badly funded schools and police brutality with impunity–while re-directing white working-class anger into racism, rather than the corporate elites destroying their livelihood.

Barack Obama’s campaign and with his speech, is calling us us to finally face the racial divide. This is the ONLY way to build the new coalitions we desperately need to solve the problems we ALL face: education, health care, jobs, home-ownership–and perhaps, our biggest crisis: global warming and our democracy hijacked by corporations and wealthy elites. Media hacks and hypocrites are trying to shout down the messenger. But, I say, it’s overdue we listen with open minds and open hearts to Obama’s message and start conversing across the color-line. That holds the only real hope I’ve ever believed in–that if, we really know each other Americans can make our stated ideals reality for all.

Lydia Howell is a Minneapolis, Minnesota journalist, writing for various independent newspapers and on-line journals, winner of the 2007 Supremacy Award for Public Interest Journalism. She also produces/hosts CATALYST:politics & culture on KFAI Radio, http:www.kfai.org.

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