Barack Obama

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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby Patricoo » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:38 pm

Ranbir wrote:Inauguration had a lot of (Christian)prayer for the Head of the secular State.


I could have sworn that was the norm. I'm sure if we elected a non-Christian president the results would be different. Well... Obama is a Muslim though... :roll:
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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:45 pm

Patricoo wrote:
Ranbir wrote:Inauguration had a lot of (Christian)prayer for the Head of the secular State.


I could have sworn that was the norm. I'm sure if we elected a non-Christian president the results would be different. Well... Obama is a Muslim though... :roll:


:lol: I've been going to a UCC church all this time, and it had been a mosque all along! Silly, silly me...

Actually, it would be an improvement if we could take out all the pews (which have just the wrong amount of leg-room) and replace them all with rugs and cushions!
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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby Tigger of Kai » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:04 am

Ranbir wrote:Inauguration had a lot of (Christian)prayer for the Head of the secular State.

We're all familiar with the President's fresh, post-secular approach, which consists of some quasi-pastor spouting sinister nonsense while the rest of us gather around and nod piously.

Ably pinch-hitting for You-Know-Who was Reverend Joseph Lowery:

And in the joy of a new beginning, we ask You to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back. When brown can stick around. When yellow will be mellow. When the red man can get ahead, man. And when white will embrace what is right. Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.


And don't talk about mah momma. Amen.
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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:22 pm

Tigger of Kai wrote:We're all familiar with the President's fresh, post-secular approach, which consists of some quasi-pastor


Do your homework.

Wikipedia, Jeremiah Wright wrote:In 1967 Wright enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1968 and a master’s degree in English in 1969. He also earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Wright holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (1990) from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where he studied under Samuel DeWitt Proctor, a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr.


Like it or not, Wright is not a quasi-pastor, he is a pastor.

Tigger of Kai wrote:spouting sinister nonsense while the rest of us gather around and nod piously.


I've come to revise my opinion of Rev. Wright, in light of Ched Myers' excellent book Binding the Strong Man - and of course, in actually watching more complete versions of Rev. Wright's sermons.

He comes out of the school of liberation theology, the idea that God cares especially for and has a particular relationship with the poor, the outcast, the oppressed, the socially marginalised and the victims of imperial violence - what Korean liberation theologians would call minjung, after the Chinese Marxist term for 'the masses' 民众. This theology places high importance upon the Sermon on the Mount (for just one example) and the social strategy of Jesus shown in Mark of nonviolent resistance to imperial power and of 'healing' the social outcasts and the systematically oppressed. As African-Americans were historically (and in some cases still are) minjung, the idea of Trinity UCC as a black church, one that caters to the spiritual needs of an historically marginalised and alienated community, is not racist in the slightest, any more so than a Korean Presbyterian Church, or a Catholic church that does services in Spanish for the Hispanic community.

Jeremiah Wright is neither sinister nor nonsensical, if one understands the tradition he stands in - he merely plays the role of his own namesake. These sermons do not speak out of hatred against America, or hatred against white America in the slightest, no more than the original Jeremiah was speaking out of hatred for Israel. Rather, it was the sense that the United States must be considered in the position of empire that it occupies, and as historically responsible for the sins of empire. Wright asks his own congregation, in the prophetic voice, to engage in self-reflection and appropriate action, rather than misunderstand or understate the historical significance of the imperial legacy of the country of which they find themselves a part. If anything, it ought to be considered a call to the defence of the egalitarian promise of the United States, rather than against it - something to the effect of 'this is what is being done in our name by those elected in our name; are we going to stand for it?'

Tigger of Kai wrote:Ably pinch-hitting for You-Know-Who was Reverend Joseph Lowery


Actually, Reverend Lowery's benediction was perhaps the most impressive and touching moment of the entire ceremony - certainly more so than Reverend Warren's rather pedantic invocation.
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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby lessthanpleased » Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:55 am

The problem with Rev. Wright isn't that people who think he's a crack-pot are somehow missing key pieces of his biography or lack understanding of liberation theology - personally, I don't find Wright's biography all that exculpatory or his theology particularly useful in understanding his views.

The problem with the Wright bashing is that his detractors have a point! He said some pretty awful things that happen to be untrue - that the government was somehow actively responsible for AIDS - in conjunction with things that sound awful but happen to be very true - such as the way race relations in America work - and are thus very, very unpopular.

But you can have a point and still not see the whole picture. I think it's very difficult for non-Americans (or, to put a finer point on it, non-American Southerners or non-black people) to really get why preachers like Wright are popular, important and (like it or not) necessary. Though Wright and someone like Bill Cosby might not seem all that similar, I think the impetus behind what both of them are saying about race in America is really significant - and the case of both Wright and Cosby gives us a great example of how younger black leaders like Obama are attempting to turn the page on Wright and Cosby's ideology.

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a fantastic article called 'This Is How We Lost to the White Man' that addressed the generational attitudes that shaped black men of Wright and Cosby's generation in great detail, located their beliefs in the present day and present American culture, and then explained how Coates hopes to pass on the lessons learned from these black elders (both good and bad) to his own son. One of the best quotes from the piece - and the best short analysis of the kind of thinking that shapes someone like Wright and justifies his world view - was written by Coates about Bill Cosby.

Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote:[T]he liberal notion that blacks are still, after a century of struggle, victims of pervasive discrimination is the ultimate collective buzz-kill. It effectively means that African Americans must, on some level, accept that their children will be “less than” until some point in the future when white racism miraculously abates.


Obviously, that's really depressing. But for men who remember what it was like to have to sit on the back of the bus and kowtow to whites in the South - which still happens on a daily basis in my neck of the woods, despite desegregation - I find it hard to condemn them for believing the above. The grievance narrative is unpalatable, admittedly, but I don't find someone like Wright monstrous or stupid for believing it; I'm just incredibly sad that Americans haven't done all that much to disprove it.*

-neal

* Before people bring up the election of Barack Obama as disproving this, I don't think anyone can look at the election rationally and claim that there wasn't racebaiting. Clinton, Palin and McCain all did that explicitly, and they wouldn't have done it if they didn't believe there was a benefit to so doing. Though electing Obama may have been a healing moment in the end, I'm not sure Obama's success is a vindication of Dr. King's Struggle insofar as it was a case study of progressivism and political organization seizing the moment and selling a great product.

To head off other objections, I'll add the following: affirmative action and social programs didn't so much prove white racism was abating as much as they proved government is anything but race-blind.
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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby James » Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:32 am

Okay... I'm not into bashing Rev. Wright, but please tell me I'm not witnessing an effort to portray him as some kind of respectable or normal person. Far too much has come out in video for us to respect him on that level.

lessthanpleased wrote:* Before people bring up the election of Barack Obama as disproving this, I don't think anyone can look at the election rationally and claim that there wasn't racebaiting. Clinton, Palin and McCain all did that explicitly, and they wouldn't have done it if they didn't believe there was a benefit to so doing. Though electing Obama may have been a healing moment in the end, I'm not sure Obama's success is a vindication of Dr. King's Struggle insofar as it was a case study of progressivism and political organization seizing the moment and selling a great product.

Sorry bud, I think that's BS at this point in history. There are people who are still living in a past age where racism was a huge brick wall for the African American people, but that's no longer the case. There are people today who are still racist, but you know what? I wouldn't be surprised if there are just about as many racist black people today as there are white people, and before anybody says it, no, it is not justified for either party. As for debasing the Barack Obama's election to presidency to make your point, that too is nonsense. That America voted him in with such overwhelming fervor is a good argument against the prominence of racism, not for it.

If anything, I would even suggest that African Americans enjoy greater relative* opportunity in America than whites do. The government even protects and nurtures this opportunity in many cases. Why the asterisk? I'm talking about relative opportunity. Unfortunately some cities and neighborhoods consist of large run-down uneducated crime-riddled African American populations (think New Orleans). A person with no education, a criminal background, or poor English is not going to enjoy the same opportunities as a person without those negative traits. The same goes for a white backwater redneck who can't carry himself properly in any type of social interaction. This is something that will have to resolve itself in time through an active desire to change within the given community.

Anybody who preaches even today, on any level, that something is holding the black man back is only doing damage to the African American community. If African American community leaders want to motivate these downtrodden communities to improve themselves they need to start preaching for them to improve the standards of their communities themselves.
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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:10 pm

James wrote:Okay... I'm not into bashing Rev. Wright, but please tell me I'm not witnessing an effort to portray him as some kind of respectable or normal person. Far too much has come out in video for us to respect him on that level.


That really depends. Would you consider Reverend Warren respectable or normal? Warren has been caught saying some fairly stupid things on tape as well, and I've heard the opinion from my parents' pastor that Warren is Wright's counterpart on the right - both have been influenced heavily by Barth (though in this day and age, saying a theologian has been influenced by Barth is kind of like saying a sociologist has been influenced by Hegel), both are sola scriptura Calvinists, both have a fairly narrow Christology and both have a definite socio-political axe to grind which they wield through that narrow Christology.

James wrote:There are people who are still living in a past age where racism was a huge brick wall for the African American people, but that's no longer the case.


James, I must admit to being slightly surprised at this. That 'past age' you cite, where there was a real, legal brick wall prohibiting progress for African Americans, was a mere 40 to 45 years ago - neither of us was alive back then, but our parents lived through that time, as did our grandparents. It was never as though Lyndon Johnson waved his pen and that brick wall magically disappeared - we had to undergo the long process of dismantling it brick by brick. And, like it or not, our society is still being shaped in real, demonstrable ways by this portion of its history; I'd say that even though the wall is no longer that visible, material presence it once was, we still have pieces of that wall to knock down.

James wrote:If anything, I would even suggest that African Americans enjoy greater relative* opportunity in America than whites do. The government even protects and nurtures this opportunity in many cases.


I'd even dispute the relative part. I'm not sure race per se has much to do with disparity in economic opportunities, at least on the face of it. I work in a school which is fairly heavily black - maybe 30% - and many of them have all of the same kind of problems that their white counterparts have who live in broken homes or in state care, who are sometimes told by some administrators and teachers either explicitly or implicitly that they are not 'college material', who generally get fewer shots at SAT prep and AP material than their wealthier classmates do. But in all honesty, many of the people in the administration who are working to change that (and people in parallel volunteer programmes such as yours truly) are as willing to bend over backwards to help a white student as an Hispanic student as a black student as a Portuguese student, male or female.

To be honest, I agree with much of what you say after this, that it is really socio-economic status and family condition which are the primary limitations on a person's relative opportunities. But I think the relative opportunities (defined in concrete, quantifiable terms such as monthly earned income) for a white person of LI1G* background are about the same as for a black person of LI1G background. That said, I have heard my colleagues in other schools in Rhode Island - notably Woonsocket, but also Providence - complain that black and Hispanic students often have to jump through more administrative hoops, and work harder to get the same help that their white counterparts will get gratis, so I definitely wouldn't say that racism isn't a problem anymore.

(* low-income first-generation college-bound)

James wrote:Anybody who preaches even today, on any level, that something is holding the black man back is only doing damage to the African American community. If African American community leaders want to motivate these downtrodden communities to improve themselves they need to start preaching for them to improve the standards of their communities themselves.


I don't think, after having watched Wright's sermons in their entirety, that this is his primary message, or anything close to it. Here is an excerpt from one of Wright's sermons, from almost exactly one year ago (27-01-2008):

Reverend Wright wrote:Now some of you all don't like talking your neighbor. You feel uncomfortable in this world which idolizes isolation, anonymity, and so-called socially constructed privacy. You don't want to say something to your neighbor and you looked funny when I saw some of you didn't even look that way. If talking to a stranger makes you uncomfortable, throw your head back and say: My behavior has consequences. [Echo] Our choices have consequences, and our behavior has consequences.

I've told you for over three decades now: God will forgive you for sowing wild oats. But God's forgiveness don't stop the crop. Them oats you sowed will bring a crop. You will reap what you [audience chimes in] sow.

But stop calling your crops your cross. [mocking] "Well... that child is just my cross." No, that child is your crop. A cross is a sacrificial vehicle of redemption that you voluntarily pick up; a crop is the result of something you sowed. Our choices have consequences, our behaviors have consequences. The people of God chose not to obey God and they brought on themselves a punishment of 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. For 40 years, they had to live in booths, and after 40 years, when Joshua led them across the Jordan and into the land that God promised Abraham hundreds of years before they were born.

From Joshua's time until Jesus' time, every year they celebrated the festival of the booths to remind themselves and to teach their children about the punishment they brought on themselves, the penalty they paid for the choices they made, and the presence of God every day they wandered in the wilderness. The festival of the booths reminded them of the punishment-say, "Punishment" [Echo]. The penalty-say, "Penalty" [Echo]. And the presence-say, "Presence [Echo]. Thank God for God's presence.


Though the theology is still wielded like a blunt instrument, this doesn't sound to me like a preacher exploiting a cult of victimhood in his congregation, and I think it is wrong, given the context, to interpret even the sound-bites from his other sermons that way. The theme that he likes to pound, good Barthian that he is, is self-reflection rather than precipitate reaction - and, give him his due, at least he is consistent in this. It would be interesting, actually, to hear what the members of Trinity UCC have to say about how Wright has served them as minister.
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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby Patricoo » Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:35 am

Just one side comment, rather then get mixed up in this mess.

WeiWenDi wrote:James, I must admit to being slightly surprised at this. That 'past age' you cite, where there was a real, legal brick wall prohibiting progress for African Americans, was a mere 40 to 45 years ago - neither of us was alive back then, but our parents lived through that time, as did our grandparents. It was never as though Lyndon Johnson waved his pen and that brick wall magically disappeared - we had to undergo the long process of dismantling it brick by brick. And, like it or not, our society is still being shaped in real, demonstrable ways by this portion of its history; I'd say that even though the wall is no longer that visible, material presence it once was, we still have pieces of that wall to knock down.


I would assume that continuing to acknowledge the presence of this metaphorical wall keeps it alive. While normally I wouldn't advocate "blind denial", but in this case I would actually say if people acknowledged Obama's election as a grand end to "racism being a problem", then pointing out "racism is still a problem" is really nothing but an annoying moot point.

Heck... if a black man with a single mother who did drugs in college can become president, then really... a black person can do anything, logically? (Moderately wealthy grandparents help... but hey... thats politics right?) If the remnants are a few administrative hoops here and there... the descriptions of which are vague and seemingly opinionated, then I'm not exactly sympathetic to the "it's a problem" argument.
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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:28 pm

Patricoo wrote:If the remnants are a few administrative hoops here and there... the descriptions of which are vague and seemingly opinionated, then I'm not exactly sympathetic to the "it's a problem" argument.


The only reason I kept it vague was because explaining it would require going in-depth into the procedures for applying to a state school in Rhode Island. If I had did this, your complaint would have likely been 'tl;dr'. Suffice it to say that LI1G students can qualify for an alternative admissions programme at each of the state-funded four-year colleges (URI and RIC) which provide hefty scholarships and academic / social support throughout four years of college, but applying for this requires permission from their high school guidance counsellors, in the form of a code one can type into the online form. The high school guidance counsellors at W---- High School, according to my colleague, often demand that black and Hispanic students write five-page essays before they will give out this application code, whereas they will give it to white students with the same GPA / class rank / SAT score without asking for such.

Yeah, it's parochial, and yeah it's fairly low-level. But given that students of colour are doing more work for the same opportunities, it is still objectively a problem (albeit one which demands a parochial and low-level, rather than a systemic solution).
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Re: Barack Obama

Unread postby Patricoo » Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:19 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:The only reason I kept it vague was because explaining it would require going in-depth into the procedures for applying to a state school in Rhode Island. If I had did this, your complaint would have likely been 'tl;dr'. Suffice it to say that LI1G students can qualify for an alternative admissions programme at each of the state-funded four-year colleges (URI and RIC) which provide hefty scholarships and academic / social support throughout four years of college, but applying for this requires permission from their high school guidance counsellors, in the form of a code one can type into the online form. The high school guidance counsellors at W---- High School, according to my colleague, often demand that black and Hispanic students write five-page essays before they will give out this application code, whereas they will give it to white students with the same GPA / class rank / SAT score without asking for such.


Okay well thats definitely a legitimate situation. Unfortunately you have to be specific up to the point where the problem doesn't sound subjective. Like saying it's easier for whites to get in then blacks at a particular college for no reason aside from 'them admissions people be racists!' fails to suffice sometimes. :P
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