TURKISH DAILY NEWS
March 20, 2008
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama - stung by
the tempest over incendiary comments by his longtime pastor - took a
risky step into America's black-white racial divide,
acknowledging African-American anger and white resentment in his
most thorough airing of the country's troubled racial
Until Tuesday, Obama, who has a white mother and black African
father, had sought to play down the difficult issue but decided to
reverse course in an apparent bid to recapture momentum in his
campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and to cap the
growing storm over remarks by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Breaking a racial stalemate':
Standing before a row of eight American flags, Obama
acknowledged passions in America's white, black, Asian and Hispanic
communities as he urged the nation to break "a racial
stalemate we've been stuck in for years."' "But the anger is real;
it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without
understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of
misunderstanding that exists between the races," he said.
Obama had been knocked off balance this month with primary
election losses to rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in the key U.S.
states of Texas and Ohio. Those defeats have been compounded in
recent days as highly charged portions of Wright sermons surfaced on
the Internet and found repeated airing on cable television.
Wright blames US
Wright, speaking from the pulpit soon after the Sept. 11, 2001
terrorist attacks, blamed U.S. foreign policy. Further inflaming
some voters were separate Wright comments that God should damn, not
bless, America for its long history of mistreating and
discriminating against African-Americans, the descendants of slaves
brought to the country in its early years.
While Obama rejected what he called "incendiary language" by
Wright and said it presented a "profoundly distorted view" of
America, the candidate refused to disavow the fiery preacher. "I can
no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no
more disown him than I can my white grandmother. These people are a
part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I
love." Obama said Wright's words "rightly offend white and black
alike." But, he said, race "is an issue that I believe this nation
cannot afford to ignore right now."
And in the course of a nearly 5,000-word speech, Obama asserted:
"This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation
has shown that it can always be perfected."
Obama voiced his own frustrations, as well, over public handling
of Wright's sermons. "I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend
Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an
endless loop on the television and YouTube, or if Trinity United
Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some
commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same
way," he said. "But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the
During an ABC television interview broadcast Tuesday night, Obama
said he always expected he would have to give the race speech, but
that he did not anticipate the subject would come up in the way that
it did. "This is a big leap for the country," he said. "Even me
being the nominee is a big leap and then, obviously, actually being
the president is a big leap. ... What I want to do is to make sure
that we understand that my campaign is not premised on making
history, but that, whoever is president, this is always going to be
an ongoing issue that we have to struggle with and that, perhaps, I
can lend some special insight into."