The Rules: Coda

Well, we all knew this was coming the moment Rev. Wright dropped the state terrorism bomb and dared to say something positive about Farrakhan [insert sputtering, self-righteous indignation here].

Ben Smith:

In Winston-Salem, Obama sharply attacks Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the substance of his remarks yesterday, a far sharper disavowal than he gave in Philadelphia last month.

The core of his message: That Wright was not only offensive, but the polar opposite of Obama’s own views and politics.

“I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That’s in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That’s who I am, that’s what I believe, and that’s what this campaign has been about,” Obama said.

“I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday,” he said.

Yep, that muted rumble you heard several hours ago was the sound of 50 million anxious (white) Obama supporters collectively exhaling. (Am I the only one who is sick to fucking death of how wankerrific Bell Curve-cheerleader Andrew Sullivan constantly offers unsolicited advice on race relations to the junior Senator from Illinois? Hey, get back to us when you’ve finally decided to denounce and reject Eugenics, Sully.)

John Cole nails it:

So Jeremiah Wright has acted like a jackass the past few days, and he may have acted supremely selfishly by hurting Obama’s electoral chances. Regardless, he may be a flawed man, but that does not undo all the good he has done over the years. I don’t know of any bloggers with thirty years of service to the poor and the indigent. Get back to me when Chris Matthews feeds hungry people for three decades. And even with all his flaws, Jeremiah Wright did give us this quality bit of entertainment, and I have to admit to enjoying someone treat the media with the respect they deserve (which is to be mocked, have eyes rolled at them, and taunted as Wright did yesterday at the Press Club).

Maybe it is because I am totally and unrepentantly in the tank for Obama, but I just can’t get worked up over what his pastor said. Maybe it is because I am not religious, and I am used to religious people saying things that sound crazy. Or maybe I just refuse to spend any more time and energy getting worked up over and denouncing, distancing, and rejecting the wrong people- people who really don’t matter in the big scheme of things. If you have a memo from Jeremiah Wright to John Yoo showing how we should become a rogue nation, let me know. If you have pictures of Jeremiah Wright voting against the GI Bill, send it to me. If you have evidence of Jeremiah Wright training junior soldiers on the finer aspects of stacking and torturing naked Iraqi captives, pass them on.

Until then, I just can’t seem to get all worked up about the crazy scary black preacher that Obama has to “throw under the bus.”

Once again, say it loud and proud, brethren: it’s only worthy of great weeping and gnashing of teeth if a Scary Black Man™ says it. At this point, one has to wonder if John Sidney McCain couldn’t brazenly pull a Zirkle and still walk away with his straight-talking Maverick credentials fully intact.

Sweet Jesus, I hate this election (and all God’s children said “a-fucking-men”).

25 Responses to “The Rules: Coda”

  1. gcotharn says:

    Juan Cole can’t get worked up b/c he doesn’t understand how religious people believe and think.

    The true issue: who is Obama? He’s really too far left to be elected in November; November voters just don’t know that yet. Since those voters are trying to figure out who Obama is, Dr. Wright is a definite part of the overall picture Obama presents. Obama’s history of listening to sermons grounded in Black Liberation Theology (with it’s Marxist and racist underpinnings) is part of the picture. If Juan Cole understood that Obama’s true politics are too far left for Obama to be elected, then Juan Cole would fear Dr. Wright as a revealer of Obama’s true politics to the wider electorate. Dr. Wright ought be greatly feared. He is likely fatal to Obama’s chances – for this revelatory reason – which has nothing to do with racism amongst voters, but rather has to do with the wider electorate’s rejection of Obama’s true political beliefs.

  2. Ah, it had nothing (really much) to do with Farrakhan.

    Obama had to do it. The longer he waited, the more damage waiting would do. Obama’s a great guy — loyal, honest, decent, but you have to know when to cut someone off, as cruel as that can be: when it comes to national leadership, for the nation, any nation, the stakes have always been extraordinarily high, and this shows that Obama can rise to the challenge: actions, like this, will always trump any speech. He’s learning that.


    Obama as Prince Hal, Reverend Wright as Falstaff, and The Price of Leadership

  3. Mark says:

    Matt: You know I love ya and all, but I’m not a fan of the demagoguery over the Bell Curve. To be sure, the book has a lot of flaws, and as a work of social science it is woefully lacking in many respects. But the argument that it advocates eugenics is based on a horrible out of context reading of one relatively small part of the book.
    The book is massive, and far too many people who have attacked have also not read it. Again, I don’t know if you actually have read the whole thing, and there are plenty of valid criticisms of it (most notably from Stephen Jay Gould, IIRC). But it is simply not an argument that, read in context, can or should be construed as advocating eugenics.

  4. Angellight says:

    Hillary supporter, Dr. Rev. Barbara Reynolds is a media consultant who has endorsed Hillary on her website:, and that in a spirit of enthusiasm, reached out to Rev. Wright and tempted him to tell his story at the Press Club to redeem his good name, and the good Rev. Wright took the “bite.” This ploy and scheme by Hillary supporter, Dr. Reynolds backfired and has helped Barack redeem his campaign and find his voice!

    Let’s be Clear: There was a time when Rev. Jeremiah Wright was once higly respected and sought after, hence his trip to the White House invited by Bill and Hillary Clinton for Prayer and Support when they were going through Bill’s Impeachment time. Some of Hillary’s strongest surrogates also have close ties to Rev. Wright, Shiela Jackson Lee and Rev. Marcia Dyson!

    Going forward, however, Barack has to reiterrate all that got people interested in his campaign in the first place, the fact that he does stand for unity and for reaching out to all classes of people, which deflects that he is an elitist. That he works and stands for the working people and that he always has. That to get anything passed these days you need Change in Washington, away from Corporations and the special interest and invest in people! There comes a time in each Society for the sake of survival, they must Change and As a man of “goodwill”, it was hard for Barack to see the egomaniac in Wright. However, when it became clear by the total spectacle Wright made of himself in front of national TV on all Three (3) cable-news channels, which played his Entire Speech — something usually only Reserved for Presidents! And, Barack was right to divorce himself from Wright for the sake of the work and change he is trying to bring to the people. One Ego or a few Egos cannot or should not get in the way of the “Good” of the Whole!

    And yes, it was time for an amicable Parting of the Ways between Barack and Rev. Wright who has definitely put a sword in his side. I now understand why Barack thinks some people are bitter — he has been conditioned to think that way by the bitterness of his former Pastor, to think that some people are bitter, although Barack was not subject to this bitterness himself but was able to overcome this conditioning and escape it rather incorporating the engery of unity, goodwill and hope, instead! I hope, we the people, will not be blindsided by the onslaught of the Two-Headed Giant — Clintons & Republican-Controlled Media — directed at this Candidate of Change and Hope we have in Barack Obama and miss the boat again, by allowing him to be “Swiftboated”!

    Barack “Investing in People!”

  5. Bostondreams says:

    Juan Cole and John Cole are two different bloggers. One is a Middle East focused blogger, the other an angry Republican turned angry Democrat.

    And how does one’s church indicate one’s political beliefs. i’m Catholic, but my Church’s stands on the issues are not mine. How do you make that connection?

  6. matttbastard says:

    Would it ease your heart if I replaced “Eugenics” with “scientific racism”, Mark?

  7. matttbastard says:

    Angellight, your 9:15am comment is satire, yes?

  8. matttbastard says:

    gcotharn can’t get worked up b/c s/he doesn’t understand how reality-based people believe and think.

    The true issue: who is McCain? He’s really too far right to be elected in November; November voters just don’t know that yet. Since those voters are trying to figure out who McCain is (or would be, if the donut-shilling members of the MSM weren’t on board with the Mancrush Express), Pastor Hagee is a definite part of the overall picture McCain presents. McCain’s willingness to accept the endorsement of an anti-Papist, homophobic, sexist preacher whose theology is grounded in pre-millenial dispensationalism (with its eliminationist and anti-Semitic underpinnings) is part of the picture. If gcotharn understood that McCain’s true politics are too far right for McCain to be elected, then gcotharn would fear Pastor Hagee as a revealer of McCain’s true politics to the wider electorate. Pastor Hagee ought be greatly feared. He is likely fatal to McCain’s chances – for this revelatory reason – which has nothing to do with rampant secularism amongst voters and the media, but rather has to do with the wider electorate’s rejection of McCain’s true political beliefs.

    (Also, as BostonDreams pointed out, Juan Cole != John Cole. Smarter flying monkeys, pls.)

  9. matttbastard says:

    TCOD: Yeah, we all knew that Obama had to eventually play the Sister Souljah card on Wright; however, some of us see its perceived necessity as an indictment of the status quo, rather than a virtue. Ironic that, in reacting (in part) to Wright’s characterization of Obama as “a politician” (the nerve!), the junior Senator from Illinois has proven him all-too correct.

  10. Mark says:

    No, it wouldn’t. Listen, I think the conclusions in the book were very, very wrong, and there is a pretty strong consensus in the social sciences community that the methodology was deeply flawed. However, the point of the book is too often represented as being an argument for racial determinism. But the discussion of race and IQ was only a relatively small portion of the book and of the argument.
    The real goal of the book was simply to argue for a more individualized approach to education (oddly, the decision to use single-factor intelligence as the statistical basis actually undermines their argument). Again, its arguments are deeply flawed, but it is in no way an argument for racial superiority.
    I frequently dealt with this book back in college. Most serious academics who read it found its conclusions and use of data horribly wrong; however, they did not find it to be an argument for scientific racism. Most of the statistics viewed as most inflammatory are statistics that have been well known in social science circles for decades; the problem is the way in which the authors use the statistics to advance a political argument about the American education system.
    The controversial argument is simply that “intelligence” as measured by IQ has “a” genetic component. This is different from saying that genetics are the sole factor in determining IQ. While their conclusions on this point (which is only tangential to their overall argument) are weak at best, the fact is that attempting to understand whether intelligence (or any other personal trait) has a genetic component is well within the realm of legitimate scientific debate. Indeed, I think it is hard to argue that there isn’t a genetic component to various given traits. The biggest problem I have with the Bell Curve’s argument is its reduction of intelligence to a single factor. However, this does not make the argument a racist argument, unless you think that IQ tests, for instance, are always and completely irrelevant, such that anyone using IQ as a measure is inherently a racist. They are, however, not particularly smart themselves. (Never chalk up to ill intent that which can be explained by mere human stupidity).
    I guess my point is this: the controversial assertions in the Bell Curve were really nothing new; that doesn’t make them correct (they aren’t), but it also doesn’t make the book inherently racist. My suspicion (as is so often the case with debates like this) is that if fewer people had denounced the book, it would have rapidly fallen into the dustbin of history, having virtually no influence because its use of social science is so deeply flawed in other respects. Put another way: the book became important because of the controversy; it did not become controversial because it was important.

  11. gcotharn says:

    John/Juan Cole: mea culpa.

    Bostondreams: Black Liberation theology is inherently political. Catholic theology is not. Barack specifically joined his church b/c he was attracted to the fusion of politics and religion.

    If a theology separates itself from politics(i.e. “Render unto Caesar…), then I agree a candidate ought be allowed to keep his religion as a private matter, and ought not be expected to explain or to justify religious minutiae.

    Matttbastard: I came to your blogpost to consider your thoughts; I stayed to join the conversation. At no time did I endeavor to insult you or to pick a fight.

    Your attempt to flip around my words is the most inapt such attempt which I have ever seen. McCain has legislative accomplishment and personal biography by which voters may judge him. Further, voters will not equate McCain/Hagee with Obama/Wright – nor should they. The two scenarios are very different.

    Senator Obama has no legislative accomplishments by which voters may judge either his political positions or his political effectiveness(beyond those handed to him on a silver platter – in the Illinois Legislature – in a successful campaign to bolster his credentials for a U.S. Senate run).

    Senator Obama has no biography which makes clear his love of America. Voters want a POTUS who will stand up for America in tough times. Senator Obama appears to love his vision of a politically liberal America; yet voters can see no evidence he will love America if his political proposals are defeated. He doesn’t so much love America as he loves his vision of what America could be. It’s a very real problem. Voters are looking for an intangible sense of Barack’s love for and reverence for America, for our Constitution, for our history and our accomplishments, and for what we stand for.

    You could argue voters are naive, or misguided, to look for this intangible sense of Obama in order to judge his readiness to be POTUS. I argue that, however naive or misguided, voter search for this intangible is real – and, further: if the November contest comes down to Obama vs. McCain, voter search for this intangible will be the decisive factor in McCain’s victory.

    Hillary vs. McCain would not play out the same way, as voters trust both Hillary’s and McCain’s love for America.

    In absence of either sufficient accomplishment or sufficient biography to comfortably define Barack, voters will fully consider the implications of Senator Obama’s 20 years in Dr. Wright’s pews. Thus Dr. Wright is important, and is likely a fatal last straw which dooms Barack’s chances.

  12. tas says:

    What is this “love for America” bullshit, anyway? Are people so paranoid that they think a candidate is going to run for president specifically because they don’t love America and want to ruin the country? Because when people try deeming whether or not a candidate “loves America,” that’s what I imagine them thinking. So just to answer that, and the other thoughts I imagine they have: Yes, Obama doesn’t love America. In fact, he hates America. He hates it so much that he’s willing to spend a bazillion dollars to run for president, feel the stress over having a bazillion people launching mouth-frothing attacks against his character 24 hours a day, willing to put in long hours with little sleep just to subject himself to these attacks, all so he has a chance at intentionally ruining the country by placing all of our children in madrasas. Fear, bitches, fear!

  13. matttbastard says:

    What is this “love for America” bullshit, anyway?

    It’s another sub-clause to the rules: de uppity neegro needs to “prove” his or her citizenship.

    Gcotharn: Take your faux civility and your martyr pose and shove it right up your haughty ass sideways. Aside from ridicule, I don’t engage racist, red-baiting concern trolls, regardless of how they happen to adorn their disingenuity. Every so sorry if my rudeness wounds your delicate fee fees.

    Geez–I’d forgotten the wonderful commenters this place sometimes attracts.

  14. gcotharn says:


    Obama is spending a “bazillion dollars” of other people’s money. In fact, considered from a strictly economic standpoint: running for POTUS will strengthen the Obama brand in a way which will undoubtably result in personal economic benefit for Obama. As to stress and long hours: whatever. As to mouth-frothing and madrasas: what you are really saying is most Americans are idiots whose opinions are unworthy of serious consideration by you. You are really saying you don’t like your fellow Americans. You detest them. You certainly do not respect their wisdom, as you think they are mainly motivated by ignorance and fear. There’s a lot to be said about your opinion, but I will only say this: your way – detesting and not having respect for your neighbors and fellow citizens – is a tough way to go through life. I feel for you.

    matttbastard: you and I maybe have this in common: neither of us shall be wounded by the other’s words. Were I delicate enough to be wounded, I like to think I would still know what I was possibly getting into when commenting on a blogpost by a matttBASTARD, and thus be prepared. Heh.

    You could say: gcotharn, I disagree with x,y, z, for these reasons. You could say: gcotharn, you and I will have to agree to disagree. However, you go straight to “racist”, “red-baiting”, “disingenius”. Such name-calling is designed to shut down debate; I do not respect it(thought I’d throw in a last haughty semi-colon for the road).

    I do respect that you did not censor my thoughts. Kudos for that. And best luck to you, and to the other commenters, even though we have very different opinions about things.

  15. Bostondreams says:

    You are seriously claiming that Clinton is more patriotic than Obama? How? Did you, you know, forget the 1990’s and the whole Clinton=commie meme? Guess what. That will be back.
    Catholic theology is not political? Since when? Are you not aware of the history of the Catholic Church?
    As to Hagee and Wright, I will take a ‘loony pastor’ like Wright who considers gays equals and works to eradicate poverty than an anti-Catholic bigot whose ideal world contains no Catholics or Jews. Wright has little influence beyond his Chicago church; Hagee is worldwide.
    And I love America. I love our history and our Constitution. But i love a vision of what America COULD be more. And Southerners, by the way, have NO RIGHT to criticize the patriotism and love of America of someone else, ESPECIALLY a black man, when they continue to fly the flag of treason all over the region. This treason, in their declarations, was due to their desire to maintain slavery. Lovely.
    Wright has unfortunately hung onto his VALID anger over the actions of the American government toward his people. Hell, the Constitution originally defined them as less than a person. And guess what. Racism still exists. Go into many small towns in the South and you see it. Hell, go into South Boston and you see it. Black Liberation Theology is, while radical, an understandable response. I am in a community where the KKK remains a popular, if underground, organization. To deny this reality of the black experience is just ignorant.
    Obama, like the other two candidates, do not have to PROVE anything. Why should he? Why should they? They are all Americans, and they all have skeletons in their closets, whether it is rumors about their time as a POW, images of them not saying the pledge, or being associated with an Anti-america/pro Communist law firm.

  16. tas says:

    As to stress and long hours: whatever.

    Please. Tell me, do you think Obama is investing many hours and the stress needed to endure a presidential run because he doesn’t love his country?

    As to mouth-frothing and madrasas: what you are really saying is most Americans are idiots whose opinions are unworthy of serious consideration by you. You are really saying you don’t like your fellow Americans. You detest them. You certainly do not respect their wisdom, as you think they are mainly motivated by ignorance and fear.

    There’s so much character assassination in this paragraph, even Karl Rove would blush.

    Let me tell ya something, bunky — what I don’t like is people who assume that anyone whose opinion differs from their own must have some sort of anti-American agenda. Like I or anyone else who opens their mouth and emits some thoughts from the left side of the fence must somehow be less patriotic than those who wave the flag to cheerlead war. You know, people like you.

    American politics went sour when distrust against the left was fostered on the right, and visa versa. When both sides believe that the other has ulterior motives to destroy the country.

    Now if you want to disagree with Obama’s ideas, fine. But if you’re going to say that Obama’s ideas makes him anti-American, then screw. You’re not worth “debating” because you’re oonly understanding of politics is borne from hate.

    There’s a lot to be said about your opinion, but I will only say this: your way – detesting and not having respect for your neighbors and fellow citizens – is a tough way to go through life. I feel for you.

    Pot. Kettle. Black. And being delusional is a sorry way to go through life too, asshole.

  17. Mark says:

    There are few things more toxic to debate in this country than the willingness to make accusations of anti-Americanism and to question the patriotism of those with whom you disagree.
    As far as I’m concerned, it is far, far more anti-American and unpatriotic to say “my country, right or wrong,” than it is to make a mistaken argument that “my country is wrong.” The former shows a complete and utter disregard for the things that America is supposed to stand for, as embodied in the Declaration of Independence; the latter, even when mistaken, shows a willingness to think independently and question authority- and there is nothing more idealistically American than that (unless you think Thomas Jefferson & Co. were nothing but America-hating bigots).
    Oh, to be sure, there are some whose criticism of America can only be described in terms normally reserved for racists and xenophobes; to these people, it is not just existing government policies that are evil, but the American experiment itself. But these people are few and far between and with one prominent exception generally find themselves consumed by their own hatred.
    But far more common are the arguments offered by people claiming to be Patriots which suggest things like “there are no absolute freedoms,” and who actively and knowingly advocate policies based on the premise that “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happyness” are no universal.
    It is my contention that those most willing to throw the accusations of anti-Americanism and lack of patriotism are more often than not those whose actions are the most anti-American and unpatriotic.

  18. gcotharn says:

    Hold on, everyone. I was speaking about voter perceptions. You guys are inferring a bunch of things I did not say – about various people’s patriotism, for instance; and about the existence/nonexistence of racism. I did not issue any opinions on that stuff.


    Religion and politics:
    were you attracted to Catholicism b/c of it’s politics? I wasn’t attracted to my religion b/c of politics. Yet, Obama was attracted to his church b/c of the fusion of religion and politics. Nobody made me emperor of right thinking in this area. It’s just my opinion that the circumstances make Obama’s church, and it’s Black Liberation Theology, fair game. I think voters consider it fair game.

    Well, I worship and rub elbows in the buckle of the Bible Belt, and I never heard of Hagee till he endorsed McCain and began to be criticized. I don’t see how Obama/Wright’s 20 year relationship can be compared to Hagee endorsing McCain. I can’t imagine how voters would consider the circumstances similar.

    Voters and “loving America”:
    I think voters are looking for someone who will first stand up for what America IS, and only second try to change things for the better. I think they are looking for signs as to whether Obama is or is not a person who will wholeheartedly do that.

    I disagree with your characterization of Southerners as treasonous citizens whose free speech rights ought be limited. Slavery ended 140 years ago. Jim Crow ended 40 years ago. The South gets hit with an unfairly overzealous racism rap. The true racists have largely died off; some of their grandchildren are living in interracial marriages.

    3/5 of a person:
    Dred Scott said, and I agree, the Constitution’s 3/5 provision was a foundation for the building of a nation which would end slavery. Our ending of slavery is a reason to celebrate America, as opposed to merely berating her. We were the largest, most powerful nation to have ever ended slavery, and we led the way for others to follow suit.


    Obama and “loving America”:
    I think voters want a President who looks at America and sees more greatness than flaws. Part of that is wanting a POTUS with good judgment and good ability to discern truth: America is very much greater than she is flawed. I think voters wonder about Obama’s perception of our nation, and about his judgment.

    My alleged character assassination of you:
    At 3:27 you said:
    “a bazillion people launching mouth-frothing attacks against his character 24 hours a day,
    […] [believing Obama] has a chance at intentionally ruining the country by placing all of our children in madrasas. Fear, bitches, fear!”

    That statement displays contempt for the intelligence and the judgment of most Americans. Maybe I was unfair to infer the sentiments of the statement comprised your actual, over-riding opinion of your fellow citizens. I’ll think it over. One big way America’s politics is going sour is that we are more and more using namecalling to shut down valuable debate. I don’t currently see how I was shutting down debate via saying you do not respect the opinions and judgment of your fellow citizens. However, I will mull it over. Maybe I was in the wrong.

    My alleged accusation that you have an anti-American agenda:
    I don’t see how my statement can be perceived as saying you have an anti-American agenda. I never thought you disliked America. I thought you disliked Americans.

  19. tas says:

    One big way America’s politics is going sour is that we are more and more using namecalling to shut down valuable debate.

    So when you call somebody unamerican, what is it? Of course, you’ll claim that you never said Obama was unamerican, only that he doesn’t “love America.” But you know what? If it look slike a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…

    Dur. Like I said previously: Pot. Kettle. Black.

    As for your, uhm, “allegedly” character assassination, here’s a hint: when you apply a bunch of blanket statements to someone’s personality based on a comment they made — in a political argument, mind you — then it’s fucking character assassination. Got it? These are pretty fucking simple concepts.

  20. matttbastard says:

    3/5 of a person:
    Dred Scott said, and I agree, the Constitution’s 3/5 provision was a foundation for the building of a nation which would end slavery. Our ending of slavery is a reason to celebrate America, as opposed to merely berating her. We were the largest, most powerful nation to have ever ended slavery, and we led the way for others to follow suit.

    Well (to borrow a Southern colloquialism) isn’t that mighty white of y’all.

  21. gcotharn says:


    Having had time to sleep on it, I think I was wrong to accuse you of disliking/not respecting Americans. It puts you in an undefendable position, as you cannot prove a negative – aka you cannot prove you do not dislike Americans. No matter what evidence you proffer in the matter, I can constantly come back and say: but you still dislike Americans. And so it was really unfair of me to level the accusatory descriptions – which boiled down to “doesn’t like Americans”. I retract, and I apologize.

    Looking at where I strayed into unfairness and unproductiveness: I think I ought to have focused strictly on the issues, as previously referenced: “[America is] more and more using namecalling to shut down valuable debate.” I was guilty of using namecalling to shut down debate.

    I ought to have strictly focused on your assertion:
    “a bazillion people launching mouth-frothing attacks against [Barack’s] character….”
    I ought to have asked:
    Is a significant percentage of the electorate truly attacking Barack’s character? Or, rather, are those voters trying to discern Barack’s character so as to determine whether or not they are comfortable enough to vote for him?

    I ought to have strictly focused on your further assertion:
    “[American voters believe Obama] has a chance at intentionally ruining the country by placing all of our children in madrasas. Fear, bitches, fear!”
    I ought to have asked:
    Is a significant percentage of the electorate truly afraid? Or, rather, in the absence of clear investigation and reporting about Barack and his church, in the absence of clear investigation and reporting about Barack’s early history, in the presence of Barack’s speech memes about ‘something is wrong with America’ which only Barack can heal: rather than being afraid, are those voters simply trying to gather accurate information?

    I’ve been trying to communicate that I am swimming in an ocean of Southern American and Middle American Christian voters. I strongly think, for most of these voters: Barack remains an unknown quantity. I think it’s legitimate for them to seek more information. To them: Reverend Wright represents more information – which is why he is very dangerous to Barack – and which is why I originally said John/Juan Cole can’t get worked up (about Rev. Wright) because he doesn’t understand how religious people believe and think.

    I think the above are questions and opinions which can be considered and discussed by people of good will. Such discussion, such enlightening and interesting examination, is my goal.


    You’ve again knee-jerked (or simply JERKed) directly to an accusation of racism. Dred Scott would laugh at your characterization of his opinion as being “mighty white.” This is Dred Scott’s reasoning:

    The nation could not have been formed without the 3/5 compromise.
    Slavery could not have been ended without the nation being formed.

    The alternative would’ve been to form, in the 1780s, two nations: U.S. North and U.S. South. If two nations had been formed, slavery would not have ended when it did. U.S. South would’ve gone on practicing slavery – probably a good ways into the 20th Century. What’s so great about America is not that we had slavery, but that we ended slavery. The 3/5 compromise allowed the nation to argue bitterly over the morality of slavery. It allowed our political institutions to contend bitterly over the morality of slavery. Without the 3/5 compromise, none of that argument and contention would’ve occurred.

    Now, if you disagree, I’m interested to hear your reasoning as to what would’ve been a better solution at the time the nation was founded. But, if you’re merely throwing out a tired and boring racism accusation, you are not offering any actual reasoning for me or for other readers to consider.

  22. Bostondreams says:


    You make some good points, but you are, I think mistaken in a couple of things. First, we DID NOT end slavery willingly. And we were among THE LAST large nations to end that peculiar institution, let along the largest and greatest. We beat Brazil. Woohoo. The British and the other Great Powers had banned the trade and practice years before, well before us. And we only eliminated the practice because Lincoln had to have a moral reason for the war to prevent foreign recognition of the Confederacy.
    As to limiting free speech rights of Southerners, where do I say that? Perhaps I misspoke when I used the phrase ‘no right.’ I was simply suggesting that anyone that flies a flag that symbolizes an effort to maintain slavery and destroy the idea of the United States have no moral standing to criticize the patriotism of ANYONE. And to claim that it does not symbolize slavery is ignorant of historical fact. The leadership of the Confederacy itself and most of the Declarations of Seccession claim that they are leaving because they did not want to lose slavery, which they imagined was threatened. And even after emancipation, there remained another half century of virtual slavery and the slave codes under Jim Crow. Hell, Tuskegee Institute itself was intended originally to ensure a stable and ignorant black lower class who valued labor and knew their place, modeled of the Hampton Idea of Washington’s mentor Samuel Chapman Armstrong.
    And as to racism, yes, the South is unfairly singled out, and I also said places like Boston are still dealing with racial issues. But to think that ‘true racists’ are dying off is mistaken. I know; I teach their children, and while there are exceptions, their racism is just as strong as their parents’.

  23. Bostondreams says:

    But anyway, it occurs to me that these semi-academic arguments are ones I love, so thanks. 🙂

  24. gcotharn says:

    Hmmm, I quoted that “leading the way in ending slavery” bit from a book I read a decade ago – but maybe the author didn’t properly research his assertion. Being no expert on the matter, I defer to your teaching knowledge.
    I agree Lincoln needed a moral reason to bolster the Union cause.
    However, when you say “we DID NOT end slavery willingly”: who is this “we” you speak of? The Union Army lost 140k lives in battle, and 240k lives to non-battle causes. Plus non fatal casualties I will not bother to look up.

    I know you know of the bitter political jockeying in the years before the outbreak of war: all over the issue of whether there would be more pro-slavery power in Congress vs. more anti-slavery power. Didn’t anti-slavery politicians engage in this political struggle b/c they were attempting to do the morally right thing? I know of no other explanation for their entering into such a bitter fray.

    Being a nation which is not a monarchy or a dictatorship; being a nation of civil freedoms: you are going to have disagreements amongst citizens. Is this a bug, or a feature?

    Did “we” really not end slavery willingly? I’ve seen those Civil War battlefields. Something willful was going on. I think the U.S.A. deserves at least as much credit, for ending slavery, as we deserve condemnation for allowing it to continue as long as it did. That glass is both half empty and half full.

    The argument about Lincoln’s motivations and opinions ought be considered in the same light as the argument about 3/5s at the birth of the Constitution: Was it a greater good to have a nation, and to have slavery; or was it a greater good to not have a nation, and to still have slavery? Was it better for Lincoln to have forced the slavery issue from Day 1 of his administration – thus possibly (probably?) permanently losing the South to a new nation of Confederate States which would’ve then continued slavery well into the 20th Century? What was the most moral action for Lincoln to take? Which was the greater good?

    We know how Lincoln answered those questions. Some persons in present day (not you) criticize Lincoln out of ignorance. They do come close to considering the totality of Lincoln’s circumstances.

    I’ll have to think about the rest of your comment later. Thanks for being so thoughtful and interesting.

  25. gcotharn says:

    Boston Part 2:

    The flag thing beats me down, b/c I suspect the % of Southern population who has anything at all to do with that flag is in the (low?) single digits. I wish to heck there was a way to quantify such a thing. I haven’t been to S. Carolina since 1985. Maybe the flag is a bigger deal there, b/c it always seems to come up in relation to that state.

    When I see a flag sticker on a truck, I know I am seeing one of three statements:
    1. White Power
    2. Hooray hunting, fishing, beer drinking, pick-up trucks, and America
    3. Don’t tread on me you hoity toity dumbass Boston liberal blogger.

    The senders of statements #2 and #3 are generally not racist.

    The senders of statement #3 are generally just young, full of piss and vinegar, and are giving you the finger. I wish they would find other, equally effective ways to say “Don’t tread on me”. But, that’s the way they choose to say it, and I can go f*** myself if I don’t like it.

    Part of the #3 message is, also: “Slavery ended long ago, and f*** any black person who wants me to feel guilty over it. I wasn’t even born until 1985, dumbasses. And you can take that reparations crap and shove it.”

    If you live down here, you understand that most of category #2 and #3 are not racist. They are mainly young people either celebrating their culture, or expressing political opinion. If you or I tried to persuade them away from their flag stickers, their response might be a disinterested beer burp in our faces. When they ripen into middle age, they will, on their own volition, lose their flag stickers. They will do it one weekend, very quietly, when no one is bugging them about it.

    Anyway, the entire thing beats me down. The more the media and liberals and whoever else rails about the flag, then the more young men full of piss and vinegar get mad and purchase flag stickers. And the more stickers they purchase, then the more people rail, and then the more stickers they purchase, and then the more people rail – and the whole thing is the absolute essence of sound and fury signifying nothing. Sigh.


    I know your saying “unpatriotic” is a response to what I wrote about voters who want to feel confident that Barack loves and revers America. “Patriotic” is not quite the right word for what those voters are looking for.

    I don’t think Barack is unpatriotic. I doubt very many voters anywhere think Barack is unpatriotic. I think these Christian Southern/Middle American voters want to know a candidate loves and revers what America is now, what America stands for now, and what America has accomplished up to now. America is very much greater and more moral than she is despicable and immoral. I think these voters want to be absolutely assured, in their own minds, that Barack understands this and believes this. It would be madness to elect a President who believed otherwise. These voters don’t understand why Barack seemingly has a hard time expressing this in a satisfactory fashion. It makes them suspicious.

    I think these voters are confident Hillary believes America’s greatness and morality outweigh the nation’s faults. That’s why this will not be an issue for Hillary. I’m not saying any voters believe Hillary is more patriotic than Barack. I am saying these voters notice that Barack criticizes America A LOT, and they don’t really notice him praising America as much or more.

    Anyway, that’s my best try at describing it.


    Okay, you caught me taking sloppy literary license with an unqualified “true racists are dying off”. Mea culpa. Young racists continue to develop.

    However, don’t you think overt racism is becoming less and less of an issue as time goes on(?), even as racial lobbies frantically maneuver to expand the definition (aka: unconscious racism) in order to maintain a suitably sized constituency of victims? MLK had so many conscious racists to contend with, he did not need to expand his efforts to encompass unconscious racists. That’s all I was trying to say, however sloppily.

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