The Lessons of Rev Wright

Like many (but not all) of you, I’ve been attracted to Barack Obama’s message of unity and inclusion.

I didn’t vote for Barack because I was afraid of what has now transpired. I went for the devil we know over the devil we didn’t. But I’ve been rooting for him.

The notion of a post-boomer political realignment around the challenges that face us instead of the issues that divide us is seductive and powerful

Of course, that message has now been tarnished and we (or at least many of us) are asking ‘was it just talk?’

I don’t believe it was just talk and I don’t believe Obama is a snake oil salesman telling us what we want to hear so he’ll get elected. I believe Barack Obama wants to lead this country to a new place and tackle the important problems that our nation is facing in the 21st century.

But the whole Rev Wright fiasco tells me that our country is not yet willing to move behind the racial hate and anger, the religious divisions, and the bitter resentments that cynical politicians play upon to attain and retain power

I am not sure even Shakespeare could have concocted such a potent tragedy. A good and kind man who attempts to unite a divided land is stabbed in the back by the preacher who married him and baptized his children. And then the man of god calls him a “a politician” just to throw some salt in the wounds.

I believe in god but not in relgion organized by man. And I think the men (and women) who have cloaked themselves in the name of god have often done great harm. Religion is not the root of all evil but the people who traffic in it sure can be..

And Rev Wright is just one more in a long line of them


Comments (Archived):

  1. stone

    Great Post.As I’ve been saying since the beginning Barack Obama is a great speaker but has little in his background to support his current presentation. Karl Rove was on TV last night and, although he’s not my favorite person, he made this same point. Hillary Clinton is actually much more willing to work across party lines to get things done in the Senate. Her record actually proves this is true. John McCain is famous for working across party lines — not just words, actual deeds. Obama’s message is hopeful and I believe that he wants to do it but lots of people want to do lots of things. The Wright issue will taint him, like it or not, and may prevent him from being the inclusive leader he wants to be. Why? Judgement matters — and he’s made a whopper of a mistake with Mr. Wright. Facts are facts. His thesis for running is that Hillary made a BIG mistake on the war. I wonder how he would’ve voted if he was actually in the senate at the time.When you run a company you will always make mistakes but you want to carefully guard against making the REALLY BIG MISTAKE. Unfortunately for Obama, he didn’t learn this lesson, which is why I do not think he’s qualified to be president yet. He needs to go back into the senate and, though his deeds, prove to us that he’s a “special” leader. If he does this I will be the first to vote for him next time around.

    1. Dick Costolo

      Stone, this is precisely the kind of nonsense that all of us who will never vote for Hillary can’t stand to hear. Obama’s big mistake is that a guy who’s church he attended turns out to be a bit off the rails and so that’s Obama’s fault? Meanwhile this Hagee idiot can go out and say that Katrina is God’s punishment for the sinners in new orleans and McCain thanks him for his endorsement? And McCain and Hillary can endorse the worst foriegn policy decision in the history of the country and you’re left with the lame “well, maybe this guy would have done the same” even though he explicitly declared at the time that it was a moronic decision?The ONLY reason hillary is in the running for president is because she is related to an ex-president; ditto for G.W. Bush, and that’s worked out so wonderfully for us. To believe she would otherwise be where she is today is foolhardy. If people decide that what we really need is a two-family constitutional monarchy instead of a democratic republic, then that’s the decision of the people, and we will indeed continue to get the government we deserve, but let’s not make the mistake of confusing our wishes for a constitutional monarchy with false generalities about the characteristics of leadership.I agree with Fred 100% on this post, and it may indeed be the case that Rev. Wright will be Obama’s ruin. That’s not obama’s “fault”, that’s just the way reputation management goes. You can’t get elected living in a cave for 40 years so that you have no ties to anybody before you run, and there’s no way in the world anybody can possibly research all the human connections in their life to know whether there’s a gotcha moment around the corner from somebody who’s less than directly related to them.

      1. scottorn

        great comment Dick.

      2. andyswan

        Dick, I think you make some good points but there is more to this story than you lead on. I mean….did Obama not give a speech DEFENDING Wright a month ago? Did he not base the title of his book on Wright’s message(s)? Did he not call him a “spiritual mentor” whom he “prayed with in his basement” the night he decided to run?It’s one thing to have a pastor that says some things you don’t agree with, it’s quite another to make him a mentor, defend him while distancing from him, and then disown him when the polls go against you. The way many describe the relationship is that it was one-way, with Obama merely in the audience, quietly disagreeing with the hateful remarks. In reality, it was a two way relationship that Obama sought out and embraced….until it got him into trouble with the pollsters…..This is less about race and religion, and more about judgement and whether Obama really is different than other politicians…..

        1. m

          @andyNo, Obama did not “give a speech DEFENDING Wright a month ago”. He gave a speech in which he denounced certain statements he made, while not wholly disowning the man himself. (Oh, and there was about :35 minutes more of a discussion of … what was that? Oh, yeah, race relations in contemporary America.)I support Obama. But I’m not sure where that somehow becomes construed with me (or anyone else) not thinking him 100% a politician, much less believing him to be some messiah.That said, there are two key take-aways from this IMHO:1. This whole bruhaha serves little more than to amplify how people already feel; in that sense, it changes nothing2. If this is truly Obama’s “REALLY BIG MISTAKE” then … wait, what was the question again?

        2. fredwilson

          AndyI think it’s a bit deeper than ³until it got him in trouble with thepollsters²Rev Wright went off the deep end in a way that Bill hasn’t even done toHillary, yetFred

          1. andyswan

            I didn’t see him say anything new at all. He just said them again and debunked the “out of context” nonsense argument that Obama was making.What was new (other than the outrage?)

    2. Philippe Bradley

      i feel stupid for making a point in a debate that doesn’t concern me (and thanks to all so far that found the time to answer my questions) but if guilt by association is causing so much obamarucus, why is nobody pointing out that mrs clinton is touring the country holdings hands with an adulterous and impeached former president? How long till the muck starts flying about who else she’s associated with – will it, do you guys think?

    3. strtme

      You can’ t be serious. HC? Willing to work across the aisles?BTW, Obama’s been in the Senate longer… I’m not sure which race your monitoring…

  2. Philippe Bradley

    Help a Brit out: what did Obama and his campaign do wrong here?How are Jeremiah Wright’s attitudes significantly different from other (supposedly) widely accepted and publicly revered heroes of black history, e.g. MLK? Is it not that they’re different, but that MLK’s comments were appropriate back then, but inappropriate in today’s supposedly improved situation?What’s inherently evil about Wright?What was the backstabbing? What’s Obama’s response, beyond distancing himself, been?Is the outrage and controversy genuine and widespread, or has it been amplified and distorted by the disingenuous in society? The media? The political rivals? The same class of person in society that somehow made an appreciation of nuance and intelligent, nondogmatic response to issues, a bad thing (flipflopping)? Who’s really being evil here?Lastly: if you didn’t vote for Obama because you feared a reopening of a deep US wound, are you a victim of terrorism – the use of fear to influence behaviour? If so, who are the terrorists?

    1. Mo

      The media giveth and the media taketh. The media likes to build leaders up and tear them down. Let’s be honest and admit that Obama’s momentum in Jan-Feb was driven largely by the soft treatment of his campaign by the media. Now that some members of the media are attacking/exposing some of Obama’s weaker points, you can see he is no longer the juggernaut that strung together several states in a row and put Clinton on the brink of elimation.As for Wright, Fred is spot on. And please never put MLK and Wright in the same discussion. MLK never used hate to incite his constituency, he used God’s love and equal creation of all humans as his message.

      1. ryan

        I agree that you cannot compare MLK and Wright, but I think Philippe brings up some important points. What did Obama’s campaign do wrong. They did not court the Rev., unlike McCain who has gone after support from some whack jobs. ARe we going to investigate Clinton’s and McCain’s associates like we have with Obama? I have been a member of organized religion, my father was a cantor at our temple, but I don’t feel that my rabbi, regardless of his political views, should be allowed to represent me. And how different is what Wright said from what Falwell and Robertson have said about 9/11 and Katrina? Why doesn’t the media freak out about that and the fact McCain needs their support?

        1. Mo

          Many people are bringing up the Hagee-McCain connection, so it needs clarification. McCain instantly criticized Hagee for his anti-Catholic remarks. Can the same be said about Obama regarding Rev. Wright? The comparison is really grasping at the straws from Obama supporters. As much as people like to believe McCain is some religious right hero, I find it really hard to believe. Falwell endorsed Huckabee and Robertson endorsed Giuliani in the GOP Primaries. Oh and hope this helps clear it little more from LA Times: is Obama’s mess, he has to clear it up himself. People blaming the media, Clinton, McCain or GOP are just looking for excuses to defend Obama at all costs.

    2. aarondelcohen

      Phillipe:I’m a fan of your posts. But Wright has been incredibly irresponsible. Louis Farakhan has not been a positive force in American politics. When Wright says, “Farakhan didn’t enslave him,” he’s basically echoing history that is very old. Most young people in America want to move past 150 years of racial politics.The arguments against Obama’s substance are reasonable. But people are willing to gamble. Wright is taking the opportunity away from them because he’s as narcissitic as they come. It’s fairly shocking.

  3. Gabriel Nijmeh

    My take is that this preacher man is a parasite who abused his authority and influence for political purposes. The true meaning of Christianity is lost on this man.Organized religion is hierarchical socio-political model that uses religion to attract followers and then controls them for political gain. In this model, a disconnect with God happens whereby man thinks of himself as God on earth.Did Obama trust his pastor too much and not question his views/sermons because of deference? If he knew about his view and they were not congruent with his own, why would he have continued as a parishoner? Or, does he share some of those views? Only he knows in his heart what he believes.This is a lesson in reputation management. Guard it with your life.

    1. Mo

      I believe if he made the speech he did yesterday back in March, we would be talking about the general election between Obama and McCain right now.

      1. mrclark411

        I think you are spot on. Obama miscalculated back in early March how America would view his relationship with Rev. Wright. When the “story first broke” Obama stood by him and stood by him and stood by him. By waiting until now to “disown” (the remarks or the person or both…) he now looks like he is willing to do what is politically expedient… Which is not a trait we like in our politicians.

        1. news

          Unlike Hillary who will offer a bogus gas-tax holiday to court votes. McCain who dropped his objection to the far right in order to win his nomination. Why aren’t they eating more crap for blatant pandering and flip-flopping.Why is it so hard to accept that this man had a personal relationship that was hard to sever. It may not have been politically smart to do it now. And it sure would have been more politically expedient to toss this guy out before he announced for President than now.

          1. mrclark411

            I think the difference is in the nature of the subject.Americans appear to be worried that Obama lives or believes in a different America than they do. Same with Romney (too rich and Mormon).

          2. news

            Obama does live in a different America than most whites in this country. However he does believe in the same principles most people think this country is based on.He says what he believes and his record, no matter how thin you think it is doesn’t show different. Don’t most Americans think it is bad to lie? Being a liar would seem to be a central component of a person’s character. But we’re willing to overlook blatant lies by the candidates on a regular basis.Some people want to believe (or are too lazy to think it all the way through) he agrees with Rev. Wright. It gives them a free pass to oppose him. Not everyone who opposes Obama is a racist; you might think Hillary is legitmately a better candidate; you might not like Obama’s positions. Fine. But people who oppose him because of the Church he went to or his exotic upbringing are afraid he’ll get into office and become a Black Panther or he’s a sleeper agent for Al-Qaeda. Same for Romney. He was Governor of Massachusetts and he didn’t try to impose his Mormon beliefs on the Commonwealth. Did he?Obama states that the America he believes in is the one that would allow him to be in the position he is in running for President. I believe him. If Obama says this kind of stuff wasn’t coming out of Rev. Wright’s mouth every week, why can’t we believe that and there is no evidence to the contrary. There are many, many prominent mainstream people that go to Trinity United and they say it also.

  4. Rick Burnes

    The optimist in me hopes this Wright fiasco is the catalyst that enables us to get beyond the racial hate and anger. It’s certainly creating a discussion — maybe a very messy version of the discusson Barack in Philadelphia said we need to have.In any case, I don’t think this is a tragic ending. Nobody died. There’s still a lot of drama yet to come …

  5. thomasl824

    This is not the time to be standing back on this issue and letting the status quo win. I’d like to know who extended that invitation for Wright to speak at a national forum 2 weeks before 2 key primaries.

    1. andyswan

      Tom this is what happens (to most people) when they run for President…..their alliagences are questioned and vetted. Obama made a huge speech a month ago saying that after 20 years, he could “no more disown Rev Wright than [he] can disown the black community”. Then Wright’s true character is revealed by Wright (as it likely would have been in the 20 years of being a “spiritual mentor”), and suddenly Obama can disown him as the polls crumble. It’s “politics as usual”, and people are seeing it now that Obama is given 10% of the scrutiny that Hillary has weathered.

      1. Bill D.

        I really don’t think Hillary has been vetted nearly as much as folks would like to say. The civil case in CA, the ties to the Blank Panthers, the Georgian ties, where does all that money come from…. those are all really tough questions of her that nobody has asked yet.The only thing Hillary has been vetted on so far in this campaign is when she has stated things that were clearly untrue. If we applied the guilt by association standard to her that Obama is currently going through, it will get very, very ugly for Hillary very quickly.

  6. BillSeitz

    Religion is the opiate of the politiicians.

  7. andyswan

    I don’t know, this reminds me more of the “Emperor has no clothes” than anything as complicated as Shakespeare.A lot of Democrats fell in love on the first date here…..

  8. m

    “I know thee not, old man: fall to thy prayers; How ill white hairs become a fool and jester! I have long dream’d of such a kind of man,So surfeit-swell’d, so old, and so profane; But, being awak’d, I do despise my dream,” -Henry IV, Act V Scene V

    1. fredwilson

      So william did see this coming how ever many hundred years ago he was aliveNot really that surprisingfred

  9. John Maloney

    @ Stone -Obama’s big mistake (?) was his choice of preacher, whose words are bring him down. A whopper of a mistake? McCain or Hillary have made big mistakes along the way in this election – the difference is Rev Wright points to race and religion.How about Rove questioning Obama’s background, this coming from the architect of the GWB legacy. No president in recent history was more ill-prepared for the presidency than Bush 2.0. Obama taught constitutional law for a decade, this alone gives him far more credibility in my eyes than Bush running Texas, which was queued up nicely by his Dad and ties to oil (not too mention his running the Texas Rangers into the ground).

    1. stone

      Hey John,Mr. Obama has made judgement a central thesis of his campaign. I know that ultraliberals like yourself are literally begging to get into the White House but I implore you to remain objective.Judgement is key says Mr. Obama. Hillary doesn’t have the judgement to be president.I would have to say that trying to hide Mr. Wright, then giving the “half pregnant” speech back in March about religion & race, then, when the polls begin to collapse, the politician throws his pastor under the bus.That’s impeccable judgement so far along a presidential election. I’m sorry but the facts hurt. And, you can try to invoke GWB, who I hate, but tricks like that don’t work. Obama screwed up BIG TIME.

      1. DanInCambridge

        Uh What?before I make my comment, I’m a conservative, but also won’t be voting for McCain, Clinton, or Obama.His half pregnant speech I feel was quite genuine. He obviously thought the reverend was something he is not, and it was a great speech even though it’s inspiration was misplaced.He’s not throwing him under the bus, he’s realizing that this man is not who he thought he was. What do you expect him or anyone to do in this situation?I’ve defended a friend accused of making a terrible mistake, I’ve later found out he was just that terrible. Do I continue to defend him?

      2. John Maloney

        Stone -Ultraliberal, say wha? Don’t box in just because someone don’t line up cleanly with your views.Did Obama “hide Mr. Wright” or was he using sound judgement by cutting ties with him back last year (not last week) and now the chickens are coming home to roost (sorry).Not sure what these facts are you’re referencing, but if you see his association with a pastor (albeit a whacky one), who ran one of the largest churches in Chicago with 1,000’s of parishioners, as the driver to bring down his candidacy – that boggles the mind. Find a real reason why this guy is not up for the job.You invoked Rove and referenced his comments on lack of experience: hence my invoking Bush.Something tells me you didn’t always hate Bush, but it’s in vogue now (damn, now I go and put you in a box: my bad).

  10. Druce

    Up and coming politician joins church with intellectual spiritual leader who also harbors some nutty political views.Runs for president, gets criticized over the nutty political views. (and responds in a thoughtful and balanced way)Preacher leverages his new platform to disseminate his nutty views, throws candidate under the bus. Candidate responds in turn.How many people go to a services where they agree with the politics of the leaders? Do Catholics believe all the politics of the Pope? To me, this is in the same category as guys who get flak because they belong to a country club with politically incorrect policies or leaders. Except that on Fox, it’s now all Wright, all the time.http://andrewsullivan.theat…Personally, I think every step of the way Obama handled it as well as he could be expected to.

  11. Andrew Weber

    I generally agree that Obama wants to lead the country to a new place and could represent the start of a post-boomer political realignment. That said, I’m increasingly convinced that once you scratch beneath the surface of Obama’s terrific oratory, there’s not much there there that’s different from what we’ve seen before in terms of traditionally liberal positions. I’m also inclined to agree with some of the earlier commenters that for all his talk of post-partisanship, Obama’s actual record of moving off traditional liberal positions and working across party lines seems to be much less than what Hillary and McCain have shown.As a regular reader of your blog and others like Umair and Calculated Risk, I’m concerned that the country and our economy face deep and unprecedented challenges (energy, food prices, credit markets, etc., etc.,) and that at the end of the day, none of the remaining three candidates gives me much confidence that they are the one to provide leadership towards real solutions.

    1. fredwilson

      I am not sure that any of the people who stepped up to the plate back at thebeginning of this primary season on either side of the aisle were going toprovide the kind of leadership we need.

  12. Zane

    Sad here. But I think you’re right here. I don’t think Obama’s a snake oil salesman. I do think he got blindsided in an excruciatingly painful and public way. And the snakes circling him, much of MSM it seems, only twist this personal pain for their own agenda.

  13. Antman

    The problem here, unfortunately, is much of the black community still clings to the notion they are being held back. The notion that America, the establishment, has an agenda against the black community is long running and commonly accepted. (The Gov. created aids, Mnt. Dew makes Black Men sterile etc.) The notion that America will never truly accept the black community and the 1950’s and 60’s message of institutional racism as the cause for their inability to get ahead is still very strong. This message acts as the powerbase for many black leaders; Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and it appears Rev Wright. The idea that America could elect a Black President undermines their message and attacks the core of their power. Should Obama get elected President it would SHATTER the notion of an American agenda and call into question the messages and beliefs that empower many black leaders.”The establishment must be protected at all cost!” If America elected a black President, what would Rev. Wright preach about? How would he displace his anger? Rev. Wright NEEDS to maintain the status quo. His identitiy and, unfortunately the identity of many blacks rests in the ideology that blacks are victims of a racisist society and their plight is out of their hands. To change this would create havoc in many and expose Black Leadership whose power rests soley on the idea that America is out to get blacks.I can see it now. The Rev. Wright controversy undermines Obama’s campaign. He looses the general election, or worse the primary and Wright is preaching on Sunday . . . “IT WAS A CRUEL PRANK, THEY JUST WANTED YOU TO BELIEVE WE HAD A CHANCE, THEY JUST WANTED YOU TO BELIEVE WE MIGHT BE EQUAL, THEY WANTED YOU TO BELIEVE TIMES HAD CHANGED, BUT THEY AIN’T, THEY WERE JUST PLAYIN’ YA. NOTHING HAS CHANGED! DAMN AMERICA, NOT GOD BLESS AMERICA, GOD DAMN AMERICA.

    1. news

      Antman,Do you really believe this? Is this an original thought or are you regurgitating the stupid analyses that circulate on cable news? I guarantee you the only people who think there won’t still be a race problem in this country if Obama gets elected are some white people. After Obama gets elected, Blacks will still be disproportionately poor, in prison, underpaid, undereducated and under-represented in positions of power (govt and business).You said, ‘much of the Black community still clings to the notion they are being held back.’ That word cling is going to get you in trouble. It took 100 years to get from slavery to the right to vote. Do you really think 30 years is enough to shake off the lingering and ongoing effects of institutional racism? There are enormous opportunities for minorities in this country, but that doesn’t mean that the inequities that continue to exist are not, in part, caused by institutional policies and continuing social/cultural divisions in our society, as well as self-inflicted wounds by various minority communities.Partisan politics alone shows bias against Blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, etc. The establishment, as it currently stands, is hostile to the issues and concerns of minorities and women and seeks to ignore, if not perpetuate, the general inequities that exist in our system. America is a great place to live, the opportunities are endless, but whether Black, Hispanic, female, or poor there are different and non-trivial hurdles (institutional and social) to get over that many whites (especially men) in this country simply do not have to confront.It’s comments like yours that continue to marginalize and homogenize the Black community, as well as other minority groups and women. When you have actually spoken to ‘much’ of the Black community you can report back here and let us know what they said.

      1. tylerfonda

        News,My take on Antman’s position was not that Obama would solve problems of race in America. Rather, that an Obama win would shift the power structure away from the black preacher class towards black leaders who frame race in America as Obama did in Philadelphia.This message of hope runs counter to the black preacher class position. The success of Obama will inspire other black leaders to share this message as that is the means to political power. The Obama model therefore undermines the powerbase that the Wright’s, Sharpton’s and Jackson’s have built up over the past 40 years.I think Rev. Wright’s survival instinct is kicking in and I just hope that Obama triumphs over this setback as it seems relatively trivial as compared to Hillary’s flaws.

        1. news

          They’re power base will still be there. Obama getting elected won’t change the fact that Al Sharpton will still be able to find disaffected people and issues to harp on. I was objecting to antman’s first statement. It was a dismissive generalization, without any nuance.I don’ t think Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson would be particularly upset if Obama got elected. It would give them more ammunition to attack the policies disagree with. The fact is, if Obama gets into office and is even remotely successful at doing what he wants to there will be more than enough compromises to piss off the left and the right.

        2. Antman

          Tyler, you got it. The ideology of today’s black leaders is a message of victimization, in which blacks are unable to achieve parity with whites due to institutional racism. America electing a black president is directly in conflict with that ideology. How does one argue institutional racism after America elects a black president? I have an idea how it will be done, but that is for another post.

      2. stone

        I think it was Mr. Obama who first used the word “cling”. He seems to have made a bunch of mistakes. I might have something to do with his inexperience.

      3. Antman

        Yes this is what I believe. I have not heard any cable news station express these views.A friends mom said to me once, “you have to fight a new fight, your still fighting ours, and we won.” This woman marched in the south during the 50’s and 60’s. She was part of the victories of the civil rights movement. Her point; institutional racism has been addressed. She is right. It’s time for the black community to change tactics and address the new issues. Today’s issues are not institutional they are social. Institutional laws, ordinances, and systematic rules subjugating blacks and other minorities have been eradicated. Today’s racism is Social. Social racism is the lingering prejudice and racism attributed to individuals throughout society, rich or poor, in positions of power or not. Addressing social racism requires a different approach and can not be addressed through legislation, picketing and blaming the system. Social racism is addressed through productive dialog, partnering, personal accountability and tolerance. It is a long and challenging path fraught with ups and downs.Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, and apparently Rev. Wright, are still fighting an old fight. Their power exists as long as the belief in institutional racism exists. They are still looking externally for change. They are still blaming the establishment for holding blacks back. Their power is derived from the ideology that progress will come from institutional change. America electing a black President contradicts this ideology and threatens their power. This ideology is outdated, inaccurate and self-defeating as it drives a community of people to remain stagnant until external change is achieved as internal change is believed to be impossible until external change is realized.I am not sure what you mean by asking “much” of the black community, but what I can tell you is many of the people I talk with do know of Al Sharpton, Louis Farakahn and Jessie Jackson, but have no awareness of Stanley O’Neil, Ken Chenault, or Dick Parsons. The achievements of these men are absolutely impossible in a country where institutional racism exists.I stand by my position; much of the black community is still mired in the notion that their plight is the fault of a racist agenda perpetrated on them by America. Sharpton, Jackson and Wright make their living on perpetuating this believe. As goes this ideology, as goes their power.Finally, I can’t marginalize anyone who doesn’t want to be marginalized.

        1. MikeC

          Antman,There are components of what you say that I think are on point. The politics of victimhood are outdated and ineffective. I stand with Bill Cosby when he advocates for standing on our own.But where I think you miss (and much of non-black/brown America misses) in your analysis is the assertion that institutional racism has been eradicated. It is true, that there has been much progress but there are absolutely institutions and systems that still exist and that continue to perpetuate inequality. Examples:Laws that criminalize the possession of small amounts crack yet allow s the posession of 10 times that amount of powder cocaine to be a misdemeanor.Funding school systems according to the tax base of the surrounding community. So if you happen to be born in a poor urban neighborhood, you are very likely to attend a sub-par school and have to “lift yourself” despite the conditions. This of course affects other groups as well, but it impacts blacks disproportionately because of our concentration in poorer, urban areas.A judicial system that is likely to meter out prison time versus jail time if you are black. Or that is more likely to put you on death row for the same crimes that when committed by white defendants receive life or less.Police forces that arrest blacks in far greater numbers (as a percentage of people actually stopped by police) than white perpetrators.These are not anecdotal stories – statistics from governmental agencies, liberal watch groups and conservative think tanks alike have all tracked these effects. So to say that institutional racism is gone is just flat wrong.Now I agree that we shouldn’t use the fact that this still exists as an excuse not to rise above. What troubles me is that as long as people beleive that the problems are “behind us”, they will take no action to continue to work on the problem. I certainly want to see Black people take more control of their destinies, but we will always be running a race with one leg as long as these issues are ignored by the people who can make those changes.As long as all sides want to make it “their problem” (whether you be black, brown, white or purple), we will never have the level of dialogue and open analysis that will allow us to find permanent, workable solutions.

          1. Antman

            Mike well said. I will not argue with you. There clearly remains inequities and institutional discrimination in parts of our society. I should have not been as definitive in my term “eradicated”. I still stand behind my assertion that our “problem” our inability to gain traction or move ahead is NOT institutional racism, but the current ideologies of people like Rev. Wright. We have our own institution that perpetuates a message of victim, and oppression.I would like to see a substantial change in the powerbase of the black community from those of Rev. Wright, Sharpton and Jackson to those of Cosby, Obama, O’Neil and Chenault. We need someone to stand up and say YUP, it sucked, we’ve been shit on, YUP, some folks are gonna keep shittin’ on us. YUP it’s hard! So, what are we gonna do about it?I would like to see a change in message from what society can do for us to what we can do for ourselves. We don’t need a million man march. We need a million student graduation campaign. (Imagine a campaign where we increased our graduation rate by 20% in the next 4 years. Imagine that being part of every sermon across the country. Imagine every May, every church, every hair salon and every barbershop talking about the numbers, imagine every mother and father wanting to make sure their kid WASN’T the kid bringing the number down, that is the dialog we need to have. Dialog like that won’t happen while we are still blaming”I would like to see the same outrage towards the blacks in a community who are busted for thuggin’ as I do towards a police force for shooting a brother.I want to see brothers and sisters applauded and celebrated by the community for being A students, not shunned.I want to see and end to rappers and entertainers creating fake records to make themselves look like thugs cause it gives them cred!. Institutional racism doesn’t make us celebrate being thugs.I want to see us stop blaming and start changing!

      4. Antman

        Yes this is what I believe. I have not heard any cable news station express these views.A friends mom said to me once, “you have to fight a new fight, your still fighting ours, and we won.” This woman marched in the south during the 50’s and 60’s. She was part of the victories of the civil rights movement. Her point; institutional racism has been addressed. She is right. It’s time for the black community to change tactics and address the new issues. Today’s issues are not institutional they are social. Institutional laws, ordinances, and systematic rules subjugating blacks and other minorities have been eradicated. Today’s racism is Social. Social racism is the lingering prejudice and racism attributed to individuals throughout society, rich or poor, in positions of power or not. Addressing social racism requires a different approach and can not be addressed through legislation, picketing and blaming the system. Social racism is addressed through productive dialog, partnering, personal accountability and tolerance. It is a long and challenging path fraught with ups and downs.Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, and apparently Rev. Wright, are still fighting an old fight. Their power exists as long as the belief in institutional racism exists. They are still looking externally for change. They are still blaming the establishment for holding blacks back. Their power is derived from the ideology that progress will come from institutional change. America electing a black President contradicts this ideology and threatens their power. This ideology is outdated, inaccurate and self-defeating as it drives a community of people to remain stagnant until external change is achieved as internal change is believed to be impossible until external change is realized.I am not sure what you mean by asking “much” of the black community, but what I can tell you is many of the people I talk with do know of Al Sharpton, Louis Farakahn and Jessie Jackson, but have no awareness of Stanley O’Neil, Ken Chenault, or Dick Parsons. The achievements of these men are absolutely impossible in a country where institutional racism exists.I stand by my position; much of the black community is still mired in the notion that their plight is the fault of a racist agenda perpetrated on them by America. Sharpton, Jackson and Wright make their living on perpetuating this believe. As goes this ideology, as goes their power.Finally, I can’t marginalize anyone who doesn’t want to be marginalized.

  14. Aaron

    Howard: Is it really that “our country is not yet willing to move behind the racial hate and anger,” or that people are legitimately wondering why Obama sat in that Church for 20 yrs when it’s pretty clear now that Wilson is an extremist + the stuff we saw on YouTube wasn’t “taken out of context” or anomalous? As Dem I was always worried about the infatuation with the “new new” politician who talked a good game but hadn’t really been vetted yet (or skewered by the GOP machine). Now I think it’s fair to wonder if Obama wasn’t just selling hope and making empty promises (aweber9 makes some great points here).Remember, a lot of ppl really believed W was a “compassionate conservative” back in 2000….

  15. rabram66

    My personal take on this is that Obama should have come out and continued to say that “this is my pastor and I love him”. I don’t agree with everything he says, but this is my pastor. You can’t disown the man now after you said you would never disown him. Especially after you sat in his pews for 20 years. Everybody knows that even though the sound bites may have been skewed, they were still his actual words and beliefs. It’s hard for a reasonable person to believe that Obama sat in this mans church for two decades and not know his thoughts about these matters. The public “may” forgive you for having some poor associates, but they will not forgive trying to pretend that you didn’t know, or that you weren’t present on the Sunday he made those inflammatory remarks.It’s no secret that Black people have been mistreated by America and that many of us are justifiably angry. The Black church is the one place in our society where we can express our frustrations and anger at “The Man” . Barack Obama is trying to become “The Man” and is doing so by saying that he has gotten over the anger and frustrations that he has felt as a Black Man in America. While that may be true, he is also trying to deny, by his denouncement of Rev. Wright that he ever felt this way. The truth is, while most bourgeois blacks will never publicly say we agree with everything the Wright, Farrakhan, Jackson, and Sharpton say. Most are secretly glad that they are saying it.Everyone knows that in order to become the number one superpower in the world, America has probably bent the rules here and there(to put it lightly). Whether the specific conspiracies Rev. Wright talks about are true or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that he has the right to express them, and it doesn’t make him unpatriotic to speak what he believes is the truth to his congregation. That is the entire purpose of the First amendment. To chill speech deemed unpatriotic is in fact more unpatriotic than the actual speech.Although it may be to late for Barack Obama on this issue, I hope it serves as a lesson for future black presidential candidates that you can’t run from who you are. The storm will be fierce, even brutal. But when you emerge from the other side, people will know where you stand and that really all they want.

  16. markslater

    this is a great post fred.I completely agree with your last two paragraphs.

  17. Andy Freeman

    How did Rev. Wright “stab” Obama in the back?Wright didn’t say anything different this week. He was saying the same things long before Obama chose him, over 20 years ago.The betrayal is by Obama. He was completely happy with Wright’s message as long as the association benefitted Obama. When the benefits stopped, Obama threw Wright under the bus.Obama did the same thing the grandmother who raised him.He’ll to the same to the developer on trial in Chicago who has been funding him.He’d throw his wife under the bus if she became inconvenient.

    1. willcole

      This is exactly right. Obama has been listening to this for 20 years. He’s defended him to a point where it is becoming political suicide.What is important is that we know that, barring his run for president, Obama supports this guy. When it’s inconvenient to his campaign he tosses him out.

    2. stone

      Totally agree with Andy. This was political expediency all the way. Obama just betrayed everyone who is voting for Obama because he’s *not* a politician. He fooled you!

    3. dogwood

      There was a poll conducted concerning Rev. Wright in North Carolina the night before the press conference. Twelve hours later, Obama’s holding a press conference on Rev. Wright. Coincidence? Nada.Sorry to burst bubbles around here, but Obama is a typical politician. Anyone familiar with Chicago politics would have known better than to fall in love on the first date.

  18. Lisa

    Well said.

  19. Mats Myrberg

    Obama most likely committed tactical mistakes in dealing with this situation and but I feel like we are ignoring a central question in this case: why is religion is such a big part of American politics? I think the US is the only developed nation where the candidates attend churches as part of their campaigns and pretend to be more religious and pious then the next person. Yet the US is probably the only developed nation with a constitution that bars religion from being a test for public office. The economist ran an interesting article a few months ago on the differences in attitudes on many questions between the US and the UK (the idea being that the UK being the closest of any other nation in attitudes). Surprise! The biggest difference was on religion where things could not be more different.…When will we get beyond this? Religion should not be part of politics. I don’t care whether the president is christian, muslim or atheist nor do I really want to know. It is not a factor in determining whether the president (or anybody else for that matter) is a moral person with good judgment which is what I do care about.

    1. Charlie Key

      This isn’t an argument of religion, it is influence. A person you call a mentor, in any manor, has influence. I couldn’t care less what religion the person is but I do care who can influence the person.

      1. Mats Myrberg

        That’s true. But by the same token seemingly all the leaders of candidate X’s religion will be major influencers on that person, whether they be their pastor or someone influential/powerful in that specific religion (eg the pope would seemingly be a major influencer on a catholic). Now say I am voter and I am muslim. Candidate X is a christian and he/she have been influenced by the leaders of christianity (be it pastor or whatever). Given that most religions are monotheistic, the leaders of candidate X’s religion are basically calling my god a fraud. How I am supposed to vote for candidate X? Well, the only way this works is if I as a voter disregard the religion (and opinions/teachings of the associated the religious leaders) of candidate X and that candidate X does not base decisions on his religious beliefs. I as a voter should instead judge the candidate on other merits. John Kennedy said “I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters — and the Church does not speak for me.” I think that captures it and I don’t believe Wright speaks for Obama just like the archbishop of boston did not speak for Kennedy.

  20. Farhan Lalji

    It’ll be interesting to see if this ends like a Shakespearean tragedy or like a story of American resilience. If Obama can overcome these obstacles take the nomination, and go on to win the election it plays out more like Rocky rather then any of the Will’s tragedies.

  21. Philippe Bradley

    I generally dislike dogma, even more when it’s institutionalized (as a political party or a major religion). So to hear Obama has been a churchgoing man for 20 years really jars with my existing impression of him as a person promoting new directions and a break from traditional divides and traditional thinking…. though I’m not so naive as to forget that without the support of congregations around the US, no presidential challenger has the remotest hope of ever getting anywhere near the white house, be they black, female, gay, latino or arab… maybe that’s the hugest introspective that’s being totally avoided by the american mainstream media and public at the moment?One electoral taboo at a time, I guess…

  22. howardlindzon

    how does obama feel about hack a shaq. I cant get past that to worry about the election today.

    1. Farhan Lalji

      Blow up the Suns. Send D’Antoni packing (into the arms of the Raptors). Sorry, this might be the wrong venue.

      1. howardlindzon

        farhanlalji – head over to my blog and rant about the suns today. I am in agreement –

        1. Gabriel Nijmeh

          Can you make some room to rant about the Raptors as well??

          1. howardlindzon

            Lol. No

          2. Gabriel Nijmeh

            Leafs = suck. Raptors = suck. Blue Jays = suck. And you think you have it bad in Phoenix.Have a little bit of sympathy, man.

  23. Doug Kersten

    First Barack wasn’t a Christian, now he’s a Cristian but not a ‘good’ Christian, next he’ll be a ‘good’ Christian but not our kind of Christian. If he overcomes all of those levels of Chritianity he’ll become president. America is full of idiots but I’ll do my duty and vote anyway. Hillary lies to much for me and McCain is saddled by the far right so my choice is made.

  24. Emil Sotirov

    From now on, a new norm should be promoted – young people interested in political carriers should be excused from active participation in organized religion, “nutty” clubs, fraternities/sororities, etc… at as early age as possible – if they plan to represent all of us one day.The political class should be just that – political.

  25. SOB Denver

    Reading these posts, saddens me. I usually enjoy following this blog for the insightful commentary on topics that are outside my profession from the “tech” clerisy. Unfortunately, a significant number of comments on this string are bellicose and often pejorative. On the other hand, it is encouraging that this country is having more passionate dialogue on politics . . . almost rivaling our obsession with Hollywood and professional athletes, almost. I implore readers of this blog not to depend on television media as their resource for news. I can’t believe I need to bring this up on a blog of all places, but the above content merits it! Using one of Obama’s favorite words, television news is antithetical to factual news. These talking heads are occasionally entertaining and have colorful opinions, but rarely delve into the truth. If you were researching trends in the tech industry, would you base your decisions on the business programs from Fox , MSNBC and CNN? Take the next necessary step and do some investigative journalism of your own to get beyond the blather. Erratum, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, is one of the few exceptions. I’m compelled to make a few comments about some of the uninformed statements made above that seem to recur in this campaign on the boob tube. Being someone’s spouse shouldn’t equate to experience in their occupation. My wife is a chef, I’ve watched her cook, I know how to cook, but that doesn’t mean I could ever be a successful chef. To posit that a spouse of a prior president could be successful in that occupation by proximity, observation and occasional consultation trivializes the difficulty of this position. I highly recommend a book germane to this topic, “Team of Rivals”. It’s a historical non-fiction account of Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. The biographical information on Lincoln is applicable to debunk the argument that political experience is paramount to becoming the president. Lincoln had more political defeats and less years in office than Obama, but he was also a great man with integrity. What puzzles me is how Hillary supporters will use the experience card against John McCain. There are numerous other half truths, expounded above, but this post is becoming soporific, my apologies.”To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.” Edward R. MurrowRespectfully,S

  26. andyswan

    Also…..I’m no Obama fan by any stretch. In fact, I think he’s a very bad choice…..but come on Dems, this is a freakin FIGHT!I’m just so disappointed in the Democratic party this year for not stepping up to the plate and kicking the hell out of the GOP. Instead you let an unvetted, inexperienced hype-machine rise to the top without challenge….and now what? You’re going to bail on him as soon as he takes the first bullet? Don’t you understand….if he survives this bullet he’ll be MUCH STRONGER in October when it counts! Fight for your freakin candidate don’t just wave the white flag. Is this the party of Harry Reid or Harry Truman?Fuck I’m sick of the DNC whining and moaning instead of playing to WIN!!!! The GOP is literally trying to hand this race to you….McCain is a sacrificial lamb! Goodness.

    1. stone

      I couldn’t agree more, Andy. Well said!

  27. GL

    Many valid points. As a the days pass bye we are starting to get a glimpse of the skeletons in the closet. I think Andy’s post is correct that Barack would throw you under the bus if it benefited him. On some level this is Politics 101. Its becoming pretty clear now that this opening comedy act for the Democrats is drawing to a close. Hillary will be the candidate.

  28. Jack

    What surprises me is the apparent hypocrisy of the VC community, which seems to be all in a blather of support for Obama. When I pitch to the VCs I expect a significant amount of due-diligence investigation on the part of the VC – my company, my background, my references, my advisers, my experience. I don’t see that same rigor applied to Obama.Looking at Obama’s record, he’s the farthest left of the whole senate. He has not introduced any bi-partisan bills, and has not shown any record of being a uniter, the apparent major appeal to Fred. It’s actions, not words that count here. In contrast, one of McCain’s biggest problems is the far-right don’t like the fact that he _is_ a uniter, and has crossed party lines many, many times.In addition to attendance, Obama claimed the Rev. Wright as his _personal_ adviser for over 20 years – in fact Wright was the man that “introduced Obama to his Christian faith”. How, after 20 years, could Obama not know of Wright’s attitudes. It doesn’t take more than a single Google search to see that Wright has long supported Farakhan, a paragon of hate, racism and divisiveness. (Obama, himself, refused to disassociate from Farakhan until forced during a debate.) Wright and his church have published many hate filled racist opinions by Wright, as well as blood libel against the jews, and pieces by Hamas Terrorist Marzook. Obama’s association with Rev. Wright goes far beyond Obama attending Wright’s church, and to say otherwise is to blatantly whitewash the facts. I highly doubt such obvious obfuscations of the truth would be accepted in a board meeting of a startup.What seems to be lost on Fred and Dick is that Obama’s problems go far beyond the Rev. Wright. Obama has had a long standing association with the Rev. Al Sharpton (Tawanna Brawley, Crown Heights, Freddy’s Fashion Mart), another hate-filled racist divider. He has had other associations with terrorists (Ayers), and apparently didn’t take action when his Texas campaign office hung Cuban flags with the image of the psychotic terrorist murderer Che Gueverra. He continues to engage a long-string of anti-Israel advisers (Power, McPeak, Malley, Hamilton, Brzezinsky and Cirincione). Obama also has an apparent willingness to keep distancing himself from the rest of us (arugula-gate, bitter-gate).When you combine all of these things together, a picture is painted and it isn’t very pretty. I don’t find any evidence that Obama has worked as a uniter. About the only item I can find that indicates Obama is a uniter is Obama’s personal claims. However, I find a lot of evidence that he has spent a significant portion of his political life surrounding himself with dividers, haters, racists and terrorists.Should I pitch an investment opportunity to you that on the surface you liked, but when you did your due-diligence, you found a number of questionable items, you would probably pass on the investment. Why is it not the same for Obama?

    1. stone

      What a terrific comment and all facts. Nice job of laying things out. Obama is not what he appears to be albeit extremely likeable, smart and charismatic.

  29. Jim

    The problem with Obama is that becuase of his race, everyone was afraid to ask the tough questions for fear of offense or being labeled a racist for asking the hard questions.As a President we want him to be able to handle tough decisions and stressful events. Had we as a nation been tougher on Obama then he would have been a stronger candidate today.As far as McCain is concerned, he may be a Republican, but so was Abraham Lincoln, so was Frederick Douglas. Let’s not stereotype people based on their political party. McCain was elected to the Senate in 1986. For 22 years he was labeled as a “Maverick.” He was willing to stand against his own party and cross the aisle.But all of a sudden he is a Bush Clone. All of a sudden 22 years of being a Maverick is erased becasue of his party affilitation.I am from Chicago, and although I like Obama as a person, he really has not done much here note worthy while in Springfield. On the other-hand he actually has held more offiices that Hillary Clinton.

    1. stone

      Well, he most certainly must’ve worked across party affiliations to get really important stuff done, right? What was his greatest political achievement in Springfield? Can you name one?

      1. stallone

        That would battling everyone in IL including the PD to win passing legislation on videotaping interrogations. it was the first of its kind in the US, if I’m not mistaken.And I didn’t even have to Google it.

    2. hypermark

      I have less of an issue with McCain on party lines and more that this is a guy who has touted himself as straight talk express, but in many respects completely sold his soul to try and win the election.This is a guy who was completely tarred and feathered by George W. Bush during the 2000 primaries (with the ‘illegitimate black baby’ leaflet smear campaign on cars in south carolina church’s – well framed in this 2004 salon article –…, yet became the reliable “military hero” for the Bushies to validate a lot of their scorched earth politics.This is a guy who in one breath earnestly condemns Obama on the Wright affair then squirms mightily and nervously chuckles when questioned on accepting an endorsement from Rev. John Hage (watch this clip starting at 3:00 –….

  30. paul177

    Well said…Fred….or is it right said Fred. Sorry, unintentional rhyme there.Obama’s message is extremely intoxicating and long overdue in American politics. But there is no doubt that Wright has raised some eyebrows and maybe even changed some minds.My hope is that Obama can weather this without looking like he is turning his back on his early supporters, while also appealing to the majority of us that are centrists.

  31. chughes

    First of all, thank you for throwing some support to the other Dem candidate. I agree that Clinton is a candidate that has few skeletons in her closet that haven’t already fallen out or for over which she hasn’t already been blugeoned. Barack is a completely different situation. IMHO, i do believe what many are noting that the media has indeed become infatuated with this new kid on the block with an interesting message, great oratory skills and the ability to get the black and youth vote motivated to vote. However, they have done a poor job in holding Obama’s feet to the fire and vhetting him further. We know, if the given the opportunity, the GOP has zero qualms of doing the media’s job, asking the relevant, hard questions and vhetting him, whether or not they are accused of being racist.I believe pastors should have a message of peace and love and compassion and, most of all, forgiveness. Sadly, Obama chose a pastor that exhibits none of these qualities that one would presumably seek out in church, and instead chose to support this man, knowing a little more than i believe he wants to admit. Only until the Reverend became too much of a liability did Obama decide to part ways. I recall distinctly Obama candidly stating that there was nothing “particularly controversial” about his pastor, and then in his race speech he admitted that he knew of some comments that some would find objectionable. Anyway, it is a shame indeed. Prior to all this, Obama was somebody i may have supported, but the more I got to know about him, the more uncomfortable I became.

  32. hypermark

    Fred, a couple of quick comments. One, isn’t it somewhat of a reflection of how difficult change is to manifest, that you, an articulate, enlightened guy, who sounds pre-disposed to believe in what Obama puts forth, nonetheless voted for the devil you know? (I know it’s a rhetorical question since you essentially frame the same point.)Two, perhaps behind the hullabaloo around the Wright fiasco and the “Bitter-gate” backlash lies an important metaphor; namely, that the path to the presidency requires displaying the skillful means necessary to actually slay the dragon, be that dragon the media, McCain, or the Bill-ary hydra.Philosophy and earnest intent but a fundamental willingness to back principals with potent force when necessary. After all, we live in a world where your adversary (in this case, Hillary) may punch first and ask questions later.There is a scene in ‘Cinderella Man’ where James Braddock is on the ropes, seemingly going down for the count, when he has a vision of his family, his dreams and everything that he would lose if the moment plays through. And in that moment, he gets clarity, rises up, and takes down his competitor.This is the question. Can Obama match his brains with brawn when it is necessary to go for the knockout? My gut is that the presidency rides on this question.Cheers,Mark– Are You Working with Chickens or Pigs?

  33. tkaustin

    Am I the only one who has believed all along that Obama is still just a politician? I live in Austin, which is a pretty liberal place. I had kids knocking down my doors with Obama stickers on during the primary, asking me to vote. Could any of them answer basic questions about Obama’s plans, economic or otherwise? Hardly.Obama is a great speaker and a great motivator. But he has to play the same game as the rest of the politicians out there, no question. Rev. Wright is an unfortunate circumstance that I think speaks more about the country’s preparedness for a minority president than anything else. Obama’s harshest critics would be his own reference group, and it appears that his reference group is more focused on tearing him down right now than propping him up.

  34. brent oesterblad

    Great post. I love your line “I believe in god but not in relgion organized by man”.

  35. Steven Kane

    fred, gonna split a hair or two, philosophicallyhow can one “believe in god but not in religion organized by man”?the idea of god itself by definition must be “organized by man” — arguably the definition of sentience is the ability to question. positing the existence of a deity would only occur to a sentient creature. ergo, god, like religion, is “organized by man.” can’t separate the two.(side bar: i also believe in god. if for no other reason, then because of what brilliant science fiction author robert sawyer suggested – that, since due to quantum theory we now believe that parallel universes may exist, and that further, our actions in splitting atoms and the like may be creating parallel universes, then we must be openminded that some sentient being(s) created our own universe.)also, not sure why you place religion in a separate category (that is, if you do.) can’t everything you say about religion also be said about, say, science? or technology? e.g. that science is not the root of all evil but the people who traffic in it sure can be (dr. josef mengele comes quickly to mind).

    1. fredwilson

      On the latter point I agree with you steve.On the former I don’t see it that way. I think of god as a concept. Effectively spirituality. Possibly a higher orderBut I think of religion as men/women using god to tell other men/women what to do, think, believe, etcAnd that is offensive to meFred

      1. Steven Kane

        Hmm. Maybe gonna split hairs againyes god is a conceptbut so is religion – a conceptual framework describing how to live (morality, ethics, behavior) and why (because it is in harmony with the larger order of things)that is, religion is a way of living and seeing the universe. no more no less. as is “God.” (I mean, “god” is not a natural phenomenon; “god” is a concept for describing a higher level of existance or consciousness or orderas for “men/women using god to tell other men/women what to do, think, believe,” well, that describes a lot of things you strongly agree with also — for example, the declaration of independence, the US constitution, the modern western “rule of law”.The opening of the Declaration states its purpose right up front: “to tell men/women what to do, think, believe”, to tell men/women to (in Jefferson’s words) “assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.”In short, to see that God and nature compel a certain type of thinking and action, which overrides any/all arbitrary human systems.And the document’s perhaps most famous language says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”Now, you and me and people like us love these words because we see them as liberating in the truest sense of the word — allowing for — demanding — free will and social mobility and democracy and the like.But while those words do that, they also certainly fall into the category of telling people “what to do” (cast off unnatural or ungodly systems if they interfere with natural/God-given “rights”), “what to think” (there is a higher power and order than any created by humans, including Kings) and “what to believe” (that all men are created equal — a radically different philosophy/theology for its time, even for now.)My point is not that all messages and views are equal. They are not. I am not a moral relativist — I am a believer in good, and, yes, evil. But I think we sometimes throw the baby out with the bathwater when we condemn “religion” as if its not simply another philosophical or political or moral or ethical system, as full of positive messages as negative ones, as blood soaked as it is blessed.Humankind has always been religious; I believe it will always be. Life and the universe are too damn hard and tragic and confusing — sentient creatures will inevitably be attracted to these that suggest there is some higher order, not just raw hedonistic survival.And btw, atheists are often the most “religious” people I know — they typically claim, with vitriol, that the scientific method shows them there is no “god,” no supernatural side of things. But they also believe — with, yes, religious fervency — that science also shows them Truth, and The True Order of Things. In short, for them, despite tsunamis of evidence to the contrary (consciousness, eugenics, the placebo effect) science is the One True Faith.Thus concludeth thy sermon for today!

        1. Brian

          Great reply Steve.Just because one religious person behaves badly does not mean all do. For every preacher you see on TV, there are hundreds out their preaching about love and doing great work to lift others up.This is like saying I can’t stand science because of Al Gore uses junk science to tell people what to do.I think it is a good thing that religious leaders like Martin Luther King and Gandhi told others what to do. I am glad Lincoln used his religion to inform his decision to tell the people in the Confederacy what to do. Religious leaders are usually the first to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to human rights in the third world.The same people who tell me what light bulb I have to use, not to spank my kids, not to HAVE kids (Ted Turner), and how big my toilet bowl should be are the first people to tell me to shut up and stop telling them what to do when it comes to abortion and gay marriage.

        2. fredwilson

          You’ve thought a lot more about this than I have steveI am not condemning religionJust saying I don’t go for itfred

  36. S.t

    BHO = POSBHO’s future? How’s “Reverend Obama” sound?

  37. aripap

    Nice post Fred, I hadn’t thought about the personal dynamics before.

  38. Littyhoops

    Fred,I don’t usually read the comments section of your blog post (prob just don’t have enough time) but after I read this post I went directly to check them out. I was more interested in people’s reaction to your post then the post itself. I think this makes sense. You’re just one guy with one opinion but I wanted to hear the thoughts of the interesting community that surrounds you (smart, educated, technological obsessed, entrepreneurial).I wonder if you wrote the post for just that reason. As I evaluate my blog topic, I often think about the reaction of my audience and I imagine other bloggers do the same. When you shared your opinion, were you more interested to hear what other people thought about Wright situation or what other people thought of your opinion?I think it’s fun to play journalist and just another reason why blogging is so addictive!As for Wright, I was amused by his delivery and presentation. It seemed natural that a life-long preacher would use the biggest and brightest stage to showcase his beliefs with showmanship and pizazz. I guess he believes so strongly in his convictions that it trumps his support of Obama.

    1. fredwilson

      I wrote the post because I was angry and needed to get the anger out and off my brain.But yes, the comments are the best part of this blog and I read every single one of them and reply to as many of thenm as I canFred

  39. Siminoff

    Fred,I think that this is the best post that you have ever written. Very nice!Jamie

    1. fredwilson

      I am partial to the first one I wrote in late sept 2003

  40. bbebop

    i find this pretty depressing. obama is new (unanswered questions) and black, and the country’s not ready to move beyond race, and religion and the games cynical politicians play. so vote for a cynical politician (the devil we know) who will exploit race and religion and other cynical games. and root for obama from a safe distance? gee, i hope he makes it?if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we got…

  41. jackson

    Politics has become like Hockey. The season is just too long. It’s very much a ‘give ’em enough rope’ situation. Keep ’em hangin’ around long enough and somebody will hang themself.Not that I disagree with a lot of what the Rev has to say, but I do disagree with how he threw his friend, supporter, and parishoner Obama under the bus AFTER Obama chose not to do the same to him.I quote our modern day American Humorist Chan Chandler when I say that I have no problem with Jesus, it’s just his fan club that I have problems with.

    1. fredwilson

      Jackson. You and I (and chan) share the same view on religion. I wonder whyLove the hockey analogy. You really are one of the greatest blog comment talents out thereExactly the right balance of opinion, humor, and occasionally angerFred

  42. Dave Hyndman

    Great post, Fred. I think you’re spot on about Obama’s authenticity. Unfortunately you’re also probably right about America’s inability to travel a higher road with him. This is indeed a tragedy.My hope is that through more down-to-earth means (strong fundraising, etc) he may still pull this off.

  43. Dan Weinreb

    Wait and see if the Wright thing blows over. There is a LOT of time between now and the general election.Meanwhile, Clinton calls herself battle-tested and still-alive, but the Republicans are very much hoping she’ll win, since there is such a huge catalog of mud to throw at her. She cannot possibly win the general election. Too many people already hate her, and the Republicans will attack her mercilessly.

  44. phoneranger

    I was listening to some people on the bus loudly arguing about the campaign last night. I just overheard “then why stay with that old coot for the last twenty years?”. I got off the bus and realized I didn’t know who they were talking about Obama, Hillary or Cindy McCain.

  45. Paul Lightfoot

    Fred, I appreciate your comments, which are thoughtful and interesting. As you know, I’ve been a big Obama supporter for a while.The one point I’ll add to your post is that it isn’t quite time to call this a Shakespearean tragedy because there hasn’t been an ending. In fact, almost all indicators suggest that Obama will still win. If that’s the case, then this episode in hindsight will just be another bump in the road that strengthened Obama for the general election.In the same line of thinking, I’m not ready to agree that “our country is not yet willing”. If Obama wins (and the math is pretty clear at this point that he’ll win) the primary, and then the general, then I’m going to conclude that the nation is willing and ready.- Paul Lightfoot

    1. fredwilson

      PaulIf the dems think obama can’t win in nov, he won’t win the nominationThat’s the whole point of superdelegatesI am not saying I am for superdelegates. But they can and will change their mind if they think its in the best interests of the partyLook at the chart on the front page of the times todayWhat would you do if that was a stock chart?Fred

      1. Paul Lightfoot

        I don’t read stock charts! The only stock (excluding indexes/funds) I’ve owned for the past several years has been Berkshire Hathaway.But I did see the chart on the NYT front page today (from a hotel in Houston) and my first thought was “volatility”. My second thought was that 51 is a much bigger number than 34. My third thought was that this was a poll of people that aren’t going to make the decision (much of the respondents votes have already been counted and they gave the lead to Obama).And then I read that a former DNC chairman under Bill Clinton just endorsed Obama in Indiana. And that 8 superdelegates went to Obama this week while 3 went to Clinton. Once again, the math is what it is. “If the dems think obama can’t win in nov, he won’t win the nomination” is a true statement, but the scoreboard shows that they DO think he’ll win in Nov and that he will take the nomination. And time is running out.

        1. fredwilson

          PaulGreat discussion. I sure hope you are right. I am rooting for your guyI put the NY Times chart on my blog today…fred

  46. scott crawford

    Thanks Fred. I was compelled to do one thing this week in response to all this: Donate again to the Obama campaign just to make sure my support is counted. Now more than ever. For the very reasons you outlined. Call me sisyphus. Back to the rock!

    1. fredwilson

      The gotham gal and I have given the max to Obama. I wish I could give more.We also gave the max to Hillary.Fred

      1. scott crawford

        Fred, You and the Gal continue to give here, hosting the forum, pushing out the discussion. Thanks. Scott

  47. muratcannoyan

    Sadly, most Americans can only look at Obama or any other candidate for that matter through the prism of religion. Thanks for the post.

  48. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    Oh so true! Very well said. It is the perceived power that some religious people feel entitled to that I believe makes them act like this. Wright is now in the limelight and any threat to his perceived power over his church ‘constituents’ probably fuels him even further. It’s really sad because I have observed that in groups where there has been decades of repression and self esteem issues, it is very hard to get past. It eats them up. They can’t see beyond it. It’s something about human nature that keeps us hanging on to the pain.Sadly, I believe we (th US) are the catalyst for setting up a similar set of ‘hard feelings’ in the Middle East and Iraq. I don’t think anyone should be surprised that people like Wright exist and will take the opportunity to further their agenda at the expense of others right before what could be a great shift in political thinking. I just hope people view him as an anomaly and don’t then think Obama feels/thinks the same way. Just because one’s friend or relative is an alcoholic does not mean one condones alcoholism.The road to hell is paved with good intentions. At it’s core the message of Christianity, I believe, is forgiveness and acceptance. Wright, just like the Republicans who preach fiscal responsibility and make fiscally unsound decisions, seems to be following that road to hell and seems to be worshipping his anger above his God.

  49. MikeC

    I want to weigh in on this issue and I apologize in advance for this long post, but I just can’t sit quietly anymore. I’m a black professional who went to high school and college (Stanford Undergrad) in mostly white schools and whose career was spent in an industry (semiconductors) where people like me were overwhelmingly under-represented. I find that Obama’s candidacy is unconsciously causing the country to come face-to-face with its continuing discomfort with real discussions of race. The comments I see here, and that I have experienced at large are so much more painful than people “not of my color” can really imagine.When Obama first decided to run I spoke to many of my friends who commented that their fear of his candidacy wasn’t that he was too young, too inexperienced, too liberal, but that he was . . . well, just Black. And our fear was – that in the rough and tumble world of politics and the media’s coverage of it, that the country would find ways to tear down a Black man for all the public to see; a public lynching of sorts.I know those are strong words, but I’m expressing the strong fears that still exist in our community. And there are people who want to make us wrong for feeling this way, but feelings are neither right nor wrong – they just are. It’s how we deal with those feelings that count.In some ways Obama is one of the most perfect Black candidates, almost out of central casting. He’s youthful and energetic, he’s extremely well spoken (what that means in my neighborhood – he doesn’t “sound” black, which has been a bit of a kiss of death for blacks in the public eye), he’s highly educated, he’s not from San Francisco or Austin, Texas (don’t take offense – it’s just that people in many parts of the country think that people from highly liberal cities don’t share our values), he’s a churchgoer, the list goes on.Yet look at what seems to be the issues dragging him down:Biggest Mistake One: He is associated,with maybe even likes, an angry Black preacher (my experience is that if you want to be sure that people not of your race discount you, be perceived as being “angry”, whether you are justified or not). If that is a litmus test for a black candidate, it will be several more decades before we can run for office. Many black leaders from the civil rights era speak in angry tones, use hyperbole and exagerration to make their points, but are just as patriotic as George Bush or Rush Limbaugh. We understand that when one of us “condemns” America for Jim Crow (and its remnants), segregation, “economic apartheid” (Jesse Jackson’s current favorite term), or whatever label is used, what we are saying is that America’s actions are often out of alignment with its ideals, and that we can be better than that. I don’t agree with Rev. Wright’s use of words or characterizations, but I ABSOLUTELY understand his upset and his passion about what needs to be changed, and what needs to be exposed and discussed.Biggest Mistake Two: He’s being considered to be “elitist”. OMG – this is the same fight that I fight with my own people when boys in the hood look down on kids with schoolbooks because they are trying to “act white” (as if that’s some kind of disease). You know what, as an American I pray to god that my President is smarter than me and maybe has more education, more knowledge, more insight than I do because we need that level of sophistication to deal with a complicated world. And before you pile on about being able to “connect” with people yes, I want my President to be able to understand my situation, and empathize with my situation, but being able to bowl or liking deep friend twinkies is not a rational pre-requisite to running the most powerful nation on the planet. So for me, I hope that Obama is elite.Biggest Mistake Three (and this is not really a mistake), he’s inexperienced. This is a specious argument, you know why? It assumes that having experienced makes you more qualified to do this job. If that was the case then Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Chenney should have led us to the land of plenty. There were no more experienced people in the country than those two, yet look at the havoc they have caused. I don’t care what you did before, I only care about your ability to make the right (or at least the best decisions). So I don’t want to hear about this argument anymore.And lastly, the press is complicit (and we with it) in dragging down our public discourse. If any of you on this blog were to have a camera in your face 24/7 and had any 10 words you spoke in any given day taken out of context, do you beleive that those 10 words are who you are or what you believe? We have to be better than our entertainment-driven press whose sole job is to look for the flaw or look for the hero story because that makes better headlines than, “New Candidate offers tough but reasonable plan to reduce hunger.”Who wants to buy that paper? I do, but I’m not sure many Americans wouldn’t pass that up for “Hilary catches Bill with another intern!!”OK, I’m done. Peace.

    1. fredwilson

      MikeThis is an excellent comment, but it’s really a blog post.I am reblogging it at because it stands on its own and isexcellentThanks for sharing it with usfred

    2. Andy Freeman

      Fair enough.One question though – are there any reasons one can prefer another candidate to Obama without being called a racist?IMHO, this question is related to a “which service to use” issue that a lot of folks misunderstand. As Dave Winer points out, many folks prefer services that don’t have lock-in. For example, the easier it is to get my data out, the more likely I am to put my data in.

    3. RacerRick

      That was a great comment. Puts some things in context. Thanks.

    4. strtme

      Mike C,Well said, young man. Nothing further needs to be added..

  50. Mac

    Perhaps the good reverend is not aware of the concept of separation of church and state? Perhaps he cannot decide whether he should fish for votes or souls?Perhaps he should start paying taxes?

  51. Derek

    Re: McCain/Hagee compared to Obama/Wright – I look at this through the prism of 20 years ago, when I voted for Bush I over Dukakis. I thought Bush I was fairly moderate and wouldn’t be as beholden to the religious right (certainly not as much as Pat Robertson, who beat Bush in Iowa). While I still think Bush I is a moderate, the reality of party politics is that he had satisfy the Christianist base, which lead to real policy changes like banning doctors in government hospitals from even mentioning abortion as an option for women with unwanted pregnancies. That strain of appeasement has carried through to the current administration on issues such as family planning in Africa, government funding of faith-based initiatives and, of course, choosing Supreme Court justices.IOW, McCain will be forced by politics to implement *policies* favored by the right, not just rhetoric.OTOH, I really find it hard to believe that Obama will, for example, demand an investigation into whether the government is responsible for AIDS, or give a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Farrakhan.If people want to focus on Wright and/or Hagee, they should ask whether their association with their respective candidates will have an actual effect on policy, not hand-wavy BS about “judgment.” I like McCain, but I think his policies will be dramatically more impacted by his association with the Christian right than Obama’s will be by so-called black liberation theology.

  52. BenParis

    I kind like Dick Costolo and Stone comments, both for different reasons. My humble opinion about wright is: no! it wasn’t Obama’s fault if his beloved and respected reverend had borderline comments in one case, and blunt racist ones in another. My only concern is not about the fact Obama’s reputation as a candidate might have been tarnished by Wright’s comments, but more about why is it surfacing now? I mean, the first issue here in my opinion is that Obama had met the reverend more than 15 tears ago, and attended his preaches quite regularly, so he had a lot of time to figure out if he had to distance himself from Wright: as a man, not as a ploitician!I am not saying here that you cannot be friend with someone who has different opinions on many subjects, but when that friend of yours, close friend, has radically different views from yours on pretty much everything (racial issues, antisemitism, patriotism, terrorism, freedom…), then what are you talking about when you are together? weather? kids?So I am just saying that when your very good friend is so different from you, and that you disagree on pretty much everything, why don’t you just speak clear and loud your difference, when questioned on that matter?It is to me Obama’s mistake. He’s never given a clear explanation when asked questions on touchy issues.

  53. woodstockpatch

    Maybe he called him a “politician” but it was NOT an effort to “rub salt in the wounds…” I think if anyone takes the time to listen to the entire National Press Club speech, question and answer period, both parts of the Bill Moyer’s interview AND Bill’s post interview “essay” everyone will be surprised by the passions, motivations, beliefs and goals of the Rev. It is my firm belief that those two men will have a LONG albeit complicated friendship for many years and will continue to find much common ground in changing our perceptions of race, activism, our government, each other and ultimately ourselves. Fred, I encourage you to revisit this post. Unfortunately, you sound much like the press and those you sometimes vilify. They are still very much on the same page. I am sure of it. “Villains always blink their eyes” in the immortal words of L. Reed, there is definitely NO blinking going on anywhere here, Fred. The Reverend and Senator Obama are both staring, open-eyed, focused, fixed on the cameras and those of us watching from the wings and those of us in the audience. Solid.

  54. Gabe

    Obama needs to put this behind him. Yesterday’s press conference was a big step in the right direction. Now, Obama should “turn the page” and focus on the moving forward addressing the important issues of the day.It is all too common that often the people closest to us, sabotage our goals for their own self interest. Lets not write Obama off because of some selfish religious person trying to capture their 15 minutes of fame.

  55. Gabriel Nijmeh

    Obama can try to put this behind him but if the media, his opponents, detractors, haters etc etc. don’t let it go, this will dog him right to the end. They will keep bringing this issue up, hoping to keep it fresh in the mind of delegates and the public. It’s a nasty psychological game… which Obama might be able to withstand.

  56. Jack

    Although many prominent jews support Obama, many others support Clinton, and others support McCain (,, etc.) Many jews are turned off by Obama’s close association with anti-semites, racists, haters, dividers, terrorists, and their supporters.Re: Hagee or the BP, both Clinton and McCain have their problems, too. However, this is a discussion of Obama and Wright. Equal time does not apply.

  57. MikeC

    Here here! I am sick to death of commentary that evaluates Obama based on his few years in the Senate, as if he was birthed fully grown three years ago . Obama has had several careers, and in each career he has pursued the ideals that he is promoting today.And your point on Hilary is well taken, as all children of the 60’s have radicals in their past.