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Published:April 29th, 2008 13:29 EST
Barack Obama distances himself from Jeremiah Wright

Barack Obama distances himself from Jeremiah Wright

By Robert Paul Reyes

A few weeks ago in Philadelphia Sen. Barack Obama delivered an eloquent, nuanced and ultimately optimistic address on race. Obama denounced Wright's inflammatory remarks that were being endlessly played on the cable news channels, but he valiantly tried to give context to his pastor's indefensible comments.

Wright's incendiary words were beyond the pale, and they overshadowed the great works that he has done to help the poor and disenfranchised in the Chicago area.

Wright's provocative sound bites were seized upon by race-baiting conservatives like Sean Hannity to smear Obama and to characterize Wright in specific and the black church in general.

A good deed rarely goes unpunished, and in the last couple of days Wright has undertaken a public relations tour in which the good Rev. is aggrandizing himself at the expense of his old friend, Barack Obama.

Obama stood by Wright when everyone, including members of his own staff, were advising him to dump his former pastor. Finally Obama, who seems to have the patience of Job,"rejected and denounced" Wright. Obama didn't use those words, but the message was clear: I've had enough and I repudiate Rev. Wright.

"Barack Obama further distanced himself this afternoon from his former pastor, trying to quell a controversy restoked by a series of high-profile appearances by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

Obama said he tried to give Wright the benefit of the doubt earlier about controversial remarks, but was "outraged" by Wright's comments on Monday and "saddened" by the spectacle.

At a news conference in Winston-Salem, NC, Obama said Wright is exploiting old divisions in a way that is antithetical to his campaign of bridging the racial divide. The comments "give comfort to those who prey on hate," Obama said.

Obama called 'ridiculous propositions' Wright's assertions that the US government might have brought AIDS to black neighborhoods, that Louis Farrakhan is one of the greatest voices of the century, and that the US government has conducted terrorism. "There are no excuses," Obama said.

Foon Rhee writing for Boston.Com

Sen. Barack Obama is a relatively young man who transcends race and attracts people of all religions and races to his message of change and hope. Obama has never cynically used race to attract voters. I have never heard Obama say something like, "Here's your chance to make history and elect an African American to the White House. Our time has come." Contrast Obama's inclusive approach to Hillary Clinton who plays the gender card at every campaign stop. I've lost track of how many times Hillary has urged a crowd to make history by electing the first female president.

The Rev. Wright is a bitter old man who has never gotten over the slights, insults and worse that he suffered growing up a black man in the undeniably racist America of a few decades ago.

I don't speak from an ivory tower, I'm a Latino who grew up in a ghetto, I know how it feels to suffer discrimination because of the color of your skin. In spite of all its faults, America is still the greatest nation in the world where anyone, regardless of gender or skin color, can achieve the American dream.

Rev. Wright is a Christian minister and surely he knows that one of the most important messages of the Gospels is to forgive and love your enemies. Wright needs to practice this fundamental truth, and stop sowing discord and dissension. Spreading the insane rumor that the government invented AIDS to wipe out black folks, isn't going to unite Americans of different races.

It is intolerable for pundits and Republicans to try to equate Obama with Wright, they are two very different individuals. I'm relieved that Obama finally irrevocably distanced himself from his former pastor. At his advanced age, Wright is not going to suddenly see the light, he will continue to make foolish and divisive comments. But now that Obama has, for all practical purposes, denounced Wright, the press shouldn't badger Obama every time the colorful minister says something idiotic.

The media should end their unseemly infatuation with Rev. Wright and enable Obama to talk about the important issues of the day: The Iraq War, the sky-high price of oil, the mortgage meltdown, national health care...