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Obama Flashback

By Michael Goldfarb
Weekly Standard
March 29, 2008

Hugh Hewitt links a 1995 profile of Obama in the Chicago Reader. It's worth reading in full. He shares his views on black churches and the Christian Right, and he makes clear his preference for "collective action" over individualism. And at the end, after discussing his participation in Minister Farrakhan's Million Man March:

"But cursing out white folks is not going to get the job done. Anti-Semitic and anti-Asian statements are not going to lift us up. We've got some hard nuts-and-bolts organizing and planning to do. We've got communities to build."

It doesn't seem like Barack had any real problem with cursing out white folks or making anti-Semitic and anti-Asian statements, it's just not as productive as he'd like. It's the same when he discusses the "wonderful preachers" in Chicago. "As soon as church lets out," he says, "the energy dissipates." You see it's not enough to just say "God Damn America" on Sunday, you have to organize your community and get on with the damning come Monday.

Update: Since Hugh's linked back here...in response to his question ("Did many mainstream Dems join that march?"), the short answer is no. Only two members of Congress attended, as did a couple of mayors (including Marion Barry), Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. President Clinton gave a speech endorsing the goals of the march, but condemning its organizer.

At the time Clinton said "One million men are right to be standing up for personal responsibility, but one million men do not make right one man's message of malice and division." He did not refer to Farrakhan by name, but in retrospect this looks like pretty strong stuff compared to Obama's "Anti-Semitic and anti-Asian statements are not going to lift us up." And of course Clinton didn't actually attend the march.

Also check out Matt Labash's reporting on the march from the October 23, 1995 issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.



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