Here’s another way to look at the Obama-Wright affair: The Left likes to talk about an American “mosaic,” but most Americans still believe in E pluribus unum. For African Americans, in particular, there is an understandable pull toward ethnic identity, but it is wrong to put that ahead of patriotism and one’s identity as an American. Certainly, one cannot do so if one expects to be elected president. The fact that Obama was reluctant to distance himself from Wright because they shared the same ethnic background is thus no mitigating factor at all: Rather, it aggravates people’s concern that, ultimately, Obama may be less committed to our common enterprise than our president must be, because he was willing to tolerate divisive, anti-American talk simply because the speaker was from “his” “community.”
Native or foreign born, if you’re not comfortable with assimilation — if you’re not willing to put your American identity ahead of your ethnic identity-then you can hardly expect people who do not share your ethnic identity to give you their full trust. That’s a lesson of broad applicability as America becomes increasingly multiethnic and multiracial.