The Corner

Pastor Preposterous

It’s nice that Jeremiah Wright, Senator Obama’s pastor for twenty years, has been getting some air time. People still seem reluctant to acknowledge, though, the thing I said yesterday: that Wright’s views are not extraordinary or “unorthodox” among black Americans. In that milieu, they are pretty mainstream, and Senator Obama must be scratching his head and wondering what the fuss is about.

For example, Bill O’Reilly was hyperventilating on the telly last night about Wright’s having said, in a sermon, that HIV is a man-made virus, deliberately spread by the U.S. government in a plot to exterminate black people. In fact, a lot of black Americans believe this. Here is a 2005 poll showing that:

Almost half of all African-Americans believe that HIV, the virus that causes Aids, is man-made, more than a quarter believe it was produced in a government laboratory and one in eight think it was created and spread by the CIA, according to a study released by Rand Corporation and the University of Oregon.

I have no doubt that non-black Americans would be willing to vote for a black American as president. Not many of us, however, would be willing to vote for a candidate who thought of himself as black first and American second. That such people exist is proved by the success of Jeremiah Wright — and by the applause of his congregation.

Is Barack Obama such a person? If he is not, why has he been such a loyal member of that congregation, making five-figure donations to Wright’s church at least as late as 2006? Calling on Wright to bless his marriage and his house, and baptize his children? Using a passage from one of Wright’s sermons as the title of his second book?

On the campaign trail, Obama has certainly not come across as a white-hating, America-hating black radical. A man can be known, though, by the company he keeps. Obama has been keeping some mighty weird company.

Does the Senator believe, as his revered pastor does (and as that pastor’s congregation apparently does too) that HIV was made in a government lab? Perhaps someone should ask him. Perhaps someone should have been asking this stuff six months ago.

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