Jeremiah Wright’s Speech on Race, and What It Says about Nominations

Today on The Corner, the folks over at National Review are unhappy with Jeremiah’s Wright’s speech on race at the NAACP convention in Detroit, Michigan. Wright, of course, is Barack Obama’s pastor, the man who converted Obama to Christianity, and thus indirectly led to Obama’s hooker-in-the-trunk moment as well as Senator Obama’s disasterous speech on race. has posted the complete video of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s speech to the NAACP, and I encourage you to view the whole thing. The most interesting part begins four minutes into the second ten minutes:

As of this morning I could not find a full-text transcript of it, though criticisms by Byron York:

… I too was struck by Rev. Wright’s discussion of education in the Detroit speech last night. He drew some rather stereotyped distinctions in the way white and black children learn — white children learn diagrams and numbers, while black children memorize reams of hip-hop lyrics. He was dead serious about it.

And Victor Davis Hanson:

One of the strangest things about the NAACP Wright pseudo-scientific speech on learning, and its enthusiastic CNN coverage and analysis, was the abject racialism of Wright. It was sort of an inverse Bell-Curve presentation, based on assumed DNA differences.

His convoluted explanation of African-American right-brain ‘oral’ culture as more creative, musical, and spontaneous versus European left-brain traditional analysis could never have been given by someone white to that audience without justifiably earning booing and catcalls.

Three comments: this was just the sort of racist ‘genetic’ difference that most Americans learned to shun, now apparently quite acceptable again, and part of the mainstream.

Made me curious.

All in all, I came away impressed by Wright’s intelligence, humor, and intellectual ruggedness. Wright’s speech also made me more alarmed about him. Wright is a black nationalist, skeptical of international nationbuilding (it’s not deficient… just different), emphatic that American blacks speak a language other than English (not a dialect, a language), and aggressive in defending black “learning styles,” that involve jumping up on desks and eschew “meaningless solutions” like “reading, writing, and ritalin.”

Wright’s speech to the NAACP made me more nervous about an Obama administration. Obama is clearly comfortable enough with racist-progressives like Wright, in spite of the political costs they inflict. Where does this end? Nominations to Department of Education? Justice? State?

14 thoughts on “Jeremiah Wright’s Speech on Race, and What It Says about Nominations”

  1. Agreed. I was very concerned with Wright’s speech. How he deserves to be elevated to the level of national dialog is beyond me. Were there no more appropriate voices of reason within the American American community that the NAACP could have chosen?

  2. I agree with Wright regarding black learning styles. I just wish he could keep his mouth shut long enough for Obama to get elected.

    You also pointed out the obvious about a white person making the same statement. The best policy for both blacks and whites would be giving parents the opportunity to send their kids to ethnic schools–which would optimize their learning styles.

  3. An Obama cabinet will be interesting. He has expressed interest often in having Dick Lugar, Chuck Hagel and other Republicans serving in it, perhaps as Secretary of State or Defense. He has expressed admiration for school choice, which means his Education Secretary will likely be someone who will make the teacher’s unions (the #2 enemy in American education below apathetic taxpayers and above selfish parents). He has taken care of the troops in the Senate so I expect a strong VA secretary, perhaps even another Republican. He is reasonable on the economy despite his pandering (consider where his Wall St. money comes from, largely hedge funds and other investors) so I expect a solid pick @ Treasury.

    He’s a blank (like the other candidates) on health & human services. What about AG and Homeland Security? I do worry about his AG pick but figure he’ll tap another Republican for DHS.

  4. Eddie,

    Are you judging Obama by his words, or who he has surrounded himself with in the past?


    Wright appears to be distance between mean white and mean black scores in general intelligence, and recognizing both that this leads to different normative behavior and that practice can nonetheless lead to excellent performance with some domains.

    I fear his valid point in this one area will be lost in the sea of nonsense in which is bobs adrift.

    David Hallowell,

    JustOneMinute tracks the story [1], while Sharpton joins the fray [2].

    My suspicion at the time of the Jena 6 nonsense was that it was an attempt by black leaders to harm Obama, to show their power and ability to extort him in the future. This appears to be round 2.


  5. Eddie,

    I’m not sure what you mean. The possibilities I see are:

    a) You hope Obama will surround himself with various politicians from all parties.
    b) You have seen him do this.
    c) You see him supporting those who hold contrary positions, and elevating them to positions of trust.

    Could you clarify?

  6. I look at his legislative record in the Senate, where almost every bill was co-sponsored with a Republican and focused on attainable legislative goals, the very real perception among Republicans that Obama will in fact ask several to serve in his cabinet if he is elected and the fact that I find your whole obsession with Rev. Wright, black liberation theology and Obama to be bewildering.

    More on his bipartisan record in the Senate…

    I am also impressed by the fact that as I said before, he has mentioned Republicans by name (Hagel, Lugar) for important roles in his administration. To me that is the sort of cabinet we need for any administration, Republican or Democrat, where the president selects the best people for the position. I understand the need for trust and general ideological cohesiveness, but that has seemingly rarely been the case in most administrations in any way so why limit the pool to just one political party?

  7. If Obama’s co-sponsorship record is fair praise, is then his voting record [1] fair criticism?

    Given the choice between a centrist Democrat who rules through the party, and a liberal Democrat who forms alliances of convenience, I’d take outcomes (centrist policies) over process (bipartisanship).


  8. I think Eddie is suggesting a best case scenario for the Obama administration, and I agree that the Obama presidency he’s suggesting could be very constructive. But two factors make me doubt that Obama will nominate Republicans to any high profile posts:

    1). As the Obsidian Wings link mentions, Obama has worked across the ailse on several low intensity issues. While non-proliferation and avian flu prepardness are important, these matters don’t require a person to take a great deal of risk or expend political capital but appointing members of the opposite party to your cabinet might require both.

    2). On a related front, President Obama will be under tremendous pressure to take a victory lap, so-to-speak, assuming the Democrats have a great year down ticket. With an expanded majority in both houses (maybe filibuster proof?) the leadership on the Hill will be in no mood for bipartisanship. They’ll approve whoever he appoints, but if he appoints someone they don’t like or pays too much deference to Republicans they can stall his legislative agenda, especially when I think its safe to say that an important Senator named Joe Biden wants either state or defense.

    So even if Obama really does wants a bipartisan cabinet, he won’t be able to do it without taking a huge gamble, something he has rarely done in either the U.S. or Illinois State Senate(1).

    Presidents don’t get to vote “present”.


  9. Brent,

    Your comment is very insightful.

    It’s clear one of the reasons that the Democratic Congressional Leadership supports Obama rather than Clinton is that the Clinton’s have a machine that is intertwined with but independent of the Democratic Party. Obama doesn’t.

    His agenda will be naturally hostage to what Pelosi and Reid value, more so than Clintons (who love to “triangulate”) or McCain (who likewise has worked across-the-aisle on high-intensity issues).

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