Wright vs. Wrong

ImageBrothers and sisters, if it took Obama one week to sever ties with his pastor/father-figure of 20 years to improve his position in the eye of the public, how long will it take him to sever a relationship with the Muslim community which as of today is nonexistent?

Obama vs. Wright

United States Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama has surprised both political analysts and opponents alike with his success (including the support of many Muslim Americans) thus far on the campaign trail. Recently, Sen. Obama managed to surprise even himself regarding a very sticky situation, more specifically the decision he had to make between backing the views of his pastor, and distancing himself from them.  He ultimately choose the latter of the two, which some argue was his only option in order to survive politically. Let's be clear: the role that Reverend Jeremiah Wright played in the life of Sen. Barack Obama was by no means a minor one. Wright had been Obama's pastor for more than 20 years. He brought Obama towards Christianity, proceeded over the Senator's wedding, baptized his daughters, and even inspired the title of his book The Audacity of Hope.

The controversy started when short clips of the Reverend surfaced online in which he made remarks labeled as unpatriotic, such as "God Damn America!" Wright recently appeared at the National Press Club where he vehemently defended his remarks. "God doesn't bless everything. God condemns some things. And dem, D-E-M, is where we get the word damn. God damns some practices and there's no excuse for the things that the government, not the American people, have done. That doesn't make me not like America or unpatriotic."

This proved to be the final straw for Obama, as he faced extreme pressure from political opponents and the popular press alike to denounce his pastor. The AP ran a story in which Obama commented on the recent exchange. "When the first snippets came out, I thought it was important to give him the benefit of the doubt, because if I had wanted to be politically expedient, I would have distanced myself and denounced him right away, right? That would have been the easy thing to do," said Obama.

So what is the solution for Muslim America in the upcoming election? A better question that we should be asking ourselves is whether or not there actually IS a solution in the upcoming election. Many make the argument that Obama is the best option for Muslims, the lesser of two evils, and a man of change. The most recent exchange in the media between Obama and Wright highlighted an underlying theme: Obama's willingness to do whatever it takes to win, in this case bowing down to pressure from the media to disown his longstanding relationship with Rev. Wright. A similar line of reasoning is used by Muslims who support Obama, stating that if he openly in any way denounced Israeli foreign policy, or stood for justice in this case, he would have no chance to win.

Brothers and sisters, if it took Obama one week to sever ties with his pastor/father-figure of 20 years to improve his position in the eye of the public, how long will it take him to sever a relationship with the Muslim community which as of today is nonexistent? Reverend Wright was open in his criticisms of the American political system and foreign policy, something that every patriotic American should hold their government accountable for. The moment that we accuse those who challenge the status quo as being "crazy" is when we fall into the trap of those who are subject to the challenge in the first place. It should be of no surprise to us that should we put our faith in such a politician who can cut ties with his closest of friends so easily, that he would not hesitate to cut ties with others should it be to advantage of his political career. As the Honorable Malcolm X so boldly stated, "You put them first and they put you last, because you're a chump."

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  • Nichole

    InshAllah Muslims will recognize that supporting someone financially or politically has its implications reaching far beyond election day and although Allah (swt) is merciful in not punishing us for the sins of others, we are punished for the encouragement and or support of another into sin. When does the lesser of two evils argument ever represent Islamic logic?

  • Yahya

    Good job pointing out the flawed arguement of voting for Obama. Jeremiah Wright for president!

  • dawud

    Obama ’08. I am amazed by the attacks that Senator Obama has faced from so many different groups!! Yet he has stayed strong and has kept the higher ground. From my reading and studying of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), he would support Senator Obama over the other two so be cautious in using one notable African American to denigrate an other. Also, in fairness to Senator Obama, Reverend Wright comments last week were problematic and he purposely left Senator Obama with no choice. Reverend Wright himself said prior to the start of Senator Obama’s campaign that Senator Obama would have to distance himself from Reverend Wright. So do we really know the relationship between the two?

  • Mehdi

    Asalaamu Alaikum,

    Thanks for the comments, I will have to disagree with you br. Dawud. A thorough examination of the life of Malcolm X would prove the opposite to be true in terms of his alleged support for Obama had he been alive today. Malcolm X would in fact be in support for Rev Wright. The movement that Malcolm X was leading was based on the reality that the system in place is corrupt, racist, and destined for failure. His view was that you cant win a game that is rigged. When I mentioned the relationship between the Rev and Obama, I was highlighting a trend in his actions, his willingness to do what it takes to come out on top, even if it means throwing a close one under the bus.

    Muslims who have faith in this political system and put their trusts in a politician should be aware and informed about the individual they are backing. It should be of no surprise if the very politician who is supported by such a group of people will later break ties because of political pressure, etc. Remember if you are making excuses that Obama needs to do what he is doing to get elected, is it valid to make the same argument again during his presidency? Most Presidents want to get reelected, and most parties want to enjoy high popularity rankings so that they gain support for other elections which occur between the presidential elections.

  • Dawud

    Wa Likum Salaam,

    Brother, there is no disagreement here. I agree wholeheartedly agree with your statement and premise. My question is what options do we have as an Ummah? I don’t want us to sit out and not have our concerns heard. The important aspect about Presidents is the people that surround them. So while Senator Clinton is talking about bombing Iran to oblivion, Senator Obama is calling her out in the carpet about that statement. I feel that as an Ummah we MAY have the potential to be heared with Senator Obama that we would not have with the other two candidates. Also, Rev. Wright’s statements are very Islamic to a certain extent. For a Christian leader Rev. Wright appears to be very sympathetic to the issues that are dear to us so could we not anticipate that Senator Obama at the core is similar? It would not surprise me if this entire spat was scripted by the two so we could get to the real issues!! Also, when I look at Senator Obama I feel that he has succeeded despite the failure of some Muslims. For example, his father was born in a Muslim household and appears to not have done anything to teach Senator Obama about his (fathers) faith. I am unclear how much of a role his Indonesian, Muslim stepfather played in introducing Senator Obama to Islam. As a revert and the descendent of Muslim slaves, I admittedly have a soft spot in regards to this issue so I am not the most objective brother in this issue. It pains me when I see the descendents of Muslims not aware of the beauty of Islam. As an Ummah we must make sure that our issues are heard. Anyway this is all games. I am waiting for Imam Mahdi!!

  • Zahara

    I like the discussion that was brought up by this article, as well as the article itself. I think that everyone here is right to a certain extent. I hate to hear so many Muslims say “oh, the system is corrupt, I’m not doing anything, I’m not voting” – how is that better than the rest of America, wallowing in apathy? Apathy does nothing! It is a lack of action! As Muslims we know that political inaction is not the solution. Apathy and inaction is how we got into this mess in the first place!!! Yes, America is corrupt, but so are many other governments, and worse so. The good thing is that at least we have a ground basis to start with and fight for: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, a democratic system (albeit, that needs to be fixed). Many countries don’t even have that. You can complain all you want, brothers and sisters, but nothing will change until we – the younger generation – MAKE it change! Didn’t a Shia scholar say that it’s important for Muslims to engage in journalism and politics? Forgive me, I heard it in halaqa, but forgot which scholar we were discussing at the time. Wasalaam.