Guilt by Association: Obama and Wright


A few weeks ago Stanley Fish wrote this in his column Think Again:

Renunciation of a position you no longer hold and now consider to be profoundly in error may be helpful to your psychological health. Renouncing a group from which you have broken away may serve the useful purpose of warning others away from the dangers you have now escaped. Denouncing is a bit different. Usually we denounce our opponents, not our friends or associates or loved ones (unless we are living in a totalitarian state where denunciations are offered as proof of loyalty). So it seems overly dramatic to denounce a supporter because he or she has uttered an opinion you find distasteful. Better to say something mild and nuanced – I don’t agree with that, but I’m not going to turn my back on someone because of a few unfortunate remarks – and get on with the real business at hand. That is what Obama did in his justly praised speech.

These days Obama has shifted gears. Certainly, Wright has said some um..unfortunate things in the last few days. Today’s NY Times editorial says it all:

In the last few days, in a series of shocking appearances, he embraced the Rev. Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism. He said the government manufactured the AIDS virus to kill blacks. He suggested that America was guilty of “terrorism” and so had brought the 9/11 attacks on itself.

The first two claims caused me to raise my eyebrows, the last claim is pretty boring at this point. Certainly, given the symbolism that 9/11 wields such a claim would make a slick politician like Obama rather nervous. Continue reading

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