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Wright's message and Obama

May 07, 2008

Re "Jeremiah's jeremiad," Opinion, May 1

Rosa Brooks misses the greater point of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.'s attacks. Wright is not simply bitter about slavery and Jim Crow and the Tuskegee experiment. His sermons' message is that man should put his faith in God, not governments. "Governments fail," Wright points out. God does not. God is above governments, and faith in God is rewarded by God, not by governments.

To a congregation that must wonder why the same God that has favored white America has allowed so much harm to blacks, Native Americans and Asians, Wright reminds them that governments are the work of man and not God. Governments can do wrong as easily as right, and their victims are not being penalized by God but by the earthly failure of man. Governments and policy, of course, can change, but God is eternal. Therein lies the message -- the audacity -- of hope.

Dan Shiells

Santa Barbara

Sen. Barack Obama cannot easily write off Wright, just as he can never disown his white grandmother. Nor can Obama distance himself from the black majority who gave Wright a standing ovation at his recent appearance at the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. As Brooks points out, Obama cannot simply write off the "nearly 27%" (per Rand Corp.'s 2005 survey) of African Americans who agreed that "AIDS was produced in a government laboratory."

Much as he wished that his 20-plus years of a Wright connection would be considered a mere temporary distraction, Obama has to face it and own it, seeking reconciliation; otherwise, his larger-than-life vision of uniting the nation will be yet another pipe dream.

Dienyih Chen

Redondo Beach

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