It was exciting to hear Obama’s pastor, the fiery and bookish Jeremiah Wright, denouncing state-sponsored terrorism against the Palestinians on national television. You don’t hear this kind of statement in the mainstream! And the same day appears Janny Scott’s fabulous portrait of Obama’s late mother as a free-spirited woman of commitment who married dark-skinned foreigners and saw no boundaries. Said a high school classmate:
“She had a world view, even as a young girl. It was embracing the
different, rather than that ethnocentric thing of shunning the
different. That was where her mind took her.”
Barack’s mother was clearly a lefty. So was Michelle Obama in college. Now Wright, whom Obama called an "uncle" on Keith Olbermann tonight. Obama’s intellectual family is obviously leftwing. And while it’s plain that Obama has for a while taken care not to commit himself on unconventional ideas, still, as Ali Abunimah has reported, Obama was once righteous re the Palestinians. As you would expect, with that mother and wife and preacher.
This theme is not going to end with the ouster of Rev. Wright. There are sure to be other associations and statements over the years of a fiery quality.
I’m not afraid of this. As a triumphal lefty, I believe that progressive politics are coming back into the mainstream. 15 years ago Lani Guinier’s federal appointment was withdrawn by Bill Clinton after the right was able to portray her as an extremist for her creative ideas about civil rights. And yes in that political context, she was on the margins. It’s hard to imagine that happening today. The frame is moving left; the young people who are pouring out for Obama are not going to be scared by Jeremiah Wright blaming America for 9/11, they’ve heard that in dorms for years now. Dude we’re coming back. But hold tight–there’s bound to be friction as we reenter the earth’s atmosphere.