Barack Obama in his recent speech criticized his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, for controversial remarks, saying:
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
Very nice and I agree with his words here. Some on the Left have attempted to spin this entire affair and use this speech as a vehicle to bury it all. Yet even if we should overlook his 20 year association with Wright, how does the Left explain the Senator’s membership in a racially exclusive club like the Congressional Black Caucus? As with Wright, Obama has said nothing about the membership policies of the CBC nor did he utter one peep about the comments from fellow member Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr., D-Mo in response to the attempt by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tn., who is white, to join last year but was rebuffed because of his skin color.
Over the years, the question has arisen, “Does the Caucus allow only black members?” Pete Stark, D-Ca., who is white, tried and failed to join in 1975. In January 2007, it was reported that white members of Congress were not welcome to join the CBC. Freshman Representative Steve Cohen, D-Tn., who is white, pledged to apply for membership during his election campaign to represent his constituents, who were 60% black. It was reported that although the bylaws of the caucus do not make race a prerequisite for membership, former and current members of the Caucus agreed that the group should remain “exclusively black.” Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr., D-Mo., the son of Rep. William Lacy Clay Sr., D-Mo., a co-founder of the caucus, is quoted as saying, “Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. He’s white and the Caucus is black. It’s time to move on. We have racial policies to pursue and we are pursuing them, as Mr. Cohen has learned. It’s an unwritten rule. It’s understood.” In response to the decision, Rep. Cohen stated, “It’s their caucus and they do things their way. You don’t force your way in.”
Rep. Clay issued an official statement from his office in reply to Rep. Cohen’s complaint:
“Quite simply, Rep. Cohen will have to accept what the rest of the country will have to accept – there has been an unofficial Congressional White Caucus for over 200 years, and now it’s our turn to say who can join ‘the club.’ He does not, and cannot, meet the membership criteria, unless he can change his skin color. Primarily, we are concerned with the needs and concerns of the black population, and we will not allow white America to infringe on those objectives.”
On January 25, 2007, Representative Tom Tancredo, R-Co., spoke out against the continued existence of the CBC as well as the Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Republican Congressional Hispanic Conference saying, “It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a color-blind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race. If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive, race-based caucuses.”
For more see FactCheck.org.
If Senator Obama truly wants to “move beyond some of our old racial wounds”, why then, as a member of the CBC, does he not move for a more color-blind admission policy in this group?
— John (Average Gay Joe)