September 18, 2009

African-American Baptist Applauds Carter's "Courage"

Ethics Daily ran my latest article today, which is entitled "African-American Baptist Applauds Carter's 'Courage.'" It covers the response of Michael Bell, president of the African American Fellowship of Texas and the first African-American president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, to recent comments by Jimmy Carter arguing that some of the harsh criticism of Barack Obama is because of continued racism in America.

5 comments:

  1. Brian,

    Reminder: Carter said an "overwhelming amount", not "some" of the criticism of President Obama is racially motivated.

    Your article is correct but this blog post soft-sells the harshness of Carter's judgmental accusations.

    I wonder about the wisdom of Michael Bell, or any pastor, making statements affirming the former President's comments which the current President himself has denied.

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  2. Try to read a little more carefully. Carter did not say "an overwhelming amount of the criticism" but "an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity." He is only singling out the over-the-top attacks, not attacks in general. That's an important difference. All presidents will be attacked, and I'm sure Carter knows that because he experienced it. But the tone of the debate could change because of racism. I think most people against Obama are not racist, but a few of the signs clearly have racial images.

    As for your criticism of Bell, that makes no sense. What do you want him to do? Be quiet when he sees injustice? Politicians like the current president may try to avoid controversy and avoid hot topics like this, but pastors should speak up even when it is not political correct to do so.

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  3. You say Carter cited as examples of such racism some signs held up at rallies and Joe Wilson shouting "You lie!" What distinction does he make between attacks in general and "over the top" attacks? Is saying that someone is lying about a particular point of a particular plan "over the top?" And should it be judged racist, lumped into the same category as a sign held up which contains a racial slur? This is what your article indicates Carter has done.

    Obama didn't avoid the controversy and the hot topic--he said he didn't believe what Carter said about Joe Wilson was true!

    Michael Bell doesn't need to see injustice when it's not there. He doesn't need to impugn Wilson's motive as racist either, when the one offended doesn't think it so.

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  4. C.D.: I don't know where Carter draws the line. I'm not sure I even would say there was the same amount of racism in the debate as he does. But some of the signs at recent rallies (a minority of the signs, though) are clearly inappropriate and use racist images. The problem people have with Wilson is not just that he said the president was lying (although that is a violation of House rules and several Democrats have had to go to the House floor and apologize in the past for saying that about Republican presidents). The bigger problem with Wilson is that he yelled it during the president's address (also a violation of House rules). He may not be racist, but his outburst was definitely inappropriate and wrong.

    I see Obama's comments on Carter's claims being that Obama is trying to avoid the issue. You might notice that he quickly changes the subject each time. He's a politician. Just because Obama says it, does not make it true. I didn't expect you to be someone to believe whatever Obama says.

    Bell did not refer to Wilson but instead talked about a racist tone in general. Again, if he believes there is racism, he should speak out. Are you saying that there is no racism in the tone of some of the attacks on Obama? Because only if you believe that can you really think Bell is out-of-line.

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  5. I'm sure there is some racism in some of the attacks, but Bell's affirming Carter's statement has to include Wilson since, as you said, Carter used Wilson's outburst as an example of the racism.

    I agree with the reprimand or any consequences Wilson received for breaking whatever House rules he broke.

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