Those who closely follow the race for the White House know that a recent hot topic was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's remarks and Sen. Barack Obama's eloquent speech disagreeing with his pastor's sermons and addressing the race issue.
Wright, the former pastor of the Chicago African-American Trinity United Church of Christ, a Louis Farrakan supporter, wants to "God damn America" and delivers sermons considered divisive, inflammatory, and hateful. He is very critical of the United States government, saying it was responsible for Sept. 11, 2001.
Although Obama and his family have listened to Wright for about 20 years, the senator won't "disown" his pastor, but clearly says Wright's views are not those of Obama. He is not guilty by association and wants to move on to the important issues facing America.
Race and gender have been important in our history. Currently, we face a historic moment with an opportunity to rise above prejudice, come together, make needed changes and build a better America. We should know we cannot do so by following the Wrights of the world or those who sympathize with them.
Obama may or may not be the Democratic nominee. Even if he is, he may not be elected president. Still, he has had the courage to meet a new challenge and he has spoken with an inspiring message. He is mild-mannered, confident, conciliatory, restrained and well aware his pastor's words are poisonous - worthy of being denounced.
Wright has placed Obama in a brighter spotlight. Being the front runner, his credentials are now being more closely examined. A shadow has been placed over his candidacy. The senator, with Hussein for a middle name, has had to deny he is a Muslim. He has had to explain his association with shady Chicago developer Tony Rezko. People have asked if eight years in the Illinois Legislature and three years in the U.S. Senate are sufficient experience for a United States president. He has angered Canada with anti-NAFTA remarks described by some as "political maneuvering." His wife's remark that her husband's success made her proud of her country for the first time in her adult life sounded like something out of Wright's playbook and did not contribute to the senator's desire for restraint and a need to overcome prejudices.
Obama seems opposed to divisiveness and does not want race to be a distraction. He feels America "can't solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together." He wants to elevate what is right, not what is wrong in America. He feels we need unity to solve monumental problems.
So, let Wright continue to be like "an old uncle" to Obama. The senator has condemned Wright's remarks and moved on. Whomever becomes the Democratic nominee for president of the United States will face Republican war hero John McCain. It is our hope that whoever is the new president will put race and hate in the proper perspective, transcend our divisions and build an America each of us can be proud of.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Sunday.