Obama, Wright, and the Black church

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Dr. Hopkins asks if Obama can live up to his rhetoric and if the 'movement' for change will be able to push an Obama presidency in a more progressive direction.

Story Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: The main theme we heard from Rev. Moss today is that if you believe in Jesus, if you believe, if you’re a Christian, then you’ve got to believe in loving your neighbor as yourself. That’s a message which never gets talked about in the politics. It’s a message that has a lot of social and political consequences. If you really want to execute on that message, you’re talking about a real transformation of America, perhaps more than any candidate including "the favorite son" is talking about. What does that message mean if you take it to the political level?

PROF. DWIGHT HOPKINS, DIVINITY SCHOOL, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: Rev. Moss actually talked about the political, social, as well as economic implications of his call for love and applying love to the general civic society, if you will.

(CLIP BEGINS)

REV. OTIS MOSS III, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: And that is what Jesus was attempting to teach us, that is what Dr. King was attempting to teach America, that when you put love at the foundation, you don’t have to argue if children should have health care. There’s no argument, because love is the foundation. When you put love at the foundation, you don’t have to argue about whether seniors should be taken care of, because love is at the foundation. When love is at the foundation, we don’t argue about the school system, "Leave No Child Behind," "Left the Child Behind," whatever, whatever it is, because love is at the foundation, at the core of our philosophy, the core of our theology. And maybe, just maybe, we can inject love into the civic discourse. Just maybe.

(CLIP ENDS)

JAY: In terms of the substance of Obama’s political positions and programs, and for quite a progressive church who would support very progressive positions, is Obama taking love thy neighbor far enough?

HOPKINS: I think in his rhetoric he is pushing very far—as far as providing health care for all Americans, similar to the ones that congressmen and congresswomen have; as far as the rhetoric of ending the war and bringing US citizens, military persons back home; as far as judging the success of patriotism not by bombing other people, but how well we take care of veterans once they come back. So that’s the radical shift in rhetoric. There’s something else he said too, and I’m not even aware if he’s aware of the implications. He said, "When I’m sworn in in January and I’m in the White House, you all have to keep the movement going to keep my feet to the fire." And, you know, does he really believe that? Or is that sort of the perspective that’s held over from his community organizing on the south side with the laid-off steel workers and Black community? But I think that’s the key. The key has to be, really, this democracy from below that he talks about. And there is a great possibility and great opportunity if that below-energy is built in the correct way, you know, in a correct institutional, organizational way. But I think in his rhetoric he is pushing in the direction of a radical redistribution of resources. How it’s done is another thing. But he keeps talking about, "This is not about me; this is about the movement. Get the people to feel that they can make a difference by having a decision about their daily lives." And that’s what the church does, actually. But here he’s talking about a community organizer, organizing all fifty states, including Guam and all of that. So, yeah, in the rhetoric he’s laying the basis for a movement that could transform America. The rhetoric, to me, leads to the direction of the possibility of a radical change. The question is how the presidential culture and the presidential compromises are going to keep him from where that movement might want to go beyond him. So we’ll see.

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Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.