In the halls of the fundamentalist Islamic schools that preach hate of America and the West, children sit and learn. With innocent ears and bright eyes, what they learn becomes "fact." Their youth and inexperience prevent them from comprehending neither alternatives nor the underlying dogma. This hatred becomes a part of their lens, with life decisions framed by this fiery rhetoric. We can not hope for a change of heart and a different, more peaceful future if their spiritual leaders and teachers preach anger and hate.
The news media has dissected the speeches of Reverend Wright, revealing his loathing for America. His dark message of anger and fear is meant to energize and focus his followers. This is in stark contrast to the deep and abiding love fiercely expressed by Mitt Romney, a man who, by contrast, believes America is a great nation.
In Reverend Wright's congregation were also children, our future. Barack Obama can offer his nuanced basis for separating the speaker from the message. He can denounce Wright’s statements as hateful and wrong, while understanding and explaining the failings of every human being. He tells us that we all err and go too far at some point in our lives, that’s humanity. Yet in that congregation where they prayed for many years sat Barack and Michelle Obama with both of their own children.
The young cannot clearly distinguish between good and bad, the damned and the righteous. They can’t filter the differences between the message and the man. Our own legal system separates them as minors, incapable of full capacity. Reverend Wright was their spiritual leader as well. He was a person they believed was good, a role model. His words were important and their meaning singular and simple, taken at face value. They believed in him, as do children in the congregations of all religious leaders.
While we discuss the implications of the relationship between Reverend Right and Barack Obama, we should consider very carefully the characteristic of judgment. While Reverend Wright clearly had an adult agenda and a political statement to make, Barack Obama had a direct responsibility for the mental stability and growth of his children. As a parent, I try to be vigilant about the nature and tone of messages that are sent to my children. I watch the TV shows they select, the movies they see, the websites they visit and the friends they choose.
Of course, I can’t control everything. But one aspect of their lives that I have a significant amount of control over is their relationship to religion. I make every attempt to have them learn lessons that positively impact their relationship to others and their country, and which provide a basis for strength in difficult times as well as hope and joy. I am careful to listen to sermons and speeches to ensure that the messages of my religious leaders do not deviate from my beliefs and sensibilities – not because I can’t understand the differences but because my children are actually better listeners than I am.
Barack Obama lacked the judgment and fortitude to remove himself and his family from Wright’s congregation, or maybe he didn’t think the message spewed was really all that offensive. His failure put his children at risk to accept this type of doctrine, whether found in the specific speeches we have heard or in the general tone of the Reverend’s leadership. This inability to make tough decisions represents his overall failure to grasp the fabric of American society and stand tall against those who seek to undermine our way of life, whether through fiery rhetoric, socialist malaise, or shoe bombs.
Hundreds of thousands of men and women have given their lives, and that sacrifice is part of our national identity. Mitt Romney is not afraid to unabashedly verbalize his love for America, a welcome respite from the often constrained utterances we hear from Barack Obama. As a nation, we continue to stand as a single beacon in the world for the triumph of humanity in society. When we strip hope and fierce self-determination from our children, we plant seeds of destruction and risk the fate of peoples who find it easier to hate and be angry than to own up to their individual responsibility to improve not only their lives, but that of their fellow man.
Our children are our future; the lessons they learn should be of strength and happiness, forgiveness and charity, not anger and fear. If Barack Obama, as a parent, could not exercise sound judgment to protect his children from Reverend Wright’s message of hate – how can he be the right person to lead this great nation into the future?