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Times Frets Over "Racially Divisive" Anti-Obama Ad in NC

Twice in two days the paper has worried that a new GOP ad invoking Jeremiah Wright's hateful words may be racially divisive. Speaking of divisive, the Times has yet to quote Wright's "God damn America."

Reporter Michael Luo wrung his hands in Thursday's edition about an ad from the North Carolina Republican party linking two Democrats running for governor to Sen. Barack Obama and his former pastor Jeremiah Wright


Despite objections from Senator John McCain, the North Carolina Republican Party is planning to roll out a television advertisement on Monday attacking two Democrats who are running for governor by linking them to Senator Barack Obama and playing a clip of his former pastor excoriating the United States.


The release of the commercial, which Republican officials in North Carolina said would make its debut during the 6 p.m. newscasts, injects a potentially divisive racial element into the campaign for the state's Democratic presidential primary, which is on May 6.


That's the second time in two days the paper has described the ad as racially divisive. On Wednesday, Patrick Healy wrote:



Yet Mr. Obama also faces challenges ahead: According to Republican Party officials, party members in North Carolina - which holds its primary on May 6 - are considering running an advertisement against Mr. Obama that highlights his ties to controversial figures like his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. That ad could have the effect of adding a racially divisive element to that Southern state's primary.


Apparently Wright's words themselves weren't divisive, but a GOP ad pointing them out is.


Luo's Thursday story continued:


In the advertisement, a narrator intones, "For 20 years, Barack Obama sat in his pew, listening to his pastor." Then a video clip of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who was Mr. Obama's pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, is cued up.


Preaching in 2003, Mr. Wright uses an expletive when referring to the United States and discussing its treatment of African-Americans, arguing that instead of singing "God Bless America," they should sing something else. Mr. Obama has said he was not at the service.


Sing "something else"? How quaint. The Times isobviously queasy about printing Wright's tribute to his country, "God damn America." The Times has yet to quote Wright's charming phrase in a news story, although it's shown up twice in the paper, in columns by Maureen Dowd and William Kristol.


But the paper apparently has no official policy against using the phrase in its news pages. It cropped up in a January 6, 2007 story by Hassan Fattah about protests after the hanging of Saddam Hussein - perhaps because it drove home an anti-Iraq war point.


Here in Beirut, hundreds of members of the Lebanese Baath Party and Palestinian activists marched Friday in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood behind a symbolic coffin representing that of Mr. Hussein and later offered a funeral prayer. Photographs of Mr. Hussein standing up in court, against a backdrop of the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem, were pasted on city walls near Palestinian refugee camps, praising ''Saddam the martyr.''


''God damn America and its spies,'' a banner across one major Beirut thoroughfare read. ''Our condolences to the nation for the assassination of Saddam, and victory to the Iraqi resistance.''