Most every Sunday evening, while driving to another of those traditional 6:00 o'clock church services, I listen to the last few minutes of The Thomas Jefferson Hour. It's a syndicated show that airs on public radio stations. You can listen to podcasts of old episodes on iTunes.
The show features historian and humanities professor Clay Jenkinson who responds to questions from the host as though he were Jefferson himself. Usually, toward the end of the program Jenkinson stops playing Jefferson and simply talks as himself with the host.
In yesterday's broadcast, Jenkinson, taking on the guise of Jefferson, had discussed the recent election of Barack Obama. "Jefferson" confessed to doubting the intellectual capacities of black people, and discounting evidence to the contrary. Like almost all the white people of his day, Jefferson was a racist.
When the conversation finally turned to Jenkinson discussing his own reactions to the recent election, he spoke with disapproval of some of those who attacked Obama and who promoted the candidacy of John McCain and Sarah Palin. Jenkinson mentioned Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and
a whole host of absolute bigots, including [James] Dobson . . issuing a newsletter basically saying "Don't vote for this man because he's a negro."
I was shocked. I had no doubt that because of Obama's positions on abortion and other issues, he was opposed by Dobson, the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family. But I had not read or heard that Dobson even appeared to be racist in any of his rhetoric.
That's a very serious charge to be making against someone who, by all accounts, is a significant leader among conservative Protestants. So someone help me out here. Can the r-word stick to James Dobson? Or does Clay Jenkinson owe Dobson an apology?
Note: To hear Jenkinson's statement for yourself, go to the iTunes Store and search for the podcasts of The Thomas Jefferson Hour. The episode number is 744, entitled "Electoral College." Fast forward to minute 46:50 . . .