Sen. Barack Obama deserves credit for addressing directly and immediately the racially charged comments made by his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in past sermons.

He deserves credit for denouncing Wright’s harangues and for eliminating Wright from his presidential campaign. Obama also has transcended race in this election.

Some, of course, will interpret Obama’s response only in terms of the ongoing campaign. They will say that Obama did the politically correct thing to further his campaign. They will say this is another example how Obama can quickly turn something negative into something positive with just a few eloquent words, a talent which has made him a successful candidate.

They will question Obama’s sincerity given that he sat under the leadership and teaching of Wright for 20 years.

No doubt, there is some truth in what they say, and Obama’s speech will not end the controversy over Wright’s words. His words and Obama’s relationship with Wright will be questioned up to the Democratic convention in August or the national election in November.

But at the same time, we cannot condemn Obama completely on the basis of guilt by association. Wright ultimately must answer for his own words, as Obama must answer for his.

The biggest mistake anyone could make from this incident is to do what Wright did — to stereotype an entire race because of the actions of one person or just a few.

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