IT was never likely that the race issue could be kept indefinitely out of the current American presidential campaigns. Yesterday Barack Obama decided to grasp this nettle in a bold speech in which he sought to clarify his relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright whose mission in Chicago he has been attending for twenty years. Although Hillary Clinton has not herself raised the issue of some of the Rev Wright's views, she has not stopped her supporters from doing so. How important is it that the charter of the Chicago church puts Africa before America in its loyalties? Was the Rev Wright's preference for “God Damn America” over “God Bless America” a considered view or just an off-the-cuff reaction to some injustice that angered him? Is there any justification for his description of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center as “America's chickens coming home to roost”? In his speech yesterday Barack Obama said that these views were “divisive” and “inexcusable” but at the same time he emphasized that many members of Jeremiah Wright community often had little to thank America for. Mr Obama's difficulty, however, is that he did not address these issues until they were raised by others. Although his loyalty to Mr Wright, who was initially a member of his campaign committee, is admirable, it would have been better if he had taken the initiative in dissociating himself from his pastor's extreme views. This will not be the only speech he has to make on the racism issue.