Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why the Rev. Jeremiah Wright "controversy" Gets Me Steamed

(1) My guess is that the overwhelming majority of pundits and others in this country who are self-righteously condeming Jeremiah Wright - or just those ordinary people urging that Obama "disown" him, whatever that means - are not regular churchgoers. I belong to a liberal church which is similar to the UCC, and I also have a black pastor who cut his teeth in the 1960s. We don't see eye to eye on everything political. I was taken aback when he compared Ward Connerly to the devil. But I was pleased when he said that if Jesus were alive, he would march in a gay pride parade, and that we, followers of Jesus, should do the same now. He opposes NAFTA; I do not. He has called Jesus a socialist. But His goal is to preach the gospel, not make political speeches. The role of politics in sermons is much like the role of religion in political speeches - it's about metaphor and context. My priest is not a leader of a megachurch like Jeremiah Wright, but that's not the issue. The point is that people who aren't church members don't understand pastoral relationships or the role of sermons on Sunday. We go to church to be part of a community and to fulfil a religious commitment to be faithful in prayers. The sermon is part of the service, but it is not a set of directives for the faithful to follow. Usually a sermon is an explication of the gospel passage appointed for the day along with commentary meant to make it somehow meaningful. This person married me and will baptize my daughter. Our relationship goes back more than a decade. I understand that a person is not responsible for his pastor's words in public. Hillary Clinton said that she would have walked out of the church ahd she heard those words. That indicates to me that she is not a church person. One might disaffiliate oneself over time and find another church, but you don't storm out during a sermon. The Right-wing fundamentalist christians who claim otherwise about Obama are not being honest about how churches work. They should know better. I also totally understand why Obama first said "I didn't hear that sermon." People don't talk about sermons much after church. If you didn't hear a sermon in person, you probably won't hear of it either. Obama probably doesn't go to church nearly as much as he might wish he did, or wish others to think he did.

(2) But there's more. Although I have no plans to run for office, I would consider it obnoxious if someone should take a few words out of one of my pastor's sermon and claim that those words define me. Of course, nobody would do that. I'm white. I'm not in need of definition among white people. I am beginning to understand the tone in my pastor's voice when he said to me of Obama's electoral chances that, "You're forgetting that, in the end, he's black." Jeremiah Wright was partly correct when he said that the attacks on him are an attack on "the black church." Religion is terribly segregated in America, and religious practices differ wildly on racial grounds. White people don't "get" black churches. They don't understand the role of black churches in black communities or the lives of black people. They certainly are confused by the role of militarism and anger in African-American discourse. And white people look at any black politician as some sort of a black box, an Unknown Quantity. Just as any young black man is feared before greeted in the street. This is why some white people see the Wright sermons and think some variant of "Aha! I knew he was connected with those scary inner city black people." For many people, the Wright sermon has the same effect as a rumor that Obama was seen with a crack pipe. It encases him in a set of scary stereotypes of the "other." That's what right-wing fundamentalists are doing when they respond so badly to Pastor-gate. It derives from racism.

(3) Contrast this situation to John McCain, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. Falwell said publicly of 9/11: "Throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."" Now, this was not a sermon. It was not said in church in the context of explicating the gospel (however that could be). Rather, this outrageous crap was said on television as a political statement, for a political audience. Robertson said (in response on the air) that he totally concurred. Robertson has been more politician than pastor for 20 years. McCain has stood by both these men during his campaign and shook their hands. It is absolutely fair to say that McCain is approving of these outrageous views (far worse than what Wright ever said) by standing with these pastors-turned-politicians as politicians. Yet he gets a free pass! And all Republicans do, for standing by these creeps. White people get the luxury of context; black people get to be caricatures. The best thing Obama ever did was write two books about himself. If you want the context, it's there. We know nothing about Clinton in such detail.

(4) Obama has done well in avoiding the strong desires of many white people for Obama to react to Wright as they do. Obama won't do that. He won't denounce him as a racist or a bigot, because he doesn't think that's true despite the sermon. Rather, he waited until Wright became publicity-hungry and traded in on the fame that accrues to anyone prepared to say outrageous things. Then Obama condemned him, appropriately, for making a cheap spectacle of himself.


USWest said...

LTG wrote: "The role of politics in sermons is much like the role of religion in political speeches - it's about metaphor and context." He goes on to say, "The sermon is part of the service, but it is not a set of directives for the faithful to follow. Usually a sermon is an explication of the gospel passage appointed for the day along with commentary meant to make it somehow meaningful."

I think that depends on the church and the preacher. LTG has apparently had a more positive experience with religion than I. In my Roman Catholic experience, sermons were never about metaphor. They were more like thinly veiled admonishments if you dared to vote for a pro-choice candidate. Religion was to be lived, and values were to be demonstrated by actions. That was well and good when the Church was about liberation theology. It cut the opposite direction when it was about submitting to conservatism.

I don't believe that people ignore sermons. If I had gone to church and heard that the FBI planted Aids to kill minorities, I'd be talking about it. That doesn't just fly by without notice.

I left the Church because I couldn't abide by its ideas. With Roman Catholic churches, you can't just change churches. It is a unified faith. You don't get to pick the liberal, gay accepting church over the conservative, gay hating church. You are stuck.

Obama was not "stuck" with his church. It wasn't the same sort of thing. If the ideas were offensive, he could have moved on. I don't think Obama believes the things that Wright is saying. I don't think he should be judged based on Wright. I do understand that even after knowing someone for years, there are still surprises that can arise. But this comes a month after Obama defended a man who damned America to hell. And I don't think of Obama as black. He is going to represent everyone in this country. I don't think Obama is attempting to use race or culture as an excuse for Wright. I don't think we should either.

Maybe I am an example of the "non understanding white", but I don't think much about white vs. black churches. And I don't think anyone is attacking black churches. I do think people are attacking wild ides. And they are wild ideas from the extreme left wing. And people who say outrageous, extreme things, conservative Robertson (who claimed 9/11 was the fault of gay people) or liberal Wright, deserve to be discussed and ridiculed. That is what they want anyway. It's like viral marketing.

I am disgusted by Wright. I think he is being opportunist. I think that Obama is pretty squeaky clean for a candidate and this is meant to harm him because they can't find anything better. I think Wright stabbed his friend in the back. But Obama sat in that church for 20 years. He never heard such wild ides?
I don't buy it.

Raised By Republicans said...

"The point is that people who aren't church members don't understand pastoral relationships or the role of sermons on Sunday. We go to church to be part of a community and to fulfil a religious commitment to be faithful in prayers."

I think different churches and churche goers have different attitudes. We've talked alot about the religious right and how many of them see religion as a way to avoid responsibility for thinking.

US West's comments about Catholocism seem to be the flip side of a similar relationship. It is what Jefferson called "the tyrrany of the mind." But with our society of a kind of free market for religion, people have a choice about their churches. The religious right folks would never tolerate a minister who preached tolerance for anyone other than themselves let alone a minister who preached that they were themselves intolerable.

I also agree with US West and LTG that this is largely over blown by folks who are looking for a way to attack Obama and can't find anything that he personally has directly been involved in. He doesn't have anything like White Water or the Keating Five scandal on his record. So - guilt by association...with Wright, with 1960s radicals who lived in his neighborhood...who knows but that next we'll hear about some childhood friend who did drugs or something.

I also liked that Obama has reserved his most sever condemnation of Wright for when Wright started trying to cash in on his connection with Obama.

History Buff said...

I agree with both of your comments. Wright is definetly being a jackass, not much better than Al Sharpton. It amazes me that this is the first time a black man has the chance to become president and members of his community are sabotaging him. I think Obama has handled it well. What Wright said years ago really makes no difference. It's the way he is taking advantage today that is the problem.

And if people want to worry about scary, influential pastors, what about John Hagee, who endorsed McCain. The man is a nut with a lot of political influence and money. He's a Zionist who is supporting Isreal to bring on Armegeddon. He wants to build a tunnel between his church and his home in a very expensive subdivision 10 miles away, through San Antonio's main source of water. Hopefully, once the Presidential election starts, we will hear more about this.

Pombat said...

Hear hear LTG.

I've not heard a huge amount about this whole kerfuffle (sorry, just fancied using that word), but what I have heard seems to be a completely overblown load of 24hr-media-coverage twaddle, desperately filling those 24hrs.

What I would like is to read the whole of "that sermon" if it's available anywhere - I'd like to see the context of that "god damn America" comment (anyone know where I can find it?). Standard media seem to be allergic to context these days.

As a lot of you know, I'm not religious. I don't go to church. The UK is a lot less religious (more post-religious?) than the US, with a lot of people only going a couple of times a year if that, for a carol service say. So I can't say I understand the white church, the black church, or the relationship people have with their pastors. I do still understand that just because you have a relationship with someone, spent a lot of time listening to them, possibly during impressionable years of your life, doesn't mean you agree with everything they say, nor can you be forced to agree with everything they say. Seems a bit like certain sections of the media is just desperate for *something* bad about Obama, and they're not allowed to be as blunt as to say "grief almighty, be scared people, he's *black*!"...

Dr. Strangelove said...

I agree broadly with the political thrust of LTG's remarks. This whole phony "controversy" linking Rev. Wright to Sen. Obama is another steaming pile of political crap. Wright is not Obama. Wright does not speak for Obama. And Obama has been quite eloquent in explaining all this. I also thank LTG for his well-written, personal testimony on this issue.

That being said, I want to address several of LTG's points.

1. LTG seems to imply this entire controversy derives from just a few words from a single sermon. But actually Wright has been saying outrageous things about AIDS and drugs for decades, and in many venues. (Along these lines, please note that Obama admitted in his subsequent speech on racial issues that he had indeed heard Wright's controversial sermons. Also note that Hillary's remark about "walking out" was spoken in the broader sense of leaving the congregation, not the building. Although she might well have stormed out during sermon in which Wright exclaimed, "Hillary ain't never been called a nigger!")

2. LTG would give Wright a free pass for his language because he was giving a sermon. But hateful speech is hateful speech whether spoken for the TV camera or from the pulpit. And to speak such things in Jesus' name is an aggravating factor, not a mitigating factor. Those who claim to "explicate the gospel" should be held to a higher standard, not a lower one.

3. LTG implies that attacks on Wright are purely racist. I think that is too easy. Wright has said some truly outlandish things that would get anyone in trouble (e.g., that the government invented HIV, "as a means of genocide against people of color.") Recall also that Wright had been part of Obama's official campaign apparatus, and that surrogates for campaigns have been raked over the coals for far less than being caught shouting, "God Damn America!" (To twist this into an attack on "the black church" seems to be playing the race card at least as hard!) Nevertheless, LTG is certainly right that racism has magnified the reaction to Wright's words. And sadly it has given some people a convenient excuse not to vote for Obama.

4. LTG derides Wright for making a "cheap spectacle of himself" last weekend. But what did Wright do that was different from before? Wright has always sought national attention and influence. (For example, there is t photo of him shaking hands with Bill Clinton at a 1998 White House prayer breakfast...) Wright finally had a chance to explain his views and defend himself to Bill Moyers and the National Press Club--no doubt opportunities he has prayed to receive for years--so he took them. That's all. It was never reasonable for Obama to ask anyone to suffer all this condemnation silently, especially not a man who has made a career of speaking his mind. Wright was never going to allow himself to be thrown under the bus so Obama could ride up front.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Well, I knew I'd provoke a shitstorm. But that's okay. A few comments.

As to Dr.S's last point (#4): Nobody knew who Rev. Wright was before about a month ago. The difference between what he did then and what he did before was what RBR correctly called trying to "cash in" on his celebrity. If all Wright wanted to do was defend himself, an op-ed in the Times would be more than sufficient. But did you see the clips from the national press club? He seemed to want, belatedly, to be the next Al Sharpton. Maybe he always wanted that, but he wasn't before. Obama never threw him under the bus, and still hasn't.

2. I take USWest's comments to heart about the purpose of sermons, but I did think carefully before choosing my words. First, I think it's true that in most churches people will ignore sermons they don't agree with. Roman Catholics, for example, routinely ignore the call of their priests about the death penalty and contraception. The rate of abortions among RC's is actually higher than that among protestants. Second, such people generally attribute sermons to the church or the pastor, not the parishioners. I assume HRC does not contend that Roman Catholics should leave the church over its (to my mind unconscionable and insulting) position that women are inherently unfit to preach the gospel - one she surely does not agree with.

3. Dr.S., I think Hillary was saying that she would have left the building. That was how I took it. I know at least one other person who explicitly said she would have left the building. That being said, I think "leaving the church" is fairer, as I suggested.

4. I note that HRC said the following: "Obviously, one's choice of church and pastor is rooted in what one believes is what you're seeking in church and what kind of, you know, fellowship you find in church.... You get to choose your pastor. You don't choose your family, but you get to choose your pastor." That is a very interesting attitude to a church. Roman Catholics, for example, don't get this choice, if they remain in the church. Across the country, many people attend the churches their families attend without making such choices. I guess what I'm trying to say is that going to church is not like going shopping - it's a relationship with a place and with people. I'm certain that Obama chose to join and stay with the TUCC because of the community he had there, not to mention the positive effect it had on his wife's family. He would have tolerated quite a range of behavior from his pastor if he was a good shepherd to his community. In my church, there would have to be a sustained pattern of outrageous behavior without redeeming qualitiies before I would leave. For those who don't know, I'm actually the senior warden of my parish this year, meaning that I'm the head of the committee that, in fact, chooses the pastor. Obama never had such a responsibility. And I still wouldn't break a longstanding relationship without a ton of evidence. I note that Wright has been retired for a while. Retired priests are dangerous in this way, but are no longer in any way the responsibility of the church.

5. I still contend, a la Ferraro, that if Obama were not black, we would not be having this discussion.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Anderson Cooper has (in addition to that perma-serious expression) a blog with some longer Wright excerpts. Here is the "chickens coming home to roost" one on 9/16/01 (the "9/11" sermon):

“I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday did anybody else see or hear him? He was on FOX News, this is a white man, and he was upsetting the FOX News commentators to no end, he pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, he pointed out that what Malcolm X said when he was silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true, he said Americas chickens, are coming home to roost.”

“We took this country by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, Arikara, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism.

“We took Africans away from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism.

“We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel.

“We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenage and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard working fathers.

“We bombed Qaddafi’s home, and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against the rock.

“We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of hard working people, mothers and fathers who left home to go that day not knowing that they’d never get back home.

“We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye.

“Kids playing in the playground. Mothers picking up children after school. Civilians, not soldiers, people just trying to make it day by day.

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff that we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

“Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.”

Is that so crazy that you'd have to leave the church over it (FYI, my church actually did mass to Mozart's Requiem that Sunday - which I am still sorry I had to miss being out of town).
According to Anderson Cooper, the "God Damn America" line was NOT in this sermon. It was in another one. Here is a longish excerpt from that one:

"Where governments lie, God does not lie. Where governments change, God does not change. And I'm through now. But let me leave you with one more thing. Governments fail. The government in this text comprised of Caesar, Cornelius, Pontius Pilate - the Roman government failed. The British government used to rule from East to West. The British government had a Union Jack. She colonized Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Hong Kong. Her navies ruled the seven seas all the way down to the tip of Argentina in the Falklands, but the British government failed. The Russian government failed. The Japanese government failed. The German government failed. And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains. The government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton fields, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into position of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God bless America? No, no, no. Not God bless America; God damn America! That's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating her citizen as less than human. God damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme."

Again, is this so shocking as to require one to stalk out?

The Law Talking Guy said...

I found a more complete text of the "9/11" sermon. Right before the excerpted section above was this:

"The people of faith have moved from the hatred of armed enemies, these soldiers who captured the king, those soldiers who slaughtered his son and put his eyes out, the soldiers who sacked the city, burned the towns, burned the temples, burned the towers, and moved from the hatred for armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents, the babies, the babies . "Blessed are they who dash your baby's brains against a rock." And that my beloved is a dangerous place to be. Yet, that is where the people of faith are in 551 BC and that is where far too many people of faith are in 2001 AD. We have moved from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents. We want revenge. We want paybacks and we don't care who gets hurt in the process."

Dr. Strangelove said...

For over a month, Rev. Wright had been hounded for interviews and offered the kind of opportunities to speak nationally of which he had dreamed for years. Give the man credit for resisting that temptation for as long as he did. At least give him credit for resisting for weeks the urge to defend himself against a hundred white, conservative, nationally-syndicated pundits.

I have seen video clips of him at the National Press Club, and to me it seemed a rather more restrained performance than we have witnessed from him at the pulpit. Wright made no new outlandish charges. (And yes, despite the context, claiming the government hands out drugs or invents AIDS is still outlandish.) All Wright did last weekend was he finally spoke up for himself instead of keeping his mouth shut. And that, of course, is what Obama supporters find unforgivable.

And I would not make any hay about the fact that Wright is retired. Wright only just resigned from his 35+ year ministry as Senior Pastor of the TUCC in February. His retirement is so recent, in fact, that Wright remains proudly listed as Senior Pastor on the TUCC website. (And I am sure his sudden departure had nothing to do with pressure from a certain member of his congregation with Presidential aspirations...)

One last note: Given his own religious history, it is strange to me that LTG should mock anyone for speaking about "seeking a church" or "choosing" one's fellowship.

Pombat said...

Given the context of Rev.Wright's sermons above, I don't actually think he's that provocative at all. Yes, he says 'God Damn America', but when you read the full sentences containing that phrase, especially the last sentence "God damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme", that makes perfect sense against both the bible and non-biblical belief sets such as my own.

Basically, having read that context, I'm happy to dismiss everything the media have been saying as them really over-blowing the whole situation, because they can, because this is a 'scary' black man with a 'god damn America' sound bite, and they haven't got much else to chuck at Obama.

Spotted Handfish said...

What interests me in this story is the perception of the media. They seem to be getting a free ride to say whatever and whenever. So who started with the sound bites? Who perpetuated it?

And who is commenting on the reporters, or are the main stream media simply reporting on the reporters? Where I live the "respectable" media don't replay gossip magazine articles, they report on gossip magazines making a fuss so they are not "one of them". They also do not comment on the veracity of what is being said...

Dr. Strangelove said...

I agree that the "God damn America" remark is nothing but a soundbite (that was, in fact, how it was intended!) But that was just one statement.

How does context alter the content of Wright's statements about HIV/AIDS and drugs, referenced above?

The Law Talking Guy said...

I don't think "God damn America" was intended as a soundbite, if "soundbite" means a phrase designed for media consumption and dissemination. It was designed to be a memorable line from a sermon (keeping in mind the problem preachers face that their sermons are rarely memorable or remembered).

I'm not defending Wright's statements about AIDS or drugs, but it's not obvious to me that he said these things frequently from the pulpit over the past 20 years. That makes a difference on how churchgoers relate to those statements. Did they think "Amen!" or "there he goes again..." Both responses are possible and likely.

Finally, I was not "mocking" Clinton for talking about "choosing" a pastor, but pointing out that it is not an accurate depiction of how most people think about their church decisions. And those who don't go to church might be too easily misled. My experience is that whether they were born into a church or not, very few people regularly attend church during their late teens and early twenties. So at some point (often in connection with marriage or children, but sometimes in connection with a religious experience), a person will start attending church as an adult. Very few go "shopping" for a church. Most people join a church of the sort they were born into, or based on a single recommendation. If it "takes," they attend it for life, until they move, or until they become dissatisfied with religion. When people move, they sometimes stop going to church. The same happens, obviously, when they get dissatisfied. But very rarely do people decide to find another church as an adult if they decide that their current church isn't cutting it for them. When that happens, it is almost always the result of some friend or family member urging a shift, not a choice to start entering a spiritual bazaar. At my Episcopal church, 90% of the newcomers are ex-Roman Catholics. The vast majority of them were raised Roman Catholic, but had not attended for years. If they didn't go back to the church of their childhood, it was often because they were disgusted by the Catholic church's response to pedophilia scandal, but I don't know if many attending Catholics switched denominations.

So I think it unlikely that parishioners upset with Wright's sermons would leave the church easily, the way one might leave a social club. Healthy churches function something like a family, and people tolerate broad ranges of behavior from family members.

Raised By Republicans said...

Spotted Handfish raises an interesting question about the quality of journalism and how we are giving them a pass. I agree.

I think it has at least partial roots in the way we train journalists now. In the old Edward R. Murrow days journalists were hard bitten writers with long years of experience in the street or at least swimming in the contexts they reported on. Chritiane Ammanpur is the closest to this type now-a-days.

But today most journalists are products of journalism programs in colleges. I'm not going to say that "life experience" is intrinsically more useful than formal education. It is possible to train journalists to both write and understand what they are writing about. But these programs do not require a lot of substantive training. Instead the focus is on writing style and presentation.

I've had journalism majors in my classes a lot (both as a TA and professor) and they generally have lax attitudes about little details like what constitutes evidence and such. They also ALL bury the lead in their papers.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I started my first comment by agreeing with LTG's main point, and I also want to note that Pombat is basically right that the media has greatly over-blown this whole situation. That is what our media does, these days. But for a little perspective, if you look at the whole history of "yellow" journalism in this country, the news media have always been lousy. Just like our politicians :-)

But I am still more squeamish about Rev. Wright's sermons than others seem to be. My second point, was never really answered: I object to the idea that one should give anyone a free pass just because they are giving a sermon. To me, those who claim to speak in God's name should be held to a higher standard, not a lower one: To me, speaking incendiary things in the name of God makes them worse. And I continue to feel that the mix of politics and religion is very dangerous--more frightening even than nationalism. Dr. King managed to join politics and religion together toward a great purpose of course... But one should not point to a world-renowned juggler of knives and torches and say, "See, that does not look so hard!"

History Buff said...

The pastor of my church never talks about politics at all, he talks more about what we are called to do as Christians; help the poor, reach out to the ostrasized, serve our neighbors. When he brings up wrongs, he points to himself first.

Some of the things that Wright says are downright paranoid. If our scientists were smart enough to come up with a disease to kill off a certain segment of the population, you'd think they would be smart enough to keep it to that segment. And why start the plague with people that don't actually live in the US or are not even part of that community to begin with??

I would have to say that most preachers that get into areas they know nothing about usually sound like idiots (right wing or left). They need to stick to their specialty.

Raised By Republicans said...

"I would have to say that most preachers that get into areas they know nothing about usually sound like idiots (right wing or left)."

Much like journalists. ;-)

Dr. Strangelove said...

...and much like bloggers like myself :-)

The Law Talking Guy said...

Wright has said repeatedly that you need only look at the Tuskeegee experiments to understand that the US government is perfectly capable of inventing AIDS or importing crack in order to kill black people. Wright's viewpoint is that, given US history, it is appropriate for black people to assume the US government is behind their woes until proven otherwise. Frankly, I think you have to give that point of view some credit rather than - as the media and most white folks do - summoning up lots of self-righteous indignation that anyone would make such statements about AIDS and drugs. It's not nuts.

But this attitude, of course, is where Obama and Wright diverge. Obama's message is "you have to understand why black people feel angry like this, but also understand why white people react as they do to such comments." That empathy was what he was trying to express when he made the unfortunate "bitter" comments. Wright is, sadly, uninterested in empathizing with white people. He's just angry. I leave it to you to judge which one is more in tune with the gospels. For my part, I find Obama's message inspiring. If he had said that black people cling to homophobia and anger because they are bitter, there would have been far less outcry.

History Buff said...

Yes, they have a reason to be angry about the past, but what kind of proof would suffice to prove that the government did not cause the AIDS or drug problems. It is impossible to prove, so you can stay angry and suppicious forever.

I'm glad that Obama is trying to bridge the gap, that is the only way these conflicts will be resolved. The problem is that people like Wright are trying to stand in his way, and it appears to be hurting his chances. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

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