Sunday, May 04, 2008

Who's Wright?

After being occupied with a variety of things this week, I've been somewhat removed from my usual close (obsessive?) inspection of news and politics. Which, I might add, is not a bad thing.

In trying to catch up on what's been happening, when I mentioned the Reverend Wright to my husband, he said that he was sick of hearing the man's name. True that, but I forced him to watch Bill Moyers' follow up essay on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and he agreed that Moyers provides the best "explanation" of Wright, to the extent any is needed. See It's All Wright, for my earlier post on Wright's appearance on Bill Moyers Journal last week.

I also realize that many are offended by Wright's words, but I have to say that the truth is that sometimes the truth hurts, as the maxim says. In all honesty, I haven't heard much that I truly disagree with. Sure, I can't say that I believe that the government intentionally caused the AIDS virus, but I also can't say that it didn't. Other than that, he's flamboyant, but he addresses issues that are not pleasant and may be negative about our country, but in the end, Wright is right.

Manila Ryce of The Largest Minority said it best:

Moyers discusses the racist double standard in the corporate press which has led to the lynching of Reverend Wright. Sorry Keith, but Bill Moyers is the real Edward R. Murrow of our generation.
And then there's Frank Rich of the NYTimes, the Moyers of the written word. He too mentions the Reverend, noting the disparity in the treatment of race and religion between Democrats and Republicans. As he observes in The All-White Elephant in the Room:
BORED by those endless replays of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? If so, go directly to YouTube, search for “John Hagee Roman Church Hitler,” and be recharged by a fresh jolt of clerical jive.

What you’ll find is a white televangelist, the Rev. John Hagee, lecturing in front of an enormous diorama. Wielding a pointer, he pokes at the image of a woman with Pamela Anderson-sized breasts, her hand raising a golden chalice. The woman is “the Great Whore,” Mr. Hagee explains, and she is drinking “the blood of the Jewish people.” That’s because the Great Whore represents “the Roman Church,” which, in his view, has thirsted for Jewish blood throughout history, from the Crusades to the Holocaust.

Mr. Hagee is not a fringe kook but the pastor of a Texas megachurch. On Feb. 27, he stood with John McCain and endorsed him over the religious conservatives’ favorite, Mike Huckabee, who was then still in the race.

* * * *

Mr. McCain says he does not endorse any of Mr. Hagee’s calumnies, any more than Barack Obama endorses Mr. Wright’s. But those who try to give Mr. McCain a pass for his embrace of a problematic preacher have a thin case. It boils down to this: Mr. McCain was not a parishioner for 20 years at Mr. Hagee’s church.

* * * *

I wonder if Mr. McCain would have given the same answer had Mr. Stephanopoulos confronted him with the graphic video of the pastor in full “Great Whore” glory. But Mr. McCain didn’t have to fear so rude a transgression. Mr. Hagee’s videos have never had the same circulation on television as Mr. Wright’s. A sonorous white preacher spouting venom just doesn’t have the telegenic zing of a theatrical black man.

Perhaps that’s why virtually no one has rebroadcast the highly relevant prototype for Mr. Wright’s fiery claim that 9/11 was America’s chickens “coming home to roost.” That would be the Sept. 13, 2001, televised exchange between Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who blamed the attacks on America’s abortionists, feminists, gays and A.C.L.U. lawyers. (Mr. Wright blamed the attacks on America’s foreign policy.) Had that video re-emerged in the frenzied cable-news rotation, Mr. McCain might have been asked to explain why he no longer calls these preachers “agents of intolerance” and chose to cozy up to Mr. Falwell by speaking at his Liberty University in 2006.

* * * *

There is not just a double standard for black and white politicians at play in too much of the news media and political establishment, but there is also a glaring double standard for our political parties. The Clintons and Mr. Obama are always held accountable for their racial stands, as they should be, but the elephant in the room of our politics is rarely acknowledged: In the 21st century, the so-called party of Lincoln does not have a single African-American among its collective 247 senators and representatives in Washington. Yes, there are appointees like Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice, but, as we learned during the Mark Foley scandal, even gay men may hold more G.O.P. positions of power than blacks.

A near half-century after the civil rights acts of the 1960s, this is quite an achievement. Yet the holier-than-thou politicians and pundits on the right passing shrill moral judgment over every Democratic racial skirmish are almost never asked to confront or even acknowledge the racial dysfunction in their own house. In our mainstream political culture, this de facto apartheid is simply accepted as an intractable given, unworthy of notice, and just too embarrassing to mention aloud in polite Beltway company. Those who dare are instantly accused of “political correctness” or “reverse racism.”

Gee, maybe Wright's antics last week were merely his right wing, evangelical imitation. If so, he did a damn good job. And with his performance, as Frank Schaeffer, one of the founders of the Religious Right said, if Wright were white, he'd be a darling of the Republican Party. See Point, Counter-Point.

For more of Bill Moyers, visit his PBS website, Bill Moyers Journal.


quakerdave said...

Frank Rich is spot-on, of course.

This was never about outrageous preaching. It's a about race. And those who are beating this dead horse are racists. And we need to call them on it.

G Subhash said...

No, this is about swiftboating (is that a word yet?). When Fix News was ridiculed for their "muslim Obama indonesia madrassa terrorist" association, they went back to the drawing boards and came up with Wright the Wrong. The rest of the media mindlessly followed Fix News's mindless drivel. Since Wright gives white racists a plausible excuse to vote their prejudice, he just won't go away. Neither does he want to. (PS do you like my re-spelling of Fox News?)

BAC said...

I don't necessarily disagree with what Wright has said, what I don't understand is why he decided to reappear? He had to know that his words -- taken out of context -- were hurting the Obama campaign. Just when it began to dial down, out pops Wright again. It prompted me to ask 'what has Wright got against Obama?'