“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. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.” ~ Rev. Jeremiah Wright
What bothers me the most about the “letter to the editors” printed previously is that the writer has described the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s speeches as “hate-filled.” I have a big problem with this statement because what Wright is talking about, even in his most controversial soundbites, sounds like the truth to me. It’s not hate-filled; it’s reality filled, and most Americans, including Obama, have chosen to ignore real issues raised by Wright.
The author of the above letter to the editors chastises Obama for rationalizing Wright’s statements instead of condemning them. Well, I’m here to rationalize them even further.
What is implicit in the author of the above letter’s argument?and he is not alone?is that Black people just aren’t grateful enough for their cushy situation in America. Yes, such a cushy situation hundreds of years of slavery followed by systematic persecution was. This attitude is reflects nothing but condescension, nothing close to understanding, which is what is really missing in this whole drama.
I am not happy that I have to use precious space in this fine newspaper to discuss Wright’s comments that have been used by Obama’s opponents to score political points. The media has spent far too much time doing the public the disservice of playing and replaying the soundbites from Youtube instead of providing real explanations and context. But that would take too much time, and too much controversy. Indeed, the author of the above letter is correct: how can you rationalize a statement as inflammatory as “God damn America!”? For Obama, it was nearly political suicide for him to even confront the issues raised by Wright. But instead of confronting the real issues, he confronted the man, as the media did, creating a spectacle of a crazy Black man whose time had passed him by.
It’s also too bad that Wright has had to parade himself on the TV to defend himself. In this wave of national attention, he too has lost focus on the issues, to the delight, however, of TV commentators and political pundits.
Race is still a big issue in America (Paul Krugman and a few other critics have been correct in exposing the American narrative of racism). And Blacks?even crazy old preacher men?are not to blame for this situation; it is foolish to think such a thing. Race is an issue because movement conservatives have perpetuated racial divisions to win elections. The naivete of the newest generation of conservatives, to which, presumably, the author of the above letter is a member, to assume that race is no longer an issue and has not won the Republican Party elections is far more na?ve and hence “dangerous” than Obama’s rationalizations.
In some of the clips, Wright is shown chastising the “old White men” who run the country. This chastisement is warranted because the fact is that the old White men who perpetrated slavery upon Blacks are the same old White men who, through their foreign policies and their profit-at-all-costs business practices, have brought the consequences in the form of transnational terrorism back home upon innocent Americans.
This, frankly, sounds like the truth to me, and these points have not been raised often enough, because they have been struck down as “unpatriotic,” especially in the time of unhealthy collective trauma following 9/11. Instead of finding the cause of such hate, the United States government, led by movement and neo-conservatives, has chosen to fight an endless shadow war against enemies who hate our national prestige. This is as misguided as it is ignonrant. Instead of investigating real causes of the 9/11 violence, the elites have chosen to focus on the spectacle of a man–Bin Laden–and the thrill of smoking him out of his hole.
The author of the above letter argues that in not condemning the statemtns made by right, Obama is somehow unfit to lead the country. But, in condemning the statements, Obama also risks alientating people who see the points raised by Wright as legitimate issues that need to be discussed–people like me.
Unfortunately for all of us, the Wright incident has caused America’s racist chickens to come home to roost once again at the forefront of American politics. For a time during the campaign, it seemed that we had escaped such barbarism, with the prospect of a woman or minority to gain the nomination. But now it appears that the Right will do anything to paint Obama into a corner to gain the White House, including playing the racist card.