As I navigate through the world wide web, I see that Rev. Jeremiah Wright continues to be a polarizing figure. His name is usually raised in the context of an attack on Barack Obama, or a statement of concern about the perceived ill will that African Americans have toward white Americans.
I don’t want to be, or seem to be, a Rev. Wright apologist. He is intentionally overly provocative, and seems to have a nose for controversy. I don’t agree with everything he says.
But it does bother me to hear people say that, for example, Wright is a purveyor of hate speech against white Americans in particular or America in general. That’s just wrong.
I engaged in a conversation on this subject on another website, and I feel this is worth sharing.
INITIAL COMMENT ON REV. WRIGHT:
One thing that I am shocked and hurt by during this campaign season is to discover the fact that people of color have so much hatred or ill feelings towards whites. I have never in my lifetime had any bad feelings towards blacks, in fact, have had quite a bit of good wishes and good will towards them.
I hope I am not speaking out of line here, but trying to be honest. I cannot tell you how horrified I was to hear Jeremiah Wright screaming about rich white people and about our country.
And I am particularly heartbroken to hear this from a pulpit, where truth is supposed to be spoken. And the unforgivable to me is that he has and is teaching his people and youth to think of us an the enemy. I always thought that as a Christian, there was a common ground, you know, the “there is no slave nor free, but all One in Christ,” stuff.
Naive? I guess so. But I really didn’t want to know about those feelings, but they quite obviously exist. In fact, it has made me stand back and wonder, do all the people of color who I have worked with and known and run into every day feel this way towards me? I don’t know any more.
Rev. Wright is not a sympathetic figure. He is so extremely disliked by so many people, it’s probably impossible at this point to change minds that he is not the monster that people believe him to be.
But on the subject of Wright, I offer this not for purposes of persuasion, but in the hope of providing some insight and context regarding some of his more controversial comments:
 Rev. Wright does not preach hate, he doesn’t even come close. If you think he preaches hate, you haven’t really heard people who do.
 The closest person to Rev. Wright rhetorically, that most whites can “relate to” as an example, is Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh’s speech is hard coded to his target audience. Outside of the context of his listeners, his comments are considered racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-intellectual, etc.
The thing is, Rush says things that extremely provocative to the point of meeting the legal definition of fighting words.
Wright is like that. Wright is basically a fire and brimstone preacher for whom rhetorical excess is considered a virtue. But away from his regular listeners who know the full context in which he speaks, he can seem offensive.