A “Blog Conversation” on Reverend Wright.

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.

MY RESPONSE:

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:

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Hate That Hate Produced: The Demonization of Barack Obama by the Republican Party

Conservative political pundit Charles Krauthammer is in what I call a state of disingenuous denial. Writing in the Washington Post, he said

Let me get this straight. A couple of agitated yahoos in a rally of thousands yell something offensive and incendiary, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are not just guilty by association — with total strangers, mind you — but worse: guilty according to the New York Times of “race-baiting and xenophobia.”

…McCain has never said that, nor anything like that. When asked at the time to produce one instance of McCain deploying race, the Obama campaign could not. Yet here was Obama firing a preemptive charge of racism against a man who had not indulged in it. An extraordinary rhetorical feat, and a dishonorable one.

What makes this all the more dismaying is that it comes from Barack Obama, who has consistently presented himself as a healer, a man of a new generation above and beyond race, the man who would turn the page on the guilt-tripping grievance politics of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

It’s quite true that McCain has kept his own hands clean of the scurrilous attacks that have been made on Obama. But Palin and other Republican surrogates have had no problems with doing the dirty work, a fact that Krauthammer conveniently ignores.

And their dirty work is plain to see. The Republicans have engaged, and are engaging, in a massive effort to demonize Obama.

As described here,

Demonization is the characterization of individuals, groups, or political bodies as evil or subhuman for purposes of justifying and making plausible an attack, whether in the form of character assassination, legal action, circumscribing of political liberties, or warfare.

That’s the theory. Here’s how the Republicans have put theory into practice.

This:

+

+

=

Sacramento County Republican Party Says “Waterboard Obama”

This is so outrageous and disgusting, it leaves me speechless. This is a graphic that was displayed on the web site of the Sacramento County (California) Republican Party:



Source: Fox News

WTF?!?!

As reported on many sites, including this from Fox News:

A California county’s Republican Party Web site encouraged readers to “Waterboard Barack Obama” and compared Obama to Usama bin Laden, drawing criticism on Wednesday from Democrats and Republicans in the state.

The Web site of the Sacramento County Republican Party posted five illustrations saying that the terrorist group Hamas supported Obama and that “the only difference between Obama and Osama is BS.” Another attacked Michelle Obama, reading, “Hey Obama! Want to see bitter?”

The graphics were removed from the site by Wednesday, after the state GOP urged the local group to take them down.

The state Republican Party learned of the controversial content when it received a phone call from a reporter, said party spokesman Hector Barajas.

“I called the Sacramento county chairman and I had them remove it,” Barajas said. “I also noted to them that this is a complete distraction from what we’re trying to do, and that’s elect John McCain and Sarah Palin as the next president and vice president of the United States.”

Sacramento County Republican Chairman Craig MacGlashan could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, but the Sacramento Bee reported that he defended the Web site’s content. “I’m aware of the content,” MacGlashan told the newspaper. “Some people find it offensive, others do not. I cannot comment on how people interpret things.”

By Tuesday night the graphics had been removed. “These types of innuendos have absolutely no place in this election,” Barajas said. “This isn’t a thing we want out there.”

Let’s not sugar-coat this. This is hate speech. And it comes from an official Republican Party organization.

I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong.

See also:
• The Hate That Hate Produced: The Demonization of Barack Obama by the Republican Party
• WTF?!? Racist Insanity