The Real Reason Wright Won’t Go Away

Over the weekend, Rev. Jeremiah Wright engaged in two very high profile events, one being a Bill Moyers interview that received little more than a whisper in the political press and blogs, and a more mercurial speech delivered to the NAACP.

It is interesting to note that there seems to be the slightest shift in attitude towards Wright. Not exactly a watershed moment where America comes to welcome him with open arms; indeed many aren’t, and I won’t expect them to. But for some, reading in comments to news items and blogs, and reading some bloggers who have been quick to condemn the man when the youtube hit piece went viral, I’ve noticed a slight walking back of some of the criticism he’s faced. And there will likely be more.

The interesting thing about Wright, and I think we’ll see this as time goes on for people are going to continue to try and use him to doom Obama’s presidential bid, is that he doesn’t appear to fit into the mold that so many tried to cram him into. As Political Machine points out, this man is incredibly well educated, holding two masters and a doctorate, and for all the calls that he is unpatriotic, this is also a man who fought as a Marine in the Korean war.

None of this is to say that Wright is in any way the ideal, nor is he without political liability. But it is to say that the more context you add to Wright, the less offensive he becomes, the more that we see a thought process that is not necessarily hateful, though in some areas it is… incomplete.

And the more you hear from him, the more that the section of Obama’s speech on race rings true; he’s not a bad man, he’s not a hateful man, but he is a thinker whose mind may be a touch too influenced by the past and lacks focus on the present.

Interestingly, there are still more “questions” about Wright. Not that I think there are really all that many more questions; during the April 16th debate, George Stephie pretty much showed that in truth the public seems focused entirely on the same few small questions over and over again. Is Wright a racist? Does he love America? And is Obama a mindless disciple of the man?

Yup, that about seems to sum it all up. Three questions over, and over, and over again. The questions aren’t important; the answers are, and when I mean answers, I don’t mean truthful answers, but useful answers, answers that create the narrative that people want to create.

As Rachel Maddow put it, the only reason associations such as Wright’s become a campaign issue is because political opponents decide to make them an issue. Which gives us a key look at why Wright won’t go away, no matter how much vindication he may enjoy as his world view is granted the context it deserves.

And basically it boils down to two things.

The first is that political opponents will bring it up because with a candidate who seems virtually impervious, Wright may seem like a winning issue. We see this at blogs like Taylor Marsh, whom I would never accuse of racism, but I would accuse of relentlessly flogging the story because her candidate is losing. (I have no high opinion of Marsh, as you should well know, but I’ll give her this one bit of leeway. On the other hand, I give no such benefit of the doubt to her supporters, some of whom have definitely crossed that line of racism.)

And then there is the darker, more malevolent purpose in that Wright seemingly makes it okay for people to be racist. At least the caricature of him does. It’s almost as though some folks, typically inhibited regarding discussing things such as race as a negative, see the snippets of Wright speaking, and automatically think, “Well, if he’s going to be racist, I’m going to be racist as well.”

Towards the end of the first wave of the Wright controversy, when some of those notorious clips were put back into contest, I described the media circus that preceded the re-contextualization as a lynching, because that’s exactly what it was.

It wasn’t merely that Wright’s words were mashed up to turn them into a liability against Obama, they were done so specifically so that going after Obama on racial fault lines became acceptable. What made matters worse in all this was that we on the left were complicit in this regard.

We let it happen. That mash-up was so damning that few of us put forth much effort to slow the whole thing down and really digest what was going on. I myself, secretly, watched the clip and thought, again in secret, that I wasn’t fully in disagreement with what he said. I hopped up on the bandwagon like everyone else.

Meanwhile, everyone from the first group I talked about above became, and continue to act as, enablers for the second group. It’s either this outrage that someone would dare criticize white people (because only white people can criticize white people), or it’s this mock concern that, well, the Republicans are going to tear Obama apart over this.

Let’s cut the crap, folks. Democrats are attempting to tear Obama apart over this, and it’s really something that makes me ashamed of some of the progressives and liberals with whom I share those mantles. Not to say that Wright should be defended completely and blindly, nor that he even needs defending, but instead we have to realize that it is supposed to be the Republicans who turn this into attack fodder, and we, oh we the enlightened masters of the nuanced argument are the ones that are supposed to keep the calmer heads and digest everything and provide a fair verdict.

And we should endeavor to do as such regardless of who gets the nomination because contrary to Taylor Marsh’s assertion that racism is miniscule, it really isn’t. The racial divide in this country is not so small as one might think, and what is worse is that it’s not exactly healing properly either.

So there you go. Wright’s not going to go away because of himself; he’s a man and he gets to do as he pleases. He can keep his mouth shut and stay out of the spotlight, but that wouldn’t amount to anything. Not while there are so many people who have all the motivation in the world to use those things that he’s already said.

Our role, on the left, you know, those of us who are supposedly about equality, our role should be to actually listen to his words, hear him for what he’s saying, and from where he’s saying it, and at least put up some sort of effort of tolerance and understanding.

If we’re not at least doing that much, we’re not really who we say we are, are we?

–Edited by Kathy

4 Responses to “The Real Reason Wright Won’t Go Away”

  1. stonetools says:

    This is a well-written, thoughtful post. Speak on , brother!

    (Why can’t you be was well supported as those cretins like Hot Air and Michelle Malkin?)

    I agree with you that Reverend Wright speaking out may actually be a good thing and not the disaster that many, particularly on the right, are predicting. It may actually be bad for them as they don’t get to proclaim the view uncontested that Rev Wright is simply a raving racist, as Krauthammer puts it.

  2. HAHAHAHA! Thanks man. I wish I were as well supported as “those cretins”. But alas, I am not. Though… you know, there’s the old paypal button and we do have a sponsor, you could always give them a click, make it worth their while.

    But seriously, yeah. You know, this is going to be an informative election, and one thing that really gets me about Wright is that, this is all getting drudged up now, and Wright is no Hagee or Falwell or Robertson that just goes off the rails for no damn reason. There’s a knowledge behind some of his most controversial stuff. Even the AIDS thing becomes more reasonable when you are faced with the very real Tuskagee experiment.

    So, I think the first thing about him coming out this early is that we’re getting innoculated, and the second thing is that it might actually help create a conversation, a nation-wide conversation about race, which I think I would absolutely love.

    Glad you stopped by, drop more comments if you like, but if I don’t get to them, please understand, 8:30 in the morning is about my bed time.

  3. Oh, and in all honesty, while I would love donations (which don’t go to me, of course, but M. Tedesco who has to pay this site off, and possibly uses the left overs to buy advertising elsewhere), I think for today I would rather money go to Travis Childers who is getting a negative ad campaign launched against him using Wright and Obama.

    See top post for more details.

  4. Angellight says:

    It is time for the Republican-controlled Media to give this Wright controversy some fairness and enquire of Hillary Clinton and her surrogates the following:

    Is it true that, (1) Hillary surrogate, Congresswoman Shiela Jackson Lee, is also a devotee of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright; that he’s been preaching at her home church, where she is actively involved, annually for the past 15 years and has an open invitation to return, and, that she sat in the pews for his visits and did not bat an eye?

    Is it true that (2) Hillary surrogate, Rev. Marcia Dyson was not only a longtime member of Trinity United Church of Christ but also still considers Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright her pastor? That Rev. Marcia Dyson’s seminary education, in part, was sponsored by Trinity UCC and encouraged by Rev. Wright? And was it not at Trinity were she first met her husband, Rev. Dr. Michael Dyson, who’s been very vocal in his defense of Rev. Wright.?

    And, lastly of Hillary Clinton, that if Rev. Wright would not have been her Pastor, then why did she and Bill when going through Impeachment, turn to Rev. Wright for Prayer and Support and invite him to the White House? These things should be asked and answered.

    Republican controlled media and talking heads are building up Hillary now, trying to destroy Obama, while McCain courts African-Americans that Clintons have ailenated by “kitchen sink strategy, hoping all the while that she will become Democratic nominee, then unleash “arsenol” of weapons they have against her. Something they have been planning for years!

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