Maybe Wright is Right

I have to respectfully disagree with a lot of the CW concerning Rev. Wright’s latest media blitz.

Let’s start with the notion that Wright has somehow thrown Obama “under the bus” by “dismissing” his Philadelphia speech. Many people are interpreting his remarks about “saying what politicians must say” as dismissive. However, in the Bill Moyers interview, Wright actually praises Obama’s speech as something good that has come out of this controversy. To further the point, Wright means that the only reason Obama has to explain his views of the reverend is precisely because he is running for president. In that context, Wright isn’t wrong. No other parishioner has to defend his or her church attendance.

Moreover, Wright has been preaching for 30 years. If he was such a dangerous, controversial individual, why didn’t the Right and the press go after him in the past? In fact, Wright was considered a respectable pastor and representative of the black church for all of those three decades. Recall he was one of the religious leaders brought in to council Pres. Clinton during the Lewinsky impeachment. So why is he such a controversial figure now? Because he is the pastor to a black man running for president.

And for most people of color, we see these attacks on Obama and Wright as something more than personal or political. They aren’t really attacking Wright for what he is saying (even on Morning Joe, Scarborough and co. were saying that Wright has a lot of good points and truths in his speeches. “We get it, now move on” was the consensus). They are attacking him for what he represents. His speech patterns, cadences, body language are “different” to white audiences. And “different” usually equates to “other” and in Wright’s words, “deficient.” At Too Sense, dnA said it better:

White folks who are offended by Wright are not really listening to the content of his words, they are reacting as much to his body language, cadence and voice quality more than anything else. What they see offends their sensibilities. They look at him and see Louis Farrakhan. Reverend Wright could be speaking Japanese or counting sheep, no matter what he says at this point, he will scare some white people, who could no more distinguish what he is saying than they could distinguish between Young Jeezy and Talib Kweli.

They are not reacting [to] Wright’s words, they are reacting to his blackness, and that they find deeply disconcerting. It does not matter that Wright has said over and over “difference does not mean deficient,” they see one way to be and they find the suggestion that anything different could possibly be equal confusing. Reverend Wright is as invisible to them as the protagonist of Ralph Ellison’s novel. They cannot see him.

Also, about his defense of his “chickens coming home to roost” comments regarding 9/11. He has said in the past that the snippet that is looped on cable news is actually his paraphrase of Admiral Peck’s critique of American foreign policy. In fact, the line in the original sermon that follows the “chickens” one is this: “That’s not me saying this, y’all. That’s an ambassador. A white man, not a black militant.” Also, his position on 9/11 is not that different from Ron Paul’s, so where’s the outrage over that?

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