A liberal friend sent me an article from the Winston Salem Chronicle (written by John Mendez, who is identified as the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church and a longtime community activist). In the article, Mendez attempts to defend Wright. I sent the friend my comments on the article and thought the article and the comments might be worth sharing (rather belatedly) here. I know the Wright thing is about played out, but I’d be very interested in any comments you still have the energy and interest to make. Wright may be forgotten but his message of hate continues to be preached from hundred of pulpits every week.
Here’s the article (with my comments in bold):
In recent days, the American public has been bombarded by a series of video clips, relentless isolated sound bytes, and lots of frenzied, misinformed (note that nowhere in the article does he provide the slightest proof that they are misinformed; on the contrary. He goes on to prove the charges are completely true.) overcharged rhetoric by the news media, commentators, and right-wing bloggers, caricaturing (How is it a caricature when it’s true?) and demonizing my friend, Dr. Jeremiah Wright and Trinity Christian Church. Dr. Wright is under attack for the use of language and sentiments uttered while preaching a sermon that criticized and condemned American violence at home and abroad (No, he’s under attack for fermenting hate by spreading lies against America). In my estimation, however, the real reason Dr. Wright is under attack is that he was the pastor of Senator Barack Obama and his family for over 20 years, as UCC President John Thomas pointed out (Well, of course; his comments would be despicable no matter when, where or by whom they were made; but they are important because Obama sat and listened to them without protest for 20 years) . Those who sifted through hours of sermons looking for a few lurid phrases and those who aired them repeatedly were only seeking to discredit and harm Obama by associating him with the historic prophetic ministry and social gospel preaching tradition of the Black church, as if that is a bad thing (it is a bad thing; that’s precisely the point!); and to divide the American people along racial and religious lines by subtly playing the “race card.” (Wait a minute, it is the outrageous comments of Wright (God damn America, HIV/genocide and other garbage) that divides America! This entire paragraph is schizophrenic in that it claims that Wright was quoted out of context but admits that Wright actually said and believes everything he is quoted as saying and believing. Altogether, not very persuasive to the objective reader.) I have known Dr. Jeremiah Wright for over 25 years. He is a brilliant preacher and scholar. He was recognized by Ebony Magazine as one of the top 15 preachers in America. He has preached in Winston-Salem several times to overflowing audiences. Trinity Church is located in Southside Chicago ,where the consequences of racist public policies are manifested in a crumbling infrastructure, a failing school system, and a lack of economic development. For decades, Trinity Church has been hailed as a model church for what Dr. Martin Marty, a professor of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School and frequent visitor to Trinity worship services, describes as a place of “hope, hope, hope.” (In the part of the world Wright travels in (the old-time black racist, socialist, America-hating world in which his lies are well received) Wright has done very well. There is no denying that. In some ways, the fact that a black bigot spewer of poison can succeed so well disproves his own theories. He has hardly been oppressed, has he?)In spite of Dr. Wright’s awesome ministry and achievements, the media paints him as some kind of “fanatic” based on a few isolated sound bytes, which is tantamount to doing “image damage,” which has historically appealed to those who have contempt for Blacks (On the contrary, black racist, anti-America, socialist garbage which further divides the races and ferments hate is the core of Wright’s message, it’s not a few isolated sound bytes (as is demonstrated by the rest of this article, which spews the same garbage). Wright destroys his own image by projecting an image of black racism and hate). Dr. Wright, like Adam Clayton Powell, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X, before him, is really under attack because he refuses to emulate the king’s “yes man” and bless a racist and exploitive status quo as so many prosperity preachers do (Here is the first admission that the anti-American spreading of lies is really at the core of Wright’s message.). Dr. Wright is under attack because he chose the prophetic over pseudo-patriotism, the social gospel over social accommodation, conviction over compromise, protest over prosperity, and truth over tranquility (No, he’s under attack because those who love America do not take kindly to “God damn America” and untrue charges like the HIV/genocide charge. Here the pastor is using lovely words to hide the ugly, hateful reality and carefully avoiding talking about the specifics of Wright’s message.). Dr. Wright’s words, though “mildly brash” (Whatever “God damn America” and HIV/genocide lies are, they are not mild; the pastor completely gives the game away here with this ridiculous description) were still nothing but the truth about this nation (Note again the lack of specifics. Anyone who believes that HIV/genocide is the truth has no concept of the truth. It is an untrue charge, pure and simple). What is ironic, everybody knows he spoke the truth, including the media (No, everyone knows the HIV/genocide charge is a lie). It is no secret America assassinated democratically elected presidents around the world and toppled governments to serve their interests; from Allende in Chile to Lumumba in the Congo, to a failed assassination attempt on the life of Caesar Chavez to the use of deception and lies to invade Iraq and kill its president (Finally, some specifics. Note that not a single one of these specifics has anything to do with racism, genocide or oppression within the borders of the United States. Indeed, none of these has the slightest thing to do with anything inside of America’s borders. For the most part, they are isolated examples that happened many years ago. Allende was a mistake. I don’t know enough about Lumumba or Chavez to comment intelligently. But, boy, does he reveal how little regard he has for the truth when he gets to Iraq! First, consider the use of the word “deception and lies.” By traditional definition, a lie is a statement made while knowing the statement is untrue. The untrue HIV/genocide charge is a prime example of a lie because Wright stated it knowing it was untrue. By contrast, Bush and his advisors really believed what they were telling America. They were wrong, of course, about things like weapons of mass destruction (and they were wrong on the merits; we never should have invaded) but, since, unlike Wright, they did not know what they were saying was untrue, they did not lie. Double standard, double standard, double standard. The peak is reached with the charge that America invaded Iraq and “kill[ed] its president.” Now here is a lie! We killed the “president’s” sons, but the “president” was tried by an Iraqi court (and not an American puppet court, either) and killed by the Iraqis, as he richly deserved to be. But the real stunner is that Hussein is called the president, as if here were a freely elected American president. In truth, of course, he was a ruthless dictator. Anyone who wants to see real genocide and oppression should study what Hussein did to the Kurds. That these pastors are condemning America for a genocide and oppression that it is completely innocent of and standing silent about real genocide and oppression tells you everything you need to know about their complete disrespect for the truth and the depths of their anti-American political agenda.). Dr. Martin Luther King said long ago in his Beyond Vietnam speech that America was the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” (Anyone who believes this is not paying attention to what is going on in the rest of the world. America put a stop to the genocide and mass killings in Germany in World War II. America has nothing comparable to the millions who died in Stalinist Russia or Maoist China. Far more people died in Iraq before we got there than after. Around the world, true genocide and oppression abounds, none of it America’s doing.) The attack on Dr. Wright is tantamount to engaging in “selective ignorance.” (On the contrary, making false charges against America like the HIV/genocide garbage, and Dr. King’s attack quoted in the last sentence, while ignoring real genocide and oppression around the world is “selective ignorance.” It’s like condemning America for 150 year old slavery and demanding an apology without giving America credit for the Civil War to end slavery or anything else that has happened since.) James Baldwin, wrote in The Fire Next Time, “This is the crime of which I accuse my country and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them that they have destroyed … hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it.” (If we were guilty of such charges, I would definitely want to know it. But the charges are so over the top and obviously untrue that they actually obscure the real problems that remain in America and around the world.)America is imprisoned by its own myths. It engages in an epistemology of willful ignorance. White America does not have to and does not want to have knowledge of the injuries and pain they have inflected through slavery, terror, lynching, and racism so manifested in the everyday lives of people of color. (Stuck in the 60s. The 1860s. “Slavery, terror, lynching and racism” have not been “manifested in the everyday lives of people of color” for many, many years. This is a prime example of what I’m talking about. People of color in America do face racism from individuals and when that racism rises to the level of discrimination it must be dealt with. But, by focusing on charges which have nothing to do with America today (slavery, terror and lynching) and on false charges (HIV/genocide, and vague, undefinable (and non-existent) systemic racism), these pastors divide the races and prevent America from solving the very real problems that remain.) America has no desire to know what it is about them and their institutions that have wreaked such havoc in the lives of Blacks, people of color and the poor at home and abroad. (False, false, false. America does want to know about the truth, but not about the hateful lies these guys are spouting.) This is why white America is not able to hear or believe that Black America’s grievances are real. (If only these guys would actually focus on the real grievances, perhaps we could put this theory to the test.) They cannot seem to understand why we are angry or why the world hates America. (Blacks are angry because the black leadership has spent the last 40 years making false charges and fermenting hate, successfully so. The world hates America partly out of envy, partly out of legitimate resentment of American arrogance and ignorance, and partly because America has failed to oppose those who launch false attacks against her.) It is not because of the American way of life. America cannot believe it because they cannot face what this reality says about themselves. White America has immunized and numbed itself from any kind of criticism that might correct their misunderstandings or expose their self-imposed ignorance. Worse still, neither does America have the vision to imagine a different world where justice, peace, and equality are a way of life (It is only by rejecting these hate-mongers that justice, peace and equality will be possible. Unfortunately, I see little sign of the black community rejecting them). Such an attack upon Dr. Wright is only another attempt for the authors of devastation to play innocent, and sadly, it is playing the role of innocence that constitutes the crime. (Wright preys on the fears and insecurities of the innocent, doing everything he can to cause blacks to hate whites and America, including spreading lies like the HIV/genocide lie. He and his ilk have done a masterful job of this. I pray they do not succeed in completely destroying America, but I am not optimistic.)
How can Americans who care about the truth and actually wish for racial reconciliation combat the purveyors of hate like Wright, Mendez and their ilk?