If you've been following the latest Democratic tempest in a tea pot, you know that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright said some things that Barack Obama felt he must "condemn." Wright has been Obama's pastor and friend for many years. The Chicago UCC minister has now resigned from Obama's African American Religious Leadership Committee.
But do you know what Wright said that has the right so upset? Here are some of his unacceptable opinions.
- "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."
- "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Rev. Wright said in a sermon on Sept. 16, 2001.
- "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost," he told his congregation. ...
After 9/11, angry, frightened vengeful citizens, much abetted by right wing politicians and the Bush administration, demanded censorship and self-censorship from us all. Mostly we complied, stunned by the vehemence of the grief and anger we felt ourselves and in most around us. My friend Bob Wing wrote a prescient letter on September 14, 2001 that warned explicitly against one of Pastor Wright's phrases (those roosting-returning chickens...).
But shutting up about home truths didn't do anyone any good after 9/11. The Bush administration played on our emotions to justify their imperial wet dreams. And now the country is tied in for the long term to a war that is bankrupting us.
Shutting up about how the racially-defined underclass of African Americans and new immigrants are forced to live doesn't make injustice go away either.
And a lot of people know this. In breaking the story of Wright's words, ABC concluded with this comment which seems about right.
One more thought about the Rev. Wright: I think what upsets white folks most about his sermons is perhaps even more the style of his delivery than the words. We aren't accustomed to seeing speakers vigorously declaiming, raising their voices, pounding the air for emphasis. He must be an angry black guy -- now there's a category we know and fear. And I guess that Obama guy must also be an angry black guy, even though he hides it so well ... Yes, the attempt of our white supremacist cultural arbiters to racialize Obama's image is working.