Posted by: mutantpoodle | May 1, 2008

Wright Thoughts

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I’ve been an absentee blogger – although that may be the wrong phrase. It’s not like I’ve blogged from afar lately – I just haven’t. Mostly because I don’t have anything original to say (don’t say it!), and I try to follow the maxim that it’s better to remain silent and have people think you’re a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

But since the esteemed Reverend Wright has resurfaced with an apparently literal vengeance against his one-time spiritual charge, I’ve been trying to understand why people think that a man with whom Obama clearly disagrees on not virtually but absolutely every wackadoodle crackpot thing he has said is somehow revelatory of Obama’s character. I’ve been impressed by how Obama’s handled this from the first stage – the Philly speech – to now, where earlier this week a pained Obama essentially cut the cord and sent an important person in his life out of it. When Newt Gingrich was on the Daily Show this week, he said, responding to Jon Stewart’s mention of Wright’s six years in the Marine Corps, “I think Reverend Wright is, in many ways, a very complex American.” To which Stewart’s response was, “Aren’t we all? And wouldn’t it be better to accept the complexity of people and issues and events?”

Fat chance.

Angry Black Bitch was asked to talk about this in the context of what she calls acceptable blackness:

…acceptably black requires perfection in your appearance, manners, speech, family, friends and associates.

I’m not talking about not having unacceptable black friends. I’m talking about not having unacceptable friends…or family…or associates…or pets…or hair…or neighborhood…or car…or musical tastes.

Achieve that perfection and your black ass is acceptable…to a bunch of trigger happy assholes that soothe their privileged guilt by letting you tag along, all the while prepared to lay down harsh and rigid judgment should your perfect mask crack.

That brings me to the second coming of the Rev. Wright drama…


..and the over the top and artificially disturbed reaction some people are having to the Revs self.

Is this a political story?

Is it really?

Do people honestly believe that Senator Obama believes/supports/embraces everything that comes out of Rev. Wright’s mouth?


Or is this about that faux perfect acceptably black mask that Senator Obama never put on himself being removed through unfortunate circumstance to display a real person…with real and totally normal Pastor drama…who fumble a bit in dealing with it because it was real and personal and he is human and so, duh, flawed…and what that lack of absolute perfection does to some people’s ability to maintain…oh Gawd, there’s that word again…tolerance?

I don’t know how one can respond to that, other than ignore it and yell “Scary Black Man” over and over again (Glenn Beck – get this – calls Reverend Wright “dangerous” – like he has WMD or something!), but a comment from Matt brought out the flip side:

Interesting that you bring up middle school. I’m white, and I have a white friend who is openly prejudiced against black people. As far as I can tell his prejudice is based almost solely on his personal experience of having been picked on by some of the black kids in high school. I’ve tried to explain to him how ridiculous and illogical his prejudice is, but to no avail. He’s a good guy in almost every other way. Which raises an interesting parallel to me. Should I disavow his friendship because of this one, albeit serious, flaw? Does that negate everything else about him that I like and respect? Or is it okay to see people as complex and flawed and accept them while not condoning their less than admirable qualities?

The response:

Oh my, that’s not an easy one. I can only quote from personal experience. I have family members who are openly anti-something or another and I struggled with how to address that shit. I can’t live their life or change what is in the heart, but i can tell them that I think they are wrong and why. I also try to explain how that kind of thinking damages them far more than it impacts the other they fear and therefore are biased towards….

It sounds like your friend is manifesting the most typical type of bigotry that is really all about fear and the wounds of past experience.

Now, there’s a lot of reportage about how many people out there simply will not vote for a black man. Or a white woman. Whatever the number is, no one in those articles is talking about how the wounds are in the past, and those ignorant crackers need to get over it and walk the path of acceptance and love.

They’ve saved that for Reverend Wright.

Now, I will go on record as saying that I think Wright is acting like a self-aggrandizing dick, but he can do what he wants.

How anyone could look on this series of episodes – which have been, by the way, largely unfair to the very complex American that Reverend Wright is – and not see the deliberate, pained reaction of Obama as anything but indicative of the kind of temperament we ought to have in a President is beyond me, but I don’t watch American Idol, either, so clearly I am not at one with the American zeitgeist.

John Cole nails it for me:

I spent several years in the early days of this blog being all sorts of outraged about petty bullshit. I spent days calling Ted Rall an asshole (he still is, I think), days opining about what an asshole Michael Moore is, and so on. I got my panties all in a bunch about Ward Churchill (also a dick), and stupid things Bill Maher may or may not have said, and so on.

And you know what? They may be assholes, or jerks, or whatever term you want to use, but they sure as hell didn’t run this economy into the ground. They aren’t responsible for turning a huge surplus into a several hundred billion dollar deficit. I have yet to read any memos from Barbra Streisand detailing how we should spy on American citizens.

And so it is with Jeremiah Wright. Is he a jerk? I don’t think there is any argument to be made that lately he hasn’t in fact been one big, giant, puckered asshole. His ego tour the past few days was all about him, but so what? I blame the media as much as I blame him. Is it an offensive notion that the government created aids? Absolutely, but I refuse to get all bent out of shape about it, because the government that tortures people and ran the Tuskegee experiment and wiretapped MLK for years opens itself up to crazy accusations like that.

So Jeremiah Wright has acted like a jackass the past few days, and he may have acted supremely selfishly by hurting Obama’s electoral chances. Regardless, he may be a flawed man, but that does not undo all the good he has done over the years. I don’t know of any bloggers with thirty years of service to the poor and the indigent. Get back to me when Chris Matthews feeds hungry people for three decades. And even with all his flaws, Jeremiah Wright did give us this quality bit of entertainment, and I have to admit to enjoying someone treat the media with the respect they deserve (which is to be mocked, have eyes rolled at them, and taunted as Wright did yesterday at the Press Club).

Maybe it is because I am totally and unrepentantly in the tank for Obama, but I just can’t get worked up over what his pastor said. Maybe it is because I am not religious, and I am used to religious people saying things that sound crazy. Or maybe I just refuse to spend any more time and energy getting worked up over and denouncing, distancing, and rejecting the wrong people- people who really don’t matter in the big scheme of things. If you have a memo from Jeremiah Wright to John Yoo showing how we should become a rogue nation, let me know. If you have pictures of Jeremiah Wright voting against the GI Bill, send it to me. If you have evidence of Jeremiah Wright training junior soldiers on the finer aspects of stacking and torturing naked Iraqi captives, pass them on.

Until then, I just can’t seem to get all worked up about the crazy scary black preacher that Obama has to “throw under the bus.”

In his Philadelphia speech on race, Obama laid out our choice:

We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I’d like that, too. Starting right fucking now.


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