Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s jeremiads have been remarkably consistent. It is Sen. Obama that has changed his tune. Or as Wright put it, Obama has become a politician.
A few weeks back, Obama attempted to convince Americans that the cleric being “caricatured” in the media was a good man who comforted the afflicted while occasionally afflicting the comfortable. The Sen. claimed categorically that over the years he had come to know the comforting Rev. Wright but never the afflicted one.
But Wright didn’t reveal his true hue slowly and in stages. His was not a “Dance of the Seven Veils.” Rather, the “hottest brother in America” went ahead and stripped on the national stage. Indeed, Wright has exposed himself. And what Americans have glimpsed bears no resemblance to the fictional character Obama conjured and boosted.
Come to think of it, it is Barack and his bride who’re suddenly sounding very cagey. (I wonder how the two really feel about white folks. And what did Michelle Obama mean when she swore to CNN’s Susan Malveaux, with Caroline Kennedy as witness, that Barack was going to change the face of the country? “Caroline’s” father and uncle—Malveaux addressed Ms. Kennedy by her first name—were responsible for the 1965 Immigration Act, which has already achieved that.)
What the Obamas imbibed from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ for the past 20 years was Black Liberation Theology. “We are an African people, and remain ‘true to our native land,’ the mother continent, the cradle of civilization,” reads a statement of “doxology” on the Church’s site. The church is proud of its separatist “Black Value System.”
Only just retired, Pastor Wright is as central to the Church as is Africa. His “Talking Points” are prominently plastered on Trinity United’s website. There, Wright states that this diverse “doxology” is of a piece with “Hispanic theology, Native American theology, Asian theology and Womanist theology.” (Spot the blanked-out Americans.) A black person in America, moreover, is deemed outside his traditional homeland.
Obama, it appears, is running for president in “the Diaspora.”
This stuff is the same mindless mumbo-jumbo Wright offered up during his address to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, about which the media have generally been mum. Geraldo Rivera and his “analyst,” Montel Williams, appeared pleased—and pacified—by this particular sermon. Soledad O’Brian and Roland Martin of CNN were enraptured. In solidarity, the two had dressed up in Homer Simpson-type mumus, or caftans. Afterwards they solemnized the racist address as fun and humorous.
Allow me to fill in the gaps. Wright at the NAACP was an agent provocateur, not an agent of God. Cynical and smug, his is the voice of savage rage. And envy. The man’s envy of what he labels “European” achievements is palpable. Why else would he have devoted an hour to listing “European” accomplishments, mocking them, and defining as difference the failure to emulate them?
To illustrate how African music differs from “European” music, this so-and-so emitted a caterwauling which was supposed to come-off as a cantata. To emphasize the pomposity of the cantata, Wright launched into Brother musical mode, jovial and jolly. Black music was different, not deficient, to white music, said he. But Wright’s contemptuous tone and mimicry implied that the former was filled with joie de vivre, the latter just jejune.
Wright then explained dereliction and drop-out rates among blacks with reference to yet more collectivist racial theories. Black children learn a certain way, speak a special way and think in ways different to whites, he vaporized. The revered “scholar” also latched on to the fashionable brain bifurcation balderdash—Wright puts great stock in right brain/left brain discredited pop pedagogy.
All in all, Wright has a fixed, well-developed worldview.
Would anyone have believed Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson had they distanced themselves from Rev. Billy Graham whose spiritual guidance they sought? The difference between the close relationship these presidents had with the “pastor in chief” and that of Obama and Wright is that Rev. Graham, as TIME magazine attested, radiates “innocence, guilelessness, [and] sincerity strong as paint stripper.” Wright emits nastiness and narcissism. (And those are his better qualities.)
Why did Obama not attend a less radical church where Jesus, not Jeremiah, was king?
The Obama organization now claims that the pastor’s latest attacks on Obama prove that “he and Mr. Obama are not that close, otherwise why would Mr. Wright do this now?” Au contraire. Hell hath no fury like a radical pastor scorned. Sen. Obama and Rev. Wright had been as tight as thieves for over two decades. When Obama got religion on the presidency, he began gradually turning his back on his spiritual counselor. Being an unconventional Christian animated by anger, Wright has refused to turn the other cheek.
For the duration of their 23-year relationship, Obama considered Wright a mentor and a mensch. No color should be given to the claim that Obama didn’t know and love the real Wright.
To paraphrase the rapper Eminem’s hit song: So will the real Slim Shady and his sassy lady please stand up?
©2008 By Ilana Mercer