They certainly don’t come from the likes of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright – pastor and spiritual advisor for 20 years to the future President of the United States and the standard bearer for all that is wrong with the leadership of the black community in America. Reverend Jeremiah Wright served as pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ from 1972 to February of 2008, where he met young Barack Obama and his family, according to The New York Times.
“The two men developed a close relationship, and Wright took on the role of being Obama’s spiritual adviser, the Christian Science Monitor reported. The Reverend also officiated the Obamas’ wedding and baptized their children Sasha and Malia, according to the Monitor. The couple attended Trinity United Church of Christ where Wright preached.
Obama also credits one of Wright’s sermons, “The Audacity of Hope,” with inspiring his connection to his Christian faith, the Times reported, so much so that the President adopted the phrase for the title of his second book. This sermon also was the source for themes of Obama’s 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention.
Barack Obama first met Wright in the late 1980s, while he was working as a community organizer in Chicago before attending Harvard Law School. Wright was scheduled to give the public invocation before Obama’s presidential announcement, but Obama withdrew the invitation the night before the event. Wright wrote a rebuttal letter to the editor disputing the characterization of the account as reported in an article in The New York Times.
In 2007, Wright was appointed to Barack Obama’s African American Religious Leadership Committee, a group of over 170 national black religious leaders who supported Obama’s bid for the Democratic nomination. However, it was announced in March 2008 that Wright was no longer serving as a member of this group. Wright’s racially charged sermons made him a controversial figure during the 2008 campaign, causing Obama to seek some distance from the Reverend [he had formerly relied upon for spiritual and political guidance].
Around mid-March in 2008, some of Wright’s more extreme statements began circulating in the news, including him referring to the United States as the “U.S. of K.K.K. A.” and arguing that the September 11 terrorist attacks stemmed from America’s corrupted foreign policy, The New York Times [at that time, collaborating with the candidacy of Hillary Clinton for President] reported.
On May 31, 2008, Barack and Michelle Obama announced that [after more than 20 years of listening to Reverend Wright preach] they had withdrawn their membership in Trinity United Church of Christ, stating that “Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views” [views, of course, which he had been espousing for the 20 years they had known him].
Most of the controversial excerpts that gained national attention in March 2008 were taken from two sermons: one titled “The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall“, delivered on September 16, 2001, and another titled “Confusing God and Government“, delivered on April 13, 2003.
But, in a sermon delivered shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Wright made comments about an interview of former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck he saw on Fox News. Wright said:
“I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday. Did anybody else see him or hear him? He was on Fox News. This is a white man, and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out — did you see him, John? – a white man, he pointed out, ambassador, that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Muhammad was in fact true – America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
Wright spoke of the United States taking land from the Indian tribes by what he labeled as terror, bombing Grenada, Panama, Libya, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, and argued that the United States supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and South Africa. He said that his parishioners’ response should be to examine their relationship with God, not go “from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents.”
His comment (quoting Malcolm X) that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost” was widely interpreted as meaning that America had brought the September 11, 2001 attacks upon itself. ABC News broadcast clips from the sermon in which Wright said:
“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… and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards.”
Later, Wright continued:
“Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that, y’all. Not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people that we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.”
[Keep in mind that the Reverend Wright was preaching in Chicago – about violence by white America begetting violence – to the black community – Chicago, the black-on-black murder capital of America!]
Clips from the sermon that Wright gave, entitled “Confusing God and Government“, were also shown on ABC’s America and on Fox News. In the sermon, Wright first makes the distinction between God and governments, and points out that many governments in the past have failed: “Where governments lie, God does not lie. Where governments change, God does not change.”
Wright then states:
“[The United States] government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal. The truth is they did not even believe that white women were created equal, in creation or civilization. The government had to pass an amendment to the Constitution to get white women the vote. Then the government had to pass an equal rights amendment to get equal protection under the law for women.
The government still thinks a woman has no rights over her own body, and between Uncle Clarence (African-American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas) who sexually harassed Anita Hill (an outrageous, discredited charge), and a closeted Klan court, that is a throwback to the 19th Century, handpicked by Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, between Clarence and that stacked court, they are about to undo Roe vs. Wade, just like they are about to un-do affirmative action. The government lied in its founding documents and the government is still lying today. Governments lie.”
“The government lied about Pearl Harbor too. They knew the Japanese were going to attack. Governments lie. The government lied about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. They wanted that resolution to get us in the Vietnam War. Governments lie. The government lied about Nelson Mandela and our CIA helped put him in prison and keep him there for 27 years. The South African government lied on Nelson Mandela. Governments lie.”
Wright then stated:
“The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African-American men with syphilis. Governments lie. The government lied about bombing Cambodia and Richard Nixon stood in front of the camera, “Let me make myself perfectly clear…” Governments lie. The government lied about the drugs-for-arms Contra scheme orchestrated by Oliver North, and then the government pardoned all the perpetrators so they could get better jobs in the government. Governments lie…. The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. Governments lie. The government lied about a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and a connection between 9.11.01 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Governments lie.”
He spoke about the government’s rationale for the Iraq War:
“The government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States peace. And guess what else? If they don’t find them some weapons of mass destruction, they gonna’ do just like the LAPD, and plant some weapons of mass destruction. Governments lie.”
Wright then commented on God and government:
“And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains, the government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton field, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. 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, not God Bless America. God damn America – that’s in the Bible – for killing innocent people. God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America, as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent.”
[The simplistic approach of Reverend Wright, to each of the issues he raises, is itself dishonest and disingenuous in the simplicity ascribed to the many complex subjects he includes. The bare minimum one-thousand pages that comprise this treatise is testimony to the complex context in which each of them existed. It also trivializes many of the legitimate issues, like the Tuskegee Experiment and the Japanese-American internment, by lumping them in with moronic statements like those about Pearl Harbor and AIDS. So, in effect, Reverend Wright lies.]
Obama stated that he was aware of Pastor Wright’s controversial comments, and had personally heard “remarks that could be considered controversial” in Wright’s church, but denied having heard the particular inflammatory statements that were widely televised during the campaign. Obama was specifically asked by Bill O’Reilly of FoxNews if Reverend Wright had said white people were bad, to which Obama replied that he hadn’t. But, in his book Dreams from my Father, Obama had quoted Reverend Wright as saying in a sermon “It’s this world, where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks’ greed runs a world in need.”
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich stated: “The fact is, you have a president who for years went to a church whose pastor said stunningly hateful things about Americans,” Gingrich said. “The President explains he didn’t hear any of them. Okay? And we all gave him a pass. He gave a great speech in Philadelphia as a candidate. We said, okay, we got it.”
On March 8, 2008, ABC News [which was also trying to advance the campaign of Hillary Clinton] aired a report that included excerpts of Wright’s sermons against racism. In the most controversial video, which was played on network and cable news, Wright exhorted blacks to reject the government that had treated them so badly.
Following the news reports, Obama called Wright’s views “completely unacceptable and inexcusable.” Wright resigned from a committee of African-American clergy who supported Obama. The candidate continued to distance himself from Wright, but the story grew and on March 18, Obama delivered an extended speech on race in America at Independence Hall in Philadelphia (the speech referenced by Gingrich in his comments).
According to the late author Christopher Hitchens [no favorite of conservatives, in fact, an atheist], stated; “Barack Obama knew that he would become answerable for his revolting choice of a family priest. But never mind that; the astonishing thing is that it’s at least 11 months since the Rev. Jeremiah Wright himself has known precisely the same thing.’If Barack gets past the primary,’ he said to The New York Times , ‘…he might have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.'”
“Pause just for a moment, if only to admire the sheer calculating self-confidence of this. Obama has long known perfectly well, in other words, that he’d one day have to put some daylight between himself and a bigmouth Farrakhan fan. But he felt he needed his South Side Chicago “base” in the meantime. So he coldly decided to double-cross that bridge when he came to it. And now we are all supposed to marvel at the silky success of the maneuver.”
“You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily.”
“Looking for a moral equivalent to a professional demagogue who thinks that AIDS and drugs are the result of a conspiracy by the white man, Obama settled on an 85-year-old lady named Madelyn Dunham, who spent a good deal of her youth helping to raise him and who now lives alone and unwell in a condo in Honolulu. It would be interesting to know whether her charismatic grandson made her aware that he was about to touch her with his grace and make her famous in this way. By sheer good fortune, she, too, could be a part of it all and serve her turn in the great enhancement.”
“This flabbergasting process, made up of glibness and ruthlessness in equal proportions, rolls on unstoppably with a phalanx of reporters and men of the cloth as its accomplices. Look at the accepted choice of words for the ravings of Jeremiah Wright:
Controversial, incendiary, inflammatory. These are adjectives that might have been – and were – applied to many eloquent speakers of the early civil rights movement. But is it “inflammatory” to say that AIDS and drugs are wrecking the black community because the white power structure wishes it? No. Nor is it “controversial.” It is wicked and stupid and false to say such a thing. And it not unimportantly negates everything that Obama says he stands for by way of advocating dignity and responsibility over the sick cults of paranoia and victimhood.
Where are hatred and tribalism and ignorance most commonly incubated, and from which platform is it most commonly yelled? If you answered “the churches” and “the pulpits,” you got both answers right. The Ku Klux Klan (originally a Protestant identity movement, as many people prefer to forget) and the Nation of Islam (a black sectarian mutation of Koranic teaching) may be weak these days, but bigotry of all sorts is freely available, and openly inculcated into children, by any otherwise unemployable dirt bag who can perform the easy feat of putting Reverend in front of his name.
If you think Jeremiah Wright is gruesome, wait until you get a load of the next Chicago “Reverend,” one James Meeks, another South Side horror show with a special sideline in the baiting of homosexuals. He, too, has been an Obama supporter, and his church has been an occasional recipient of Obama’s patronage. And perhaps he, too, can hope to be called “controversial” for his use of the term ‘house-nigger’ to describe those he doesn’t like and for his view that it was “the Hollywood Jews” who brought us Brokeback Mountain.
I assume you all have your copies of The Audacity of Hope in paperback breviary form. If you turn to the chapter entitled “Faith,” beginning on Page 195, and read as far as Page 208, I think that even if you don’t concur with my reading, you may suspect that I am onto something. In these pages, Sen. Obama is telling us that he doesn’t really have any profound religious belief, but that in his early Chicago days he felt he needed to acquire some spiritual “street cred.”
“The most excruciatingly embarrassing endorsement of this same viewpoint came from Abigail Thernstrom at National Review Online. Overcome by “the speech” that the ‘divine one’ had given in Philadelphia, she urged us to be understanding. “Obama’s description of the parishioners in his church gave white listeners a glimpse of a world of faith (with ‘raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor … dancing, clapping, screaming, and shouting’) that has been the primary means of black survival and uplift.” A glimpse, huh? What the hell next? A tribute to the African-American sense of rhythm?
To have accepted Obama’s smooth apologetics is to have lowered one’s own pre-existing standards for what might constitute a post-racial or a post-racist future. It is to have put that quite sober and realistic hope, meanwhile, into untrustworthy and unscrupulous hands. And it is to have done this, furthermore, in the service of blind faith. Mark my words: This disappointment is only the first of many that are still to come.” Amen! How prophetic of Mr. Hitchens.
In fact, it is much worse. Consider an analysis of the Obama–Wright connection more coherently. Obama attended Wright’s church and was exposed to his anti-American diatribes for over twenty years. Wright took on the role of being Obama’s spiritual adviser. Obama volunteered that Wright first exposed him to Christianity – which begs the question: What faith did he identify with before meeting Wright?
During his administration, there is no doubt that Obama has been consistent in his efforts to diminish the power and influence of the United States around the world by withdrawing from continuing conflicts without resolution, declining to get involved, even administratively, in new areas of low-level conflict, negotiating with himself in the face of terrorist threats and reducing the size and strength of the American military.
Why would someone do this unless they believed that such influence has been harmful to the world? Where would someone get such a historically erroneous idea, especially someone with almost no experience in foreign affairs and no apparent concentration on world and American history in their academic background? Could being exposed to the diatribes of Jeremiah Wright for over twenty years have had an influence on his thinking about matters of state – especially where he had little or no opportunity to develop an historically tenable templet with which to judge Wright’s assessment of world and American history?
Of course it could – and probably did. This tendency is not only naïve; it is dangerous for our continued survival as an independent nation!
So, let us summarize this lengthy chapter in order to be clear on the lessons of factual history.
ALL civilizations, cultures, races and religions are culpable for the human sin of slavery! Whatever the political regime – whether tribe, federation, city-state, republic, kingdom, empire, parliament, democracy or whatever method – white, black, brown, red or yellow skinned human beings have created to order their world, slavery has been part of it. Each generation, in its own way, bought and sold, exploited and abused other human beings, as a matter of course, or condoned those who did. Uniquely, the blood of the innocent is on ALL of our hands as a species – so stop the “blame game”.
However, it was the actions of an anti-Semitic but idealistic Catholic priest in the backwaters of Christianity that began a movement that freed Europeans from the Church’s strangulation of thought that enabled the Enlightenment and moved a Judeo-Christian Western Civilization in general, and the English speaking peoples in particular, to consider the end of human trafficking for slavery.
Perhaps because the English had a major role in making slavery in the Western Hemisphere a racial enterprise rather than a human-being enterprise, England, which had been the most active of the modern states in the trafficking of human beings, passed laws in the latter decades of the 18th Century to outlaw slavery in the Empire. Then the United States included the means to end the institution in the Union in its founding document – first by ending the importation of slaves by 1808 and then by the provision which allowed any of the provisions of the Constitution to be amended – which actually happened. Other nations followed, some quickly, some more slowly.
The national desire to end slavery moved many white and black Americans – the Abolitionists – to work tirelessly for decades after the founding to end slavery in this country. But, even the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in the cause during the Civil War did not soften the hearts off some and it took another 100 years of struggle by blacks and whites together to finally provide full legal equality of opportunity to all citizens.
Even then, the movement for Constitutional equality was hijacked by black political opportunists, flim-flam men, racial agitators, pseudo-intellectual entertainers, charlatans who hide behind the vestments and others who make a living by fomenting anger between the races to, once again, enslave their people – this time in the economic slavery of low expectations and a life of dependency upon government handouts without personal accountability or responsibility, determination and hard work – all hallmarks of success in America.
None of this, of course, is to say that racism doesn’t exist. It does, in every community and in every human being. It is a vestige of the most basic of animal instincts – survival. With dependence upon our eyesight for safety and sustenance, it’s not hard to imagine the visual experiences that led to the belief that, “If it looks different from me, then it will probably kill me and eat me.”
As humans organized into societies and competition for scarce resources became commerce – introducing trade with different peoples led to the realization that differences could be non-threatening. Unfortunately, as societies grew and competition for resources became more organized, conflict produced conquest so that exploitation of, rather than cooperation with, others became commonplace – even universal.
In the modern age, enlightened societies have encouraged tolerance and acceptance for all peoples, but human beings still struggle with the unknown or unfamiliar – with prejudice and occasional racism being the last bastion of the primitive human instinct for advantage – regardless of whether the person is white, black, brown, red or yellow.
But charges of racism – playing the “race card” – has become an epidemic in America. It is the prime example of how the PLDC has weaponized the social agenda. In fact, the race card is a cheap shot, a sucker punch for an alleged action against a person of color by a white person. It is a lazy, cowardly and intellectually dishonest call to action against an imaginary foe – the entire white community. In fact, most instances of playing the race card are made by people who cannot muster a coherent argument so, instead, they appeal to people’s emotion – usually anger.
So, as the terms racism and prejudice are raised in the public square about the unfairness of economic stratification in the modern age, perhaps the issue is not just about racism or prejudice but also about human nature and the will to survive through wits and work. When the Bible quotes Christ as saying “Are we not our brother’s keeper?”, He meant help to those who cannot help themselves, not handouts to those who would rather not.
Next time: Black Lives Matter.