Bashing Wright, Banishing Truth

•May 27, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Chris Floyd who documents the “high crimes, and low comedy of the Bush Imperium” at his blog, takes Obama to task for denouncing his own pastor’s righteous words and his “hysterical — and hypocritical — reaction to them.”

Floyd actually cogently invokes Peter’s own distancing from his Lord when asked:

“Art not thou also one of his disciples?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” (John 18:25)

Floyd goes further:

Let’s give Obama the benefit of the doubt when he says he is not just “politically posturing” in his denunciations, that he is speaking from the heart. What are we left with? That his “vision of America” does not include any “positive change, transformation, real change, not cosmetic change” in a “social order that has gone sour.” And that the “War on Terror” is just peachy-keen with him; in fact, it is so sacrosanct that it cannot even be criticized. A war of agression that kills hundreds of thousands of innocent people cannot be compared with “terrorism”; it is a legitimate expression of national policy, even if one might disagree with its timing and the mechanics of its execution.

Obama won’t vote to impeach the president for his high crimes; he won’t even denounce them for what they are. But he has sure enough impeached his preacher for all the world to see. Which, as Silber says, is “much more significant — and much more revealing — than any of Wright’s comments themselves.”

Obama has veered sharply to the right in recent days, pandering to AIPAC and Cuban exiles. Fidel Castro responded charitably, claiming that Obama is still the progressive choice in the election despite his obligatory Cuba-bashing to please foreign policy hawks in Washington and Miami. He rightfully decried the hypocritical politics of Imperialism that infects mainstream candidates. It is just very sad to see Obama pander in such a way to demean other countries. However, he has already demonstrated his political instincts by throwing his own Pastor under the bus, so it seems not much more can be expected from him.

Arthur Silber, another fantastic writer on the web, sees this ominous trend even in Obama’s much touted Philadelphia speech on Race:

Obama speaks of “views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.” This is a lie: Wright’s views express the truth of our history, and of our present. No, it is not all of the truth, but it is an absolutely essential and major part of the truth. It is the part of the truth that our fictionalized, mythologized history denies, the truth that many Americans will not permit themselves to understand or acknowledge. You are profoundly wrong if the truth “offends” you. If you remain determined to cling to the lies that sustain you, you may certainly make that choice. But that does not make it right, or true.

Obama speaks of “a profoundly distorted view of this country — a view that sees white racism as endemic…” But white racism has been endemic to America’s history, and its effects are still painfully visible in most aspects of American life today. Indeed, a good portion of Obama’s speech itself details the effects of that “endemic” white racism. Wright does not “elevate what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America” — he demands acknowledgment of the part of our history drowned by the propaganda that inundates us every day. For those who remain wedded to the mythologized America, such acknowledgment cannot be tolerated. Truth must be destroyed.

Obama states: “I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy.” What Obama has “condemned, in unequivocal terms” is the truth — the truth that is forbidden by the fictions that feed the myth of American exceptionalism. Obama has fully embraced the lies at the heart of mythologized America — an embrace that is underscored by his inclusion of this phrase: “a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.” In this manner, Obama confirms that he will continue our policy of global interventionism including our endless interventions in the Middle East, which have been unceasing ever since World War I. Obama embraces all the lies that support that policy, and he will challenge none of them. (See “Songs of Death” for many more details concerning Obama’s embrace of this murderous policy.)

Almost every politician lies, and most politicians lie repeatedly. Yet in one sense, Obama’s speech is exceptional, rare and unique — but not for any of the reasons offered by Obama’s uncritical, mindless adulators. It is exceptional for this reason: it is rare that a candidate will announce in such stark, comprehensive terms that he will lie about every fact of moment, about every aspect of our history that affects the crises of today and that has led to them, about everything that might challenge the mythological view of America. But that is what Obama achieved with this speech. It may be a remarkable achievement — a remarkable and detestable one, and one that promises endless destruction in the future, both here and abroad.

There are Too Few Like Him…

•May 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

See Brother Bede Vincent’s excellent article at Counterpunch. Here’s an excerpt:

Now even black nationalism has been resurrected as a straw man to blame Wright’s vocal and independent criticism of yes — the rich, white male rulers of the US — for being “racially closed-ended and culturally closed-ended“. Wright’s polemic must be like a nightmare for those who currently run the US government since nearly all the top jobs of the Bush regime have been held by people who were starting their careers when King and Malcolm were assassinated. Their attempts to discredit Obama using Wright rely on pervasive media-maintained amnesia. In Philadelphia, Obama tried to cast another spell which would return his “broom“ to an inert state by associating Wright’s preaching with the experience of some prior angry generation: as if a disproportionate share of prison “chain gangs“ today were not comprised of African-Americans, like in those bad old days. Was Obama saying that Black Americans today do not have a right to be angry? By accusing Wright of sowing division, he was calling for a return not to the spirit of Martin Luther King but to the Booker T. Washington tradition.

Time for Some Hard Truths

•May 2, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford lays bear the “Great Unraveling” of contradictions at the heart of Obama’s campaign. Rather than defend his pastor against the corporate onslaught that went into over drive after Wright’s weekend tour-de-force, Obama made a monumental decision to break with him. However, he not only chose to reject his pastor, but also trample on the great body of African American opinion so that he could continue his “race-neutral” campaign that has all along rested on denying the African American reality, in order to curry favor with White America.

Ford has been critical of Obama for this exact reason, and sees Obama’s combustion with the man who brought him to Christianity and baptized his children as only the sad but predictable conclusion to Obama’s “impossible mission.”

Institutional racism is alien to Barack Obama’s version of the nation, a fantasy place where racial oppression has never been so endemic to the political culture as to overshadow the “promise” of America. In Obama’s public vision, his Democratic caucus victory in 98 percent white Iowa, which began the cascade of Obama wins, proves that the U.S. is ready for profound racial “change.” Left unnoted is the fact that Iowa incarcerates African Americans at 13 times the frequency that it locks up whites, the worst record in the nation.

For people like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, mass Black incarceration and slavery are seamlessly linked, part of the continuity of racial oppression in the U.S. Most African Americans see the world the way Rev. Wright does – that’s why he’s among the top five rated preacher-speakers in Black America. This Black American world view, excruciatingly aware of the nation’s origins in genocide and slavery, is wholly incompatible with the American mythology championed by Barack Obama. When the two meet, they are mutually repellant.

The relationship between Rev. Wright and Sen. Obama has undergone “great damage,” says Obama, understatedly. But the break was inevitable and is no tragedy, because it reveals the incompatibility of Obama’s adapted world view with the body of knowledge amassed by African Americans since before the landing of the Mayflower. The truth is always a revelation.

Indeed, whether in cozying up to AIPAC, or voting to continue funding the Iraq War, or pledging to rebuild the American military, Obama’s has been tilting right for much of his campaign, camouflaging this tendency with his liberal multicultural persona.

Paul Street is a another activist who has been critical of Obama, both for his pro-corporate policies, and his naive and dangerous views on race. In fact it takes this white man to point out the fact that Obama’s racial strategy rests on denying the Black experience and creating a form of moral equivalency of suffering that raises profound questions about the effect of his discourse. Here, Street points out that to many African Americans, Obama’s Philadelphia speech on race was strange at the very least:

I am confident that most politically cognizant black Americans would agree with Vernon S. Burton, who wrote the following in a perceptive letter to The New York Times one day after Obama’s instantly famous “Race Speech” in Philadelphia (an attempt to contain the Wright damage)last March:

“As a black man, I have to admit that it was strange to watch and listen to Senator Obama as he tried to assure white folks that he is not a racist and does not intend to hold them accountable for the plight of the black community.”

“It is ironic that a black man has to convince white people that the blame of the damage that 300 years of slavery, segregation, and oppression has done will not be laid at their door.”

“Well, Senator Obama is a politician, and we all know that politicians and truth are very often strangers to one another. But to many of us in the black community, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright got it right” (Vernon S. Burton, Letter to the Editor, New York Times, 19 March, 2008).

The fact that most white Americans have a hard time imagining why Burton and countless other blacks find Wright more right than wrong on American race relations (and U.S. foreign policy) is itself a telling symptom of the vast social, spatial, and perception gaps that persist in segregated America. Having spent an unusually (for a Caucasian) large amount of time listening, working, and researching on the black side of the race chasm, I find nothing mysterious about it at all.

Why would black Americans believe Obama’s ideas on “magical” when their collective living standards are comparable to those of “Third World” nations like Bolivia and when U.S. authorities make imprisonment practically a normative experience for millions of young black males in the “land of the free”? Do whites really expect blacks to jump on board the nationally narcissistic American-Exceptionalist “We Are So Good” Train when institutional racism produces a 7-cents-to-1-dollar black-white wealth ratio in tne contemporary U.S.?

I mean, really.

At the NAACP

•April 28, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Reverend Wright spoke to the NAACP Dinner in Detroit on Sunday. Here’s the full unedited footage from his speech.

More Reviews of the PBS Interview

•April 28, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Mike Whitney sees Reverend Wright’s interview on PBS as a knockout punch to the bully boys of the corporate media. He goes further, and gets to the gist of the propaganda mill’s antipathy towards Wright:

No one disputes Wright’s summary of US history. His comments have simply been lifted, just to beat up on Barack Obama; everyone knows that. Just like everyone knows that the corporate media destroy political enemies, which means anyone who poses a challenge to America’s unelected corporate oligarchy. That’s why it is so frustrating to hear people say, “The media is not doing its job.”

That’s just plain wrong; the media IS doing its job. It’s cheerleading the country to war, it is diverting attention from the main political and economic issues of the day, and it is destroying the system’s political enemies, actual or potential.

Indeed, the corporate media’s behavior is eerily reminiscent of the Roman circuses. While the Empire crumbled at home and rampaged abroad, early propagandists seduced the Roman public to cheer as the Christians were fed to the lions and political dissidents were crucified by the Roman Imperial state.

Meanwhile, David Winer wonders why the blogosphere has fallen silent after the groundbreaking sit down with Bill Moyers. For Winer, watching Wright gave him:

pride in being an American, and shame at the same time, for coming from a country so willing to objectify and villify this person before checking out whether the characterization was accurate. Even the supposedly courageous and thorough NY Times calls his oratory “racist” in an editorial in today’s paper. Based on what? I’ve watched the sermons that have been excerpted; if these are racist, then every other preacher in the US is racist too.

Amen, Rev. Wright!

•April 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Laurie King-Irani writes with compassion and gratitude for Bill Moyers’ excellent interview of Reverend Wright on his PBS show, Bill Moyers’ Journal. This is a must watch show, as Reverend Wright contextualizes the vicious attacks on him and Obama, and discusses at lengths his experiences, the black church, and his liberation theology. The interview has already had a profound effect on people like Laurie, and judging by internet chatter, on many others as well.

Incidentally, Bill Moyers was President Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary and in the room when Marine Medic Jeremiah Wright was assisting in the president’s operation in 1966. Wright served two years in the Marine Corps and four years as a corpsman in the Navy. In the picture to the right, Wright is on the right, while Bill Moyers is in the background.

The Apostasy of the American “Civil Religion”

•April 12, 2008 • 1 Comment

Mel Reeves posits Reverend Wright’s liberation creed against the American “civil religion” which for all intents and purposes eviscerates Jesus’ message of universal peace and replaces the suffering on the cross with the glory of the flag. From a Christian context, replacing God with Mammon and Caesar, whether in Roman times or today, inverts Christ’s message where the meek shall inherit the earth and the rich would have as difficult time entering the kingdom of God as a camel through the eye of a needle. See the entire thesis here. Here’s Mel’s conclusion:

Ultimately what has some folks so up in arms is not that Dr. Wright was angry and seemingly hostile as many would have us believe but, rather, the implications of what he said. What Dr. Wright did more than anything was to challenge all the accepted illusions that allow citizens of all colors, sex and ethnicity to wrap themselves in a fake patriotism buttressed by a made-up religion, which prevents them from looking critically at their country and its policies.

By their fruits ye shall know them…