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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Reverend Wright for President!

Published: March 28, 2008
Section: Opinions

the_hoot_3-28-08_page_04_image_0001.jpgBy now most politically conscious Americans are familiar with exactly three words by ‘Obama’s pastor’ Rev. Jeremiah Wright: “God damn America!”

These words, uttered in the heat of a sermon decrying the social inequities in American society, have become the latest controversy in the presidential race. If the pastor of Obama’s church and his supposed spiritual mentor was a racist America-hater, where does that leave Obama? Obama’s opponents, especially those in the Republican Party, were gleeful. After all, few things scare white Americans so much as an angry black guy.

Let’s examine this logically. Should Rev. Wright be condemned for a lack of patriotism? He’s a man of God, after all, and in theory every religious person ought to hold their religious duties more seriously than those to their country. There is also a certain amount of irony in Republicans attacking Rev Wright for saying America is not free enough, while their own religious leaders (Graham, Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell etc.) regularly curse America for being too free.

Did Rev. Wright say that the US ‘deserved’ 9/11? No; he said that actions have consequences, and American meddling in other countries has bred a climate of fear and resentment. Any halfway competent foreign policy analyst would say the same thing, though probably not as starkly.

Is Rev. Wright a racist? Not unless denouncing white oppression is racist, and by that standard anybody with a brain in his head is a racist. Occasionally ‘anti-semite’ is thrown in for good measure, though a Google search of the relevant terms finds a long series of web pages calling Rev. Wright anti-semitic without even an out-of-context quotation to back it up.

If one actually bothers to read the sermons of Rev. Wright in their entirety, once finds a man devoted to social justice, racial conciliation, and personal responsibility. Far from a radical firebrand, Rev. Wright is a pragmatic, deeply rational, and often rather conservative firebrand. His rhetoric is fierce, but those who find it overwhelming should recall that George Orwell once wrote than an inability to understand figures of speech was a sign of a totalitarian mindset.

By his association with Rev. Wright, Obama is basically accused of playing a trick on the public. He has gotten so far so fast in American politics because he was a dynamic, young ‘post-racial’ politician. What does ‘post-racial’ mean? In a word: white. The fact that he does indeed have some connections to the Old Guard of the civil rights movement is more than some people can stand.

Is this the end of Obama? Maybe; though he remains the favorite among Democratic primary voters, and the international and economic situation are so bad that an increasingly doddering McCain may not convince the American public he’s capable of handling them.

If his speeches are any indication then Obama is not beholden to Wright, and more’s the pity. If Wright were running for president, it’d truly be change we could believe in.