I have spent my entire life cringing at the stupidity, cowardice, and self serving fraud of the intellectual establishment in this country. And now that we have 24 hour cable news, and now that talk radio has become BIG MEDIA (it used to be honest when there was no money in it) the intellectual level of political and social criticism in this republic aspires to Olympian heights of fatuity. Nothing is allowed in political discourse except the bromidic, the stupid, the superficial. Any attempt at truth or honesty is attacked as extreme, even insane, by a cowardly bunch of media pundits trying to score points with each other by ganging up on the victim like schoolyard bullies ganging up on the new kid. Just look at the way they turned Dr. Ron Paul into a doubleplus unperson.
Consider the difference in other countries. Consider that in Italy the newly elected right wing openly compares itself to General Franco and the crowd cheers ”Il Duce” at the new Roman mayor. This is the very same country that boasted the largest communist party in Europe in the 1970’s.This is also a country with a dozen viable political parties, a country that discusses the idea of regional secession as a serious consideration. How ironic it is that a country such as Italy with broad based support of Fascism and Communism is freer intellectually than the US, a supposed free country with a bill of rights guaranteeing free speech!
In this country, the chattering classes all compete to see who can repeat the same hackneyed phrases more loudly. Any dissent is seen as a reproach on the monolithic poltroonishness of the conformist establishment and its apostles. With the new 24 hour electronic yellow journalism and its vaudeville showmen posing as thinking pundits, the superficiality takes on hyper levels. Complex issues concerning peace and war, foreign policy, terrorism (and its causes), morality, political philosophy become mere talking subjects, theatrical props, for media sideshow barkers pimping for ratings glory. The tendency is to use out-of-context sound bites to invent huge media controversies, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.
For the past month we have heard a lot about The Reverend Jeremiah Wright. There are endless loopings of the same half a dozen out-of-context sound bites. This is nothing more than a collective gang bang by mindless narcissistic media stars who intentionally dumb down what he said to create a phony scandal for Barak Obama. These tapes were probably unearthed by someone in the Hillary machine, or McCain’s, or one of their sympathisers. So now there is open season on this preacher. What is the substance of these attacks? It is no more substantive than late night TV or stand up comics. Besides the misquotations, the media focused on his style as a black minister.
We have heard endless loops showing how outrageous or bombastic he is. We heard clips of him singing Handel’s “And the Glory of the Lord” and his “God Damn America”. It’s as if the media were shocked!…..SHOCKED!! that there is such a thing as black Full Gospel preaching style, complete with spontaneous responses accompanied by organ improvisation. This genre is famous for using politics and themes of racial oppression for over 100 years. You would think that The Reverends Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson were unknown. Or Al Sharpton.
The Reverend Wright, in an attempt to add some substance to this sound bite circus, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington DC. last week. He was not giving a sermon. He was not “bombastic”. He spoke in a temperate voice and gave a scholarly speech on the black theological tradition in the USA. He talked about the role that “Liberation Theology” played in both the black churches, and in the Yankee Congregationalist, United Church of Christ.
The entire media were glued to this speech. They were not looking for a dispassionate discussion of theology in black churches, or context to his previous statements – that would be too boring – they were looking for another sensationalist sound bite, the more outrageous the better. They got it during the question & answer session after the speech, with confrontational questions which clearly showed the hostile bias of the questioner. The questions assumed that Wright is a kooky conspiracy theorist, and a blaspheming traitor to his country. No one really listened to what he said. In its reporting, the media reduced his comments to platitudes, and the endless references to his speech followed the predictable collective script of the fatuous imbeciles in the media to see who can repeat the same hackneyed phrases to win kudos from their colleagues.
What did he say that was so outrageous? Based on the comments of the lemming pundits, I seriously wondered whether they saw the same speech I did. I listened to the whole thing twice and was hard pressed to find anything that was outrageous or insane. I certainly have my criticism of “Liberation Theology” with its close association with Marxism, especially in Latin America. But this was not the focus of the media. Their focus was on him defiantly defending his “outrageous” remarks. Almost all of those remarks I agreed with.
He was asked if he was patriotic, and said that he served 6 years in the military and that it was more military time than Dick Cheney served. Was this an insane or even false statement?
He said that the US government oppresses people around the world, that it sends Americans, “to die for a lie”. When asked why he blamed the US for 911, he said that the “chickens have come home to roost” in the form of blowback from our policies overseas. Most did not bother to find out that he was quoting Edward Peck, the former ambassador to Iraq, and deputy director of terrorism under Ronald Reagan. Wright added, quoting the Bible’s golden rule, that you can not do terrorism to others and not have it come back to you. This is virtually the same thing for which Dr. Ron Paul got raked over the coals. Questioning the cause of 911 is the modern American Intellectual Inquisition equivalent of heresy. It is double heresy if you equate our government with a terrorist organisation, even though bombing civilians does cause terror. Recognised states don’t do terrorism unless they are Iraq or Iran.
He was asked if he would apologise to the American people for blaming them for 911. He made the distinction, lost on most Americans, between the people and their government. This is total blasphemy in the minds of the orthodox American Establishment. In their thinking the American people and their government are one in the same because of Democracy, and the vaunted electoral process. The idea that the government in this, “the most free and democratic nation on earth – EVER” would have its own corrupt agenda against the best interests of the people is a thoughtcrime. This is odd, since most Americans have no trouble spotting corruption at the state or local level, or complaining of excessive spending and taxation. In the NYC area, we have had three governors (NJ, NY, Conn.) resign in the last ten years for corruption. However, at the federal level, especially when it comes to war, Americans refuse to look at the truly mammoth corruption, distortion, and immorality of their government.
He was asked about his relationship to Reverend Louis Farrakhan. As he explained, this had to do with a statement made by Farrakhan 20 years ago about Israel, a sacred cow in the minds of the establishment. Wright explained his position regarding Israel: that it had a right to exist, that they were the children of God, BUT that they need to reconcile with their enemies; the Israelis need to sit down with the Palestinians and come to a peaceful understanding so that their children “don’t grow up talking about killing each other”. He said that reconciliation, not killing was God’s way. Is that an “insane” or “outrageous” notion? Is it theologically erroneous? The media had a field day with Wright’s comparing Farrakhan to stock broker EF HUTTON. Do media pundits not understand the use of analogies or similes or metaphors in speech? Wright was saying that when Farrakhan talks, the black community listens. Is this a false statement? If so, then why do the media, who are mostly white, bother to cover Farrakhan?
The punditry went berserk over his “conspiracy theory” that the US Government invented AIDS. The Reverend Wright cited the Tuskegee experiment, where the government used blacks to experiment on syphilis. He also pointed out that the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq were sold to Saddam by the US Government back when he was our ally and that he used them on the Iranians with our blessing. He said that, given the history of our government and its use of deception, he believed “it was possible”.
I personally doubt the conspiracy theory that the US Government invented AIDS, but I personally doubt any number of conspiracy theories of my friends, whilst I harbor conspiracy theories of my own with which others disagree. In fact most Americans believe in some form of conspiracy or secret, illegal dealings committed by their government. Why is that? Is this unique to Americans as a culture? I don’t know. We know the US Government has lied to us in the past. We know that the US has used the CIA to topple governments in South America at the behest of the United Fruit Company. We know, in spite of the official, revisionist “spin” that the government knew in advance of the Japanese carrier force prior to Pearl Harbour; and that even in the DC media there was open speculation that war with Japan was imminent. We know that the Navy translated the communiqué of the Japanese to their ambassadors in Washington and that they were instructed “to burn all documents and code machines”. We know the US Government lied about the Tonkin Gulf Incident, and lied about being in Laos and Cambodia. We know the US Government has been a king maker in the Mideast while denying same. None of these revelations ever get admitted at the time; only years later do books by insiders get written telling the truth. Would there be so many conspiracy theories in America if our government were transparent and honest or followed the Constitution? If you Google “conspiracy theory”, why do so many hits deal with the United States? Why doesn’t Switzerland come up except as a movie title? Why not Canada?……or Iceland?
Then there was the “God Damn America” quote. He explained this also, yet the media pretended not to hear. He said “damn” is derived from “condemn”, and that God condemns the actions of the US Government (again NOT the people) for inflicting violence on other nations and that non-violence was consistent with Christian teaching. He asked the questioner if he heard the whole sermon from which that quote was taken. But context or understanding did not figure into the thinking of the questioner. I wonder if there are examples, say in the Old Testament, of God condemning wicked immoral nations?
This electronic tabloid circus unfortunately drags in supposedly high-brow broadsheet press into the mud. This was especially true last week after his National Press Club Speech. One after another, the senior Washington polemicists and bureau chiefs chimed in so they could be counted in the “me too” column. There were the obligatory references to Wright as “crazy” and “lunatic” or “loony” with no attempt to address what he said. But the “intellectual” writers of the papers of record added new buzzwords, to wit: “narcissistic”, “solipsistic”, “divisive” “his fifteen minutes of fame” “revenge on Obama”.
Here we have the Establishment Left, many of whom, tired of the sleazy fraud of the Clintons, want Obama nominated and hope that he’ll beat McCain. Bob Herbert of the New York Times wrote,”….Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barak Obama but to bury him…….Feeling dissed by Sen. Obama, Mr. Wright gets revenge on his former follower…… He’s living a narcissist dream. At long last his 15 minutes have arrived.”
They called him divisive but not the mudslingers who brought edited sound bites public and replayed them over and over; sound bites that were part of a long sermon. Why are they dumping on Wright rather than blaming the tabloid media for taking him out of context? Here’s the reason. To quote Mr. Herbert:
“The question that cries out for an answer from Mr. Wright is why – if he is so passionately committed to liberating and empowering blacks – does he seem so insistent on wrecking the campaign of the only African-American ever to have had a legitimate shot at the presidency.”
A.D Lelong [send him mail] grew up in the NYC area. He started in radio in North Carolina as a reporter. In 1994 he moved back to New York City where he has been working as a producer and newsroom sound editor for a news-talk radio station. He currently lives in Queens and enjoys skeet and sporting clays shooting, bird hunting, and sailing.