The Rev. Wright


I’ll tell you exactly why liberals, both black and white, have been shredding, obsessing over and questioning the motives of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The Rev. Wright is what people in the Old South used to call an "uppity (N-word)."

He does not lower his eyes, bow and scrape, eat crow or humble pie, or apologize. If you insult him, he’ll insult you back. I like the guy a whole lot. I disagree with him on some points, but I’ve come to like and admire him. He makes a better speech than most candidates, and certainly a better and more intelligent one than the so-called pundits.

This was a concocted media trap for Sen. Barack Obama from start to finish. First, some political operative took a couple of snippets from 30 years of sermons completely out of context and put them on that abomination called YouTube. This really riled up the racists and so-called superpatriots who began to bombard the Rev. Wright and his family with hate mail and even death threats.

Here was a distinguished man with an exceptionally great career watching his whole life being reduced to a few sound bites created by some political trash. He finally had enough. He was interviewed by Bill Moyers, and he made two great speeches, one at the National Press Club and one at the NAACP national convention. Now let’s look at the media trick involved in this.

With the exception of public radio and television, America’s media are all private, for-profit corporations. There is no democracy in media world. Nobody on the outside — not the readers or viewers — has any say at all in what the corporate media decide to cover and decide to ignore. Ordinarily, NAACP keynote speakers are not given much coverage. People speak at the National Press Club all the time and get ignored or have just a snippet broadcast. Both of Wright’s speeches were broadcast in full, and cable-TV pundits pontificated for almost a solid week about him.

"Why did he choose to go public now? Why seek out all of this publicity?" the pundits cried. Well, the answer is, he didn’t. He agreed to one interview, and he agreed to make two speeches. The corporate media decided to shine the spotlight on him. They could have ignored him. They didn’t. Instead, they gave him exceptional coverage and spent literally hours of airtime exposing their ignorance and stupidity by talking about him.

Now, in the first place, this was the old guilt-by-association gimmick — Sen. Obama, you either have to denounce this man or we will assume you agree with and condone all of his views. Bull. The Rev. Wright is not part of the Obama campaign, doesn’t write his speeches and doesn’t speak for him. Obama should have said: "Look, we have no connection except a personal one. I’ve told you I don’t agree with all of his views, but I cherish his friendship, and if you don’t like that, you can go to hell. And if you have any questions about him or his views, ask him, not me." Then he should have stuck to his campaign message and ignored any questions about the Rev. Wright.

Instead, Obama caved in to the media pressure. As a result, I think a lot more of Wright than I do of Obama. No one should ever let somebody else tell him who he is supposed to like and dislike, and whose views he is supposed to denounce. When people write off other human beings because of a difference of opinion, then you know those people are fanatics. Obama claimed to be offended that the Rev. Wright said Obama had to speak as a politician while he had to speak as a pastor. Then Obama did exactly what the Rev. Wright said he would do — he spoke like a politician.

As for the Rev. Wright’s views, they are not that radical taken in context. The attack on the World Trade Center was a direct result of our policies in the Middle East. We do have blood on our hands. Some years ago, I corresponded with a respectable doctor who was convinced the AIDS virus had been created in a laboratory. Don’t be like some spoiled Mafia brat who wants to enjoy the fruits of crime while pretending not to know how it was acquired. And know that being "uppity" is the most American of all traits.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.