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David Sirota
David Sirota
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Is Wright Right About Racism?

Comment

Since the 1960s, bigotry has undergone an aesthetic makeover. Today, the most pernicious racists do not wear pointy hoods, scream epithets and anonymously burn crosses from behind masks. They don starched suits, recite sententious bromides and stage political lynchings before television cameras. For proof, behold the mob stalking Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Wright has long delivered fiery (and occasionally outrageous) sermons, to little fanfare. Now, though, a gang of thugs is inflicting a guilt-by-association blow to Obama by excoriating his spiritual adviser for three specific declarations.

Sean Hannity, Fox News' own George Wallace, turned a fire hose on Wright for his church's focus. "[The church] is all about the black community," Hannity thundered, claiming that means Wright supports "a black-separatist agenda."

Pat Buchanan billy-clubbed Wright for saying, "God damn America." The MSNBC commentator, who avoided the draft, implied that Wright, a former Marine, lacks sufficient loyalty to country. Out of context, Wright's exclamation was admittedly offensive. But remember: It punctuated a speech about segregation. Buchanan, nonetheless, unleashed, deriding "black hustlers" and insisting descendants of those "brought from Africa in slave ships" owe whites a thank you. "Where is the gratitude?" he asked.

Fox's Charles Krauthammer berated Wright for saying the 9/11 attacks were "chickens coming home to roost." Krauthammer labeled the pronouncement "vitriolic divisiveness" despite our government acknowledging the concept of "blowback" — or retaliation — Wright was referencing. The CIA knows that when it supports foreign dictatorships, there can be blowback from radicals. While blowback is often immoral and undeserved, its existence is undisputed. Yet, Krauthammer alleged that Wright takes "satisfaction in the deaths of 3,000 innocents."

In promoting the Wright "controversy," most media outlets joined this mob and embraced "colorblind racism," says Duke University's Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of "Racism Without Racists."

It is polite pinstriped prejudice shrouding bigotry in feigned outrage against extremism — the operative word being "feigned." After all, John McCain solicited the endorsement of John Hagee — the pastor who called the Catholic Church "a great whore." Similarly, according to Mother Jones magazine, Hillary Clinton belongs to the "Fellowship" — a secretive group "dedicated to 'spiritual war' on behalf of Christ." She is also friendly with Billy Graham, the reverend caught on tape spewing anti-Semitism.

But while Wright's supposed "extremism" blankets the news, McCain and Clinton's relationships with real extremists receive scant attention.

Why is it "controversial" for one pastor to address the black community, racism and blowback, but OK for another pastor to slander an entire religion? Why is it news that one candidate knows a sometimes-impolitic clergyman, but not news that his opponent associates with an anti-Semite? Does the double standard prove the dominant culture despises a black man confronting taboos, but accepts whites spewing hate? Does the very reaction to Wright show he's right about racism?

Clinton seems to think so. Her aides have been calling the states they believe Obama will lose their political "firewall." That's campaign-speak for "race wall" — one built with bricks like Pennsylvania and Indiana. These aren't the near-purely white states where racial politics is often muted (and Obama won). They are the slightly diverse states where racial politics simmers and where the black vote is too small to offset a motivated racist vote. This race wall is now being fortified.

ABC News reports that Clinton's campaign is "pushing the Wright story" ahead of the Pennsylvania and Indiana primaries. The crass tactic is designed to motivate the racist vote by reminding whites of Obama's connection to the African-American community. Put another way, Clinton's message has become simply: Obama Is Black.

Wright probably expected this brouhaha. He says our government is "controlled by rich white people" and our culture afflicted by racism. Though these statements are also deemed distasteful by the Establishment, they are truisms. You can see their veracity in the collected portraits of white millionaires commonly called the congressional photo directory. Or, just turn on your television and watch the mob continue stoking the Wright "controversy."

David Sirota is a bestselling author whose newest book, "The Uprising," will be released in June of 2008. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network — both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at www.credoaction.com/sirota.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Comments

22 Comments | Post Comment
Thanks again for taking on the big mouths with the microphones.

Will you consider taking on Newt Gingrich? He's back and everywhere, once again trying to drive a devicive steak through our collective hearts. Divide & conquer is his massive motto and singularly the reason we we have the most partisan government ever.

Thank you for your continued HELP stacking our landfills with all these outdated & rich testosterone dripping alpha males screeming their do-it-my-way mantra.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Sandra Holt
Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:48 AM
Excellent column. This tempest in a teapot needs to be put in perspective and you have done an excellent job, as usual. We have heard dissenting comments like Rev. Wright's before. It is not a new position, by any means. I have heard many sermons with which I did not agree. It was a pity I did not have Pat Buchanan around to shout them down. Let's hear what the Reverend Wright, or the Reverend Hagee, Falwell, or Robertson had to say, and disagree with them if we are so inclined. None of it is unpatriotic or treasonous, and I wouldn't condemn the parishioners for what their priests said. The pundits' complaining and hand-waiving (Buchanan) seems a little too loud and vehement in this particular instance. They really don't like what that preacher had to say. Maybe it hit too close to the mark.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mike Power
Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:47 AM
David, you have strayed a little off base here. There is a world of difference between legitimate complaints about how minorities in this country are treated and a statement like "God Damn America." Obama obviously appreciates this as he has today announced (so I read in the press) that he would have left the church if Wright had stayed. My own view has been that Obama's speech on race was intended to divert attention away from Wrights condemnation phrase and try to spin Wright as just commenting on race.

And if you don't mind me saying so I think the way you have expressed your condemnation of those who feel this way is close to McCarthyism. This is a legitimate concern. No one is ever going to be elected president of the United States who cannot stand up and convince the American public that he believes in all his heart in the promise of America and in who the American public has complete confidence that he will protect and defend the United States and all our ideals. I speak these words as a liberal Democrat.
Comment: #3
Posted by: William King
Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:54 AM
If you want to make excuses for all the praise you have given Obama,do it!!Please just get off the crap that it is someone elses fault!That minister was campaigning IN church besides all the rest of the racist dirt they claim someone else is doing.You apparently haven't read many posts on WaPo or others.All the filth coming out of the black people is not to be overlooked.I can see why the prisons are filled with them.Pure hate.It is alright for them to call us names but if we say anything we are racist or bigots.That is a two way street.
Comment: #4
Posted by: ggranny21
Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:28 AM
The Reverend Wright is exactly correct. Thanks to the bigots and the greedy SOBs (stodgy old businessmen), America (ie, the USA, since both Canada and Mexico are "Americans") has not kept her promises. She has betrayed the ideals of our founding fathers. The rich and powerful have been overcome by greed-fever, and all they care about is getting more, more, more. They have used divisive racist tactics to consolidate power and mislead the ignorant and the idiots. If you are a republican, and you are not a millionaire, then you are a SUCKER. They make promises to the suckers that they have no plans to keep, and they do it time and time again. We the people have been betrayed.
Comment: #5
Posted by: thomas r arnold
Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:26 PM
It must be so great to be Barack Obama. In his media playpen nothing is ever his fault. Sirota blames this whole mess on Sean Hannity and--of course--Hillary Clinton. Well, whatever one may think of Jeremiah Wright, the truth is that the Obama campaign has known for a long time that the guy was political poison. They could have thrown him overboard a year ago, but they didn't want to take the heat. Now that the inevitable ass-biting has begun, Obama's media fluffers are serving up a piping-hot bowl of excuses. Newsflash--it won't work. Nobody forced this guy to run for president. He's responsible for his own dirty laundry.
Comment: #6
Posted by: rwm
Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:24 PM
Completely agree with you Mike Power. "The pot calling the kettle black."
Kudos David, you have written a well thought out column which has lifted away, not the robe and hood, but the smoke and mirrors, to expose those holier than thou hypocrites who, in their own churches have been taught for years that blacks are inferior and whites superior. Of course they didn't believe it, did they? And now they want to sit in judgement of another. Of course, they have whitewashed that race thing now. They changed the sermon; they no longer do the race bashing and baiting in church. I think they're onto gay bashing now .Oh yes, these enlightened ones, so quick to judge, so quick to hate. I'm sure God has a nice warm spot all prepared for them.
Comment: #7
Posted by: liz
Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:36 AM
Liz...sounds like you are just filled with love yourself.Must be another Obama supporter,they all sound alike.HATE
Comment: #8
Posted by: ggranny21
Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:20 PM
Re: William King

I think you can believe in US ideals and the promise of the US, while recognizing those aspects of our country which inhibit our access to the promise while running amok our ideals.

Some of us would like to say we are "spreading democracy in Iraq," but we're really only backing one group of folks in power while helping them retain power through the legal and electorate system we've put in place. Sometimes you have to call it like it is while recognizing that we all may have certain shared values.

I think US foreign policy and its relationship with our domestic economic policies leave much open for criticism. Even if we do in fact love our country.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Jennifer
Sun Mar 30, 2008 6:55 AM
Re: Mike Power
Right on Mike. I agree with you and Liz. It is about time someone like David saw through the propaganda of the power hungrey and the rich guys (or those taking funds from the rich and the lobbyists). I have not seen a real statesmen for half a century and now we have one in Obama -the rest are politicians with their own specific agendas of benefit to themselves and their finantial/power seeker supporters. Too bad there is so much ignorance out there and here in the blog. Keep it up David. Keep trying to education the ignorant among us - let us not fall into the traps of the past like in the 1920s-1930s in another country across the ocean and our like parts of our own country the last several hundred years.
Normie
Comment: #10
Posted by: norm
Sun Mar 30, 2008 4:20 PM
Sorry David. you are very Wrong. Nice try.
Comment: #11
Posted by: John B
Sun Mar 30, 2008 6:34 PM
David is as usual dead-on. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her supporters --especially her white feminist base--have demonstrated time and again that racism sells in many parts of this country. In states where whites actually have to interact with or even are forced to see on occassion a black person (or a Latino, for that matter), the inevitable visceral impact of white "entitlement" and privilege" by racial birthright neccessarily takes hold.
We may fairly what difference there is between Clinton's proxies and bigoted, anti-Semitic male commentators like Pat Buchannan and Sean Hannity. They do, after all, share one thing in common: they're white. Clinton's feminist supporters, like Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem and Geraldine Ferraro have all taken their cracks at Barack Obama's race, suggesting that racism is less an issue than sexism. An unappealing self-pity and spitefulness are the basis for such claims, and the disengenuousness of it is manifest in states like Washington, where the governor and both U.S. Senators are white females--yet this state also voted by a landslide the anti-affirmative action Initiative 200.
It is no "coincidence" that in a "blue state" like Washington that such a dichotomy should take effect. It is the majority that makes the rules, especially in regard to race and gender. Thus misandrist speech by white female commentators and feminists who rabidly support Clinton at any and all costs is generally accepted as mainstream, and male commentators generally step aside for fear of being labeled misogynists; after all, white females constitute the largest voting demographic in this country. But since minorities are by definition in the minority, their views are thoroughly dissected and critiqued, especially by those energized by the current mainstreaming of anti-Latino hate speech. For national political purposes, there is no racism, just a race "dialogue." Uh-huh.
We shall see what effect on the black vote Clinton's race card will have if by some chance she is nominated. Can she overcome the notion that she played dirty and "cheated" to win a nominating process that had been fairly won by Obama? Will she be forgiven for playing to the darkest corners of the racist mind? What further mendacities will she concoct to claim she "really didn't mean it."
Comment: #12
Posted by: Mark
Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:02 PM
Since Sirota is trying to exonerate Obama through moral equivalence arguments, I'd like to know if he would equally defend a white candidate who attended a church which for many years taught that blacks were evil and whites will only be free when they are rid of blacks. Yeah, I'm sure Sirota would. You liberals are so full of contradictions.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Paul White
Tue Apr 1, 2008 9:49 PM
JEREMY WRIGHT / BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
Christ Commands: 1. Love God, 2.Love your neighbor. Never preached Hatred.
Christ was a Jew, not black.
Slavery: Black Africans were the Slave Traders and still are today.
Abe Lincolns Mother was a white slave as well as many more whites.
Geo Washington, Patrick Henry owned slaves
Wright preaches horrendous lies,hatred, teaches people to be criminals against the US Government.
How many of his followers are drug dealers, rapists, robbers, murderers, etc. as he and others like him are teaching them to be.
How many more church leaders are there like Wright? Did MLK teach this way? Jackson? Sharpton?
Wrights messages promote terrorism in America.
Obama: Won't wear a flag pin.
Lacking at Pledge of Allegiance.
Lacking during playing of National Anthem.
My address: P.O. Box 578, Oakhurst, Oklahoma 74050
I am currently living in Oroquieta, Philippines.
I greatly appreciate Fox.
Comment: #14
Posted by: John J Toner Jr
Wed Apr 2, 2008 1:38 AM
Great job David. The truth does hurt doesn't it? It never ceases to amaze me that people still refuse to do their own due diligence. Main stream media is very careful to cut those comments off before you hear them all in context. Like the so called God damn America comment or that the chicken coming home to roost comment was part of a comment made by an Admiral (who happens to be white) who he was quoting.
I don't see main stream media talking about Pat Buchanan's racist comments or about his comment. He passed harsh judgement on Rev Wright but no one talks about his comment about aids being natures retribution against homosexuals. Where is the five minute pasted together loop of his comments. The Wright issue is nothing more than an excuse for those who weren't going to vote for Senator Obama in the first place to feel their prejudice is justified. The people we should be afraid of are those who think like the 'gentleman' who says he's from Oklahome and is now living in the Phillipines.
Kudos David
Comment: #15
Posted by: jane
Wed Apr 2, 2008 7:59 AM
Re: Paul White

What are you basing your comment on? How do you know this what has been taught for many years?
Comment: #16
Posted by: jane
Wed Apr 2, 2008 8:04 AM
jane, I'm saying there is a double-standard of accountability on matters of "race" between whites and blacks. If a white candidate had attended a church for many years that taught blacks were evil and whites would be truly free only when blacks are gone from their presence, that candidate would be pilloried in the press by liberals like of Mr. Sirota. There are no liberals heaping condemnation on Obama nor are there liberals calling for him to exit the race due to his having long-term ties to those openly spouting racism and racist beliefs. Where's the liberal outrage? [PS- I'll add that Obama is the best choice of the 3 leading candidates, IMO.]
Comment: #17
Posted by: Paul White
Wed Apr 2, 2008 3:58 PM
jane, I'm saying there is a double-standard of accountability on matters of "race" between whites and blacks. If a white candidate had attended a church for many years that taught blacks were evil and whites would be truly free only when blacks are gone from their presence, that candidate would be pilloried in the press by liberals like of Mr. Sirota. There are no liberals heaping condemnation on Obama nor are there liberals calling for him to exit the race due to his having long-term ties to those openly spouting racism and racist beliefs. Where's the liberal outrage? [PS- I'll add that Obama is the best choice of the 3 leading candidates, IMO.]
Comment: #18
Posted by: Paul White
Wed Apr 2, 2008 3:59 PM
This is the first time I've ever seen one of Sirota's columns. Another self-hating liberal defending the indefensible. Oh Joy. Just goes to show that there are no shortage of people in this world that will defend filth as a virtue. Perhaps it would be too much to ask if he could get off his knees long enough to pry his lips from Obama's posterior.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Douglas Stanley Jr.
Fri Apr 4, 2008 1:11 PM
Wright speech was a blanket condemnation on all whites. Mr. Sirota, you cannot find a way to excuse those speeches from whites or blacks. Progressives have consistently spoken against Falwell and other preachers who've used their position to continue racism in America; why is it alright for a black preacher? If progressives do not like politicians who cozy to the Hagee of this country, why are you advocating that it is acceptable for Obama to have as his spiritual leader Wright. It's a double standard that I see here. I'm an extremely logical person. Mr. Sirota, you find it convenient to excuse Obama because you support him, but you are not credible because I don't think you would approve of other politicians doing the same when the pastor is white.
Comment: #20
Posted by: Prabhata
Sat Apr 5, 2008 11:22 AM
We should all be skeptical when select passages from a pastor's sermons are publicly broadcast to further the political agenda of his detractors. If it's wrong to criticize Wright, its also unfair to demean rapture theorist and pastor John Hagee for his hard-line advocacy of preempting Iran's nuclear development program. Leftists brand Hagee—who's endorsement John McCain has solicited--and other champions of Israel as apocalyptic extremists who wish to inaugerate Armageddon, thereby quickening the return of Christ.
Hagee's controversial remarks don't justify Wright's, and vice versa. Similarly, the media's fixation on a theological faux pas from pastor Wright doesn't entitle Sirota to attack Hagee's escatology in a childish game of one-upmanship. Wright and Obama apologist David Sirota has led the charge against evangelicals and right-leaning ministers by attacking Billy Graham as an anti-semite and “extremist” because of an off-hand remark Graham made 35 years ago to President Nixon about what he--Graham--perceived as Jewish control of the media. This racial slight, for which Graham has since apologized, motivated Sirota to chastise Hillary Clinton for her “friendship” with Graham, whatever sinister intent that implies in Sirota's hierarchy of ethical misdeeds.
Charges of hate can be leveled against many outspoken and passionate civic and religious leaders, both on the left and right. When Pastor Wright specifically used the phrase "United States of White America", it was not intended as a flattering gesture. As to whether that formulation is indicative of hate, that will ultimately rest between him and the Almighty. (As for Hagee's broadsides against Catholicism, he may also have some explaining to do at the Pearly Gates.)
Comment: #21
Posted by: Compos Mentis
Tue Apr 8, 2008 9:24 AM
David, thank you for a great article, but, this is something that black folk who have been paying attention, have known for years. It is sad that it takes sooo long for you all to get it. You are talking about the hypocrits(sp), but remember this, those are all 'white", Clinton,McCain etc. When a black man talks either from the pulpit or addresses the nation, both are "black" neither has a leg to stand on,because as a suppressed and enslaved pepole we are not allowed to "question the master race." With that said, all of those that do not have the intelligence or smarts to figure out what David has written, please go back in your "Spike Man-cave channels" and spout off to your friends. It is a new era and the whole world is watching your stupidty on the internet, twitter and the like.

Peace,
Comment: #22
Posted by: ron
Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:58 AM
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