Saturday, May 19, 2012

Was Reverend Wright wrong?

Republican propagandists adore Reverend Wright, who famously said "...God damn America," with the implication that he said it with Barack Obama sitting in the congregation, grinning and giving the Rev a big thumbs-up at this remark while concocting his plan to gain the Presidency and destroy America.

And the Republican rank and file obediently follow the lead of the Ministry of Propaganda. It never occurs to them to wonder why an ex-Marine who served his country honorably might come to feel this way.

Moreover, if anyone dares to try to understand why the good Reverend might feel that way, such a person is an America-hater too and thus needn't be listened to. 

It's a tidy universe they live in. One in which America is the America of those sentimental 1930s MGM movies where everyone knew their place--where Mr. Moto's Negro assistant was scared of ghosts and Scarlett O'Hara's Negro maid was devoted to Massa's needs. 

Those movies never showed what happened to a Negro man who might try to vote in any Southern state. Nor did they show the countless legal restrictions on blacks, along with the less legal ones, and not just in the deep South.

Laws against blacks marrying whites weren't declared unconstitutional until Reverend White was 26 years old. 

I grew up in that America myself, in a community that had zero black residents, going to public schools that were all-white except for one Asian guy in our high school. 

I remember seeing a 1941 movie by an acclaimed director (Preston Sturges) in which a small-town sheriff praises someone by saying "That was mighty white of you," a common Southern phrase of the day.

As was the saying "If you're white, you're all right. If you're brown, stick around. If you're black--step back."

That's the America Reverend Wright was born into and grew up in. 

But it wasn't like all the countries where such discrimination was an accepted part of the culture. America always espoused loftier ideals. America was the land of equality--of equal opportunity, the truest meritocracy in the history of mankind.

Reverend Wright was intelligent and charismatic (look up his Wikipedia entry to see just how). He knew first-hand about the crevasse between our ideals and his reality. True, he didn't grow up in the segregated South, so his experience wasn't as intense as it could have been. But it was enough.

It was also enough for any American who didn't look and act like the people in those idealized movies. Cripples. Mental defectives. Homosexuals. Orientals. Indians. Indians (the other kind). Unusually smart people (outside the magnet schools of the biggest cities). Jews (hard to imagine discrimination against Jews today but it was actually intense). White immigrants who weren't Anglo & spoke with a strong accent. 

And "career girls." Sandra Day O'Connor graduated from a prestigious law school with honors but no law firm would offer her anything but a typing job.

So when Reverend Wright rails against his nation and we recoil at his railing--we need to take a moment to consider his America and not just ours. 

And also remember that Barack Obama's cultural blackness was acquired as an adult. He grew up in a white family, lived in Indonesia, Hawaii, no real black community experience. In some ways he felt like a shell. 

I'm sure that had a part in his marrying someone with an authentic black American life experience, and going to a large mostly black church officiated by an authentic American black pastor--one whose life and many plaudits reveals a man who doesn't hate America...but who does hate the disparity he experienced in his life between American ideals and American reality.

Explaining is not the same thing as excusing. Equating the two is what demagogues do to suppress debate. So I'm not excusing Reverend Wright's Angry Old Black Man schtick by trying to understand how he got there. 

I am condemning condemning Reverend Wright's wrongs thoughtlessly. Which is exactly what nearly all of the Republican rank and file are doing, at the behest of the GOP's Ministry of Propaganda, whose spinmeisters know better but are not burdened with a conscience, apparently.


Anonymous said...

Disingenuous... in fact, you are excusing Wright. All those phony platitudes and excuses could be used to explain and justify the point of view of the Klan... it's all wrong. Anyone who affiliates with either extreme is wrong... and Obama, his supporters and enablers are wrong.

Obama spent more than twenty years mentoring at the knee of Wright, hugging Wright, raising his children in Wright's church, allowing them to listen to his racist, bigoted, and anti-American rants.

Hard as some might try, they can't deny, excuse, or explain that away. Obama's lie about distancing himself from Wright and Ayres was political expediency, nothing else... something you know to be a fact, but find inconvenient to address because it clashes with the leftist, socialist agenda.

Ehkzu said...

What's "disingenuous" is the Right's belief that any criticism of America by anyone is, by definition, treasonous.

Just like the assumption that any criticism of Romney's business career is anti-Freedom, anti-Capitalist, and hence anti-American.

Perish the thought that someone could love America without blinding himself to the disparity between our ideals and our reality.

Perish the thought that someone could love capitalism without blinding himself to the corporate welfarism that has moved so many billions of dollars from the pockets of average Americans into the Cayman-based phony business addresses of the 1%.

Perish the thought that there's any alternative to crony capitalism and Soviet-style socialism; that there's any alternative to the Republican platform and So-shul-ism; that the only Real Americans are Republican Americans.

All this shows, once more, how the Republican Party has become a tribe, not a political organization--a tribe not unlike the Voertrekkers of apartheid South Africa, who had a circle-the-wagons mentality for centuries.

This kind of self-righteouness and intolerance of dissent is a far cry from the conservatism of a General Eisenhower--or even of a Ronald Reagan.

I miss that Republican Party.

Anonymous said...

Ehkzu... all of that would sound reasonable if it were coming from a true and demonstrated centrist.

It's disingenuous when you are given the benefit of the doubt of having knowledge of true extent of Obama's association with Wright and Ayres, but make no mention of it whatsoever.

It is disingenuous when you are given the benefit of the doubt of having the knowledge that Obama ran for President as a man without resume, particularly in the area of finance and economics, yet you unapologetically hold him out as the best choice for president. You know for a fact that he is a tax, borrow, and spend President... pushing this country into unimaginable debt... and make no mention of it whatsoever.

If you took a true centrist and balanced position you could hang onto some of the respect previously granted to you.