29 April 2008

Jeremiah Wright

Jeremiah Wright. This man is at the same time the most brilliant and the stupidest figure of the 2008 election so far.

First, on his brilliance: If you haven't listened to him at the National Press Club and on the Bill Moyer's show, check it out. Wright is a scholar and s a theologian and knows his history. His discussion of hermeneutics and the need to grapple with the ugly parts of the Bible are important. His explanation of his comments that were played on the TV constantly is good enough and certainly not any worse than any other nonsense you hear in a church on Sunday morning ('I feel like God has gathered us here today to blah, blah, blah'). He's right: Religion that is not connected to the actual life of the practitioners is worthless. And that the religion of the slave-owner is not the same religion as the slave. He is right about the evil the US government has done and is doing and will do and I agree with him: if there is a God to damn this sort of behaviour and these sorts of evil people, then America is damned — you can use the word 'condemn' if it makes you feel better.

I am also aware of the double standard. First, that if this was Hillary's pastor, there would be no problem or fear. Obama is a black man, and some white people are afraid of black men, especially when they are angry. Wright is only a threat because we're all sort of afraid that Obama might be angry too. No one would be afraid of an angry white man like Howard Dean. Second, if Obama's pastor was white and spewing white evangelical crazy like God damns gays or abortionists or whatever like John Hagee, then it would be okay because white evangelical crazy comes from the Bible. Black Christian crazy is from the Black Panthers and Malcolm X.

Still, Wright is being an asshole about the whole thing. He's being antagonized and he's getting antagonized. He says he wants people to be reconciled, but he's not taking a step to the middle ground. Yes, some dumb white people don't get why some blacks are still angry, but the way of helping them understand is not shouting at them. It's through education. Now, granted, this is a bad place to do that, but you don't choose the circumstances you end up in. You have to deal with them as they are. So his inability to adapt is killing not only the chance of people listening to him in the future, but it's also hurting Obama's chance to be elected and bring some real reconciliation. God doesn't call anyone to be an asshole and I think you could probably speak the truth in a little more love and stop being so condescending. And shut the fuck up about the US government making AIDS or trying to defend the statement 'Zionism is a gutter religion.' That isn't getting anyone anywhere.

And anyone who quotes X saying, 'The chickens are coming home to roost' without recognizing the irony of X being killed by his own chickens? Well, that is unforgivable.

This is toughie for Obama, I think. What he really needs is for Clinton to admit she lost and let the full power of the Democratic party come behind him. Until then, I'm not sure what else he can do.