The presidential campaign of Barack Obama was derailed last week by controversial comments made by his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
The conservative news media made much ado about the comments, which were cherry-picked from sermons given over a 40-year career. They’re even suggesting Obama drop out of the race because of the comments.
But let’s take a look at some of what the good reverend had to say.
“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye,” the Rev. Wright said the Sunday after Sept. 11.
“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
Wright was courageous enough to say what too many of us — including myself — were too chicken to say at the time: Our own arrogant foreign policy invited the attacks on New York and Washington.
That’s no secret. Even Osama bin Laden has said so. But the conservatives, who continue to think that America has never made any mistakes, want to crucify Wright for telling the truth.
Let’s examine another of Wright’s statements.
“We’ve got more black men in prison than there are in college. Racism is alive and well. Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. No black man will ever be considered for president, no matter how hard you run Jesse [Jackson] and no black woman can ever be considered for anything outside what she can give with her body … We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional killers … We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Gadhafi … We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”
Again, Wright is merely stating the obvious. For hundreds of years, ships sailed carrying cargoes of slaves. It’s been less than 150 years since slaves were freed and less than 40 since segregation was made illegal.
As far as the training of killers goes, America has — by its own admission — planned the assassinations of foreign leaders, the corruption of elections and the overthrow of governments. We even funded and armed Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden at one time.
America did, indeed, support apartheid for far too long. To argue otherwise is to deny history.
In fact, in all the excerpts from speeches given by Wright, I found myself agreeing with everything I heard him say. Hillary has never, in fact, been called the N-word. Bill Clinton did far less for African-Americans than he would like to think.
And Wright has done much more than just give sermons. His church has brought thousands of people, including Obama, to know the teachings of Christ. It has fed the hungry, clothed the naked and given shelter to the homeless.
The conservative media would like to destroy Barack Obama because it looks likely that he’ll become president. They’ll do whatever it takes to bring him down.
They’re the same people who said that Bush and Cheney, who have three DUIs between them, would restore law and order. They elevated Bush, who avoided service in Vietnam, as a better friend to the military than either John McCain or John Kerry, both decorated war heroes.
They also promised that the war in Iraq was necessary and that our troops would be greeted as liberators. Too many people trusted the conservatives then; there’s no reason to trust them now.
Form your own opinion about the views of Wright. But realize that, as uncomfortable as his words may be, they carry truth in them. I want my president to be one who has heard these truths.
Your alternative is to vote for a man who promises 100 more years of war in Iraq and a continuation of Bush economics. If you favor a government that works only for the rich, McCain’s your guy.
But don’t let attacks against a preacher keep you from voting for Barack Obama, especially when that preacher is speaking the truth.