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Three Paradoxical Aspects Of The Wright Controversy

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   5 comments
Message Nathan Nahm

There are three interesting and noteworthy aspects in the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy relating to Mr. Obama's presidential candidacy.

First, the press and media's handling of this so-called controversy is a perfect example of actively practicing racism and guilt by association on the pretense that a significant segment of the voters will practice racism and guilt by association. Notice that the media pundits will never say that they themselves believe that Rev. Wright's sermons in any way represent Mr. Obama's own personal views. But they claim or at least insinuate that voters at large, or at least a significant segment of it, will think so and will therefore be influenced by Wright's sermons in deciding how they will vote. In other words, these pundits are, in effect, saying, "We are not racists and will not be influenced to vote one way or the other because of what Rev. Wright may have said because we know that Wright does not represent Obama. But voters at large, who are not as well informed as we are, and who are also likely to harbor some level of racism in their heart of hearts, will tend to confuse Mr. Wright's views as somehow reflecting Mr. Obama's own views and will therefore decide their votes based, at least in part, on Mr. Wright's incendiary words."

On this basis, the press and the media pundits justify their unending rehashing of the so-called Wright controversy, on the grounds that this is the critical issue that will determine the outcome of the Democratic primaries, as well as the general election if Mr. Obama wins the nomination of the Democratic Party. This is a classic example of practicing racism on the pretense that other people practice racism, while disavowing racism on one's own part. A sophisticated racist will never admit to harboring racism himself or herself, but will always resort to the "reality" of the prevalent racism to justify their racist policies as the only "practical" or "workable" policy, as witnessed by the Hillary Clinton camp's covert message, and in Bill Clinton's not so covert statements, to the effect that a black candidate is not electable, so it's best for the Democratic Party to nominate Hillary who is white and who is therefore more electable, if the Party is to win in November. The important point here is that the 24/7 coverage by the media and the press of this manufactured issue of Rev. Wright controversy is itself a malignant form of practicing racism, in a perfect collusion with the Clinton camp's more express racist message, which they both attempt to justify by pseudo reference to racism as allegedly practiced by "others".

Second, paradoxically, a good part of the reason that this Wright controversy has created such a big furor in relation to Obama's campaign is not that some of the statements in Rev. Wright's sermons are absolutely ludicrous and absurd, but that they do actually have a kernel of truth and may at least be debatable statements. In contrast, the Republican Party's presumptive nominee John McCain's active solicitation for, and his actually obtaining, a public endorsement from the Evangelist Pastor John Hagee has barely created a small ripple in the media and the press, even though Pastor Hagee made statements, to the effect that Katrina was God's scourge against New Orleans residents for sins such as tolerating gays, that the Catholic Church is the "whore" on the earth, etc., which are so ludicrous and absurd that most ordinary American citizens would not even dwell on them for long or treat them as statements made by sensible people at all.

Although truly bizarre if you really think about it, people are not seriously disturbed by the fact that McCain got an endorsement from someone who made such ludicrous statements precisely because no one would be stupid enough to think that McCain may be so stupid as to actually hold such beliefs himself. However, the substance of much of what Rev. Wright has said in his now infamous sermons regarding our past practice of black slavery, our use of atomic bombs in large civilian population centers and our countless military incursions in so many countries in the last several decades, not to mention the fact that this nation was founded on what may be described as a large scale genocide of native Americans, are not only true (or, at least, certainly debatable) but touch the core issues relating to our deep-seated national guilt that we desperately try to forget and conceal even to our own consciousness. To restore our national soul and our proper moral outlook, it is difficult to conceive of any other way than to confront these issues head on for purposes of national and historical reconciliation. And yet, it is also arguable that, however good our intentions may be, we as a nation are not really strong enough to go through such a process of national reconciliation and deep soul searching, without risking a serious damage to the national unity. Whatever may be the correct answer to this question, the relevant point here is that Rev. Wright's sermons have created such a furor and scared the media pundits precisely because the pundits, consciously or unconsciously, recognize that Rev. Wright's sermons may represent a justifiable call for a profound national soul searching, rather than because his sermons contain patently ludicrous and indefensible statements, as alleged by the pundits.

Third, the Rev. Wright controversy shows the curious ways in which certain established power centers (including both black political and religious leaderships, as well as white liberal political groups) react to the imminent prospect of a black President in the U.S. Although there is no question that Mr. Obama's candidacy represents the best opportunity for enhancing the perceived, as well as the actual, social and political status of black populations in this country and possibly around the world, the power centers that have traditionally represented the blacks in this country do not seem to be the most avid supporters of his candidacy.

This strange phenomenon can be explained if we realize that Mr. Obama's candidacy, if successful, may actually diminish the relative importance of some of these traditional power centers that have historically represented the blacks, and therefore may also have the potential of impacting adversely on the careers and personal interests of the individuals that have been involved in such power centers. For black and white politicians who always could count on the near automatic support of their black constituency in election times because they are black or have established certain allegiances with groups of black voters, may no longer be able to rely on the same black voters and constituency if black people generally attain a much higher level of political and social status, as well as social and economic independence and mobility. In a similar fashion, it is also possible that Rev. Wright himself may be less than enthusiastic, if not outright hostile, about Mr. Obama's candidacy. If the social and economic status of blacks is generally improved in a marked degree, will they still flock to his kind of church as they have done in the past?

In contrast, however, as the polls clearly show, ordinary black voters themselves overwhelmingly support Mr. Obama's candidacy for President because they are certainly smart enough to know that Mr. Obama's candidacy represents the best opportunity that has presented itself for blacks in many decades, if not in the past few centuries. Needless to say, this is not to say that Mr. Obama's candidacy only represents a hope for blacks because all evidence suggests that he represents the best hope for forming a true coalition of all diverse groups for achieving the best this nation can be.

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Nathan Nahm is a retired New York lawyer.

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