Wright lights the fuse
Monday, April 28, 2008
In his speech, Wright disowned the controversy by claiming that the media reporting and the public response was not about him, it was about the black church as a whole. Wright also mentioned the call to have a national conversation on race which was first raised by presidential candidate Barack Obama and formalized by the United Church of Christ's national office.
Throughout the question and answer period of his speech, Wright continually deflected questions about his sermons often answering a question with another question. When asked about his "God damn America" sermon, he asked "Did you hear the sermon?" When asked about his allegation that the U.S. governemnt created the AIDS virus to commit genocide on African-Americans, Wright asked if the questioner had read Horowitz's book and then claimed that he believed the government was capable of it. When asked about his controversial sermon that appeared to blame the U.S. for 9/11, Wright claimed to be quoting an ambassador although Wright clearly subscribed to the belief in the sermon.
On any level, the speech was a trainwreck. Wright didn't accept responsibility for his sermons or take ownership of his own words. By deflecting the controversy as commentary against the black church, Wright has also ignited a completely manufactured racial conflict and has unfairly cast a negative view of the black church and the United Church of Christ. Wright has effectively sabatoged the black church, the United Church of Christ and Obama's candidacy to protect his own ego.
While I personally agree with the spirit of Obama's call for a national conversation on race, it can not and should not be orchestrated as a defense of Wright's sermons. The controversy is not about race, it is about Jeremiah Wright. If we are going to have a real national conversation on race, it should be done in the spirit Obama's unifying optimism that we can overcome our shameful history.