In an interesting commentary yesterday on huffingtonpost, Frank Schaeffer made some excellent points about religion and race, and US politics, that show that the recent attacks on Senator Obama’s former pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, are very discriminatory in their framing and probably racist in intent:
When Senator Obama’s preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father — Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer — denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.
The religious/political language was, and still is, much stronger from many conservative white ministers and pastors, including those associated with conservative political figures, but no great political uproar has yet arisen. He continues:
Every Sunday thousands of right wing white preachers . . . rail against America’s sins from tens of thousands of pulpits. They tell us that America is complicit in the “murder of the unborn,” has become “Sodom” by coddling gays, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They say, as my dad often did, that we are, “under the judgment of God.” They call America evil and warn of immanent destruction. By comparison Obama’s minister’s shouted “controversial” comments were mild. All he said was that God should damn America for our racism and violence and that no one had ever used the N-word about Hillary Clinton.
Later he points out just how influential his father and other ministers got/get:
When Mike Huckabee was recently asked by Katie Couric to name one book he’d take with him to a desert island, besides the Bible, he named Dad’s Whatever Happened to the Human Race? a book where Dad also compared America to Hitler’s Germany.
Thus, a leading Republican presidential candidate admires such a minister, but not one article critiques such extreme rhetoric.
Was any conservative political leader associated with Dad running for cover? Far from it. Dad was a frequent guest of the Kemps, had lunch with the Fords, stayed in the White House as their guest, he met with Reagan, helped Dr. C. Everett Koop become Surgeon General. . . . Dad became a hero to the evangelical community and a leading political instigator. When Dad died in 1984 everyone from Reagan to Kemp to Billy Graham lamented his passing publicly as the loss of a great American. Not one Republican leader was ever asked to denounce my dad or distanced himself from Dad’s statements.
In a country with such deep and systemic racism, and white racial framing that rationalizes it, we should expect such a double standard, where black ministers are evaluated by a different, and racialized standard, and white ministers dine with presidents and the elite.