Assertions now count as data in the mainstream media and often among liberal bloggers, especially if they are white. For example, I see little attempt in any of the mainstream media to understand that Dr. Jeremiah Wright’s excerpted sermons and recent comments on them and other racial issues at recent press conferences are, with very few exceptions, grounded in a great deal of data about the nearly four centuries of extreme racial oppression in the United States, as well as centuries of U.S. oppression of people of color overseas.
Why is it that college-educated whites (some with progressive instincts) cannot understand the foundational reality and great weight of the extreme oppression visited on African Americans and other Americans of color, to the present day? Apparently, yelling that someone is wrong, as the media and many bloggers are now doing at Dr. Wright, now counts as intelligent argument and as data among the “educated” segments of this society.
Note the characterizations below of Dr. Wright, all presented in analyses with no serious examination of the data that might have led Dr. Wright to his mostly reasonable critiques of this demonstrably white racist society. Indeed, it appears that they have not actually read Dr. Wright’s critical sermons and have made no attempt whatsoever to understand why a Black ex-Marine, distinguished pastor, and minister in a leading predominantly white denomination (whose sermons are studied by white and other divinity school students for their quality) might be upset at the past and present realities of white-on-black oppression in the United States.
For example, Tristero on the Digby site speaks of “Wright’s wacky ideas.” On mydd.com Todd Beeton speaks of “Jeremiah Wright’s recent antics” And Marc Armbinder also makes similar comments. There is no attempt here to understand where a leading Black minister, and critical thinker, is coming from. Then there is this very loaded and unreflective New York Times editorial:
It took more time than it should have, but on Tuesday Barack Obama firmly rejected the racism and paranoia of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., and he made it clear that the preacher does not represent him, his politics or his campaign. . . . Mr. Wright has not let that happen. In the last few days, in a series of shocking appearances, he embraced the Rev. Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism. He said the government manufactured the AIDS virus to kill blacks. He suggested that America was guilty of “terrorism” and so had brought the 9/11 attacks on itself.
None of this is true just as stated here. The Times has decided that distorting and data-less journalism is good journalism. Wright is not “racist” or “paranoid.” Those are common charges that whites often make against African Americans when whites are charged with the systemic racism they have created and maintained now over several long centuries. Even in 2008 whites at the “top” of US journalism cannot face the contemporary significance of nearly four centuries of white oppression of African Americans, which is the focus of many of Wright’s reasonably critical comments. Wright also has not embraced anti-Semitism. He has been critical of the Israeli government, which is not anti-Semitism. Even Wright’s argument about AIDs is that, given the long history of the U.S. government’s extreme and destructive medical experiments on African Americans (and, by the way, where is the media outrage over that very long history?) that one cannot without evidence rule out some role of the U.S. government in spreading the AIDs virus. You can disagree with this latter point, but do get his view right before attacking it.
Clearly, the debates around Dr. Wright and Senator Obama are not mainly about these two distinguished, high-achieving black men. If they were, the media would seriously examine Dr. Wright’s conclusions about US racism. (And they would also quit intentionally disrespecting him, such as by calling him DR. Wright.) These media commentaries are actually, in the main, about fearful whites who are very offended that anyone should dare to argue that this is still a white-racist country where much work is needed to get the majority of whites to stop viewing people of color from a white-racist frame and acting in many discriminatory ways daily against those Americans of color.