Smearing Dr. Wright: White Fear and Republican Leaders, Again

Reportedly Senator McCain has said he will not use the Dr. Jeremiah Wright “story” against Senator Obama, but some Republican Party operatives (listed as the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania) in Pennsylvania have ignored that inclination and are now running anti-Obama attack ads highlighting Dr. Wright. CNN has had this weak story up today:

. . . a last-minute television ad that calls attention to Barack Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “If you think you could ever vote for Barack Obama, consider this: Obama chose as his spiritual leader this man,” the ad’s narrator says before clips of Wright’s controversial statements are shown. “Does that sound like someone who should be president?” the ad asks.

The CNN story meekly continues with this:

Sen. John McCain has repeatedly said he does not believe Obama’s relationship to Wright should be an issue — to the ire of some Republicans who feel it raises questions about the Illinois senator’s judgment.

McCain deserves some credit for this if it is true, and apparently it is, or was. Governor Palin has ignored it lately, and presumably McCain could stop her:

“[Obama] sat in the pews for 20 years and heard Rev. Wright say some things that most people would find a bit concerning. But again that is John McCain’s call,” Palin told reporters. The state GOP … defended airing it. “We feel that it is necessary that the American people remember that Obama sat in a church and listened to this man preach hate for many, many years,” said a statement on its Web site. “What does that say about his judgment? Do we want the next president of the United States to have spent years listening to hateful rhetoric without having the good judgment to walk out?”

I pointed out the misrepresentations in such nonsense here in early April. Let us look again briefly at Dr. (notice the media and white politicians rarely give him his correct title) Jeremiah Wright’s famous (and old) sermon with the famous statements that ABC News first spread like wildfire. Five years ago, Dr. Wright gave a 40-minute sermon discussing the racist history of our government and what we need to do about it. He ends the sermon thus:

And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to putting her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in interment prison camps. When it came to putting the citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains. The government put them on slave quarters. Put them on auction blocks. Put them in cotton fields. Put them in inferior schools. Put them in substandard housing. Put them scientific experiments. Put them in the lower paying jobs. Put them outside the equal protection of the law. Kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education, and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strike law and then wants us to sing God Bless America. Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America! That’s in the Bible. For killing innocent people. God Damn America for treating us citizens as less than human. God Damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and she is Supreme. …. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent. Tell your neighbor he’s [going to] help us one last time. Turn back, and say forgive him for the “God Damn”–that’s in the Bible though. Blessings and curses is in the Bible. It’s in the Bible. Where government fails, God never fails. When God says it, it’s done. God never fails. When God wills it, you’d better get out the way, cause God never fails.

This sounds like many prophetic sermons I have heard from preachers over numerous decades now. Seen in context at the end of a long sermon, Wright’s prophet-type language of “God Damn America” (he means the American government) does not seem unpatriotic and un-American as widely claimed in the mainstream media. He is saying the U.S. government is not God, has a long history of racism, and must change its racially oppressive ways. He is candidly telling truths about white racism, something rare outside black homes and organizations (sermons like this take place 100s of times a week in African American churches). He is giving us some of the black counter-framing against the white racial frame, and many whites cannot handle that racial truth. Did anyone in the mass media even listen to or read the whole sermon?

Dr. Jeremiah Wright has been greatly slandered. He should sue the media. He is almost always framed by the white media folks as a “dangerous black man.” Yet he is actually an American prophet, indeed a prophetic hero who is not afraid to condemn this country’s racist government actions, past and present. He is not recognized in the mainstream media as a leading minister, yet he has been ranked in the top 15 African American ministers by the leading African American magazine. He is a much-honored minister in a predominantly white mainstream Protestant denomination originally founded by (are you ready for this?) that “radical” white group called the Pilgrims! He has seven honorary doctorates, has published four books, and has numerous articles. His savvy sermons are studied at major US divinity schools by white and black and other seminarians. Before he became a minister, he was a Navy corpsman who graduated at the top of his class and assisted President Johnson in a medical crisis. Why has this great American been slandered as unpatriotic and too radical? Only because he spoke out vigorously against white racism. And now the Republicans slander him once again. They should instead actually listen to his sermons. They might learn something they badly need to know about US racism.


  1. The US has such a shameful past that they don’t want any reminder of all the thing they have done to Black People. They want to pretend that the past never happened and all is well for Black People now. So any Black man that wants to remind his people of all the America has done and still is doing against Black People is quickly call a radical and they encourage Black People to quickly shut that one up. It was very sad to me to see Obama have to sacrifice his people in order to make White America comfortable. I don’t think Obama will ever be able to address the plaguing issues of Black people in America. Being sucessful in the Presidential race has definately come at a cost.

  2. Hannah

    In the interviews about the election that I am doing for a class project, Dr. Jeremiah Wright has consistnetly been brought up as a controversy associated with Barack Obama. All those I interviewed knew who Dr. Wright was, and had a negative view of him. Many even claimed that they were not voting for Obama because of Dr. Wright. I did not ask, but I suspect none had read the full sermon, but only heard the 5 second soundbytes widely distributed across the public media.

  3. JDF

    Concerning McCain on this issue, I think it’s unlikely he will denounce the ad, and will probably get away with it given its 11th hour timing. Perhaps we have yet to see additional ads like this, whether radio, t.v., robocalls, etc.

  4. Melissa

    Ugh, I saw this commercial last night. What about all the extreme things that Sarah Palin’s church says? What about the racist things John McCain says? They are more than happy to take things out of context that those around Barack Obama say but ignore their own associations. The hypocrisy of it all just makes me mad.

  5. rjc

    If memory serves me correctly, and I believe it does, Rod Parsley (McCain’s former spiritual mentor) made a similar critique against America’s racialized structure. Though his solutions mirrored Booker T (Parsley actually suggested people read Up From Slavery in order to understand the discrimination blakcs faced), there are strong parallels.

  6. Dr. Terence Fitzgerald

    There is an old Chinese Proverb that states, “Men in the game are blind to what men looking on see clearly.” Historically Whites within the U.S. have not only been participants in the game, but they have also constructed the rules for which they see fit. This game of securing power and resources while forcing others less fortunate through techniques of psychological and physical control over hundreds of years has catapultated Whites into the hazy stratosphere we all know as White privilege. Within this illusive state, Whites are unwilling to see those on which their feet rest. Simply, I see people who are unwilling to acknowledge the effects of their actions as I do a person addicted to drugs. Moreover, these Whites are addicted to the drugs of power and privilege. Therefore, when people like Dr. Wright speak to the injustice of the “game,” they are casted as subversives and enemies of the state. Instead, we as a country should see people like Dr. Wright as true patriots. With change and people like Dr. Wright advocating for change, on the horizon today, we must all remember the words of Mark Twain: “In the beginning of a change, the Patriot is a scarce man, Brave, Hated, and Scorned. When his cause succeeds however,the timid join him, For then it costs nothing to be a Patriot.”

  7. mordy

    Some Whites, Dr. Fitzgerald. Not all whites. What i hope and think we will see today is vast numbers of Non-Whites and Whites who all see that their feet are resting on the same space. While historically this wasn’t the case i think we are that the beginning of a quantum shift which isn’t all going to be accomplished in an Obama presidency. But hopefully a foundation will have been laid upon which many more feet can equally rest

  8. Dr. Terence Fitzgerald

    Mordy, I agree…Some Whites. But we can not forget the infectious results of racism. As Memmi states, that racism is forever unrelenting and replicated within in our society. For that fact alone, we are all prone to beoming the oppressor.

  9. curious

    Dr. Wright’s speech at the NAACP meeting in April was essentialist, suggesting that Blacks and Whites have fundamentally different cognitive styles. Dr. Wright’s thematic claim was that “difference is not deficient” and that Euro-Americans are “analytic” “cognitive” and “object oriented” in their thinking. In contrast, Wright claimed that African Americans are “subject oriented” “creative” and “oral.” These claims are not only false, but they also provide fuel for claims that African-Americans are paid less than Euro-Americans because their cognitive style does not equip them for the more intellectually rigorous (and high compensation) occupations such as the professions and technical fields. Wright’s speech at the NAACP accomodated racism.

  10. Seattle in Texas

    That suggestion is racist in that there is an implicit assertion that there is indeed a fundamental cognitive hierarchy of some sort. Generalized cognitive differences should be held to strictly nominal comparisons only (which is I’m sure, the context Dr. Wright was speaking in) that are culturally and/or socially based with an emphasis on how social inequality serves to stratify and segregate people based on what the white supremacist society most values, thereby privileging some based on those values and depriving and/or blocking others from equal participation, training, etc. To move away from a white supremacist society, U.S. society would have to value creative thinking, differences, and provide diverse settings where all people can have the opportunity to strive towards their own human potential, and where their own uniqueness and skills can make significant contributions to society—remove the stratified socially constructed hierarchies of various sorts. And actually, more intellectually rigorous professions do happen to require creative and innovative thinking, but many are necessarily blocked for the very reasons stated above….

  11. curious

    Seattle, objectively, out there in reality, in fact, there are no discernable differences in cognitive style between Euro-Americans and Afro-Americans. Wright is promoting a false idea about racial differences. This is not only inaccurate and mistaken. It is fodder for our enemies.
    Your apologetics for what Wright “really” meant would be funny if they weren’t so dangerous. did you even watch Wright’s speech at the NAACP meeting in April? Actually watch the video of Wright’s speech. Then come back and we can debate this rationally.

  12. Seattle in Texas

    Curious, I agree with your first sentence. No I did not see it, but I will see if I can view it for sure. What I do know, is that many people seem to lack the capacity to interpret Dr. Wright’s messages in his context and tradition, which ties back to human emancipation. “Rational”…cute…that’s just soooo, hmmm, I don’t know, elitist. I will try to view it and see if I can see it from your perspective though….


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