Two-Faced Racism: Pfleger Does Not Equal Limbaugh

Dr. Boyce Watkins on his blog and at offers an excellent commentary on the way in which the traditional white-controlled media distort racial debates and match opponents of racial oppression and their sometimes strong language with the white maintainers and creators of that racial oppression. When Dr. Jeremiah Wright or Father Michael Pfleger get angry and mock the racist system–and make a few inappropriate or debatable comments (in the context of hundreds of accurate comments backed by research)–everybody and his/ her dog in the traditional media jump on them, but when whites like Pat Buchanan or Rush Limbaugh make many statements preserving the 400 year old racist system, the media take them on as pundits and let them make millions off helping keep the old racist system in place.

One key to understanding here is that Wright and Pfleger are operating out of a liberty-and-justice counter frame to the white racial frame that is so dominant in this society that most people, especially most whites, see it as “normal” and appropriate (see here). I have yet to see any significant analysis by the media or political leaders of how the African American population (including a significant sample of church members’) views Wright or Pfleger and what they have said about racial oppression.

Dr. Watkins makes some important points point about the debates over Dr. Wright and Father Pfleger, one of very few white leaders, including clergy, willing to give their lives to end 400 years of white oppression of Americans of color:

Those who claim that Pfleger preaches hate don’t know a damn thing about what hate really is. If they want to see hate, they only need to look at what their parents, grandparents and great grandparents have done to African Americans since our country was founded. The idea that fighting historical oppression is equivalent to maintaining oppression (i.e. Sean Hannity is the same as Jeremiah Wright) is not only silly, but it is quite revealing of how little racial education an individual has. A daughter who files a lawsuit against the family of the man who raped her mother and stole her belongings is not a thief and rapist herself. As Father Pfleger points out clearly, this government has benefitted from stealing from our ancestors, that is why black people have nothing: we don’t own media, we don’t own corporations, we don’t own universities. That didn’t happen overnight. It happened because of racism, and we are forced to deal with these effects every single day.

Yet the parrots in the mass media all in one chorus chant that clergy like Wright and Pfleger are evil, wild, hateful, or irrational. Yet somehow they do not chant that chorus about the 400-year-old racist system that has destroyed, and is still destroying, tens of millions of African American lives with the ugly white-controlled racist barriers of slavery (246 years and still no apology or reparations), legal segregation (90 years and still no apology or reparations), and decades of informal racial discrimination (39 years and still no apology or reparations). Why do you suppose that is?