The victim cult
THE saddest aspect of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's tirades is neither his dishonest charges, nor his egocentric claim to speak for all black churches, nor even the harm he's done to the dreams of his best-known parishioner.The Hamas death cult wallows in victimization as does al Qaeda. What is really pernicious abou Wright's message is that it becomes an excuse to not overcome the difficulties that life puts in the way of all of us, no matter what our ancestry.
The sorrow and the pity of it all is that the Chicago pastor, who's reveling in his 15 minutes of fame, is only one of many demagogues in all races and creeds who foster cults of victimization around the globe.
And nothing is more certain to keep those at the bottom down than self-appointed messiahs who assure them they'll always be victims.
I haven't sat through 20 years of Wright's sermons, but the most striking aspect of the pastor's rants that I have heard is that - like demagogues on every inhabited continent - he prefers assigning blame to making progress.
Blame is delicious. And easy. Progress takes work.
Nor is it in the interest of demagogues to see their followers graduate from society's margins toward the center. Social, economic or political success undercuts their fundamental argument that their poor will always be with us.
It gets tricky to portray your followers as eternal victims when you live in a multimillion-dollar mansion (smack dab in the midst of your oppressors), one of your flock is a likely presidential nominee of the most powerful nation in history - and his spouse holds an Ivy League law degree and earns over $300K a year.
In a situation like that, any demagogue has to renew his call to arms - to dismiss any success he can't spoil outright.
What the media have missed is the ideological company Wright keeps. If you listen past his magnificent rhetorical skills, he makes the same the-evil-government's-out-to-get-you arguments as white supremacists, polygamist child molesters, UFO cults and all the less scrupulous "advocates" for troubled minorities.
The demagogue's bottom line is always: Your failures aren't your fault - it's all their fault. Whitey's to blame, or people of color, or the Jews (those Elders of Zion sure do stay busy) or black helicopters from the UN. It's a formula for the perpetuation of failure.
Some have argued that Wright wants Obama to lose. I don't know if that is true, but his loss would fit Wright's message. Wright is just the kind of guy who would blame it on white racism rather than his own.