The Wright parade

Rich Lowry:

REV. Jeremiah Wright has taken Barack Obama's critically acclaimed race speech in Philadelphia, ripped it into bits and tossed it in the air to serve as confetti for his parade through the media.

In that speech, Obama said Wright had been taken out of context, a defense the pastor has made himself. If only we knew the true Wright, Obama complained, instead of just "the snippets of those sermons that have run on an endless loop on the television and YouTube." In his interview with Bill Moyers on PBS, Wright said the playing of his sound bites was "unfair," "unjust" and "untrue."

Then cometh the good reverend to step all over the out-of-context defense in a speech at the National Press Club. He defended his "chickens come home to roost" claim on 9/11 in exactly the same terms as in his original sermon: "You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you." He stood by his damnation of America and his contention that the US government had created AIDS: "I believe our government is capable of doing anything."

For good measure, he dishonestly denied Louis Farrakhan's infamous denunciation of Judaism as a "gutter religion" and called him "one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century." The more Wright talked, the more he sounded like a Christian Farrakhan.

Near the end of his majestically awful performance, he corrected reporters, telling them that Obama "did not denounce me. He distanced himself from some of my remarks." About this at least, Wright was sober and precise. "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community," Obama said in Philadelphia. At the Press Club, Wright similarly insisted that the attacks on him were an attack on the "black church."

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This is a slanderous insult to black churches. For a guy who claims the prophetic tradition, Wright is not much of a prophet or a historian. He does seem bitter though.

Eugene Robinson gives the black church context.

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The problem is that Wright insists on being seen as something he's not: an archetypal representative of the African-American church. In fact, he represents one twig of one branch of a very large tree.

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But his basic point -- that any attack on him is an attack on the African-American church and its traditions -- is just wrong. In making that argument, he buys into the fraudulent idea of a monolithic, monocultural black America -- one with his philosophy and theology at its center.

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The reality of the African-American church, of course, is as diverse as the African-American community. I grew up in the Methodist church with pastors -- often active on the front lines of the civil rights movement -- whose sermons were rarely exciting enough to elicit more than a muttered "Amen." They were excitement itself, however, compared to the dry lectures delivered by the priest at the Catholic church around the corner. And what I heard every Sunday was nothing at all like the Bible-thumping, hellfire-and-damnation perorations that filled my Baptist friends with the Holy Ghost -- and even less like the spellbinding, singsong, jump-and-shout sermonizing that raised the roofs of Pentecostal sanctuaries across town.

Wright claims to represent all these traditions and more, but he does not....

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He could not, but Rev. Wright is in an all out victim offensive and he is trying to make himself part of a victim class. The reality is he is just being offensive.

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