The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. is not doing Democratic Presidential frontrunner Barack Obama any favors with his latest round of speeches and television appearances defending his controversial remarks and preaching style.
His attempts to explain his rhetoric only serve those who want to use that rhetoric to raise fear and suspicion about Obama and keep the controversy in front of the American people.
The former pastor of Barack Obama whose words have rallied many but offended others told an audience of 10,000 that his critics get it wrong when they call him divisive and polarizing.
“I describe the conditions in this country,” the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. said during the NAACP’s 53rd annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner.
“I’m not here for political reasons. I’m not a politician. I know that fact will surprise many of you because many in the corporate-owned media made it seem like I am running for the Oval Office,” Wright said. “I am not running for the Oval Office. I’ve been running for Jesus a long, long time and I’m not tired yet.”
Receiving a lengthy and loud standing ovation, Wright followed in the footsteps of Obama, President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton in his speech at the event, a $150-a-plate fundraiser billed as the largest sit-down dinner in America.
Obama, who is vying with Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, distanced himself from Wright after publicity over the minister’s sharp criticism of America’s racial history and government policies.
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, stirred the crowd with an animated introduction to Wright. He let the audience know, among other things, that Wright speaks five languages and is an Egyptologist, writer, author, family man and “innovator and sustainer of the word of God.”
Anthony said at a press conference before the dinner that he was excited to invite the “hottest brother in America right now – outside of Barack Obama.”
Wright, who is retiring as pastor of the 8,000-member Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, followed the dinner’s theme, “A Change is Gonna Come.”
He drew numerous contrasts between racial and ethnic groups in language, music and other aspects of American culture. He danced, beat-boxed and even sang an aria from the podium to make his points in the massive exhibition hall, which served as an impromptu pulpit.
“In the past, we were taught to see others who are different as somehow being deficient,” Wright said. “I believe that a change is going to come because many of us are committed to changing how we see other people who are different.”
There’s no doubt that Wright’s words infuriate a lot of people.
But is he wrong? Sadly, he is not.
America is a divided, racist nation. America is a nation where hate replaces debate, intolerance replaces tolerance and diversity is viewed as divisive.
When I hear a minister scream “God damn America,” I don’t see it as an expression of hate but rather a cry for help – a plea to come together to save a faltering, damaged nation, a country threatened with destruction by a divisive political system, a government that threatens our freedoms and a loss of hope for the future.
Rev. Wright is right, even if his timing is wrong. It is a sad commentary on what our country has become when change has to be couched in politically-correct terminology and when anger at the system cannot be expressed without drawing comparisons to hate.
Damn America? Damn right. George W. Bush damns God every time he invokes our deity’s name to justify his illegal, immoral and corrupt actions. Congress damns God every time it fails to stop the actions of the madman of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
We’ve become a nation that not even God can forgive…and that’s a damn shame.