Well, it’s official. Last week, CBS News/New York Times released polling figures indicating that 56 percent of potential voters polled believed that the news media has spent too much time covering the Barack Obama/Rev. Wright controversy. In the poll, 60 percent of voters and nearly 70 percent of Democratic primary voters said they approved of the way Obama handled the situation.
So it’s over … right?
As an employer of mine used to say: “Always consider the source.” Consider as well that neither the press (many of whom are Obamaphiles) nor pundits nor prominent Americans of varying stripes seem to agree with these august bastions of truth, justice and accuracy that the Wright issue is a dead horse.
I recall sitting in a New York courtroom in 1985 during the midmorning criminal plea hearings. The procession of detainees was almost exclusively males under 30. It was a near 50-50 black-white split, with a smattering of Latinos.
Just prior to the actual pleas, and regardless of the offense, if the defendant was an ethnic minority, his attorney would deliver a brief but moving testimony as to the social disadvantages inherent to being a person of color in the first place, entreating the judge to show leniency in setting their client’s bail.
Individually, some of the whites there were far more wretched in countenance than the nonwhites they had arrived chained to, but they were left to stock fare when it came to the mercy of the court. I’m definitely not suggesting that minorities have an easy time in the criminal justice system or expressing inordinate sympathy for white offenders. It’s the convention that gave me pause.
I have a gentleman’s disagreement with some white friends, and far less than a gentleman’s disagreement in the same area with some readers. Far too many whites have given Jeremiah Wright a pass on his practice of embracing hatred and bitterness because he spent a significant portion of his life during segregation. This is not atypical of some whites’ comportment toward blacks who harbor crummy attitudes.
“He had some bad experiences; he has a right to be angry,” is a typical assertion.
But does he?
In my youth, I bore having racial epithets directed at me by whites many, many times. I was harassed by racist police officers more times than I can reliably count. I’ve been jeered at and spit upon. I’ve experienced discrimination in employment. I’ve had to fight. I’ve had to flee. When in 1986, Michael Griffith was struck and killed by a motorist on New York’s Belt Parkway after he and two cohorts were assaulted and chased onto the roadway by a mob of white men in the Howard Beach section of Queens, I recalled similar incidents that had occurred involving me and my friends. Although no one died in those instances, When Griffith was killed in what came to be known as the “Howard Beach Incident,” I could easily see how it happened.
Given all of the above, might I not reserve the right to be the “angry black man,” a counterproductive, bitter, divisive troll? Better yet, might I justify synergizing my resentment and command of the English language to profit from my experiences?
Or does the fact that my experiences occurred after desegregation exempt me from exercising this option? It would not seem so; there are certainly enough ignorant, embittered, bigoted young blacks running around (those who’ve been indoctrinated by the likes of Wright, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, James Meeks and countless other less well-known race-baiters) whose beliefs are validated by the press and many Americans. Indeed, the whole debate over the destructive gangsta rap culture centers around this question.
A more important question: Does taking on the mantle of the “angry black man” constructively contribute to the lives of those who do so, or the lives of those about them?
It is a matter of record that despite growing up during segregation, Jeremiah Wright had a pretty good life, even by today’s standards. The incongruence of his message as a Christian pastor (who might instead advocate forgiveness) speaks for itself. The only conclusion one can draw is that either he was conned into buying the false gospel of Black Liberation Theology, or chose to promote it for profit.
If so many were not inclined to grant Rev. Wright the latitude he’s been given based on inaccurate suppositions, condemnation of the pastor would have been exponentially more severe – as would the questions and concerns vis-à-vis Sen. Obama’s associations and whether they translate into his being unelectable.
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