The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Friday, March 21, 2008

We get letters...

"Also if I get angry when someone refers to Zionist terrorists lets put it in historical context like we do for Rev. Wright. Lets add up all the blacks in the U.S. since 1776 who were lynched or executed for crimes that white people would not have been executed for. I bet it wouldn't add up to six million. Oh and believe it or not both my wife and I were told during our job hunting days not to apply to certain companies, because they didn't hire jews."

Excuse me. I thought we were talking about American history, not world history. But if we're talking world history, then we have to count every slave kidnapped from Africa, all of those who died along the way, every year of life lost to shortened lifespans (compare the 24 year black lifespan to the 39 year one for whites during the 27th and 18th centuries) every generation who died in slavery before emancipation, and all who were killed before they reached the boats. Totals go WAY above six million dead. But you can't appropriately compare "Jews" and "Blacks'. You could compare "Jews" and, say, "Ebos" or "Housas" or "Zulus" perhaps. Which makes in some ways the million number even worse. But then I'm not trying to compare the evil done to one people to the evil done to another. That, ultimately, seems either pointless or an evil in itself.

##

"In the 70s everyone was supposed to be colorblind but later a lot of black people started saying they didn't want us to be colorblind. They actually wanted race to be an issue. This is confusing for a lot of people my age and older."

Everyone? According to whom? And you think black people said this after experiencing white people being truly color-blind? Race was always an issue. It is an issue in unconscious evaluations on the hind-brain level. Saying "let's not look at race" isn't realistic. People who say "I don't see color." Are bending the truth. They may mean "I don't judge people negatively on the basis of color but the first comment is like saying "I don't see gender." Sorry. That's just not the truth.
##
"Then the real comparison should be: Do immigrants from Africa, once adjusted for education levels, do worse, better, or the same as immigrants from Europe? That would seem to be a perfect test to see how America rewards people with dark skin in comparison with how it rewards people with light skin. Any big flaws you see in that test?"

Nope. But racists would suggest that, if Africans do less well than Europeans, it reflects their innate capacities.

##

"I was referring to the defense that Reverend Wright's views were typical of what is being expressed in Black churches."
Not typical. Familiar. And not just black churches. It is a familiar refrain in black communities. Among some politicized black people. And churches are composed of people. I promise you that Reverend Wright has grieved with black families whose sons were shot unjustly by white cops. That kind of thing sours you if you're not careful.

"I am quite sure that this would take most Americans by surprise."

Only because
1) we differ in our understanding of black history in America or
2) Believe that, given the same situation, white people would react differently. Three thousand Americans dead, and we were ready to torture innocent people (approving torture always means torturing the innocent, because no legal system is 100% efficient) and suspend habeus corpus. That's what fear does. Look anywhere in the world, and fear breeds anger and irrationality. Blacks are the same. I believe this is so hard for whites to see because they KNOW how much they'd hate us if the shoe was on the other foot.
3) Never considered the implication of the following statement being true: "White Americans, born into black lives, would react as blacks have. Blacks, born into white lives, would react as whites have. To the degree that I cannot believe that, I am in denial, and have literally warped my map of reality to handle my own fear." Consider that statement. That is the position from which I see the world. Right? Wrong? I don't know, but there it is.
##
"Barack Obama's refusal to completely sever his ties with Reverend Wright leads people to ask why. And one conclusion that a reasonable person could come to is that to do so would leave him open to criticism within the Black community. And thatleads to the speculation that that's because such views are more widespread than most Americans would have assumed."

They're more widespread than whites want to believe, because that implies that the damage was far worse then they really want to believe. Unless, of course, they want to believe that whites would have been less damaged, or hold less fear and anger. If that's what they believe, its a free country and they should feel free to say it. I like to know who I'm dealing with. And those who see the world primarily through a political lens would assume that Obama's primary worry is not to be criticized by the black community, so as to gain votes. Do you really think he'd lose more votes from blacks than he'd gain from whites? Really? But there is another, deeper issue here. What Reverend Wright said is equivalent to bleeding in public. LOTS of black people are bleeding. So are lots of women. Jews. Obese people. Gays, The Poor. Homeless Vets. Armenians. Almost anyone is a member of a group that bleeds a little. Some bleed a lot. Some die.


Any group that is still suffering a burden, or has generational memory of such burdens, bleeds. That is just an observable fact. I have personal, intimate knowledge of the damage in the black community, and of what it takes to move beyond it. I know of no one, and I mean NO ONE, who has done MORE work on themselves in this regard, but the scars still tug. THIS is exactly, precisely why I feel such compassion for the people I council, who are damaged in these or other ways, because I see so clearly the cost of familial or social damage.

I PROMISE you that when I see equivalent damage done to white people, they are as likely to stagger and groan and bleed beneath the burden as anyone. To reject the Reverend Wright, Obama would have to reject Black America itself. And that would leave Obama alone, with only those who think such an action was essential as support and family and friends: in other words, the ones who do not understand him at all. I clearly remember a white Conservative friend saying: "you're not one of them, Steve. You're one of us..." God, that voice was seductive. I wanted to believe there was a place for me, someplace where I could be accepted for who and what I was. But I grew weary of being the only black person in a room. Or to again and again note that whites were baffled as to why blacks were angry or dysfunctional, when they came up with every rationalization in the book to avoid responsibility for their own shit.
Arrgh. I could cheerfully have strangled a few of them. Maybe a few dozen.
Obama has moved beyond his personal pain to a degree few people manage. If you think it's easy to move beyond injury, PLEASE point to the huge number of people who are finanically successful, romantically happy and physically fit all at the same time. Love to meet them. People assume there is more healing than there is because human beings lie to themselves about the damage they do to others, and routinely warp their reality maps so that they--whoever "they" are personally--come out on top. For whites? This manifests as "they should get over it: we would have." For blacks, this manifests as "White racism was more racist and brutal than Black would have been, given the same situation."
The less you can understand and empathize with where Reverend Wright is coming from, the greater the chance that, if you'd been born black, you'd be sitting in that congregation nodding and agreeing with him...or be Reverend Wright yourself.
##

"Steve's statement that he knows "thousands of Rev Wright's" even if he did not mean that all of these "thousands" are not ministers, seems to confirm this suspicion and is disturbing in this light.

And heartbreaking."

It should be. This is what it is to be human: both to carry those wounds, to fail to take responsibility for rising above one's own wounds, and to deny one's own complicity (or one's cultural complicity) in the wounds of others. And to fail to grasp that when people are hurt or fearful, their logical minds shut down, and they go straight for the lizard-brain template that says THE OTHER is responsible for your pain. There is always evidence that the OTHER is responsible for your pain. The lizard brain always wins. Your only prayer is to find a way to align your goals and values with it, so that there is not a conflict. It is NOT to be black, or white, or American, or whatever. The Lizard brain ALWAYS wins.
##
"Somebody in one of the post talked about blacks being asked to leave their African heritage behind. "
Asked? What heritage? IT WAS RIPPED AWAY FROM US. This is something I think it is almost impossible for many whites to grasp. Human beings without their culture are pretty much blank slates. What was written upon that was 300 year of institutionalized inferiority and terror. Followed by 100 years of Jim Crow and Segregation, and endless cultural reinforcements of negative stereotype. On top of this cess pool, we have had MAYBE fifty years of actually being American citizens. The first successful hour-long dramatic television show with a black star wasn't until about 1998. FOUR HUNDRED YEARS of negative programming, followed by many 50 years of real opportunity for progress. And you are surprised that many blacks are still limping and bleeding? Good Lord, its like a white person, aged 45, who was beaten and tortured for the first 40 years of his life. You would expect him to be a completely shattered human being. Taken to the sociological level, what's happening in Black America looks like a miracle to me. And the millions of whites who are "surprised" at the damage while oblivious to their own rampant obesity, divorce rates, and financial woes give me the willies.
##

"Why do they hate me? I/my family am/were against slavery and I have done everything in my power to reach out to help individuals as well as the community. Can't they see I'm different and things are changing?"

Which "they" are you talking about? Those who hate you (and I promise you they are vastly outnumbered by those who don't care about you one way or the other) are those who are consumed by fear. A small, but significant part of any community, and the numbers swell when that community has been damaged. Ever met a woman who was raped by her stepfather, and then abused by several boyfriends/husbands, who now trusts no men? Gee, I'm in favor of women's rights. I've done everything I can to reach out to women. Why does she hate me?
Same phenomonon, on the sociological as opposed to psychological level.
##

"Again, I do not believe that Obama embraces Wright's views. But this is a can of worms that is not going to go away anytime soon.

And I don't think anything Obama can say at this point will make it go away."

Nor should it go away. This isn't a popularity contest, with the award going to the one most likeable. America will elect the president it deserves, en masse. Now, I happen to believe that Obama would be a terrific president. People who don't grasp how extraordinary he is, what he has risen above, what he has achieved within himself to heal so many of his wounds...those who see the damage to blacks in general, wonder why they're angry...well, I honestly feel that, deep down, as I've said before, since they aren't seeing this as a manifestation of a human tendency to harbor fear, they must see this as a specific "black problem"--in other words, believe, deep down inside, that whites wouldn't react the same way. THIS IS EXACTLY THE SAME as blacks believing that, if the shoe were on the other foot, THEY wouldn't have been cruel slave masters and Southern bigots and compassionless Conservatives, or whatever. They are the same. If you don't understand, then understand you are looking into a mirror. Whites who understand? They are the mirror-images of the blacks who understand. And THOSE two groups are the only ones who need vote for Obama. (That is, if they think that, racial issues aside, he is the man for the job. There are plenty of good, decent people black and white, male and female, who will vote for HIllary or McCain). If there are not enough of those people to elect him, you know what? That's all right. America will get the President it deserves, that it has the vision and courage and intelligence to elect. I hope that we choose to elect whoever would legitimately be best. That person's identity I do not know. I have only my own opinions, warped by my perceptions. But there is always a dance between nominee and electorate. And it is NOT just a matter of "is the Candidate worthy?" It is also a matter of "Is the electorate worthy?" Everyone sorts that out differently. And everyone reading this probably has a different idea of who, or why, and how, X,Y, or Z would be best for America.

On one level, I don't care--The game has already changed, and for the better. As far as a black President, it will be this time, or the next, or the next. Just let a few more of those whites born before 1950 die off. And a few more of those blacks born before 1960. It'll all sort out. The rest of you? Shhhh. Back to sleep. Sorry. Didn't mean to wake the children.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

"'Somebody in one of the post talked about blacks being asked to leave their African heritage behind.'
"Asked? What heritage? IT WAS RIPPED AWAY FROM US. This is something I think it is almost impossible for many whites to grasp."

Sure they can grasp it, they just won't.

I once saw a white guy posting from Europe insist that "African-American" was a stupid term while "Irish-American" and "Italian-American" are OK.

He seemed to have no clue that while most blacks in Ireland do know if they're Senegalese-Irish or Nigerian-Irish or whichever most blacks in the U.S. *can't* get that specific because so many of their ancestors were ripped away from their families before they could learn that info. I'm not sure how much of the other posters' explanations sunk in. Meanwhile, people who grew up in the U.S. have even less of an excuse to not grasp it!

Lester Spence said...

"God Damn America" in greater context.

"Chickens coming home to roost in greater context.

Frank noted that perhaps a mea culpa from Pastor Wright would be enough to assuage fears, presumably of white voters. If Pastor Wright has to apologize for sermons like the ones above?

Steve is right in that America will get the President it deserves.

But the unfortunate part is that the minority will NOT deserve that President.

Anonymous said...

You said...I clearly remember a white Conservative friend saying: "you're not one of them, Steve. You're one of us..." God, that voice was seductive. I wanted to believe there was a place for me, someplace where I could be accepted for who and what I was. But I grew weary of being the only black person in a room. Or to again and again note that whites were baffled as to why blacks were angry or dysfunctional, when they came up with every rationalization in the book to avoid responsibility for their own shit.

I remember a similar conversation when I was a high school senior. I had been pretty well shunned by my black contemporaries in high school, and wasn't paid much mind by anyone else, until my Senior year. I had finally become physically & emotionally substantial enough to gain notice, & powerful (self-assured) enough to stand both for & by myself. I was invited out one Friday by a group of mainly white Varsity Football players, the same guys that had either completely ignored me or beaten me the 3 years prior.
I thought it might be a setup but was kinda hoping to get into a fight anyway, so I went & after they spent much of the night drinking, 3 or 4 of them guys walked up to me and said, "...you are really cool. You're not like the rest of y'all," and he ran down a list of black jocks. "You're smart. You talk real good. And you don't act like...," and he began a stereotyped pantomime of the blacks he'd just listed. "You're one of us. man! You can come out with us anytime!" And he said this to nodding heads and intoxicated 'Uh huh's' all around.

It was the last time I went anywhere with any of them.

Steven Barnes said...

The sad thing is that they meant it from the bottom of their drunken little hearts. Human beings are fascinating.

Mick Brady said...

Steve, you are obviously an intelligent, honest and empathetic person, but methinks you've sliced and diced this a bit too finely, and missed the most important point. Allow me to share with you my own experience of growing up in America as a "white" person.

Abandoned by my father as a child, my siblings and I watched in horror as my mother slowly slid into what was then called a "nervous breakdown". My brother and I had to pull the family together somehow, lest it become completely derailed, and the three of us get shipped off to the orphanage. It was not an auspicious beginning.

As a young man, after nearly a decade of self-destructive drug and alcohol abuse, I finally checked myself into rehab and began the long, slow climb to recovery. I spent nearly six months in a therapeutic community in the Catskills, not far from Manhattan, with some of the toughest, most damaged people you would ever care to meet; people of every race and creed, from every walk of life. There wasn't a secret sin or trauma we hadn't screamed over, or cried about together. We had become family.

The bottom line is this: it doesn' t matter what the history, the depth, or the nature of the trauma is; there is only one path to recovery: a long, hard and honest look at one's own sins, a brave and difficult effort to forgive those who have hurt you, and a willingness to go forward in that light; judging not lest we be judged, learning to love ourselves that we may be capable of loving others.

Anything less than that simply prolongs the festering of the wound, which can be fatal, not only for the wounded but for those around him. I can "understand" the reason why someone like the Reverend Wright might be angry, but I cannot respect him for nursing his wounds and dragging others into the same orbit of rage. As a Christian minister, he should be working as hard as he can to move himself and his flock in the opposite direction. All arguments against that, in the final analysis, amount to nothing more than excuses.

Lester Spence said...

"I can "understand" the reason why someone like the Reverend Wright might be angry, but I cannot respect him for nursing his wounds and dragging others into the same orbit of rage. As a Christian minister, he should be working as hard as he can to move himself and his flock in the opposite direction. All arguments against that, in the final analysis, amount to nothing more than excuses."

As an experiment, Mick, I want you to work under the assumption that everything that you've heard about Pastor Wright from television or the radio is wrong. Then get full copies of his sermons or at the very least take a look at some of the longer ones around on YouTube.
You can look at the ones I've linked above, or if you think they are biased try to find others.

Anonymous said...

"Whites who understand? They are the mirror-images of the blacks who understand. And THOSE two groups are the only ones who need vote for Obama."

Hey! What about the rest of the American voters who understand? For example, a Chinese-American voter who understands and who likes Obama's policies while he's at it? :)

Mick Brady said...

Thanks, Lester, I might just give that a shot.

I try to remain open to the possibility that I am wrong in any fair and well-reasoned debate, but whether words of a different tone spoken by Rev. Wright can ameliorate what is already in full public view, IMHO, is doubtful. Have to get back to you on that one.

Pagan Topologist said...

I have to admit that I often am amazed that black people I know are not far more angry than they seem to be. I have a (Jewish) friend who says that it is OK to have social classes, "so long as everyone has the opportunity to move up in his own class." Much as I like this guy, I think this view is really toxic, and feeling that any group of people is intrinsically inferior is just plain wrong. I personally did not find what Wright said (that I heard) offensive at all, but apparently lots of people did, both black and white.

Many of us who were part of the anti-war radical movement in the 1960's and early 1970's felt that there was not much to be proud of about our country. I once realized that the last time I felt really proud to be an American was July 20, 1969.

I have since come to realize, after spending a total of about 16 months in Europe over the years, that we do a lot of things well, compared to some other countries. Seeing the possibility of an Obama Presidency, I think maybe we are moving ever so slowly in a good direction. I just hope that this flap about racial issues does not derail his campaign. I say this, even though Obama was not my first choice. I decided to support him only after Edwards, Kucinich, and Richardson dropped out. I am hopeful, based on Obama's formidable political skills.

Of course, several women friends of mine accuse me of sexism for not supporting Hillary Clinton from the beginning.

Lester Spence said...

"I try to remain open to the possibility that I am wrong in any fair and well-reasoned debate, but whether words of a different tone spoken by Rev. Wright can ameliorate what is already in full public view, IMHO, is doubtful. Have to get back to you on that one."

I'm not suggesting he has a different tone. In fact I personally wouldn't WANT a different tone.

I am suggesting though that we DON'T have a full view of Wright. In all of the information you've come across since Wright's name became public knowledge, how much of his work have you heard/read outside of the soundbites?

Speaking for myself, I'd heard little to nothing.

Mick Brady said...

Good point, Professor. Sounds like I need to do a little more homework. :)

el viejo soldado said...

"Gentlemen Do Don't Read Other's Mail".


Sure they do Henry, and they also peek into peoples' Department of State passport files. But, not for the stated reasons as of late.

Smoke and mirrors Steven, smoke and mirrors. It should be obvious to you now.

As one steps through the looking glass and discovers that oft quoted "wilderness of mirrors" one sees the espionage palm of tradecraft performing tricks of political prestidigitation and sleights of hand.

Looking for political dirt? Oh my no. Sounds good and juicy for the masses. Means nothing. What I dare say most US citizens do not know, ones passport files holds little to nothing of value, political or otherwise, that couldn't be easily found out if one knew enough about their target already, read their autobiography if one was available, or simply asked them fairly innocent leading questions. This excludes their SSN and the trips abroad they may have taken, but that's not unreasonably difficult to ascertain, either, if you know where to look or know the right people that do or can.

What we have here with Obama is a classic move, well, generally reserved for "significant others". You diffuse or distract from one thing by drawing attention to another of seemingly more significance when in reality and comparatively so, it isn't. When you can't keep the good press off or away of your opponent, direct them to something else even if momentarily to regain your own momentum. In strict military terms, it's called a diversionary tactic.

The signs are there, read them. This seemingly invasive move wasn't prompted by the State Department, a member of the press made the initial gate opening query TO a State Department official who promptly admitted to it. Who tipped the press off? Obama's people? Suuuuure. It also provides a nice two-fer if you think imagery. On who's watch lies a nice visual hue for such lax security? Yep. Why not? This imagery has been used more than a few times already, right? Finally, we have a erroneous it-wuzzent-me set in imagery, too. Surely you don't think the vintage 1992 news clip of Bill Clinton that's making the rounds lambasting the Bush Sr.'s Administration State Department of HIS invasion of privacy was accidental or coincidental do you?

They're good ... but they're not as Klingon cloaked as they may think.

Anonymous said...

"Just let a few more of those whites born before 1950 die off. And a few more of those blacks born before 1960."

I got the impression that it'll depend less on certain people dying off than on certain people stepping up. What about when whites and blacks and others educated by white and black and other professors together in mixed faculties are the leading generation...? :)

"Of course, several women friends of mine accuse me of sexism for not supporting Hillary Clinton from the beginning."

WTF? I'm a feminist woman and I know there are plenty of non-sexist reasons to prefer Obama to Clinton!

Steven Barnes said...

I agree that Reverend Wright should lead by example. Im just saying that Ministers are human and, if wounded, bleed into their pulpits. That he serves a bleeding congregation. And that although Obama has largely healed his wounds, walking away doesn't help his community.

Mick Brady said...

Steve, a wounded man should not be ministering to others until he himself is healed. He is only making others' wounds deeper; hurting, not helping.

Barack, on the other hand, does not have nearly as much to be healed of, having had a fairly comfortable childhood, growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia.

Perhaps he was there primarily to get his degree in victimology?

Steven Barnes said...

Sorry, psychiatry, medicine and every other field I've seen is filled with wounded healers. From my point of view, 95% of the people I see seem to carry wounds that inhibit their ability to function as balanced, healthy people. Reverend Wright is probably FAR stronger than the average person (successful preachers tend to be quite strong) but the black community is sorely damaged, just beginning to really heal in the past twenty years. What you're suggesting by saying "only healed people should minister" would basically lead to no one ministering at all in most cases. A nice thought, but unrealistic.

Anonymous said...

Lester:
I listen to two sermon you provide links to. I heard litany of all the evils that have occurred on this continent since European whites landed on this continent. Some of his points have more merits than others, but that is besides the point. If I chose to go through a similar history of Christianity I could come up with a similar list of evils done by the church over the centuries. I wonder if some terrorist mad at the church for some act took out St. Peter's cathedral in Rome with a bomb if we would hear the Rev. saying god damn the Catholic church, god damn the pope. Any institution run buy human beings that last long enough is going to make mistakes. The problem for some of us is the lack of balance in the speech. If he had concluded with something along the lines of "America has also done great things, and has made strides toward mending some of its errors,but the job of fixing America is not done and we must see that it continues" then I would accepted the excerpts as being out of context and not being a true indication of the man.

Marty S

suzanne said...

mick brady___

steve's right
about wounded healers
at least in the therapeutic community
most psychiatrists
and I've known a passle of 'em,
given I worked in the healing profession for 20+ years,
many if not most enter it
to figure themselves out
and many many of them
are way less than "totally healed and balanced"
(especially among psychoanalysts
who offer a "treatment" procedure I'd never recommend to anyone)

Mick Brady said...

Steven and Suzanne: Point well taken. I agree that true "healing" is a rare occurrence at the receiving end of the psychiatric model, and that many in the therapeutic community are wounded, or "in recovery," as some might say.

But therein lies the distinction: a psychiatrist is unlikely to ever acknowledge his wounds, let alone expose them to the healing process. He may not even recognize them as wounds.

Whereas those immersed in the other model (the wounded healing the wounded, which is how I gained my recovery) remain in treatment for the rest of their lives, and pass the healing along to others as part of the process of remaining healthy.

I see Reverend Wright as making the mistake of using the psychiatric model: attempting to pour "healing" into others as a means of avoiding the stigma of being one of the wounded himself.

In addition, I would define a truly strong person as one who has the courage to open himself to others and allow that healing process to begin. There is probably no more difficult thing to do in this world. Many prefer to die rather than take that step.

suzanne said...

mick, lester, marty
for a clearer understanding
of the role of the black church
how it came to be on the plantations and how it was transmuted by the slaves
by the cultures they were divorced from in Africa
I suggest a great starting point
is W.E.B.DuBois'
Souls of Black Folks

I think what goes on in these churches
would be less disturbing to you
if you had this background

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I don't believe the Jeremiah Wright issue is so much about the moral stature of black people. It's about white fear that black people get a dominant position and/or take revenge.

"Your own" government is probably the most potentially dangerous thing in your life. It can kill you, and most of your fellow citizens will assume it was your fault.

Most people seem to think that the power of their government will only be used against the people they fear. Believing this may make it easier to get through the day, but it isn't reliably true.

I'm Jewish and I've spent a lot of years obsessing about the Holocaust. I've cut back on the obsessing, but I stand by my conclusions. If your government turns against you or your group, you're up against anything from a large loss of quality of life to a horrible death.

I don't think it's reasonable to invoke those fears in re Obama and Wright, though. We've had a number of black mayors in the US, and I haven't heard about them targeting whites. What is more remarkable is that there's been very little in the way of government attacks on whites in Africa.

I assume there's nothing bigoted against whites in Obama's actual record, or we would certainly have heard about it by now. Nor is there any reason to think he'd have enough clout as president to put anti-white policies into effect.

I still support Obama. His record (which I consider much more important than his taste in preachers) is excellent on civil liberties.

suzanne said...

nancy said:
I don't believe the Jeremiah Wright issue is so much about the moral stature of black people. It's about white fear that black people get a dominant position and/or take revenge.

of course Obama as president
given the separation of powers
and the fact that Congress and
the Supreme Court are not by any stretch of the imagination
Black
would pretty much preclude
this happening
even if it were part of a plan.

on another point:
the estimates of number of blacks who died
in the Middle Passage
and on the plantations is usually given as between 40 and 60 million

numbers like a Holocaust to me!

and another point:

I wish all the presidential candidates
would speak up about how
they would roll-back
Bush's trampling of the Constitution
e.g., habeus corpus;
and those fucking late Friday Night signing statements;
Patriot Act malarkey/wiretapping citizens, etcetera
how and when would they get gocvernment back in line with the Constitutution and the three co-equal branches of government

Anonymous said...

Referring to the 6 million Jews killed in the holocaust was not meant as one oneupmanship. It was meant to demonstrate that a lot of people have heritages that can justify their being angry at somebody. Most of the immigrants who came to America were fleeing something including those that came hear on the Mayflower. It is important to remember the errors of the past or we are doomed to repeat them, but what I look for in those who lead is that use the lessons of the past to formulate a positive plan for moving ahead while avoiding those errors.
Oh and I'm not saying Obama doesn't have such plans. My comments reflect my negative reaction to those portions of Rev. Wright's sermons which I have heard.

Marty S

Josh Jasper said...

Can I just say how annoying it is to hear people imply that one or two sermons where Wright was justifiably angry, if possibly deluded about AIDS represent the entirety of his career

The man spent decades helping his community, lifting people up, healing wounds, and preaching self empowerment. No one is focusing on that. Honestly, he's probably done more good for real people in his community than almost anyone commenting here. Does no one see that?

And they have the temerity to say that what he really needs to do is apologize, and they might feel better about him? Less scared by him?

This makes me mad.

Dan Gambiera said...

In which column of the ledger do you put the vast majority slaves? Until late in the game the majority of those who made the Middle Passage were stolen and sold by other Africans who knew that their victims would be shoveled into the slavers' ships.

Brother OMi said...

folks needs to listen to what mike huckabee said on MSNBC... pretty much he quoted Bulfinch.

i wish that folks would just do the math and learn the history of the United states. we really learn an antiseptic view of it in school.

learn about the native americans and genocide, learn about slavery. it's important to learn and understand. then let's come back to the table and discuss race relations.

Brother OMi said...

also
United Church of Christ is a denomination that is 90% white. Wright is one of the first ministers who spoke against homophobia and is a very well known person throughout the church (Black and white). not to mention a former Marine. don't let a few sound bytes change the debate.

Anonymous said...

Brother Omi:
I listened to Huckabee's interview. Nowhere did I here him say

i wish that folks would just do the math and learn the history of the United states. we really learn an antiseptic view of it in school.

I heard him say:
We should understand his anger.
I heard him say:
We should cut him some slack.
I heard him say you can't judge the candidate by everyone around him.
and
I heard him say I can't defend the comments he made.

This very different from your interpretation of Huckabee's interview.

Also so what if 90% of the United Church of Christ is white. There are over 5000 local congregations in the U.S. am I to assume a white person in Florida who happens to belong to the United Church of Christ automatically endorses a statement made by a pastor in Chicago.
As for other sermons and good works and these just being sound bites, point me to one speech or sermon by Rev. Wright that has the tone of the speech at this link
http://www.juntosociety.com/hist_speeches/mlkihad.html

and I'll concede your point.

Marty S

Josh Jasper said...

More conservative "mainstream" bloggers talk about race

On the other hand, I am sick to death of black people as a group. The truth. That is part of the conversation Obama is asking for, isn't it? I live in an eastern state almost exactly on the fabled Mason-Dixon line. Every day I see young black males wearing tee shirts down to their knees -- and jeans belted just above their knees. I'm an old guy. I want to smack them. All of them. They are egregious stereotypes. It's impossible not to think the unthinkable N-Word when they roll up beside you at a stoplight in their trashed old Hondas with 19-inch spinner wheels and rap recordings that shake the foundations of the buildings. . . .

Here's the dirty secret all of us know and no one will admit to. There ARE niggers. Black people know it. White people know it. And only black people are allowed to notice and pronounce the truth of it. Which would be fine. Except that black people are not a community but a political party. They can squabble with each other in caucus but they absolutely refuse to speak the truth in public. And this is the single biggest obstacle to healing the racial divide in this country.


This was from the "Instapunk" blog.

Josh Jasper said...

And of all people, Andrew Sullivan provides the all text of Wright's speech post 9-11

Ok, so this is what I came away with after reading it. Wright recognizes that the September 11, 2000 attacks are a perpetual cycle of hatred for atrocities that the US is a part of. He points to Psalm 137 as an example of that anger in God's chosen people, as gloriied in the Bible

And then he asks for us to step back form that violence. All of us. Not just the Palestinians, blacks, or whites, all of us.

He recognizes that anger, speaks it in himself, and moves to purge it without ignoring it, but without violence.

Marty S's condemnation is that he's not Marin Luther King Jr.

Honestly, Wrights acknowledgment of the driving anger, and cycle of violence that exists even in the Bible, is something that I can understand and act according to even better than I can MLK Jr's pacifism. Finally, here's someone who tells me he knows what the rage is like, points me at an example of it in the Bible, and says, "We can't be like that anymore, but I understand your feelings".

We should all be so lucky to have someone like Rev. Wright, for all his flaws, as part of out lives.

Here's a quote from that speech:

Blessed are they who dash your baby’s brains against a rock. And that, my beloved, is a dangerous place to be, yet that is where the people of faith are in the 551BC, and that is where far too many people of faith are in 2001 AD. We have moved from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents. We want revenge, we want paybacks, and we don't care who gets hurt in the process.

He wanted us to be careful that, in out press for revenge, we didn't hurt innocents.

Jesus wept. What is wrong with you people who're condemning this man.? You should all be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

" Every day I see young black males wearing tee shirts down to their knees -- and jeans belted just above their knees. I'm an old guy. I want to smack them. All of them. They are egregious stereotypes. It's impossible not to think the unthinkable N-Word when they roll up beside you at a stoplight in their trashed old Hondas with 19-inch spinner wheels and rap recordings that shake the foundations of the buildings. . . ."

WTF? What about the many young black men who don't do that and the many young white men who do (well, while wearing more counterfeit Burberry check, but still)?

Josh Jasper said...


WTF? What about the many young black men who don't do that and the many young white men who do (well, while wearing more counterfeit Burberry check, but still)?/


Keep in mind that that wasn't me, it was a quote.

What about the ones who do? Really, what's the problem with them? I don't care what people are wearing. Yes, it's different. So what? It's also loud, and provocative, and says "you must pay attention to me, because I'm different". It gets them noticed, not ignored. It displays boldness. That's important to them. Let them have that.

Anonymous said...

"Keep in mind that that wasn't me, it was a quote."

Yeah, I was just thinking of how stupid the one you quoted was being in that quote.

Anonymous said...

One person looks at a glass and sees it as half full and the other see it as half empty. Neither is right or wrong they just have a different view. So one person looks at America's history and sees the evil that America has done and another looks at America's history and sees the good America has done. Neither is entirely wrong they just view the world and America differently. Each is entitled to their point of view.
The issue in this case is not whether, Rev. Wright is right or wrong about America, it is not whether he is a good man who has done good works during his career.In fact the issue is not about Rev. Wright at all. The issue is that the "sound bites" tell us something about the world view of the reverend, and the roar of approval, at this condemnation of America tells us something about the world view of the congregation. That a man running for president has been a member of a congregation with this world view for twenty years is information that voters in a presidential campaign are entitled to when making up their mind. This information will be viewed as a plus by those with the same world view and a minus by those with different world view. Depending upon the importance of this issue versus other issues to a particular voter it will or will not sway their vote. So my real point is that in country where those in power are elected by the people, the media is not merely entitled to make the voters aware of facts that may bear on their decision it is the media's duty to do so and as long as these facts are true and not made up they should not be criticized for making them public.

Marty S

suzanne said...

sound. Bites!

I think sound bites
the extraction of a few seconds
from a long work
are basically dishonest

the chickens coming home to roost
a perfect example
Wright was quoted a white man,
a diplomat, fer cryin' out loud

and that almost mandatory line
"god bless america"
makes me sick
why should any god
bless america over
every other country
given that we are
supposedly
all "god's children"

just one of my major beefs
with organized religion
and the monotheistic patriarchal ones in particular

from the top down most of them
work on the principle of exclusion

oother believers aren't equal
women aren't equal

I wish people would keep
their religious views
where they belong:
to themselves
and between themselves
and their god

Anonymous said...

Suzanne: I am not sure where in "God Bless America" is the implication that we want him to bless us over other nations. If I ask God to bless my children and keep them safe does it mean I want harm to come to other people's children. Take the song God Bless America, it asks for two things, for God to bless America and for God to stand beside us and guide us. Asking for guidance implies we recognize we can go astray and need help in not doing so.

Marty S

suzanne said...

Marty___

when Bush uses it
I have no doubt
he means us
and only who BUsh says s god should

you and I will never agree
about the god business;
the founders on the country
and writers of the Constitution
for good reason
thought religion ought to be left out
of the governing of the country
I agree with them

what after all
does "bless me" mean
when addressed to a
hypothetical god?

by our human acts
toward each other
and the earth
and her occupants
is how we will be either
be nourished and nurtured
and how we
will advance
and be sustained
or not

Lynn said...

-- "Everyone? According to whom?" --

I apologize for not being more clear. What I meant was that back in the 70's the general vibe I got from the progressive elements of society was that "colorblindness" was the proper goal for society. Not to literally not notice race, which of course is impossible, but that race should make no more difference than height or hair color, that having ancestors from Africa should be no more of an issue than having ancestors from Norway. And, again, please understand I'm not saying that this has ever been the way it was, only that it seemed to me that this was considered the desirable goal.

Lynn said...

I suppose I should also add that I was a teenager for most of the 70's so what did I know anyway. The things we learn as kids stick with us for a long time though.

Anonymous said...

Suzanne:
Actually on the subject of God and government we are in complete agreement. God should be kept out of government and out of our schools. Nothing gets my dander up more than the idea of "Intelligent Design" being taught in the schools as a legitimate alternative to evolution. I am right of center, but dislike the extreme right wing as much as you do. Also when somebody sneezes, I say God bless you, because I was taught as child it was polite not because I really expect God to do anything. When I say God Bless America, I personally am not praying to God. I am merely affirming my love for the country and my hope that things will go well for my country.
On the subject of George Bush my usual evaluation of his presidency is we elected a Bush and got a bush league presidency.


Marty S

suzanne said...

yes Marty
on those points
governement and school

we are in agreement
and as to Buxch being bush league
unfortunatgely he has been much more dangerous than bush league anything
has ever been

Dan Moran said...

Steve, you really think 95% of us are damaged in some meaningful way? I don't doubt it's 95% of creative people -- creative people are fucked up, by and large; stress and trauma is IMO half of what activates that creativity gene in the first place, IMO.

But among just-average-people, I doubt it's that high. 50/50, maybe -- most of the people I know outside of the arts are really just regular folk, doing their work and hanging out with their friends, playing with their kids, without meaningful drama except when external drama happens to them.

Lester Spence said...

Marty so what are we to think of pastors who would make statements like the following:

"God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war. . . . And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation. But God has a way of even putting nations in their place."

God's predicted response in God's own words?

"And if you don't stop your reckless course, I'll rise up and break the backbone of your power."

Is this in the same general category to you as Wright's comments?

Anonymous said...

Okay Lester you got me. So King also made speeches I wouldn't agree with. The "I had a dream speech" was one of hope and a vision of America that was in alignment with mine. While I don't deny America has done things I am not proud of overall as compared to other nations I think we stack up well and I am proud of this country. That there is still so much rage among blacks is evidence enough that in terms of race relations we are not yet where we should be as a nation. But as a person who tends to see glasses as half full I am also encouraged by things that I see that indicate to methat we have made strides in the right direction. As I have indicated before my grandsons go to an expensive private school($35000 a year) yet almost a quarter of the fourth grader's class is black. The five black kids in his class probably exceeds the total number of blacks in all grades in the public school in which I attended fourth grade. In some ways I could actually understand anger such as Rev. Wrights more from a young man than from Rev. Wright, because I would think the Rev. would be able to better compare where we were in his youth and would better be able to appreciate the progress we have made.

Marty S

Josh Jasper said...

Marty - So my real point is that in country where those in power are elected by the people, the media is not merely entitled to make the voters aware of facts that may bear on their decision it is the media's duty to do so and as long as these facts are true and not made up they should not be criticized for making them public.

Right, and the way that the media formats this information can *NEVER* be accused of having a bias, right?

I mean, it's not like the media took clips of the most incendiary things Wright said, and then surrounded them with speculation, rumor, and suggestion that he was some sort of separatist supremacist nutcase.

Oh, no, wait, that's *exactly* what they did.

Tell me again how this helps the public discourse.

Anonymous said...

Josh:
you are correct the media is biased. However, different parts of the media are differently biased, so we listen to a diversity of opinion,in my case CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. We listen to Bill O'Reilly and we listen to Chris Mathews and we look for discrepancies and try tear away the bias and arrive at the truth. The alternative would be to bar airing of any information about the candidates by the media and have the voters make decisions in the dark.

Marty S

suzanne said...

how any rational person
can call Fox News
a "News" Channel
beats me

Josh Jasper said...

Marty, all of the networks took Rev. Wrights words out of context.

This isn't a liberal/conservative issue. It's a race issue. There are liberals out there with faulty ideas on race just like there are conservatives.

Anonymous said...

Josh:
Actually CNN on weekend report this Sunday played what they said was the whole sermon in order to put the Reverends comments in context. I'm not convinced it was really the whole sermon, but it was at least a large portion. The segment gave me a chuckle because of their subtle approach to biasing it. First they had someone one with a negative opinion of the sound bites. Then they played the sermon then they had the person who was a proponent of the reverend talk about how in the context of this whole sermon the reverends remarks could be seen as not so outrageous. Of course the opponent never got to comment on the whole sermon at all.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

Marty,

"In some ways I could actually understand anger such as Rev. Wrights more from a young man than from Rev. Wright, because I would think the Rev. would be able to better compare where we were in his youth and would better be able to appreciate the progress we have made."

Come on, Marty. This isn't how people -- any people -- work. Who's angrier about homelessness -- someone who's met homeless people, or someone who's been homeless? Who's angrier about being the existence of muggers, someone who's heard about mugging, or someone who got mugged?

Young Jews should be angrier about the Holocaust than the people who lived through it, apparently ...

Anonymous said...

Dan: I don't think your comparisons are apt. My premise was that the situation of blacks in America has improved greatly during the course of Rev. Wright's life, but is still clearly not what we would like it to be. Therefore a young black man who experiences the current difficulties would be angry because of those difficulties, but one who has experienced the far worse conditions of 50 years ago might have an appreciation for the progress we have made. The comparison I would make is between two individuals who have lasix surgery to correct their vision. One starts with 20/400- vision and is legally blind the other person 20/100 vision. At the end of the surgery they both end up with 20/40. The person who started with 20/100 vision and was led to expect 20/20 vision might be angry at the surgeon and feel he did a poor job, while the person who started out legally blind might be so thrilled by the vast improvement that he would be pumping the surgeon's hand.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

Should young Jews be angrier about the holocaust than those who lived through it and lost their parents, siblings, children?

Frank said...

Dan Moran

Who's angrier about homelessness -- someone who's met homeless people, or someone who's been homeless?

Actually, it turns out that Rev Wright did not grow up in the oppressed South. He grew up in Middle Class Philadelphia "in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. This is a lovely neighborhood to this day. Moreover, Rev. Wright's father was a prominent pastor and his mother was a teacher and later vice-principal and disciplinarian of the Philadelphia High School for Girls, also a distinguished academic high school", and chose to go to a predominantly White school "the second oldest public high school in the country, which attracts the most serious academic students in the city. The school then was about 80% Jewish and 95% white. The African-American students, like all the others, were there on merit. Generally speaking, we came from lower/middle class backgrounds."

And if you think back, it is usually someone who has "met a homeless person" who is angrier than the homeless, to use your metaphor.

During the 60's most of the protesters were privileged middle to upper class folks. Believe me, I know.

The 9-11 attackers were all the sons of privilege.

Even the Communist Revolution was instigated not by the poor and oppressed, but by the University educated children of privilege.

It's just the way things are.

Anonymous said...

I am not angry at the holocaust at all. Who should I be angry at? Most Germans alive today were either not born or too young to have participated. The holocaust for me is a symbol of the way Jews have been treated in the past and causes me to worry about whether it could happen again. I know there are still people out there who hate Jews, I have met them. I have been discriminated against by them. This makes me sad more than angry and my treatment by most people I meet leads to my being believe that the majority of people in this country don't hate Jews.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

Frank, you're discussing competence, not anger. Sure, middle and upper class people are likelier to be successful terrorists, or revolutionaries (to the degree those things are different), than are the poor and ill-educated. Nothing new there.

I was homeless twice as a teenager; that wasn't a chance comparison -- lived in a park once, a storage shed another occasion.

As an adult I've worked with homeless people, and it's true that there are plenty of homeless people who aren't angry -- you can't help those people. They've sunk so far into despair and mental illness that they can't summon anger any longer.

The ones who are capable of anger, there's a chance you can salvage them.

I don't mean to compare homelessness to a great tragedy like the holocaust or slavery or anything -- they're different orders of problem. But I promise ... I never met anyone as pissed off about it as me, who hadn't been homeless him/her-self. The idea that my kids, who've led privileged lives in most ways, are going to be angrier over the existence of homelessness than me, is simply ludicrous to me.

Dan Moran said...

Oh, and I never wondered for a second where Wright grew up. Don't think it matters, either. I know when he grew up.

Anonymous said...

Dan: I can't imagine a white individual being angrier about racial discrimination than black a black individual who has experienced it. What I can imagine is black individual who grew up when discrimination was worse than it is today take the positive view that while he may still be angry we have not come further that the change he has seen bodes well for the future. That is some people who grew up with the same background will see the glass as half full and some will see it as half empty. From the words of Reverend Wright that I have heard so far I see him as a half empty person. I would expect a reverend with the half full view to give a sermon more along the lines of "We have made much progress, but we have far to go. We cannot relax, we must push for full equality" etc. etc. Maybe Reverend Wright has given sermons noting the progress we have made with positive nod to the country for setting its foot on the right path and I just haven't heard these words. Until someone points me to such statements I will regard him as a half empty person. As a person who in general tends to see glasses as half full I will in general not be on the same page as people such as Reverend Wright. The really great thing about America in my view is that he is entitled not just to have his opinion, but to voice it and if I have a different opinion I am entitled to voice it. When we denigrate people who voice opinions opposite ours, when we say they shouldn't be allowed to voice these opinions we strike at the heart of this country. I may not agree with Reverend Wright, but I am not angry with him for having those opinions that differ from mine and certainly defend his right to voice those opinions.

Marty S

Pagan Topologist said...

Marty, I have to differ. I am white, and as far as I can tell, I am angrier about race discrimination than many black people I know. I have quite a few black people in my intimate circle of associates. Of course, maybe it is just adrenal exhaustion; since they surely see it more constantly than I do. It is impossible to stay angry all the time.

David Bellamy

Josh Jasper said...

Dan: More to a point, he's a community leader and a social worker, which means he gets to deal, on a daily basis, with issues of racial justice and injustice for an entire community. No, he wasn't raised poor, but he certainly has more one-on-one experience with them than a hell of a lot of people, and in the role of a protector and caregiver.

My limited work in community outreach for the GLBT community left me absolutely livid at how some parents of GLBT teens treated their kids.

Of course some people will chose any opportunity to try and prove Wright is some sort of race hustler, dangerous militant, and all around bad guy. Could be any number of motivations for wanting to do that, and I don't think many of them have any basis in trying to "protect" America from purportedly horrible people like Wright.

Josh Jasper said...

What I can imagine is black individual who grew up when discrimination was worse than it is today take the positive view that while he may still be angry we have not come further that the change he has seen bodes well for the future. That is some people who grew up with the same background will see the glass as half full and some will see it as half empty. From the words of Reverend Wright that I have heard so far I see him as a half empty person.

I came away with the exact opposite impression. His ministry, among other things, contributed deeply to the life and career of Barak Obama, who's message is hope, change, unity, and an honest conversation about race with respect to all sides.

HE also ministered to HIV positive homeless.

He also was one of the first black ministers to condemn the way that black churches treat GLBT People.

He's been involved in community empowerment programs designed to foster a sense of reinvestment, and not flight by middle class and rich black people who rise out of poverty. he asks them to stay on as community members and help others out.

He served his country as a volunteer soldier in the Marines and navy.

He counseled substance abusers.

So, with all of this in mind, you decide to weigh his life against a few sound bytes and speeches? He's not positive or upbeat enough for you? Not *every* speech is about peace, kumbaya and holding hands and forgiveness?

I would expect a reverend with the half full view to give a sermon more along the lines of "We have made much progress, but we have far to go. We cannot relax, we must push for full equality"

He made those speeches. You missed them and decided to focus on the one you didn't like.

The really great thing about America in my view is that he is entitled not just to have his opinion, but to voice it and if I have a different opinion I am entitled to voice it.

The thing is, Marty, your opinion is based on faulty assumptions.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

About anger: I think anger level can be affected by how much you know about the whole situation. Hearing about a lot of injustice happening to large numbers of people can be more infuriating than one lifetime's worth of moderate injustice.

Last I heard, the news stories about Wright aren't having much effect on how people feel about Obama. I'm pleased to see that Americans realize Obama is the one who's running, not Wright.

And I suspect religious people have a better grasp on the idea that you don't necessarily agree with everything your preacher says.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting real skeptical about the few sound bites argument. When I went to TUCC.org a couple of days ago to try and get a better feel for the truth I tried the link to the church bulletin. The link wouldn't work. I thought it was either because I was using Foxfire or my security software. Now I'm reading that nobody can get the link because the bulletins have been removed and that those who got them before they were removed found plenty of evidence that the sound bites were not a one time thing that but reflect the reverend's true beliefs.

Marty S

Frank said...

Marty S

I reprinted some of his material in the "Obama's Reverend Wright" thread.

Here is the quote I used and the direct link to the newsletter still works.

In his paper "The Message" from 2006 he wrote

I have been teaching graduate school (since 1975), I have tried to get my students to understand that one of the tragedies about the whole “integration era” was that African Americans did not understand what integration meant. Integration means the coming together of equals to the table.

Whites, in a culture of white supremacy, however, did not view us as equals and still do not view us as equals; so nothing from our Black or African experience was ever allowed at the table of “integration,” much less invited or asked to be brought to the table.

Looking back, I saw very early on that many African Americans meant assimilation and acculturation when they used the word “integration.” To integrate, however, does not mean to assimilate or to acculturate!

So what does that mean: "Whites"? All whites?

I don't know. Perhaps that's not racist. What I do know is that when I have gone to church I have never heard the preacher say "Blacks, in a culture of Black Depravity do not view us and still do not view us as equals, they view us as victims; as prey."

That would simply be shocking. And if I ever went to Reverend Wright's church and heard these things, I would be feeling a bit uncomfortable: you know, out of place; not welcome.

Frank said...

To be clear (because I forgot the italics) these are the words of Wright

I have been teaching graduate school (since 1975), I have tried to get my students to understand that one of the tragedies about the whole “integration era” was that African Americans did not understand what integration meant. Integration means the coming together of equals to the table.

Whites, in a culture of white supremacy, however, did not view us as equals and still do not view us as equals; so nothing from our Black or African experience was ever allowed at the table of “integration,” much less invited or asked to be brought to the table.

Looking back, I saw very early on that many African Americans meant assimilation and acculturation when they used the word “integration.” To integrate, however, does not mean to assimilate or to acculturate!

Anonymous said...

Frank: I think in the portion of his writing you just quoted the reverend was at least half right. I always liked the view of America as a melting pot not a stew. To have a melting pot people have to assimilate, but the melting pot also implies that each group brings some its culture to the pot which the rest of us begin to assimilate. With the exception of black music I can't think of much that represents black/African culture that has become part of American culture.

Marty S

Frank said...

Marty S

With the exception of black music I can't think of much that represents black/African culture that has become part of American culture.

Yikes! What a way to trivialize. I'm not being critical, I just think that Black contribution to American music is a huge cultural thing. Blues and Jazz both originate in black culture. In fact these two forms of music, and their derivatives R&B and Rock & Roll are considered by the world to be uniquely American forms of music.

Now, I think that each culture contributes something to America. Italians (my heritage) hasn't contributed much to American music, but we did contribute derivative forms of food that are considered American such as Pizza (and we also contributed Mob Movies; OK and the Mob)

But the contribution of these forms of music are huge, in my mind. I can not think of a more important contribution to American culture.

Well, except, maybe, baseball, which is not more important but perhaps of equal importance.

I know I thank God every single day for Jazz, Blues, Gospel and R&B.

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online ways get high tramadol - tramadol ingredients medication