For two weeks now, the vast majority of media coverage surrounding Barack Obama's pastor, Rev. Wright, has been a straw man of epic proportions. After combing through countless sermons in order to isolate individual phrases that might be "shocking", the media has successfully constructed a false caricature of Rev. Wright - and we've been beaten over the head with it for the better part of two weeks.
Rev. Wright's comments seemed crazy. ("God damn America!") They seemed indefensible. (Following 9/11: "America's chickens have come home to roost.")
Then, only after the storm started to die down, Rev. Wright's comments actually appeared in context:
In Isaiah and elsewhere (how about Rome??), God does indeed curse the nation who puts herself ahead of God. The injection of context to this issue makes it immediately apparent that Rev. Wright has been unfairly demonized throughout this entire process. His words are not only justifiable in context, but dead-on. It's serious, well-founded theology - and it's a far cry from the ugly caricature of that we've been spoon-fed by the media for the last two weeks.
Now, let's turn to Rev. Wright's comments following 9/11. He was roundly criticized for saying that "America's chickens have come home to roost," which was the extent of the sound byte. Here's the full context (it's long, but it's glorious):
So let's get this straight: for two weeks now, the media has been claiming that Rev. Wright has "blamed America for 9/11," when in fact, Rev. Wright was quoting - in context - a white ambassador? And Rev. Wright gets two weeks of bad press for this???
Say it loud: the talking heads are not your friend!
The willingness of so many to accept the character assassination of Rev. Wright just underscores the need for all of us to think for ourselves during this election season, and not blindly accept ideas constructed from 30 second sound bytes.
(Cross-posted at Reflections on faith, politics and society)