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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.

For additional reading on how much the "30 seconds per sermon" approach sucks, go here.  For more videos of Rev. Wright, go here.

(Cross-posted at Reflections on faith, politics and society)

Originally posted to obietom on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 10:30 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If there is a just God in heaven... (8+ / 0-)

    This must make him very angry.  Some people better be on the look out for lightning bolts.

  •  Yes! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Great diary, thanks. Knew much of this info, but this puts it very concisely.

  •  The more I see (4+ / 0-)

    of Rev. Wright, and the more I read his sermons, the more I like him. He says some strong stuff, but it's pretty mainstream. And this is funny — and good!

  •  Enough (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Doesn't matter if he himself cured cancer, the fact of the matter is there are people who question Obama for not calling him out on the "god damn America" comment and there are plenty in the gay community upset over his AIDS comments. Pushing this guy more is just going to harm him more. We need to stop trying to defend Wright and start defending Obama, the narrative is written, move on.

    •  What I hear from this comment (4+ / 0-)

      is that the truth should be submissive to the whims of those who likely would never have supported Obama in the first place.  Defending the truth about Rev. Wright is not an attack on Obama, but a further hosing-down of this particular straw man

      Sorry, let the truth shine brightly.  I will not stand silently in response to the character assassination of this good man.

      P.S.  Maybe when those of us on the left quit tip-toeing around what we really believe, we'll win a few more hearts and minds than by simply appeasing and putting out fires.

      •  I could sit here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jandress, TekJansen

        and argue similarly that Don Imus was a good man who was assassinated because of dumb things he said...and I would be trolled.

        Wright isn't the first person to be brought down because of dumb comments.

        •  That's a false analogy. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Wright's comments were not dumb comments on a national radio show.  They were fragments from many sermons that were clipped, chopped, and strung together for the purpose of creating a false argument against Obama.

          I think that if you actually were to watch the videos in context, you might come away seeing the difference between Don Imus - who brought himself down - and Rev. Wright - who was targeted and viciously assaulted by the media.

          •  I've watched the videos (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and I'm still bothered by the "Government used AIDS to get rid of black people" comments. As someone who knows WHITE PEOPLE who died of AIDS, that's cutting it close to downright offensive to me.

            I don't see any difference...both Imus and Wright brought themselves down by making comments that are offensive.

            I'm not going to defend this guy...sorry. Accusing the American government of trying to instigate genocide on it's own people without any proof or evidence is pretty pathetic.

            •  Again...context is everything. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CocoaLove, sheddhead

              Check out what this white guy has to say regarding the idea that the government used AIDS against people of color:

              ...In American history, the haunting legacy of the government sponsored syphilis experiments on black men at Tuskeegee, the well documented facts of environmental racism that exposes black families to toxins at a higher rate than whites, and a history of disparities in the health care system for blacks all combine to make the 2005 survey results both shocking, and upon reflection, understandable.

              These are the facts and the context from which Rev. Jeremiah Wright spoke, as shocking as those facts are to many Americans, as difficult as his anger is to hear...

              Read the rest of Scott Swenson's article for additional information about how prevalent the view that the government created/propagated AIDS is - particularly among the black community.

              You may not agree with Wright's assertion, even given this context, but it's not like that notion was invented by Rev. Wright, as you imply.  Also, I have never heard him draw any kind of racial comparison about AIDS in which he claims that AIDS are worse for black folks than for white folks, so let's be clear as to what we're talking about.

    •  You may be right, but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and Obama may have had no choice but repudiate Wright's sermons, but that doesn't change the fact that Wright is dead-on correct.  I'm happy to have heard the entire sermons.  I am now an Atheist, so sermons don't have the same reverance for me that they used to, but these are sorrowful because they are true.  We have killed an awful lot of innocent people, babies, in the name of a white society and its hate.  There is much white America should take away from these sermons and the saddest part is that most of us won't.
      Now, let's expose the GOP's sermons, and associations with Rev. Moon and Hagee, before we drop this and move-on.

      "I am here because of Ashley." - Unknown Obama supporter.

      by rainmanjr on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 11:00:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please explain (0+ / 0-)

      there are plenty in the gay community upset over his AIDS comments

      Why would that upset anybody? Did you even listen to the sermon where that line comes from?

      •  From a friend of mine on the topic (0+ / 0-)

        Perhaps Rev. Wright needs to be reminded that the first people infected early on were gay men from California. I could make an even more compelling argument that it was the religious whacko government trying to rid the world of gays, but that would be disingenuous as the facts are the disease killed it's first victims in Congo in the 1950's...maybe it was Belgium's fault then? It's an audacity that he would take this disease, which has effected millions from different races, and try to corroborate some conspiracy that the white people were using it to get rid of black people. This man has no credibility.

        I have to say, I can see his point.

        •  He tries to make Black people fight against AIDS (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          You seem to want him to push the meme that AIDS is a gay disease.... That would be the most backwards and criminal thing he could do in his preaching...

          But perspective is lost when someone is bent on damning.

          Then again, reality has a well-known Obama bias.

          by magatte on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 11:29:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  One narrative has been written a new one is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gardenkitty, sly1171

      waiting to be.

      Not one defending Wright per se but one condemning the media for poor reporting, for attempting to influence the electoral process unfairly.  These extended clips show very clearly that they purposely lifted sections outside of their original context to put them in a far worse one.

      Certainly we can agree that people say some stupid things and should be held accountable for them.  But we should also be able to agree that they should not be held accountable for stupid things that they have NOT said; and in the case of these two Rev. Wright did not say what he is being characterized as saying.

      Want to beat him up for the AIDS bit?  Go right ahead, that is fair game.

      But these other two are most definitely NOT.

      And the Gay community are as a group bright enough to get that distinction.

      •  Well look (0+ / 0-)

        some people were put off by the God Damn America comment no matter how much you try to defend it. It's one thing to point out problems in our society, it's another thing to damn it to hell.

        And going back to Don Imus, I can argue the media treated him unfairly, making him out to be an old racist redneck white guy when he really isn't that bad.

        •  He didn't damn the society (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          If you look at the context of the speech, you can see clearly that he was specifically talking about a Government that puts its wants and desires not only above those of the people it's supposed to represent but of God himself.

          "God Damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and she is Supreme."

          That's a conditional statement and it does not condemn America to Hell. If you're familiar with your Bible you know that only God can do that. Rather it's a cry to God for justice and reconciliation. It's no different from when the prophets of Israel condemned Israel and prompted the rulers and/or the people to repent and once again follow God's will. If you read the full contexts of those scriptures you know that more often than not when God condemned Israel, Israel repented and God forgave them.

        •  You haven't listened to the entire thing have you (0+ / 0-)

          because if you had you would not be taking that tack.

          Because HE did not damn America.

          Yes the words were used, but the full context of it makes it clear that HE the person was not doing that.  

          So the thing that people are upset over NEVER TOOK PLACE, it is LIE, a purposeful abuse of journalistic power to make people upset.

          So it is not defending the statement, but attacking those that blew it out of proportion and context.

          And that is an entirely different thing and one more then worthy of being engaged in.

          But if you are silly enough to still believe that Wright said what the media said he did in the context they framed, when shown evidence that shows that to be a lie; then you have other issues.

  •  keep the pressure on... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    people are getting it.

    I've had people link to my blog post where I had posted these videos.

    When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

    by onanyes on Tue Mar 25, 2008 at 10:58:47 AM PDT

  •  I'm not holding my breath (0+ / 0-)

    waiting for the Corporate Media to give this any air time.  But thank you for your efforts here.

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