Reverend Wright Not Obama’s Problem; Media Is.

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Much to my surprise, Reverend Wright even provided a reasonable explanation for his now infamous, “God damn America� statement. Bill Moyers showed the entire clip, not just the part repeated on television. In short, Wright was preaching about the downfalls of great civilizations throughout history, due to their moral collapse. His point was that God will not bless a government or country that commits atrocities against its own people and, or, other countries. He was saying that if we continue on the path we are on, God will not bless America, it will instead, damn America.

[Elections 2008: Our National Hypocrisy]


When Barack Obama’s former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright appeared on Bill Moyers Journal last week, it was a chance for him to respond to charges of preaching racist and anti-American sermons.


I can only imagine that as Reverend Wright looked for a venue to speak out against the perceptions being advanced by the main stream media about him, he chose Bill Moyers Journal not only because of what Mr. Moyers is, but because of what he isn’t. Mr. Moyers is an ordained minister and a former press secretary in Lyndon Johnson’s administration.


What he is not, is part of main stream media.


In fact, back in 2005 Moyers old show, Now With Bill Moyers, was the focus of an attack by the right-wing for what they described as “left wing bias.” Moyers was one of the few journalists that bothered to challenge the Bush administration’s assertions of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction in the build up to the invasion of Iraq. In short, Bill Moyers is a reasonable journalist that tries to examine all sides of an issue. He is not prone to sensationalism or “gotcha” tactics.


By now, everyone has seen the video of Reverend Wright’s sermon in which he exclaims “God damn America”. Predictably, the media used the occasion of Wright’s interview with Moyers to replay the video that had already been played and analyzed ad nauseam.


One of the biggest flaws with today’s television media is that they have decided to divest in true investigative reporting and invest in opinion and debate. The airwaves are full of pundits that all have agendas. Finding the facts related to any given issue becomes a huge challenge for the audience.


With regards to Reverend Wright’s sermons, all of the pundits started the conversation from the same flawed premise----that Reverend Wright’s comments were despicable.


Guest pundits whose agenda was to insulate Senator Barack Obama from Wright’s comments bashed the reverend. Hillary Clinton’s people saw Wright’s comments as an opportunity to attack Obama and bash Wright. The Republicans, well, they were being Republicans.


Once the media declares that you are a villain, there’s not much one can say to change their opinion. Reverend Wright had been universally labeled an extremist. Today’s media doesn’t see putting stories in their proper perspective and context as part of their responsibility. News broadcasts all seem to omit the same facts and include the same rhetoric, regardless of which channel. Pundits seek to increase their stardom by competing to see who can appear to be the most obnoxious.


With regard to the Reverend Wright story, the networks found pundits of all shapes, sizes and colors to express outrage at Wright. The networks love nothing more than finding Black pundits to confirm their perceptions when other Blacks are involved. This allows them to easily dismiss opposing views. What they’re really saying is, “The Black guy even says he’s offended by Wright’s comments.” (Without elaborating that “This is our Black guy.”)


That explains why the media’s review of Reverend Wright’s appearance on Moyers’ show featured a single clip of Wright responding to Moyers’ question about his reaction to some of the things Barack Obama said about him during Obama’s speech in Philadelphia.


Reverend Wright’s response was, “He's a politician, I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. Those are two different worlds.”


Even without the benefit of seeing the entire interview at the time, my reaction to the clip was that it seemed like a reasonable response to me. However, most of the mainstream media used Wright’s comments as some sort of slight directed at Barack Obama. I can personally witness that The Today Show, CNN and MSNBC had some form of “Reverend Wright Continues to be a Problem for Barack Obama” as their top story.


When I finally saw Bill Moyers’ interview of Reverend Wright in its entirety, my reaction was that anyone who saw this interview and still regarded Reverend Wright as un-American or racist was never going to be a Barack Obama supporter one way or the other.


Wright was insightful, intelligent and inspiring. It must have taken a tremendous effort on the part of whoever decides what the next day’s news will be to pick an excerpt out of that interview to use against Wright and Obama.


Much to my surprise, Reverend Wright even provided a reasonable explanation for his now infamous, “God damn America” statement. Bill Moyers showed the entire clip, not just the part repeated on television. In short, Wright was preaching about the downfalls of great civilizations throughout history, due to their moral collapse. His point was that God will not bless a government or country that commits atrocities against its own people and, or, other countries. He was saying that if we continue on the path we are on, God will not bless America, it will instead, damn America.


So what’s really behind all of the coverage of Reverend Wright? What better way to minimize Barack Obama’s appeal than to link him to a scary, radical Black man?


Last year I wrote an article in which I stated that I didn’t think a Black man named Barack Hussein Obama had a chance to be President of the United States. It wasn’t because of Obama. It was because of my belief that there are too many whites that would never support a Black president. Our country is still in denial of its racist past and present. To be fair, I don’t think Hilary Clinton has a “snowballs chance in hell” of becoming president either.


Even though Blacks are only 12% of the total U.S. population, fear of a Black reprisal has impacted policy in this country since the slaves were freed. That’s why it’s perfectly legitimate in the minds of some whites to compare the Nation of Islam with the KKK. While I don’t agree with all of their practices, I defy anyone to name a White person that was killed at the hands of the Nation of Islam. By contrast, countless Blacks were lynched, burned and beaten at the hands of Klansmen. All Blacks have to do is talk scary to be compared to Whites that murder.


Obama detractors understand this. All they have to do is create the appearance of Obama having relationships with perceived Black radicals to put an end to his candidacy. I believe that’s referred to as “playing the race card.”


Lastly, Id like to see Obama stand up to this whole Reverend Wright situation by asking Hillary Clinton what she thinks of the 8,000-members that attend Wright’s church? Does she believe they are ignorant, misinformed sheep? Did she not notice their acknowledgement of Reverend Wright’s words? Does she understand that there are millions of Black, former Clinton supporters across the country that agree with everything Wright said in his sermon?


If Obama really is interested in inclusion, perhaps he should stop acting embarrassed by Reverend Wright’s comments and challenge Hilary and the rest of the country not to reject Wright and his comments, but help bridge the gap between the folks that agree with Wright and folks that are scared of him.


Reverend Wright is not Obama’s problem. The media’s insistence on creating controversy to further their own individual and corporate agendas is what Obama is up against.


Black Star News columnist Stephens can be reached at

andre.w.stephens@hotmail.com


To comment, to subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to

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