Mike Huckabee is getting some favorable play over at The Daily Kos because of his attempt to see the Rev. Wright with charitable eyes. He’s not eliciting much sympathy, however, from some conservative commentators--like Laura Ingraham--who takes the view that his remarks on Joe Scarborough’s show are something people of a younger generation cannot process. She sees it as a scolding that is not relevant to today’s world. Something that we might visit in a museum. "We’re so over [race] now," she said this morning. In a way, I think both are right.
I am no great fan of Mike Huckabee’s and I’ve never tried to hide the fact here, but I think his remarks about Wright represent the views of most thoughtful and decent people who witnessed (whether in person or in absentia) the horrors and injustice of a bygone era. Like Obama, they ask us to understand the anger. Dennis Miller expressed something similar recently when he said that when he looked at Wright he saw a grumpy old Marine who had been called the "N" word too many times. To be clear . . . Miller did not say that this excused his behavior nor--I think--did Huckabee.
Understanding and expressing sympathy for emotions such as anger is a helpful thing to do in our personal relationships. Between friends, family, and potential friends understanding and sympathizing with the root of someone’s anger can facilitate forgiveness, healing and stronger ties of union. But I am dubious about the necessity of doing this on a political or even a public level--particularly when the anger is not fresh. Put another way, I wouldn’t mind having a long one on one conversation with the Rev. Wright about his anger and the opinions he holds stemming from that anger. In such a context, I might even forgive him his anger--though I doubt I would in all things excuse or respect every opinion that was borne of it. On the other hand, I see no reason why we should elevate such sentiments to the level of a public discourse. Anger may be interesting and it’s a fair thing to note it, but it’s not always relevant. It becomes less and less relevant (as most fleeting things do) as it ages. In America, anger is not an inheritance. At least it shouldn’t be. This is why people like Ingraham (and me) who did not live through the Civil Rights movement look sometimes with amazement upon all the talk of race in this country. Folks who did live through it and are scarred by it (on either side of the line) are wrong to get indignant and say we’re naive because of it. From our point of view, the battle is more or less over and won. We have to wonder why, sometimes, you seem to want it to linger.