Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Wright on...and on...and on

Here is the transcript of his National Press Club appearance this morning. You can read press accounts here, here, here, here, and here.

Here’s Rev. Wright’s defense of his 9-11 remarks:

You have said that the media have taken you out of context. Can you explain what you meant in a sermon shortly after 9/11 when you said the United States had brought the terrorist attacks on itself? Quote, "America’s chickens are coming home to roost."

REVEREND WRIGHT: Have you heard the whole sermon? Have you heard the whole sermon?

MODERATOR: I heard most of it.

REVEREND WRIGHT: No, no, the whole sermon, yes or no? No, you haven’t heard the whole sermon? That nullifies that question.

Well, let me try to respond in a non-bombastic way. If you heard the whole sermon, first of all, you heard that I was quoting the ambassador from Iraq. That’s number one.

But, number two, to quote the Bible, "Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatsoever you sow, that you also shall reap." Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic, divisive principles.

Stated simply, Rev. Wright believes that the U.S. engages in "terrorism." From his conversation with Bill Moyers, it seems that he believes that any time civilians are killed in time of war, it is terrorism. There’s apparently no difference in his mind between targeting civilians and what just war theorists call collateral damage. His reasons for perhaps holding this view may be expressed in his response to a question about his remarks about the U.S. government’s role in the spread of the AIDS virus:

MODERATOR: In your sermon, you said the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. So I ask you: Do you honestly believe your statement and those words?

REVEREND WRIGHT: Have you read Horowitz’s book, "Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola," whoever wrote that question? Have you read "Medical Apartheid"? You’ve read it?


REVEREND WRIGHT: No questions from the floor. I read different things. As I said to my members, if you haven’t read things, then you can’t -- based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything.

In fact, in fact, in fact, one of the -- one of the responses to what Saddam Hussein had in terms of biological warfare was a non- question, because all we had to do was check the sales records. We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people.

Let me repeat what Rev. Wright said: "I believe our government is capable of doing anything." We have, in other words, a terrorist government, which will, in its turn, provoke terrorist responses.

Oh, and in case you wondered about the distinguished medical authorities on whose work Rev. Wright bases his prophetic arguments, here’s the Wikipedia entry on Dr. Leonard Horowitz, written by an acolyte.

Update: Here’s a transcript of the NAACP "different is not deficient" speech. Am I different or deficient when I disagree with Rev. Wright’s "prophetic" portrait of America? And, while I’m at it, lots of people think that Rev. Wright’s obnoxious shenanigans will be difficult for Obama to overcome, though Jim Geraghty also thinks that Obama might save himself with an ultimate Sister Souljah moment. This isn’t it.

Discussions - 12 Comments

Saying that our government is "capable of doing anything" is actually rather ambiguous. Your jump to "in other words" is an overly ambitious interpretation. (I take it that there's also a categorical denial tucked in there, that the U.S. did not sell any weapons to Saddam's Iraq, in any shape or form? Nor has it ever sponsored terrorism in any shape or form?) To the extent that Wright intends that to mean that the government has only committed and can only commit acts of terror and barbarism I would part ways with Wright. That's some less-than-deep rhetoric, to be sure. But pretending that the U.S. government is incapable of grave injustices or outright atrocities (at least when the GOP is in charge) is the equally unhelpful flipside to believing that the U.S. government is constantly plotting and carrying them out.

The message I'm picking up from the right and conservatives is that our government is not capable of bestowing any benefits upon the American people that don't involve displays of police and military power and force (other than, perhaps, depending on the strain of conservative, various degrees of promotion of a state religion, language, and economic system). This is why government must be drowned in the bathtub or at least, brushed aside so the wondrous free marketplace can work its miracles/magic. To wit, the government is NOT capable of much of anything other than waging wars (on crime, drugs, terrorism), be they essential to our defense or not, be they adequately justified to and supported by the public they are alleged to be protecting, or not.

What's also becoming clear here at NLT is that "God damn America" is fully acceptable when a spiritual adviser to and embraced endorser of the GOP candidate says that God will damn America (and has done so) and "curse" selected cities if they are seen as supporting The Homosexuals. What Pastor John Hagee has said and recently reaffirmed about God's curse (and potential blessing!) in the form of Hurricane Katrina is really just a toned-down variant of Fred Phelps's absurdist freakshow beliefs. (Of course, Phelps's following is minuscule, but Hagee & his church, which clearly shares the same strains of hatred for gays - and America for tolerating them - as well as Catholics, is hardly a small-time player).

Why isn't Hagee's extremism being examined with a fine-tooth comb here at NLT? Why hasn't McCain unambiguously denounced Hagee and rejected his endorsement? (Aren't there at least some Catholics here at NLT who are bothered by McCain seeking out and accepting this endorsement?)

And just so there's no misperception that I'm simplistically saying Wright's version of God is preferable to Hagee's version of God, I'd like to be clear that I wish we had a situation where candidates did not feel compelled to be Christians (of whatever variety), or theists of any stripe, in order to feel (probably rightly) that they could be serious contenders for POTUS - or at least, that they feel they have to make grotesque (and, more often than not, laughably unbelievable) public displays of their "deep and abiding faith" rather than just holding their personal religious beliefs deep in their heart and getting on with national and international issues of immediate significance.

Wright is the key to the soul of Barack Hussein Obama, and his wife too.

As for Hagee, he isn't a player in this drama. Hagee stands within a very long tradition of Protestants ripping and tearing into the Roman Catholic Church. There's nothing strange in that, nothing novel, nothing unique. Protestants "protest," without that ongoing "protesting," whither Protestantism. That's why Protestant Preachers frequently dwell on lurid black legends about the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the Spanish Inquisition, {which Monty Python used as a spoof to such good effect}.

That being the case, Hagee then represents something of a mainstream view within Protestantism, albeit one increasingly dated.

Hagee then doesn't represent the future of American Protestantism; his views are already on the way out the door. And most of his congregants secretly know as much.

Wright however is cutting edge. His views could easily become the wave of the future within Black America, which is why Barack Hussein Obama refused to denounce him. The troubling nexus between Black liberation theology, Black supremacism and islam is something that we're going to have occasion to notice more and more as the years unfold. Which explains why Obama equated denouncing Wright to denouncing the entirety of the Black community.

Such a comment was WHOLLY outrageous, but he made them, as he went on to brazenly lecture America on racism.

The only thing left for the rest of America is to ask what such comments, Wright's and Obama's tell us about the state of Black America. Recall too that Donna Brazille said that as outrageous as Wright's comments were, they were mild compared to many another preacher in Black America. So as nauseating and revolting as Wright is, he's mild. Just think about that one for a moment, and be mindful that Donna Brazille is in a position to know what's going on out there, as she's had occasion to travel this country finding additional voters for the Democrat party.

So then the question becomes: "What did the Democrats know, and when did they know it." How long has the Democrat party been aware of the pathologies swirling through Black America, {not all Black Americans subscribe to this poison of course, so note that caveat...} and how long then have the Democrats planned on opportunizing upon those pathologies and conspiracy theories, all for their own political benefit.

The issue isn't Wright anymore, much less Hagee, which is nothing more than a distraction, the issue is what's going on in Black America, and how the Democrats have taken advantage of such bitterness for their own political benefit.

And Craig, you're comparison of Wright to Hagee is exactly what you're own conscience suggests it is, "simplistic" and politically convenient.

Face it, the Democrat standard bearer chose a whacked out creep for his substitute father figure. And there's no getting out of it.

McCain probably never heard of Hagee prior to his nomination, certainly never gave the guy two thoughts. Whereas Wright is the guy that Obama lauds to the heavens, praises to the sky, quotes with reverence. There is no way a comparison can be made in good faith between Wright and Hagee, and McCain's "relationship" with Hagee, and Obama's choice of Wright as the father he never had.

Barack Hussein Obama is going down. And I've been long expecting as much. I'm just kind of surprised it took so long.

Scanlon's comments are ridiculous. McCain has no remotely comparable connection to Hagee, and Hagee is simply anti-Catholic. Which, although obnoxious, is a theological position, not a political one. Wright is anti-America and anti-white. Neither is acceptable in the "spiritual mentor" and pastor of anyone who claims to be an American leader. I also agree with Dan that Hagee's old-fashioned anti-Catholic bigotry is politically and culturally insignificant -- is essentially a dying belief among American evangelicals. (There is more significant anti-Catholic bigotry, which is political in nature and socially "respectable," among liberal Christians and liberal non-Christians. But that certainly isn't Scanlon's concern.) Whereas, as Dan also points out, Wright's bigotry is sadly common in the "black community," is very openly expressed, and may well be growing. It also happens to serve the interests of the Democratic party, which helps to fan these particular flames. A far more threatening (and evil) situation than Hagee's.

What we have here is vaudeville -- serious, hate-drenched vaudeville, and Brother Barack is likely to pay the price. To put it crudely, Wright has caught Obama's d**k in a wringer and is cranking away for all he's worth. Entertainment doesn't get much better, or worse, than this.

Obama is done for now, maybe done period. He cannot be elected in November, in my opinion. The drama now is how the Democratic party gets a nominee.

David made the point succinctly that I was floundering around on. Hagee's position is a theological one. I think it's erroneous, but he's not the first one to hold such views. And I'm not going to condemn Hagee simply for that. Roman Catholics aren't supposed to have hair-trigger sensitivities.

The best way to take on Hagee is to deploy some mentally sharp Catholic apologists to Dallas. And publicly challenge him to defend his views. Not in any hostile manner, but in an intellectually serious and substantive one.

But how is one to engage Wright, when his views are so fantastical, so conspiracy ridden, so theologically errant. Wright's Christianity is woven through with his race, his belligerence, his sense of entitlement, his fondness for the nation of islam, his past adherence to islam itself. We haven't any idea of where Wright's Christianity begins and ends within his world view. We're not even sure what his "Christianity" consists of. Thus there's no discussion possible with Wright. But you can engage with Hagee. Hagee's Christianity is identifiable. Not so Wright.

Wright is a heretic's heretic.

MICHELLE raises a very interesting point. What if it's all a game, a show? "It's a Barnum Bailey world, just as phony as it could be...." So what if Wright is nothing more than a theological Barnum Bailey. He spouts off, but doesn't believe any of it; his audience loves it, but doesn't take any of it seriously. What if that's the case? What does that say about Black America? If you hear any of those within Black America calling up shows defending this stuff, there isn't any attempt to out and out defend it, it's rather attempts to rationalize it, render it plausible even if unlikely. Such apologetic minimalism speaks volumes. Obama has done the same when he's remarked that some may find the statements controversial, as if the issue is one of subjectivity, instead of objective insanity.

So perhaps Wright is something of a changeling. A heretic. Also Barnum Bailey. Elmer Gantry too, looking to turn a buck. Democrat power broker in Chicago as well. And now his most recent incarnation is Wright the misunderstood penitent, looking to explain himself to an America so intellectually and morally sloppy that it can't draw the line anywhere or for anyone.

What's going on in Black America needs to be drawn forth into the light of day. Such pathologies can't be addressed while they're allowed to fester. The GOP should use this as a perfect moment to demand explanations from Black America. It certainly places the GOP's inability to make serious inroads in Black America in a new light. Little wonder. What can the GOP possible say to those that give ear to the Wrights of this existence.

And is Peter Lawler still convinced that Obama is going to get the nomination, and that Hillary is done?

Isn't it very easy to envision the Super-delegates sitting down with Obama and saying: "you'll need some years to put this Wright stuff behind you, that being the case, we have to go with Hillary this go 'round, but we'll surely consider you for '12 if Hillary loses, and you'll be right there in '16 if she wins two terms." Isn't that conversation much more likely after the latest revelations about Obama's hate filled father figure.

Dan writes: MICHELLE raises a very interesting point. What if it's all a game, a show? "It's a Barnum Bailey world, just as phony as it could be...." So what if Wright is nothing more than a theological Barnum Bailey. He spouts off, but doesn't believe any of it; his audience loves it, but doesn't take any of it seriously.

Actually, I think Wright does believe the hate-filled stupidity that he constantly spews. Many are now comparing him to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. I don't think it's an apt comparison. Jackson and Sharpton are race-baiting hustlers, shakedown artists. They cash in on an issue, then move on to their next kill.

Wright is in a class by himself. Yes, he has enriched himself magnificently. But his gushing, molten vitriol doesn't appear to be a pretext. He seems to believe that it has truth at its core.

We shrink from Sharpton and Jackson as we shrink from cockroaches in the kitchen. But Wright is undesirable in the way a poisonous snake is undesirable: He is dangerous.

Which is why anyone with sense is very bothered by Obama's willingness to associate with this man for two decades and, lately, his refusal to disown the man.

Michelle, I think he believes it too. I don't think he's Elmer Gantry or Barnum Bailey. I think he's the real McCoy, a real live Black supremacist, whose links to islam are troubling to say the least.

I think one of the most troubling aspects in all of this is the comment made by Donna Brazille, where she said that as bad as Wright is, he's mild compared to other black preachers.

What are we to make of that? And what are we to do about it. The GOP will never be able to reach Black Americans so long as a good chunk subscribe to the attitudes of Wright, and creatures worse than Wright.

It's a boil that needs to be lanced, before it can be healed.

This whole damn subject is distasteful beyond all description. It's revolting, and I blame Obama for putting us all through it, trying to foist a fraud on the American people, holding himself out as a messiah, when in fact he's a race fixated congregant of the "church" of "Reverend" Wright.

What a sick commentary on the Democrat party, that they are so close to conferring on him the greatest honour they have to offer, their nomination for the most prestigious position on the planet. How the mighty have fallen!

Michelle, I like your description too, his "gushing, molten vitriol" that is bubbling forth from his "core." I think that's it. I think you've got him.

I do think Michelle is onto something: Wright, whatever else he is, seems quite sincere (he's an honest-to-John racialist crank and anti-American hatemonger). Obama, by contrast, is a prevaricator. So in an odd way, Wright looks better: Authenticity, even in a bad cause, tends to command a certain respect, however grudging, while shiftiness always arouses contempt.

Another clue that Wright is more sincere than Jackson or Sharpton is all the "scholarship" that Wright spews and the books he likes to cite. Sure it's a mixture of pseudoscience and eccentric claptrap by fourth-rate academics (with a truly bizarre AIDS conspiracy theorist thrown in for good measure), but Wright at least reads and is passionate about what he reads. Sharpton and Jackson don't bring up books this way. They're straightforwardly vulgar demagogues, while Wright is, in his own twisted and stunted way, a kind of aspiring intellectual. If memory serves, he's even tried to defend "black liberation theology" by pointing out that James Cone teaches at Union Theological Seminary (Reinhold Niebuhr's old school)--as if this made Cone's hate-whitey ravings somehow OK--which if nothing else evinces Wright's touching faith in the totemic power of the white-liberal academic institutions that sponsor his favorite brand of nonsense.

Wright's air of authenticity was almost certainly one of the things that drew Obama, the promising but fatherless, identity-puzzled boy-man, to the older man of the cloth. But it was authenticity bent to a bad cause, and Obama is paying for that--and I suspect Wright will make him pay some more.

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