I guess the reason that I was never all that worked up over Reverand Jeremiah Wright is that I expect preachers to say goofy things.
If we are going to go after Barack Obama for his association with Rev. Wright, don't we have to ask how many Republican Senators and Congressman attend churches in which the pastor blamed America's sins for the 911 attacks. We can all recall Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson declaring that the attacks were evidence of God's wrath towards liberals, homosexuals, and feminists. At least Rev. Wright identified the sins of America's foreign policy which is probably not a bad place to look. It is hard for me to see Wright's remarks as any sillier than George Bush's naive declarations that "they hate us because we're free."
I would not hesitate to condemn Wright's idiocy in accusing white doctors of injecting black men with the AIDS virus. However, how many Republican Congressman and Senators attend churches where the ministers regularly make idiotic statements about scientists perpetrating hoaxes in the fields of climatology, evolution, and psychology? Again, in Wright's favor, during his lifetime the United States government carried out a horrific experiment in which black men were allowed to die horrible deaths from syphillis.
The point I took from Obama's speech is that we need to recognize the source of the anger and resentment rather than using some ignorant expression of that anger as an excuse to dismiss people altogether. Moreover, this is an obligation that applies to everyone. Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans all need to work at recognizing each others' legitimate greivances without condoning hate and ignorance. He talked to us like adults.
This morning on Joe Scarborough's show, Tucker Carlson displayed the inability to understand nuanced thought that makes me so happy MSNBC cancelled his show. When asked his opinion of Obama's speech, he said he was dissatisfied with it because Obama did not explain why he was still associated with this "nut job." How clueless.
One of the biggest problems is that we use labels like "nut jobs" to dismiss people rather than engaging them and trying to separate their nutty ideas from their legitimate concerns. The fact that Obama wants to find a different way to approach things is what gives me hope.
As important as it is to take this attitude on the domestic front, I think it is even more important in foreign policy. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may indeed be a nut job. However, we cannot hope for any progress unless we can recognize the fact that the CIA overthrew the legitimate govern of Iran fifty years ago because Iran got sick of being cheated out of oil revenues by Great Britain. As abhorrent as his Holocaust denial may be, we can also acknowledge that it was legitimate concerns about both the United States and Soviet Russia that led the Iranians to ally themselves with Nazi Germany during World War II.
I thought Obama's speech was great. I hope his belief that the American people are smarter than Tucker is not unfounded.