Racist Reaction Accelerates Against Obama

Right-wing reactionaries thought manna had fallen from heaven along with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s denunciation of the crimes of America. That’s because Rev. Wright is Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama’s personal preacher. But while the demagogues falsely label Wright’s sermons as racist and anti-white, his remarks express truths that resonate with the experience of black Americans and cannot be forever hidden.

Anyone can go and watch excerpts from Rev. Wright’s sermons, edited for maximum incendiarism by arch-conservative, Fox Network Hyas muckamuck, Bill O’Reilly. Yet, all the editing tricks in the world cannot paint Wright’s sermons racist. But then that’s the cry raised when African-Americans say anything on the mark about the experience of racism in America, an experience that has made them sensitive to the crimes and injustices of this country perpetrated abroad, as well.

As if four hundred years of slavery, and one hundred years of Jim Crow state segregationism were not enough to prove the racist legacy of this country, African Americans are still subject to discrimination across the entire society, with inferior schools, inferior health care, wage discrepancies, housing discrimination, racist assaults, unfair drug laws and a still racially insensitive judicial system. CalexanderJ over at Daily Kos hit the mark with this quote from the comedian Chris Rock:

I think Chris Rock said it best when he said, “to blacks, America is like an uncle who paid your way through college, but molested you.” This quip reflects our (African American’s) recognition of the vast benefits living in America has provided us which we are truly grateful for, but it also acknowledges that we haven’t forgotten, the travesties that America inflicted on our race.

Travesties like slavery, lynching, and segregation, laws against miscegenation, Nazi-like experimentation (Tuskegee) mandatory sterilization laws. And most of this, slavery aside, within the lifetimes of many Americans. It was only thirty or more years ago that the government’s FBI targeted Black leaders with its COINTELPRO program, which included blackmail, the use of agents provocateur, and assassination.

Let’s look at what Wright actually said

He said the U.S. is “a country and a culture controlled by rich white people.” He dissed liberal saint Bill Clinton, whose wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, is running near neck and neck with Obama for the nomination. “Bill did us just like he did Monica Lewinsky.” Suddenly, Jeremiah Wright is the only man in America that can’t make a Monica Lewinsky joke.

But Bill Clinton’s welfare “reform” was no joke to African Americans. Clinton lined up with Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” Republicans to pass a draconian welfare “reform” bill, which severely limited aid payments to poor families and many single mothers, who were disproportionately African-American. Millions were thrown off the welfare rolls, while the poverty rate continued to rise. Children were forced to fend for themselves as latch-key kids or join up with gangs, as single mothers worked part-time or low-paying jobs that barely made the bills, much less have the hundreds of dollars left over each month for decent childcare.

Reverend Wright denounced the government trafficking in drugs to support their right-wing insurgencies abroad, while building bigger prisons and passing onerous sentencing and drug laws at home, whose impact fell hardest upon black Americans.

Wright excoriated the U.S. government for its lies making false connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida (something the Pentagon owned up to, very reluctantly only last week), its lies about Iraqi WMD, and even more lies tying 9/11 to a rationale for the aggressive invasion of Iraq. Nor did Wright stop there in challenging the U.S. government for its history of support to the former apartheid of South Africa, and to the Israeli apartheid-like treatment of the Palestinians.

And nothing he said was wrong… unless it is his assertion, supported by many in the black community, that AIDS was some kind of plot by the government against black people. But after everything else, can you blame them? And, by the way, it’s not like the United States and other countries haven’t thought about aiming biological warfare against specific races and nationalities. New genetic engineering techniques and DNA mapping has brought the possibility of making “ethnic” weapons from fantasy to dangerous near-future threat. (See the discussion of this by the well-respected watchdog group, the Sunshine Project.)

But if Wright was off on AIDS, he nailed this country on its shameful indifference to its history of mass murder. “We bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Wright thundered, killing far more than the thousands who died on 9/11, “and we never batted an eye.” If the preacher really wanted to nail the point home, he could have mentioned the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children killed by the U.S. in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Or, for an earlier generation, there were the one million Vietnamese killed by the U.S. in the 1960s-1970s.

Finally, perhaps, it was Wright’s Malcolm X-like pronouncement that drove the racists into a frenzy. After John Kennedy was assassinated, Malcolm famously intoned that America’s chickens had come home to roost. Knowing what we do now about CIA assassinations and assassination attempts during the Kennedy years against Castro, Lumumba, Diem, and others, Malcolm X’s comment seems more prescient than any of the establishment pundits of his time.

Rev. Wright reminded his African-American congregation that 9/11 happened, in part, because the “stuff we did overseas is brought back into our backyards.” In fact, the growth of Islamic fundamentalism was fueled by U.S. and Western backing of corrupt and torturing governments, compliant with the needs of American business and foreign policy. Even further, Islamic obscurantists were funded by the CIA to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, and used as soldiers in the U.S. battle against the Soviet Union in the Cold proxy war that was Afghanistan.

Racism and the American Presidency

Barack Obama is a mainstream Democratic Party politician. But he wants to be President of the United States. He may be what he says he is, an idealistic man. He may be nothing but another phony false hope for the poor and downtrodden, and especially for African-Americans. Neither of those possibilities matter at the moment, because he is black. (His mixed parentage also is irrelevant in the light of American politics.)

America is a deeply racist country. It was founded on slavery. It kept millions in legal second-class status for over a hundred years. Outside of sports heroes, black children have few role models in the mass media. Their job prospects and their social mobility is terrible restricted compared to other groups in America. Blacks are vilified as having low IQ, being naturally criminal, or naturally ADD. They fill U.S. prisons in vastly disproportionate numbers.

There are many who hope that an Obama election can help change all that, and heal past wounds. The reality that is white racism in the United States is just beginning to raise its terrifying face in this election, having hunted around the borders of Clinton-Obama electioneering. The Wright story may or not be a calculated plant, but I suspect it’s worse than that. The vilification of Wright by a vast majority of the media — even Obama has (sadly) condemned Wright’s statements — is an offshoot of the racist culture of this country, fertilized by decades of backpedalling by the civil rights movement.

I’ll say this, Obama is a brave man, as he is facing a behemoth in American racism. And he is an intelligent man, but the pressures he is and will be facing are immense. I wish him well, and I hope he does not cave in and throw his truth-telling friend and pastor under the wheels of a vindictive, blinded monster fearful of losing its phony race privilege. Because in America, it really is a small group of mainly white people that control this country. And they will not give up their power gently. They are readying this country for an outbreak of terrible racist propaganda.

Now we’ll learn how much “progress” this country has really made in the last forty years, since the assassination of Martin Luther King, and the end of black hopes (for that time) in the smoldering ruins of the nation’s ghettos.

Also posted at Invictus


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    • Valtin on March 18, 2008 at 03:39

    One of my first clients was an old black schizophrenic woman. She supposedly talked nothing but “word salad”, about being in a concentration camp, buried for a thousand years, etc. She wasn’t “worth” having a counselor. It would be wasted on her, a woman who had nobody and talked only to people in her head.

    But it all made sense to me. You see, as a teenager she got pregnant. She was young and poor and lived in the South (I won’t say which state. If she’s still alive, I want to keep her confidentiality.) Because she was supposedly a little “slow”, she was forcibly sterilized. And then, they botched the operation, and they had to take out much of her colon, so that she had to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.

    In the end, she descended into madness and institutionalization. Who knows what this human being could have become if she had not been the innocent victim of poverty, racism, eugenics schemes, and a totally indifferent society?

    But when I tried to talk to her, lo and behold, she could communicate. My supervisors were surprised, but in the end, the significance of the event eluded them, as they too fell back into the torpidtude that is the moral status quo.

    Go, Reverend Wright. It may be that we are damned (except that I’m an athiest and don’t believe in it). If so, it’s for a damn good reason.

  1. Thank you, Valtin, for this wonderful essay.  I think you make the point perfectly.

    In the condemnations of Rev W, I am hearing the same racist rumble as in the recent attempt to smear Ms. O for not being “proud” of the US.  The same one as the claim about Mr. O not saluting the flag.

  2. The first time I heard his remarks, I thought, “right on the mark.” Then I thought how the frothing right would view it.

    When all is said and done, I hope Obama says what he has to say, but still believes his Pastor.

    • Valtin on March 18, 2008 at 04:06

    I didn’t mean to post this front page, but as a regular diary. I hope I didn’t piss off anyone. I’d delete and repost as a regular diary, but there were already some quick comments, and it would unfair to the commenters.

    So, Buhdy, Ek, and all… oops. Hope my diary makes up for it somewhat by virtue of content.

  3. I think it’s understandable that Obama distanced himself from some of Rev. Wright’s remarks. While many of them represent the truth, Obama’s approach is far different than Wright’s. To disavow Wright’s approach, is not necessarily to condemn the entire substance of his remarks.

    Personally, I do not find Rev. Wright’s remarks offensive but do see this as a dangerous situation for Obama to be in with regard to his campaign.

    I think the attention to Wright’s remarks likely was the result of manuevering by the Hillary camp. They saw Obama’s numbers with white voters going down, so went in for the kill.

  4. why does anything that Rev. Wright means that every member of his congregation (including the Obama family) have to agree with it?

    I’m sure many statements by ministers of churches I’ve attended might draw some controversy (especially if the sound bytes are carefully selected to make the speakers look bad). Just because you listen to people doesn’t mean you endorse or agree with everything they say, right? And, just because someone endorses or supports you doesn’t mean that you agree with everything they believe, does it?

    I appreciate your diary on this, because I have no idea of knowing if Rev. Wright’s comments accurate. As a person from a different community, I can’t see how the cherrypicked comments could be “offensive”. This is a deeply racist country, and probably far more profoundly racist than I can understand as a caucasian.

    Frankly, I don’t care what Wright believes or preaches. IMO, debating Wright’s intent isn’t actually politically relevant when it comes to Obama. I don’t think what Wright says reflects what every member of his congregation believes.

    I’m not surprised in the least that the right has been waiting for any possible way to make Barack Obama look like a “crazy black man”. Despicable.

    The “he’s a Muslim” thing perked up some of the racists. Funny how this new flap over some of Wright’s sermons basically acknowledges that Obama isn’t Muslim afterall. I suppose this attack is for the next group of racists – the ones who want to distance him as “not our kind of Christian.” When you get down to it, those people probably would never vote for any Democrat (especially not a mixed race man with an African name) anyway.

    One hope of an Obama nomination is that he could raise the level of discourse about race. That he could help our nation rise above some of the racial hatred and mistrust that is lurking beneath the surface in so much of our society. Unfortunately, we have to be realistic that the more successful Obama becomes, the more these sinister types of attacks will appear. It’s depressing to realize how deeply racially divided we truly are.

    I’m eager to hear his speech tomorrow, which is being promoted as “a major speech on race”. I’m hoping he’ll show how racial issues need to be acknowledged and discussed. We can make a more harmonious society.

  5. I believe you`ve captured the spirit of the situation very well. I could not write the same thing with such eloquence, although I think the same thoughts.

    Great essay.

  6. as I’ve heard the snippets from Reverend Wright, I had the same feeling that underneath all the “hot” rhetoric were truths we all need to face.  

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