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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is Wright's Recent Rhetoric Simply Revenge?

The flurry of media attention, blog postings and television commentary since those controversial videos of Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, came to light publicly, has been relentless.

The reason for this is because of the content in those videos, many people, including Obama, tried to rationalize those words, saying the "sound bites" were not representative of the pastor himself. People claimed that Wright's words were taken out of context and Obama himself claimed that the "God Damn America" comments and other racial and anti-American ideologies were not the "norm" for Jeremiah Wright's sermons and that the majority of them were not things that Barack Obama had heard when he sat in a pew at the Trinity United Church of Christ for almost 20 years.

For weeks Obama had tried to get beyond his association with Wright and his offensive comments, explaining in a speech given in Philadelphia, right after the videos became public, that he had heard controversial comments from Wright but nothing to the level of what those sound bites had shown.

Many people accepted Obama claims at face value, asserting that he went far enough in distancing himself from Wright's words without disowning the man himself, others still found themselves asking how a man could sit in church, listening to a pastor for almost 20 years and not know what the man was about? Still more would go on to ask publicly, was Obama speaking out against Wright's rhetoric only because he had to for the sake of politics and his political aspirations?

While Obama dealt with the fallout of this highly controversial topic, Jeremiah Wright laid low, wasn't being seen publicly very often, yet when he was, his words were recorded and reported on at length, until many believed that Obama would be able to rise above the controversy and move on.

Then Wright took to the stage again with a series of appearances and public interviews, which many reported as direct attacks, not only against America and politics and a number of other issues, but direct attacks against Obama, even going as far as to suggest that the only reason Obama distanced himself was because he was a politician and had to.

One of his direct quotes along those lines was, "
"Politicians say what they say and do what they do because of electability. He had to distance himself because he's a politician...Whether he gets elected or not, I'm still going to have to be answerable to God."

After a number of interviews with Wright, when it became obvious that this whole issue was going to blow up again, Obama finally disavowed Wright's publicly stated views, saying, "The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church."

Obama also declared that if Wright thought his comments were simply "political posturing", then Wright did not know him very well.

The questions in many a mind stayed the same, was Obama's speech too little too late? Did he really disagree with Wright? If so, why would he and his family sit in Wright's church for almost 20 years and listen to him? Why did Obama refer to Wright as his spiritual mentor or guide? Why did Obama originally try to rationalize Wright's rhetoric when it first became public and say he was "like family?

Finally, why would Obama declare in one speech "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother", and in the next speech addressing the issue, doing just that by saying, "I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church. But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the U.S. wartime efforts with terrorism – then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced, and that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today"?

The are all legitimate question being seen asked from both sides of the political aisle, in newspapers, blogs and television news shows.

There is another question though that seems to resound loudly and that is, why is Jeremiah Wright doing this? Why is he continuing to make these controversial statements, in public, even knowing how badly he could damage Barack Obama's political aspirations?

Why is he directly attacking Obama and giving Obama's opponents more ammunition against him?

The New York Post has an article where they say a source close to Jeremiah Wright tells them, it is revenge because Wright felt that Obama betrayed him back in January of 2007, when Obama rescinded an invitation for Wright to stand up with him when Obama was announcing his candidacy for president.

According to the Post's source, "After 20 years of loving Barack like he was a member of his own family, for Jeremiah to see Barack saying over and over that he didn't know about Jeremiah's views during those years, that he wasn't familiar with what Jeremiah had said, that he may have missed church on this day or that and didn't hear what Jeremiah said, this is seen by Jeremiah as nonsense and betrayal."

"Jeremiah doesn't care if he derails Obama's candidacy or not . . . He knows what he's doing. Obviously, he's not a dumb man. He knows he's not helping."

The source goes on to say that Wright's stated reason is to defend black churches, but that his real motivation has been much more personal and that Wright, as well as other senior members of the church, "believe that Obama has betrayed over 20 years of their supposed friendship."

This source is not the only one that believes defending black churches is not what Wright's motivation has been, as evidenced by comments made from black ministers from some Los Angeles churches.

Rev. K.W. Tulloss of Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church in Boyle Heights, says, "This didn't have anything to do with the black church -- it was basically an attack on the individual message he proclaimed, which hurt some individuals. My own members were offended by Rev. Wright's words. His views have cast a wedge between people, and that's the exact opposite of the unity Jesus represented."

Rev. John J. Hunter of First AME, says, "I am hurt and disgusted that one of the most historic political campaigns in the nation's history could be derailed by this pastor who has been needlessly callous, careless and insensitive in his remarks."

Some simply think the delivery and inflammatory nature of the remarks was unnecessary, but the theme is the same, no one really understands the motive behind what Wright is doing.

Which leaves us with a final question... if Wright has been causing all this controversy with his recent interviews after Barack Obama refused to disown the man, while disowning his words.... what will Wright do now that Obama has finally tried to sever the ties completely as of yesterday's speech?

Is anyone else waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak?