Armed with gun, man robs
convenience store, apologizes,
said he needed the money.
We know that people often get stopped for “driving while black.” They even sometimes are stopped for walking black. Indeed, it is not entirely uncommon for people to be stopped just for being black. So I suppose it is not at all surprising to learn they are trying to stop Obama for running for President while black. This was entirely predictable although perhaps not in the way it is developing. The obsessional focus of the moment has to do with statements made by the Pastor of Obama’s church of choice, and today by statements he made in an interview with Bill Moyers. It is no secret that Obama is part black. It is no secret that his Pastor is black. And most of the congregation is black. No one seems to be willing to characterize black churches in general as bad. It is not even this particular black church that is bad. It is even hard to say that the black Pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is himself necessarily bad. He is, after all, an ex marine who served his country well, has received all kinds of honors, including being invited to the White House, and so on. The major fuss has to do with the Reverend’s saying, “god damn America.” This is the portion of one of his sermons caught on videotape that is being played over and over and over again. As only this portion is repeated endlessly there is no context, or if there is no one wants to hear it. Although I have not seen anymore of this than most everyone else I believe that the little bit we can hear has to do with something it says in the bible. And I believe that just before that he is also speaking of what we have been doing (probably) in Iraq. What have we been doing in Iraq? Well, although no one seems to want to acknowledge it, we have been committing war crimes. These range from our initial pre-emptive attack on a country that was no threat to us (a supreme war crime), the indiscriminate killing of civilians, mostly women and children, war profiteering, torture, hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, using illegal munitions, and more. By “we” here you have to include us all. True, it was the Bush//Cheney administration that led us into this depravity, but neither the House, Senate, or Justice Department has seen fit to do anything about it, nor have we, as citizens, done our part in doing anything about it. If this is true, and I believe it is true, and if the bible specifies pretty clearly that this kind of behavior is very wrong, it would seem to me that the Reverend is perfectly right in saying what he did – god damn America. It would hardly be very realistic at such a time to say god bless America, would it. Unfortunately, even if they were given the complete context of Reverend Wright’s sermon, most Americans would probably still not find what he said acceptable. This is, I believe, because Americans cannot bring themselves to believe that we could ever do anything wrong. Even when it is suggested that 9/11 may have been brought about by our foreign policy no one wants to accept it. Indeed, most become outraged when it is even suggested. When even as influential a person as Rudy Giuliani can claim (with a straight face) that there is no relationship between terrorism and our foreign policy, no relationship at all, he insists, he goes unchallenged. It is not our cowardly and unjustified attack on Iraq that is the trouble with the Middle East, it’s the Iranians, or the Iraqis themselves, or the Syrians or, well, somebody other than us. It is not the quasi genocidal behavior and the theft of land by the Israelis (our dearest allies) that is causing trouble, it’s the helpless Palestinians fault. It is surely ironic that although 81% of the American public think we are on the wrong track, very few think this is a result of our own actions (other than, perhaps, the incompetence with which we have acted). This is the worst case of “my country right or wrong” that has come along for a while. Until we are able to admit what we have done, and hold ourselves accountable, we will just go on repeating it over and over, perhaps in Iran this time. Interestingly, I believe that a white Pastor could have said this in a sermon and it would have been recognized simply as hyperbole. Everyone would have understood the meaning and the sentiment perfectly well. But isn’t it convenient that a black man said it, at precisely the moment it is the most convenient and useful for those who want to shamelessly exploit it for their own purposes. If the Clintons and the Brafia get away with this, it will be nothing less than another (symbolic) lynching. Shame on us, one and all.
“What luck for rulers that men do not think.”