Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Troubled by the Radical Wright

I know that I will vote for whoever the Democratic candidate is, in November. I am not sure who it's going to be and though I favor Obama, I also think that Hillary Clinton is a viable candidate.

BUT, and it's a big one: I am deeply troubled by the turn I see in Obama's journey, that he has had to denounce his former mentor and pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I understand why he has had to do that. I think the Rev. Wright is Wrong.

I haven't read every word of every news article nor watched every moment of every broadcast featuring the Wright Wreverend. However, I have seen enough of his recent behavior (speeches, interviews) to form a tentative conclusion: Rev. Wright is not comfortable seeing a black man, an African American man, in the Presidency.

I have a hard time understanding why he has made some of the comments and judgments he's made in the last couple of days unless he is unconsciously sabotaging Obama's run for the White House out of his own fear.

What fears might Rev. Wright have? He might fear that too much success for a black man might set a standard for other African Americans that will require a change of attitude on their part. One person's moving from the stereotype of victimhood to the highest office in the land requires that all persons in Obama's racial group begin to think of themselves as potentially capable and not potential victims.

He might fear for Obama's safety. I mentioned in an earlier post my own fear for Barack Obama---and for Hillary Clinton as well. Our heroes and heroines tend to get shot down, metaphorically and physically. The person who sticks his/her neck out tends to get his/her head bopped.

He might fear a loss of face on his own part, if he has to back down from anything in order to secure the nomination for Obama. He might be one of us preachers who gets defensive and angry when criticized, even legitimately done.

He might fear for the future of the black church. He might fear for his own safety and that of his family and congregation.

There are many fears that may be driving the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. These are just the ones that come to me tonight.


Mile High Pixie said...

Wow! You've made some really interesting points here, Rev. Kit.

I co-teach a class on assertiveness for women with Dame Judith from time to time, and at pone point in the class, we ask participants to describe the advantages to not being assertive. Some of them that get mentioned are "you don't have to take any heat when you're wrong", "you don't have to research your work as much or know what you're talking about", and "you don't have to take criticism, you can sit back and let other people make decisions, you don't have to be responsible." I thought of all those comments from women aged 18-60 in the class as I read your comments.

LinguistFriend said...

The newest edition of Christian Century has several points of view on Wright, which give very different aspects, providing more balanced points of view than the recent topics which seem to have drawn extreme reactions from him.
It is genuinely difficult to understand what his present objectives are, as you indicate. But one must think in terms of what effect he has on
the electorate and the election. That is a worry.

faded said...

"He might fear that too much success for a black man might set a standard for other African Americans that will require a change of attitude on their part. One person's moving from the stereotype of victimhood to the highest office in the land requires that all persons in Obama's racial group begin to think of themselves as potentially capable and not potential victims."

You hit it square on the head. If folks move away from the idea of being a victim, then the rev is out of business because he will not have any victims to exploit. Rev. Wright needs victims to support his position.

The Gospel, when properly taught and lived actualy moves peopll away from victimization.

I cannot vote for Mr. Obama because he listened to Rev. Wright's teaching for at leat 20 years. Also they had a good relationship until recently. That sort of long term influence has an effect that must be considered.

Anonymous said...

Hello Kit,

It is good to connect with you online. I have had trouble fitting bloging into my own schedule. You have been doing much better.

I have been listening to various 'Black' commentators on NPR for the past few days and they seem to think that Rev. Wright's actions have more to do with his own need to be and defend being a prophetic preacher than with his feelings or thoughts about Obama or with his understanding of political strategy.

Personally I don't think I have any real way to determine anything about the inner workings of his psyche.

Thomas Perchlik

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, all, for your comments.

Pixie, what a great commentary on why people shy away from assertiveness.

LF and faded, thanks for adding to the conversation.

Thomas, having spent many years as a counselor, I have enough experience with seeing people sabotage others' success that I have some confidence in my theory.

Still, I also agree with those who are saying that the ego issues here are huge.

uugrrl said...

Perhaps this may seem odd, but for me it brings back all the bad old memories of being unfairly tarnished by the misconduct of a minister. Why is it ministers have this kind of sticking power? When they act up, others can be hurt more than they are. It's guilt-by-association taken to some kind of extreme. Not always, of course. As best I can tell it's more likely to be so when the minister is a narcissist and is unwilling to take responsibility for the harm s/he has done.

ms. kitty said...

I see your point, uugrrrl. Thanks for making it.

Masasa said...

I've been thinking about this a lot too. I blogged on it *twice* in a row over the last week, trying to sort it all out for myself (until I distracted myself by finding a house to buy after a year of a very difficult process/search).



As for the impact on Obama, this is the conclusion I've settled on for the time being:

"Many folks are questioning Wright's judgement in terms of the timing of his very public commentary on the media-frenzy over statements he has made. I do fear this will be detrimental to Obama's campaign, and at the same time, I am thankful this is coming out now. I want all the mud-slinging to begin at this time, rather than when the general election is upon us. If there is 'dirt' to be dug up on Obama, let it not take us by surprise."

It's almost like I can imagine in my mind a good campaign team dreaming this up and bribing the Rev. Wright to get this all out in the open and be as extreme as he can...NOW. The team would know that Obama's pastor would eventually come under some scrutiny given his tendancy toward controversial statements, and once they figured out the way the Rev. Wright is not one to just back off, they would have to DO something about it. Getting it out in the open NOW would probably be the best choice for something to do in that kind of a dilemma.

I'm not saying that is what happened. But just that it almost seems like it *could* be a blessing in disguise.

ms. kitty said...

Interesting, Masasa, and it makes me feel uneasy that campaign teams would go so far.

Masasa said...

Yeah, it is a weird thought. Then again, I always have thought politics are very weird.