Most people who have any interest at all in Sen. Obama’s campaign for president are scratching their heads over what could possibly be governing Rev. Wright’s decision to go public at this time. When I first learned that the reverend was being interviewed by Bill Moyers, I naturally assumed that he and the Obama campaign had decided upon a strategy of allowing the American people to see who the reverend really is, in order to offset the media portrayal of him. While I could understand the rationale behind such a move, it seemed to me that it was an extremely risky endeavor, and ill advised. Then I learned that not only was Rev. Wright being interviewed by Bill Moyers, but he was also going before the National Press Club, and all on his own accord, without bringing Obama into the loop. It was only then that I realized that we had a loose cannon on our hands, and we were also facing yet another political disaster.
I’ve learned a lot about my people during this campaign, but nothing has come into focus more clearly than the penchant for some of us to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Within an hour after Obama first announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination you could hear the crabs stirring restlessly in the barrel. Then the first claw reached out, in the person of a supposedly enlightened Black talk show host—What kind of brother are you if you think announcing your candidacy for presidency is more important than coming on my infomercial? Then the next claw , from a so-called Black intellectual—I just want to know two things—how much do you love your people, and where you getting your money. Then came the Black politicians, pundits, and self-serving businessmen—and from there it became an absolute self-hatefest.
Thankfully, due to the thinly veiled dismissive remarks of our “First Black president”, the people in the community began to see through the ignorance of our failed leadership, and came to rally around this impressive young brother. But unfortunately, we found that a history of envy, self-service, and egomania is a tenacious foe, and will only die after a slow, lingering, and agonizing struggle.
If we’er ever going to correct this situation in the Black community, instead of trying to defend our Black icons who behave inappropriately, we must refer back to the wisdom that we learned in order to survive on the street, and simply call a hat a hat. And in this case, the hat that Rev. Wright is sportin’ is one of unabashed self-service.
Rev. Wright knows full well that his previous remarks have severely undermined Sen. Obama’s pursuit for the Democratic nomination. He also knows that we are now at a crucial point in the nominating process. So why would he—literally, and in God’s name—choose this moment to lose his mind?
His answer to that question is as lame as they come. He said, “They’re talking about my momma”, the Black church. His response was reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s lament about her yearning need to save America, and it came off just a phony. The Black church doesn’t need Rev. Wright’s defense—it was doing just fine under circumstances much more dire than we find ourselves today, and beyond that, it survived for countless generations before there even was a Rev. Wright, so he’s gonna have to come up with something better than that.
Wright also pointed out that it doesn’t matter what anyone says, whether they be pundits, the news media, or politicians, if it is God’s will for Barack Obama to become the next president, he will be the next president. I’ll come back to the validity of that statement in a moment, but if it is Wright’s conviction that God has the ability to protect Obama, even from a mouth like his own, why does he think God needs his help to protect the Black church?
While Rev. Wright is clearly a learned man, it is just as clear that he’s highly selective in the Biblical passages that he chooses to adhere to. How does his behavior square with the Biblical prescription to treat others as he would like to be treated, for example? If he was in Obama’s position—a hare’s breath away from becoming President of the United States—I wonder if he would want some loose cannon of a preacher strutting around on stage antagonizing voters to milk his thirty minutes of fame? I don’t think he’d like it at all.
But the reverend tries to justify his distraction by pointing out that while Obama is a politician, he, Rev. Wright, speaks for God, and as mentioned earlier, indicates that if it’s God’s will for Obama to be president, nothing can stop it. But he’s wrong. All it takes is one silly old self-serving preacher to, indeed, stop him in his tracks, with just one thoughtless turn of a phrase, because God helps those who help themselves—and at this moment in history, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is of absolutely no help whatsoever.
I always point out to my religious friends that we can only know God’s will by what he has done, and what he has done is made birds to fly, fish to swim, and man to think. Yet, in this current situation, Rev. Wright has conveniently chosen to go spiritual on us in lieu of his common sense—and that’s in spite of the fact that next to life itself, common sense is the most precious gift that God has bestowed upon man. If the reverend disputes my contention, I invite him to try jumping of the building he spoke so eloquently in and see if God intervenes. God gave us common sense to handle such matters.
The simple fact that God blessed man with a mind, is prima facie evidence that it is his will that we use it. That’s what Obama’s doing. His candidacy alone is God’s answer to the prayers that lingered on the lips of a million slaves. And even as Wright struts across the stage promoting his own image, Obama is hard at work desperately trying to find an answer to the prayers of millions of our contemporaries across this land, and around the world—people who are praying to save their homes, to find a job, to put their kids through school, and others, who simply pray that their children survive a brutal and unjust war.
So Rev. Wright, while your delivery is extremely witty, and your words are quite eloquent, I’d appreciate it much more if you’d refrain from preach your sermon and start living us one.
Eric L. Wattree
Eric L. Wattree, Sr. n can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.