Tuesday, December 09, 2008

He's Back, and Not by Popular Demand; the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Let me set this post up. Nope, I am not a fan of his. I do not consider myself willing to act as an apologist (since I am not on the payroll, the usual rule applies and that means I will defend ideas but not people for free.) And I did in the past say I thought he could very well be a racist in his heart, but most of the asinine things he said were not even in the racism ballpark, and at worst, were right on the line. And it has become an article of faith among the right wing that he is clearly a racist. Let me check the record of the loony things he has said:

The "Chickens are coming home to roost," quote. Not about race, and ironically was part of a rant against violence and hate.

“[The United States] government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal," quote from his “Confusing God and Government” sermon. It is essentially a factually true statement. The United States was founded as a racist nation with legal race based slavery. Pointing that fact out is not racist. Oh and that is the same sermon he accused the U.S. Gvt. of inventing the HIV virus to kill non-white people. That in of itself is not racist; it is insane, but not clearly racist.

And on and on.

Do I believe he is very resentful about the way (actually and sorta not exactly) blacks and other people of color have been treated by 'white' America's rich and powerful leaders? Ya damn right Skippy I believe that.

Do I think he might actually harbor some general hate towards white people, generally? Maybe. I haven't seen clear evidence of that, but I have seen a lot of playing the victim sort of impotent raging and ranting. Yes, make no mistake that the history of America is one of white privilege over blacks and other non whites, and there are many many examples of that. (And as a side note, there is no need to make up conspiracy theories to pad the tab; there is enough of an actual record of shameful and excuse less racist harm being done in America, that making shit up is not only not needed, but is clearly counterproductive to the cause.)

Like it or not, take my word for it or not, but attitudes like that (and I mean the resentfulness, mostly, and to a lesser extent, the tin-foil hat conspiracy stuff) are as common in the African American Community as a love of NASCAR is among working class southern and mid western whites.

Anyway . . . I am going to go off in another direction with my own criticism of The Rev. Wright, and this is not going to be personal to him, only, but I am going after the larger group he is a member of; fire and brimstone preachers.

Let's get real here. Lots of Protestant denominations have a long (well for a good hundred years or so at least) history of not only tolerating crazy-talking preachers, but they seem to get off on that shit. I do not get the appeal myself. Granted, I am not church people, and I am used to Catholic Priests who have to worry about their boss, their boss's boss, and their boss's boss's boss (never mind God.) That keeps most Catholic priests from going off script with their sermons.

But in some of these Protestant denominations, there is a (to my mind, totally weird) custom and practice of people getting popular not in spite of their predeliction to go off all bat shit crazy, but get popular principally on account of the fact they are prone to going all bat shit crazy. And then they get popular enough to start their own churches? That to my mind only exacerbates the problem. So, as a practical matter, if a flamboyant, histrionic, or bat shit crazy preacher man or woman can pack in the pews with their own flavor of fire and brimstone, do you think they are going to have a change of heart, and start reading from the Good Book, and tell the flock to obey God's law and the golden rule, now go home and be nice, ya'll, leaving it at that?

Now does my short general critique of fire and brimstone sermonizing serve as a defense for The Rev. Wright or any other bat shit crazy preacher's bat shit crazy sermons? Hell no. People are to be held to their conduct. However does context matter? Hell ya. And should we remember that certain denominations and or traditions (again to my mind weirdly) have a high tolerance if not affection for that bat shit crazy kind of sermon? Yes. And I admit that knocking all them who do the fire and brimstone bat shit crazy routine works very well for me (I am fair across the board), and I say to others, ok. You can pick and choose which flavor of fire and brimstone is past the line to you; just please try to be consistent about it, ok?

But as a last thought on the matter, I do think that the world would be a better place if there were less bat shit crazy people, either in the pulpit or out.


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