Like Him or Not, Rev. Wright Is Here To Stay

Commentary by Gary A. Johnson

Rev. Jeremiah Wright has decided to speak for himself and in effect defend himself. People will debate whether Rev. Wright’s “coming out” is helpful or hurtful to presidential candidate Barack Obama, however, I don’t think Rev. Wright cares.

It is clear to me that the Rev. has decided to define himself and defend what he believes is his good name. I can’t say that I blame him. Who wouldn’t want to defend their hard earned name and reputation?

While speaking today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the Rev. was asked about his patriotism. Wright replied as follows: “I served six years in the military. How many years did Cheney serve?”

Rev. Wright has made it clear during his string of recent public appearances that he is a pastor and not a politician. He reminded the audience that Sen. Barack Obama is a politician and that he and Obama will do what they have to do in their perspective roles. This is a very important point of distinction and clarification. The role of a pastor and politician are different and Rev. Wright seems to be clear about his role.

“I’m not here for political reasons,” Wright said to a packed house last night of about 10,000 people at a NAACP gathering in Detroit. “I’m not a politician,” he told the crowd. He went on to say, “I’m not here for political reasons.” “I am not running for the Oval Office. I’ve been running for Jesus a long, long time, and I’m not tired yet.”

Perhaps the lines have become blurred for others. Wright seems to be clear, confident and at peace with his role as a pastor.

What Rev. Wright is doing is allowing the world to see him as he “really” is. Rev. Wright is not the character and YouTube phenomenon that he has been portrayed over the past several weeks. This is a very smart and worldly black leader. Wright also told the audience at the NAACP dinner that despite what his critics say, he is descriptive, not divisive, when he speaks about racial injustices.

In the view of Rev. Wright he is speaking out because of the media attacks on the black church. He stated his belief that the media attacks are about him.

Many in the mainstream media as well as Hillary Clinton and others will continue to link Rev. Wright to Barack Obama in the most negative ways. If I’m a strategist in the Obama camp, I probably would not be happy right now. Why? Watch the media coverage of Rev. Wright over the next several weeks. Rather than focus on the positive truths in his message, many in the media will actively look for negatives or attempt to twist his words to make him a negative force and deflect from the good that he’s done.

Commentators will focus on his body language, his gestures and his “attitude” instead of what he’s actually saying. That’s called distortion. The office phone lines here at Black Men In America are blowing up with calls from black folks who are mad at Rev. Wright for coming out now. One caller said, “Wright is giving Hillary and the Republicans more ammunition to deflect from the issues.” Whether you like him or not, Rev. Wright is here to stay.

Susan Rice, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign commented on MSNBC this morning after Rev. Wright’s speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. She described Rev. Wright as a “sideshow.” She went on to say the Rev. Wright was more concerned about redeeming his legacy. I see this as a problem. Outside forces both black and white will be calling for Obama to distance himself further from Rev. Wright and essentially pit these two black men against each other. The Clinton campaign will be in full attack mode about Obama’s judgment. This is politics folks. Obama campaigned that he has better judgment than his opponents.

Barack Obama said that he believes that Rev. Wright is a legitimate political issue. That’s the equivalent of a “green light” for Senators Clinton, McCain and others to deflect from other legitimate issues that should be discussed in this campaign.

You can watch Rev. Wright’s speech at the NAACP and his interview with Bill Moyer in our video section in the right-hand column on this blog.

What do you think?

Gary Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog.  Gary is also the author of the new book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”


2 Responses to “Like Him or Not, Rev. Wright Is Here To Stay”

  1. Peace Gary,

    We have to look at the whole picture. This isn’t about Jeremiah Wright or anything Jeremiah Wright said. It’s about what the media is trying to make out of what he said. The attitude of the media toward Barack Obama did not change because of Wright. They were looking for something and we know when they’re looking for something there is nothing one can do or not do to keep them from finding something. If not Wright then something else. Rev. Wright is a grown man. No one has a right to tell him what he can and cannot say in his pulpit. But we have bought into the media’s right to come in and act like he blew it. Truth is the media has managed to prejudice only those who were already prejudiced. Like all the rest of us Obama blew it when he decided to have a Black father. After that every action, every word, every association is ammunition for those who want to use them as such.

    When the government apologizes for slavery, when they show remorse for putting the Japanese in concentration camps, when they repent for genocide against native Americans, Africans, Australians… then they can demand an apology from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And what no one dares to say is that this emphasis on patriotism is a major characteristic of fascism. In its attack on Wright the media betrays the fact that it is no longer a watchdog for democracy but a mouthpiece for an increasingly oppressive government.

    Anyway, forty years from now they will be acting like they loved Jeremiah Wright, just like they now act like they loved Martin Luther King. Truth is they treated King just like they’re treating Wright. Will we continue to take our assigned roles or will we look at the big picture?

  2. Mr. Bromont Says:

    Mr. Gary Johnson, I wish to compliment you on this very good and insightful article you wrote. I also concur with you and R. Johnson on what both of you have to say here. The problem of Barack Obama is not the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the problem is the mentality of a whole lot of Americans(black & white) who think no better than the cows and sheep grazing in the fields across America. If Barack Obama could get enough intelligent and good thinking people to support and vote for him, no problem. The both of you are right in your perspective and perception. The media will do what it does and the McClintons will do what they do as all of this is the dirty lowdown game of American politics. It is a shame of the great amount of racist ignorance here in America that can truly have an effect on the outcome of this election year.The inteligent people of America never ever took his words and sermon out of context. The truth that has risen from the wide spread media exposure of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, has got some Americans bitter about facing and dealing with the truth. It is the year 2008 and some Americans do want seperate and unequal to still exist. A man like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is a good American who exercised his freedom to speak as a good American against the still existing ills of the American society. He is being proven right by all those ignorant people who do not care to fully understand an American problem caused by white supremicst mindset of a great many Americans. There are a great many Americans who call themselves God loving and God caring and God fearing, but do they really have a clue as to the wants and wishes of God. Do they have the good thinking of the messages sent by his messengers to the betterment of all mankind? Do they really care about having the brotherhood of all men? The world at war within America and the world at war outside of America when will it stop? I am one praying for the election of Barack Obama as our next President of the United States of America because he is a good American who cares about every American and that includes the Americans who do not like him and the Reverend Wright for their own small,petty and ignorant thinking that they have. In conclusion here I read a recent article from newsweek the subject title was>>>>
    Only in America <<<< here is an excerpt from that article:
    “The most successful presidents have always been open and hopeful, sunny and optimistic about the promise of American equality and opportunity. But there has long been a dark side to democratic politics, a willingness to play on prejudice, to get men and women to vote their fears and not their hopes. Those prejudices fade and seem to die down, but they never quite go away. They remain embers for cunning political operatives to fan into flames.”
    “In close elections, decided on the margins, it is discouraging to think that a small minority of racists could make the difference.”

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