April 29, 2008
America, You Have Been HadBy Christopher Chantrill
Liberals are right about the "Right-wing Noise Machine." It really is a wonder to behold, and last week it was performing like a well-tuned NASCAR race car. They say that liberals are all prepared for the inevitable "swift-boating" of Barack Obama. Look behind you, liberals. It already happened and, like last time, it was an own-goal scored by liberals.
This time it's Bill Moyers' fault. Why, oh why, Bill, did you decide that you had to put Reverend Wright up Bill Moyers Journal on April 25, 2008 so that we could all hear his side of the story? You must know that the sooner Reverend Wright is rusticated to his $1.5 million house in a gated suburban Chicago development and never heard from again the better.
So when Reverend Wright indicated on Bill Moyers' show that his sermons had been taken out of context the eevil right-wing talk-show host Hugh Hewitt saw his opening. He put the whole of Reverend Wright's post 9/11 sermon and his post Iraqi Freedom sermon up on his website and ran them on his show in drive time.
I imagine that there wasn't a single bitter "god-and-guns" right-wing knuckle-dragging conservative who didn't have to stop the car to let the red mist of rage dissipate.
In his sermons Reverend Wright thoughtfully rehearses to an appreciative audience every humiliation ever suffered by African Americans in North America as though it had happened yesterday. He does not even forget to include the Constitution's relegation of slaves to the status of three-fifths of a person. "Government lies!" he thunders again and again. Just to be sure that nobody misses the point the able rhetorician directs each congregant to turn to the person next to her and say: "Government lies!"
The purpose of such a sermon is obvious. It is to raise the consciousness of Reverend Wright's congregants to fever pitch, to forge them into unity against their elected government, to prepare them for the moral equivalent of war.
It comes as a blow to the solar plexus to confront the fact that in urban African American communities all across America a frank racist hate-filled rhetoric is not merely condoned but actually celebrated. We white conservatives have been taught for the last generation to button our lips and never to give utterance to a racist thought. We thought that we were parties to a bargain: that if we shut up and truckled to the liberal race bullies sooner or later we would emerge from the post civil-rights era and its hypocrisies of affirmative action and diversity and we would ascend to the sunny green uplands of post-racism.
Now we hear the ravings of Reverend Wright and realize that we have been had. While we were buttoning our lips and attending compulsory diversity seminars liberals were not holding up their end of the deal and neutralizing the Reverend Wrights of America and their vicious racist bile. On the contrary, liberals were pumping them up! We used to wonder how it could be that blacks voted 90 percent for Democrats. How could this be, we wondered, when you can never get more that 60 percent of the rest of America to take sides on anything?
We instinctively felt that it had to take something extraordinary to create such "unity" in the African American community. Now we know what it is. It is not just a few loose cannons like Reverends Jackson and Sharpton. It is, you might say, institutional.
I don't think we yet realize what a watershed moment this is in American politics. All of a sudden the veil has been ripped away from a sacred mystery and a horror revealed to an innocent world.
We know why this systemic and shameful horror has been allowed to pollute America. The day that blacks stop voting 90-10 for Democrats is the day before the day that liberals will be out of a job.
Some things are just more important than peace, justice, and racial harmony in America.
But there is more to the Wright story than that.
It took me several days to realize what was wrong with the Reverend Wright's sermonizing--apart from its general meanness and its hatred of America. Finally, the penny dropped.
Reverend Wright: didn't you get the message? The civil-rights struggle is over. African Americans won. You won perhaps the noblest, most stunning victory in all history. Why do you daub its shimmering white marble monument with filth and bile?
A word to the wise, Reverend. Winston Churchill said it best: In defeat, defiance. In victory, magnanimity.
After your army has won a great victory you change the rhetoric. You stop the resentment and the defiance. Instead you inaugurate a new rhetoric that celebrates the glorious victory and memorializes the Fallen as eternal heroes. Even our liberal friends do this when they go on and on about how wonderful liberals passed wage and hour legislation, worker rights, Social Security, civil rights, women's rights, gay and lesbian rights.
Reverend Wright, why don't you preach a sermon each week for the rest of your life about the glorious victories of the civil-rights era? At the end of each sermon tell each parishioner to turn to her neighbor and say: You ain't seen nothing yet!