Obama’s Former Pastor Wastes his (and voters’) Time

The Huffington Post

Last Sunday evening, I was lucky enough to catch Michele Obama’s recent speech in Indiana on C-Span; and, between hooting and hollering about how many of her points I agreed with and thinking ‘I’d love to see Cindy McCain try and deliver a speech like this,’ my cousin sent me a instant message demanding I immediately change the channel to CNN.

It was an unfortunate sight.

Lo and behold, it’s Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s former pastor who was, for some time, closely associated with Obama’s campaign until his controversial sermons-particularly one pertaining to the 9/11 attacks.

Now, for a man who felt unjustly vilified and misrepresented in the media to roust a press conference and unleash an incendiary oration seemed utterly foolish to me. If you’re trying to improve public relations then this was certainly an unorthodox way to approach the situation.

Firstly, Reverend Wright’s sudden return reeked too much of an ego trip for me not to be suspicious of his motives. Wright’s initial appearance in the media limelight happened about a month ago; if he perceived himself as being the victim of a personal attack then that would have been the appropriate time to respond. Why he throws himself back in the lion’s den weeks after Obama distanced himself from Wright and repudiated his opinions, and weeks after the media had long forgotten about him seems like he’s missing the spotlight a little too much. After all, the best PR for Wright would have been to lay low and wait until he’s nothing but a footnote in the news.

Secondly, one portion of his speech was particularly bizarre. He assumed that the criticisms and disparagements launched against him were actually attacks against the black church. Wright believed his aggressive comments about 9/11, among other forceful sermons, were misinterpreted by the media and the American public, unaware of the, sometimes, bluntly honest and exuberant nature of many black churches.

This is wrong on so many levels-but let’s be brief. Who elected Reverend Jeremiah Wright as the spokesperson for the black church? Last time I checked, the black church didn’t adopt a representative. So, why he’s playing the martyr is beyond me.

Wright presupposes that all churches with largely African-American congregations feel the same about him and also share his points of view. Granted there are churches that party and pray hard, but there are just as many with services that are austere and solemn; so to wave the banner of collective black solidarity, assuming that all blacks share the same religious and political opinions is rather egotistical. No one person embodies the collective essence of the black community and its traditions, including Reverend Wright.

Still, I have to give Wright some credit and sympathy. Here’s a man who, until relatively recently, was an unknown in world, working hard and living day to day, suddenly hurled onto the national stage and reviled as anti-patriotic, anti-American. Then clips of his sermons-taken largely out of context-were cycled repeatedly and will no doubt exist until the end of time in the nether realms of the cyberspace. It’s easy for clips and sound bites to manipulated and misinterpreted-I’m sure what we’ve seen of him thus far is hardly reflective of his true character.

To some Americans, his radical preaching style may be a bit foreign; so, there’s probably a cultural disconnect there. However, throwing together a press conference and bellowing from the pulpit and flailing his hands are not going to do him any justice, or garner compassion from his attackers.

What’s more bothersome about Wright’s speech is that once again we’re talking about him instead of the actual election; we’re sucking on the fat when the steak is spiced and grilling before us. Obama, once again, had to denounce Wright’s statements; once again, Wright’s bloating political coverage with his excessive public speak; once again, siphoning more of our time.

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