The newest political feud is not between Obama and Clinton political advisers, but between Obama and his spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. The now infamous remarks in 2003 that God is damning America for her past sins have come to the front of public debate. The comments were made in the context of a message about government failures around the world, noting that what a man (or a nation) sows that he shall also reap. Anyone who disagrees with his assessment will at least have to concede it was made using a biblical text in Galatians and that throughout the sermon America was not the only nation he blamed. Wright’s foreign policy is not that much different from the paleo-conservative argument of “blowback,” meaning that a nation’s entanglement in foreign affairs will have negative consequences for its own well-being in the future. In this sense, Americans at large need to admit that US involvement overseas have not been as pure as neo-conservatives imply. However, most of what Wright has said is at least dubious. His “bombastic” remarks about the US government are undergirded by a fallacious understanding of the role of government in society. He advocates a government that needs to stop spending money abroad (in wars) to a government that needs to permanently take our money locally and distribute it to the causes he deems suitable. In reality, this is a very common perception; it is a variation of socialism, just not fully developed. But the Black Liberation Theology that Wright advocates is just a more racial specific form of South American Liberation Theology. Moyers observed–and Wright concurred– that this theological outlook is based upon reading the biblical text through the lenses of an oppressed people. It is true that Israel was an oppressed people, but God was still willing to prosecute them for their covenant betrayal. In no way was God obliged to bless disobedient Israelites; in fact, the opposite is truer to the facts. Why is it so outrageous that God may be judging certain communities in the US or any other countries for their immorality, unfaithfulness and lack of recognition of their Lord? Indeed, the whole premise of any liberation movement is faulty from the start.
In the Moyers’ interview I was somewhat intrigued by Jeremiah Wright. His linguistic and historical insights were at times appealing, but then reality sunk in. This is the man that holds Louis Farrakhan in high esteem; “that the government was capable of having used the AIDS virus to commit genocide against minorities,“ who praises other black leaders (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) who are more interested in their fame than the causes they espouse. They masquerade their socialism in Pharisaical clothing.
When asked if Obama reacted appropriately by distancing himself from him, he answered that Obama acted like a politician and he (Wright) acted like a pastor. Of course, implying that politicians will do and say whatever it takes to get elected. Obama, reacted with indignation at those remarks and once again attempted to distance himself from Rev. Wright. The New York Times reported on Obama’s speech. The article concludes with Obama’s strong words:
“Whatever relationship I had with Reverend Wright has changed as a consequence of this,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday. “I don’t think that he showed much concern for me. More importantly, I don’t think he showed much concern for what we’re trying to do in this campaign and what we’re trying to do for the American people.”
But Wright is out for blood now. As a dedicated minister for 30 years he has the right to defend his own reputation, whether he is right or wrong. That is, if he is actually trying to defend his own reputation; or as some have concluded, he may be purposefully seeking to destroy Obama’s chance of winning the nomination. For what reason? One can only speculate. He may be one of those guys that demands full allegiance or else. He may, as Judge Andrew Napolitano suggests, trying to draw the attention of the public to racial issues that in his own mind continues to be a major hindrance in the black community. It is even possible that he and the Clinton campaign may have some ties; none of this is beyond the scope of a genius orator and wise religious politician. In the end, that is what Wright is: a religious man who is deeply interested in using politicians for his own gain.
Wright is correct to assert that Obama is acting as a politician. At this point, Wright has left Obama with no other option. He is distancing himself from an old friend because if he does not, he is doomed. The last thing Obama needs is an old friend working against him. It looks like this old friend is here to stay.