Jeremiah Wright, the twenty-year pastor of Barack Obama at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, is quite a character. Wright while retiring had his church build him a $1.6 million mansion (with a $10 million dollar line of credit attached) next to a golf course in Tinley Park, an affluent, 93% white suburb. Bill O’Reilly joked that Wright is there to “keep an eye” on those “rich white people” he ferociously denounced in his sermons.
In 1978, Wright divorced the mother of his first two children, a surprising move for a minister and more so at that time. Before Obama joined the church, Wright undertook the astonishingly unscrupulous exploit of stealing the wife of a congregant who came to him for marriage counseling. Not indefinitely satisfied with his purloined prize, Wright later broke up a Texas marriage by having an affair with the secretary of a protégé pastor.
As Wright’s affair was proceeding, video footage of his sermons hit the television screens in March 2008, and Americans were mystified. They had never heard any clergyman preach hatred for any country– not even the old Soviet Union — approaching Wright’s fanatical hatred of the United States, clearly conjoined with fierce hatred of white people and substantial hostility toward Israel. It is impossible to understand Wright without noting his declared adherence to Liberation Theology (LT). LT is the offspring of a 1960s mating of Marxism and ultra-liberal church theology. Emphasis on or belief in the inspiration of scripture, the afterlife, and the provision of personal salvation by Jesus was jettisoned. A fictional narrative was composed of Jesus as a fiery anti-Roman insurgent rather than the Bible’s healer and preacher of individual accountability to God. Christianity was treated as silly putty to be molded in the service of radical political causes.
Though not their sole preoccupation, LT advocates unquestionably placed their greatest hope for the change they desired in the worldwide Communist movement led both overtly and covertly by the Soviet Union. The collapse from 1989 to 1992 of that long-vibrant movement after decades of spectacular success was made possible by multifaceted efforts on a global scale by the U.S. (an endeavor of which Americans should be proud). Thus one sees in every branch of LT implacable hatred of the U.S.
Wright is a proudly avowed disciple of James Cone, the founder of the branch known as Black Liberation Theology. After the great legislative triumphs of the civil rights movement, Cone wrote:
The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples (A Black Theology of Liberation, p.63)”…”All white men are responsible for white oppression (Black Theology and Black Power, p.24)”…”If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him…Black theology will only accept the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal (ibid., p.27).
Returning to Wright himself, his level of honesty is typical of the Marxist camp. Space will not permit me, as I could, to take issue with the truthfulness or appropriateness of virtually everything he said in his televised screeds. As an example of him routinely playing fast and loose with facts, Wright claimed that Bill Clinton’s 1998 airstrike on Sudan killed hundreds of people when it actually only killed one. All military action by the U.S. and Israel Wright proscribes as ”killing innocent people”; but pacifism is not required for the Left, as witnessed by his support for Qaddafi, the Sandinistas, and the El Salvadoran guerrillas.
At the heart of Wright’s pernicious ideology is an obsessive imputing of collective and perpetual guilt to whites and to the U.S. for the trans-Atlantic slave trade (which flourished before the founding of Jamestown) and for over two centuries of enslavement of blacks in the South. (Like many who curiously say the U.S. “has never dealt with slavery’”, Wright shows indifference to the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers who sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in a war to save the Union, which needed saving only because of a crisis over the election of a profoundly anti-slavery president.) Imputing of collective and perpetual guilt is universally seen as wrong as done to the Jews; it cannot be wrong in one instance and acceptable in another instance.
It bears noting that this churchman is an avid apologist for Islam (like Obama and many in his political camp), yet bears toward white Christians an even greater hatred than his hatred of whites in general, which seems irrational unless one considers his radical political motivations. The trans-Atlantic slave trade featured extensive participation by Arab Muslim middlemen and was itself an outgrowth of the centuries-old Arab Muslim slave trade in Africa. At a time when slavery was uncontroversial across the globe, abolitionism was birthed by white Christians (as was the black American church itself). The first abolitionist publication was the tract “The Selling of Joseph” by Massachusetts Puritan Samuel Sewall in 1700. Many of our Founding Fathers, so reviled by Wright and others, were abolitionists. White Christians drove abolitionism to the success that virtually eliminated slavery not only in the Americas, but also in Africa and lastly in the Islamic world, which spawned no abolitionist movement of its own. Afro-centrists such as Wright ironically celebrate the very kings and queens of West Africa who grew wealthier by selling troublesome subjects and captives from adjacent tribes into bondage across the sea.
Wright denounces not only “Italians” with “their garlic noses,” but also “assimilated Negroes” and, in contrast to Martin Luther King, insists that black Americans view themselves not as Americans, but as Africans in exile. Wright even reproached the highly Semitic Jesus of the film “The Passion of the Christ” as “white supremacist.” In 2010, he told seminary students: “You are not now, nor have you ever been, nor will you ever be a brother to white folk. And if you do not realize that, you are in serious trouble.”
Healing and reconciliation between the races is therefore absolutely inconceivable in Wright’s ideology (although it permits him to befriend a handful of radical self-hating whites like Father Michael Pfleger, another venomous preacher of Black LT acknowledged by Obama as a spiritual mentor). Wright shows not the slightest willingness to acknowledge a broad-based change of heart among whites over the decades and gives all appearance of having a heart and a mind closed tight as a drum. Defenders have claimed that his veteran status puts his patriotism beyond question, but Timothy McVeigh demonstrates the absurdity of that rhetorical trick.
When exposed for what he is in early 2008, Wright resorted to the last refuge of today’s scoundrel — cry “bigotry!”– claiming that criticisms of him were attacks on the black church. But reputable experts and leaders such as Eugene Rivers have pointed out that black LT is only preached in a small fraction of U.S. black churches. The claim that Wright was being victimized by the airing of out-of-context “snippets” made by Obama himself collapsed when Wright was seen unedited on C-SPAN in his April 28, 2008 National Press Club appearance, making plain that the Wright of the “snippets” was the real Jeremiah Wright, period. That performance provoked Obama finally to break with Wright in a press conference the next day. A reading of the transcript strongly suggests that Obama’s main source of indignation was not Wright’s virulent remarks but his “show of disrespect” in attributing insincere political posturing to Obama.
Since Obama often promoted himself to suitable audiences in 2008 as a Christian candidate, it is worth noting that by his own admission, he learned his Christianity not from his unobservant family but from Wright and Trinity United, even carrying tapes of Wright’s sermons with him to Harvard Law School. Could some degree of influence from Wright’s contempt for the Christianity preached in most American churches, including black churches, help us understand the startling episode of the avowedly Christian candidate speaking to San Franciscans about “bitter” people “clinging to” their “religion”, “guns,” and bigotry because they are economic losers?
After the election (which gave the U.S. a president who disparaged and apologized for his country abroad), Wright called Elisabeth Hasselbeck a ”dizzy broad,” making a strange juxtaposition with the men-berating feminism that peppers his discourses (though less so than does his personal life). In 2010, he told a very sympathetic Virginia journalist: “Ethnic cleansing is going on in Gaza. The ethnic cleansing of the Zionists is a sin and a crime”–never mind that the only ethnic cleansing in Gaza in recent memory was the removal of its Jewish settlers. More controversially, he said “the Jewish vote” is “controlling” Obama and “Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me.” Later, Wright said he “misspoke” like Hillary Clinton “misspoke” about Bosnia (when claiming to have dodged sniper fire a year after the Bosnian war ended) and that he meant to say “Zionists” rather than “Jews.” Given what an extremely pejorative slur “Zionist” is when uttered by leftists, its application to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod (and whoever else Wright had in mind) in the clarification can only be seen as making matters worse.
Finally, consider Obama’s credibility in claiming that the Wright of the Press Club performance “was not the person I met 20 years ago” and that Obama “had not heard those kinds of statements being made or those kinds of views being promoted.” In view of the contents made public of years of Wright’s printed sermons, Trinity United’s church bulletins, and its Trumpet magazines (whose covers Obama graced), and in view of Obama’s known record of frequent attendance, these claims are laughable. According to Jim Davis of Newsmax.com, who visited Trinity United on July 22, 2007 when Obama and his Secret Service detail were in attendance, Wright preached a profanity-laced, anti-American, hate-whites sermon of the sort he would become famous for in 2008, and “Obama nodded in apparent agreement as these statements were being made.”
In a recorded interview with Edward Klein, author of the Obama biography “The Amateur”, Wright gave explosive new revelations. An unsuccessful attempt was made by e-mail relayed from Obama’s close confidant Eric Whitaker to bribe Wright with $150,000 to cease preaching until after the 2008 election. Then just days after the Philadelphia speech in which Obama attempted to surmount the controversy over the virulent televised Wright videotapes, Obama had a secret meeting with Wright in which he made another failed effort to persuade Wright to refrain from public speaking till after the election. According to Wright, “Barack said, ‘I’m sorry you don’t see it the way I do. Do you know what your problem is?’ And I said, ‘No, what’s my problem?’ And he said, ‘You have to tell the truth.’”