The Crazy Rev. Wright
By ISHMAEL REED
Nothing is more uplifting than watching MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where wealthy Anglicized Irish Americans like Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, Tim "Little Russ" Russert and Pat Buchanan hold forth on the topic of race. During the week beginning March, 17, 2008, the talk was all about whether Barack Obama should distance himself from Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Presumably in the same manner that they distanced themselves from Don Imus.
Buchanan has been awarded more time to discuss race and the bigotry of Rev. Wright than the scores of black intellectuals and scholars, who could provide some insight, combined. According to U. S. News & World Report (1/16/92), Pat Buchanan said In 1977 that Hitler was "a political organizer of the first rank," a man of "extraordinary gifts," "great courage" and elements of "genius." Yet there was his sister, Bay, debating Roland Martin, one of a handful of token black commentators with any kind of bite. This was on CNN, March 21. She was in a tizzy about the Rev. 's anti Americanism, yet Hitler, her brother's hero, was responsible for the deaths of 120, 000 Americans.
Why doesn't Dan Abrams at MSNBC just go ahead and offer Minister Louis Farrakhan a commentary? Why isn't the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress, so quick to pounce upon blacks who say silly anti Semitic things, all over MSNBC for Buchanan's position as Dan Abram's resident authority on race.
Tim Russert, his colleague, was employed by the late Daniel Moynihan. Moynihan's report on the black family has guided public policy and been cited in hundreds of Op-eds and editorials. Black intellectuals who opposed Moynihan's report have cited the fact that the majority of women on welfare at the time of the report were white women. In fact it was a Nazi, Tom Metzger, who told Larry King that the average welfare recipient was a white woman whose husband has left her, while Neo-cons and black tough lovers ignore this possibility. Isn't it ironic that one can gain a more accurate picture of welfare in this country from a Nazi than a Neo-con? Most of those white welfare recipients were probably Celtic, members of Moynihan's tribe.
It was Daniel Moynihan who accused black women of "speciation," of reproducing mutants, the kind of thing that the Nazis use to say about their victims. Did Russert disown the Senator after this remark? Some of those in the media who are now criticizing Senator Obama's pastor are Irish Catholics. They dominate the panels on "Morning Joe." (His token black guests are passive participants, grateful-to-be-on camera types).
Have these panelists, who are so critical of Rev. Wright, disassociated themselves from a church that had to pay 2 billion dollars to people who've been sexually abused by priests? Both the last pope and the current one attempted to cover up the scandal. Would they fly to Rome to scold the pope which is what they demanded of Obama who wasn't even present when Rev. Wright preached about 9/11. Have they had a one on one with their priests during which they criticized the church's cover up of the epidemic of pedophilia infecting the church?
The classic indicator for racism has been the double standard applied to blacks and whites. This still exists for blacks in everyday life. In the criminal justice system, the mortgage lending industry, and the treatment of blacks by the medical industry, etc. Why is Rev. Wright crazy for citing racism in the criminal justice system? The infamous three strikes law where poor people might receive a life sentence for stealing a pizza pie? Even the Bush administration has documented racial profiling. MSNBC's Tucker Carlson flew into a rage when Marc Morial of the Urban League mentioned racial disparities in the criminal justice system. I sent Carlson documentation, including data from the Sentencing Project. He still probably denies it, and his misrepresentations go out unchallenged to millions of viewers. It's appropriate that he and his colleagues dance on variety shows. They're entertainers, not newspeople. Could you imagine Edward R. Murrow appearing on "Dancing With The Stars?"
When Rev. Wright talks about AIDs being an ethnic weapon, those critics who denounce him haven't examined the speculation that it might have originated in the Koprowski's polio vaccine experiment that was conducted out of Philadelphia. Those who embrace this theory might find some support in the book, The River A Journey Back to The Source of HIV and AIDs by Edward Hooper ( Penguin, 2000). A white man wrote this book.
I did a considerable amount of research for my recent off Broadway play, "Body Parts," which was dismissed by The New York Times as "angry." I found that the pharmaceutical companies use Africans to test drugs that might have bad side effects without the knowledge of those being tested. The Washington Post did a series about this scandal. A series written by whites. they mention the Tuskegee experiments. According to Harriet Washington in her book Medical Apartheid, such experiments that date back to the days of slavery continue. Tuskegee was just the tip of the iceberg. Unequal Treatment; How African Americans documenting how unwitting victims of were used in medical experiments was reviewed in The Washington Post on Jan. 7, 2007 by Alondra Nelson. She wrote:
"J. Marion Sims, a leading 19th- century physician and former president of the American Medical Association, developed many of his gynecological treatments through experiments on slave women who were not granted the comfort of anesthesia. Sims's legacy is Janus-faced; he was pitiless with non- consenting research subjects, yet he was among the first doctors of the modern era to emphasize women's health. Other researchers were guiltier of blind ambition than racist intent. Several African Americans, including such as Eunice Rivers, the nurse-steward of the Tuskegee study, served as liaisons between scientists and research subjects.
"The infringement of black Americans' rights to their own bodies in the name of medical science continued throughout the 20th century. In 1945, Ebb Cade, an African American trucker being treated for injuries received in an accident in Tennessee, was surreptitiously placed without his consent into a radiation experiment sponsored by the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission. Black Floridians were deliberately exposed to swarms of mosquitoes carrying yellow fever and other diseases in experiments conducted by the Army and the CIA in the early 1950s. Throughout the 1950s and '60s, black inmates at Philadelphia's Holmesburg Prison were used as research subjects by a University of Pennsylvania dermatologist testing pharmaceuticals and personal hygiene products; some of these subjects report pain and disfiguration even now. During the 1960s and '70s, black boys were subjected to sometimes paralyzing neurosurgery by a University of Mississippi researcher who believed brain pathology to be the root of the children's supposed hyperactive behavior. In the 1990s, African American youths in New York were injected with Fenfluramine -- half of the deadly, discontinued weight loss drug Fen-Phen -- by Columbia researchers investigating a hypothesis about the genetic origins of violence."
With this kind of record, is Rev. Wright paranoid when he speculates that AIDs might be the result of an experiment gone wrong or even as some black intellectuals assert a ethnic weapon? Given these recorded instances of abuse by the government and private groups, would anybody put it pass them? The New York Times has carried a series about Eli Lily's role in distributing a drug called Zyprexa. Seems that the company knew about the dangerous side effects of this drug before they put it on the market ."Eli Lilly, the drug maker, systematically hid the risks and side effects of Zyprexa, its best-selling schizophrenia medicine, a lawyer for the State of Alaska said Wednesday in opening arguments in a lawsuit that contends the drug caused many schizophrenic patients to develop diabetes."
J. B Reed of Bloomberg News wrote:
"Eli Lilly has faced legal problems over evidence that Zyprexa, a top-selling medicine, tends to cause weight gain and diabetes.
"The lawyer, Scott Allen, said that memorandums from Lilly executives showed that the company knew of Zyprexa's dangers soon after the drug was introduced in 1996. But Lilly deliberately played down the side effects, Mr. Allen said, so that sales of Zyprexa would not be hurt."
"Lilly's conduct was 'reprehensible, 'Mr. Allen said. In the suit, which is being heard in Alaska state court before Judge Mark Rindner, the state is asking Lilly to pay for the medical expenses of Medicaid patients who have contracted diabetes or other diseases after taking Zyprexa."
Of course when I read that the drug was also used on "disruptive" children, you can imagine where my mind went; probably the same place that Rev. Jeremiah Wright's went.
My oldest daughter, Timothy, a novelist, author of Showing Out, has been suffering from schizophrenia since the age of twenty-eight. Every day for her is a challenge. Her psychiatrist only stopped prescribing Zyprexa for her when I told him to stop, having read about the Zyprexa scandal about a year ago. Now Eli Lilly's offering her $2500. 00, her share of a class action suit, a pittance when compared to the complications from type one diabetes that she contacted as a result of taking this drug. And The New York Times calls me "angry" for taking on the subject of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry? Also, what am I suppose to make of a report that dangerous anti-psychotic drugs are prescribed to black patients suffering from mental illness while white patients are steered into talk therapy.
Rev. Wright proposes that crack was deliberately brought into the inner city by the government. The CIA admitted to having knowledge that US allies brought drugs into the urban areas. The late Gary Webb was ridiculed by the American press for his "Dark Alliance," yet as Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair disclose in their book Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press, two years after Webb's series ran, the CIA's inspector general confirmed that the agency had in fact been aiding those very same Contra drug-runners (and many more).
Even before the publication of "Dark Alliance," in The San Jose Mercury, Senator John Kerry found that other Government agencies knew about their allies drug peddling and didn't do anything to stop it.
Don't blacks have a right to ask why? These crack operations may not be effecting the neighborhoods of the rich pundits who dismiss Wright as an anti-American nut but they effect mine and probably those served by Rev. Wright. We had our latest shootout on my block on March 17. It took the Oakland police at least twenty minutes before they arrived. In a Playboy article (Dec. 2007), I described my neighbors and me as being among the marooned. We don't receive the kind of police protection or services that white neighborhoods receive. Rev. Wright knows this. Maureen Dowd doesn't. She referred to him a "wackadoodle," the typical way in which black grievances are treated. We're angry. Paranoid. Politically correct. We're wack jobs. Foreign leaders who complain about American foreign policy are routinely described by the inbedwith press as peculiar or crazy. Jokes are made about them on comedy shows.
Wasn't Wright conservative when he mentioned just two of the horrendous crimes against humanity committed by the American government? Nagasaki and Hiroshima, attacks that were unique in the history. because the Japanese are still suffering from the damaging genetic effects of the war. He could have gone all out as Ward Churchill does in his book A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present (Paperback). He could have reminded them that the West has been bombing Muslim countries since 1911(see The History of Bombing by Sven Lindquist. ) Wright didn't blame the three thousand casualties world trade center on the victims( nor did he say that it was an inside job, MSNBC's Willie Geist's lie). The fact that people abroad might be enraged by the country's policies is a difficult message for the American public which has been kept in a bubble of ignorance by the media and the school curriculum. Three thousand lives were lost as a result of the American invasion of Panama alone. Rick Sanchez of CNN said on March 21 that some Hispanics warmed to Obama's speech on race because they remember invasion of Panama and the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile. They might also remember the Reagan administrations support of Contra death squads. While white commentators and politicians were cynical about Obama's speech on race another Hispanic, Gov. Bill Richardson, said that he endorsed Obama as a result of the speech. Sanchez also stepped away from his CNN comfort zone by adding that there were few Latinos represented in the media (during this week, "historian" Tom Brokaw, called Hispanics, people who've been here since the 1500s,"latin Americans"). He's right. The few Asian-Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, and Native American journalists remaining are being bought out or fired according to Richard Prince. And so what we had last week was a white separatist media criticizing a black nationalist preacher. Multi deferment chicken hawk types criticizing a Marine. All you have to is pick up a copy of The Washingtonian to see photos of these commentators and op ed writers partying with and smooching up to the people whom they cover.
Air America's Rachel Maddow seems to be the only MSNBC commentator who views the double standard being applied to Obama and other presidential candidates, when she's not interrupted bullied and screamed at by Joe Scorborourgh who has to carry on like a maniac in order not to meet the same fate as Tucker Carlson. His show was cancelled. If two CNN reporters on the show Ballot Bowl surmised on Sat. that Obama's association with Rev. Wright hurt him, why doesn't Hillary Clinton's association with Billy Graham, her spiritual advisor, hurt her? In a Time interview, Hillary Clinton reported that the evangelist "fulfilled a pastoral role during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and helped the First Lady endure the ordeal."At that time, Clinton said,"Graham was 'incredibly supportive to me personally. And he was very strong in saying, 'I really understand what you're doing and I support you. ' He was just very personally there for me.'"
Billy Graham in a conversation with Richard Nixon described the Jews as "satanic" and offered that they owned the media and peddled pornography. If Ms. Clinton denounced and rejected Billy Graham, of whom the editor of Newsweek John Meacham likened to god with his blue eyes, etc. her poll numbers would decline over night. John Meacham was on a Sunday talk show, March 23, 2008, criticizing Rev. Wright and taking some jabs at Obama, part of It laced with sarcasm. He said that now people have found that Obama doesn't "walk on water," maybe because for Meacham only Billy Graham can perform such miracles.
And if that weren't enough, On Saturday, C-Span's guest was Donald Lambro, The Washington Times' chief political correspondence who joined in the media's running loop devoted to criticizing Obama's relationship with his pastor. The Friday before, Diana West, a reporter for the same paper, appearing on the Lou Dobbs show, criticized Michelle Obama and Rev. Wright for their "anti-Americanism," and quoted Victor Davis Hanson a far right columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle. Their boss is Rev. Sun Myung Moon who warns Korean widows that their husbands will go to hell if they don't give him money. If, for them, Obama should disown Rev. Wright, why are they still working for a religious shakedown artist? Why don't they step away from Rev. Moon's anti-Americanism reported by Robert Parry of consortiumnews: Moon's jingle of deep-pocket cash also has caused conservatives to turn a deaf ear toward Moon's recent anti-American diatribes. With growing virulence, Moon has denounced the United States and its democratic principles, often referring to America as "Satanic." But these statements have gone virtually unreported, even though the texts of his sermons are carried on the Internet and their timing has coincided with Bush's warm endorsements of Moon.
"America has become the kingdom of individualism, and its people are individualists," Moon preached in Tarrytown, N. Y., on March 5, 1995. "You must realize that America has become the kingdom of Satan."
In similar remarks to followers on Aug. 4, 1996, Moon vowed that the church's eventual dominance over the United States would be followed by the liquidation of American individualism."Americans who continue to maintain their privacy and extreme individualism are foolish people," Moon declared."The world will reject Americans who continue to be so foolish. Once you have this great power of love, which is big enough to swallow entire America, there may be some individuals who complain inside your stomach. However, they will be digested."
During the same sermon, Moon decried assertive American women."American women have the tendency to consider that women are in the subject position," he said. "However, woman's shape is like that of a receptacle. The concave shape is a receiving shape. Whereas, the convex shape symbolizes giving. . . . Since man contains the seed of life, he should plant it in the deepest place.
"Does woman contain the seed of life? ["No."] Absolutely not. Then if you desire to receive the seed of life, you have to become an absolute object. In order to qualify as an absolute object, you need to demonstrate absolute faith, love and obedience to your subject. Absolute obedience means that you have to negate yourself 100 percent."
Diana West and Donald Lambro are applying a double standard for their boss and for Rev. Wright. And why does CNN keep on as a regular the employee of a man who hates our country so much? Does Lou Dobb agree that the United States is satanic?Does Jonathan Klein, CNN's boss? Where is NOW?
When Richard Cohen appeared on television on March 21st, he joined the media chorus in taking offense to the remarks of Rev. Wright. This is the columnist who defended the practice racial profiling by Washington shop keepers.
On March 20, the Dali Lama was the subject of gushing praise by a writer for Time magazine where Rev. Wright had been roistered all week on cable. From Jameswagner. com: "the Dalai Lama explicitly condemns homosexuality, as well as all oral and anal sex. His stand is close to that of Pope John Paul II, something his Western followers find embarrassing and prefer to ignore. His American publisher even asked him to remove the injunctions against homosexuality from his book, 'Ethics for the New Millennium, ' for fear they would offend American readers, and the Dalai Lama acquiesced."
Also, why isn't there a running loop about John McCain's relationship with controversial ministers? Are those who control the media easy on him because he plays the father in their fantasies?
What about these Waco doodles? The late Jerry Falwell Pat Robertson and Rev. John Hagee. About 9/11, Falwell said "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For The American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen. '''
And Pat Robertson: "I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you, this is not a message of hate-this is a message of redemption. But a condition like this will being about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs; it's bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteror." This was Robertson commenting on "gay days" at Disneyworld.
John McCain's spiritual advisor is Rev. John Hagee. He says that the Roman Catholic Church and Hitler formed an alliance for the purpose of exterminating the Jews. Hurricane Katrina for him, was God's punishment for a gay rights parade that occurred in New Orleans.
The double standard applied to Obama, the Clintons and Senator McCain and their relationship to controversial pastors is the result of a media gone wild. (On "The View," Elizabeth Hasselbeck even compared Rev. Wright to Jeffrey Dahmer, the cannibal). A media that, since the O. J. trial, has found that it can make more money from the racial divide than by any of the other fault lines in American life.
While Obama talked to Americans as though they were adults, the media treated the controversy as though it were a video game in which Rev. Wright was the heavy. They O. Jayed Wright for cash.
Martin Luther King. Jr. had a dream. Here's mine. What would happen if all of the whites holding forth in Op-eds and on cable about race- both in the progressive and corporate media- the middle persons who interpret black America for whites( when they are capable of speaking for themselves), the screenwriters and TV writers who make millions from presenting blacks as scum, and the authors of the fake ghetto books would just shut the fuck up for a few months and listen. Just listen. Listen to blacks, browns, reds and yellows, people whose views are ignored by the segregated media. Listen, not just to their meek colored mind doubles like an Obama critic, Rev. Rivers, who nobody's ever heard of, but people who will level with them.
In 1957, Doubleday released Richard Wright's White Man Listen. In it, he wrote "...the greatest aid that any white Westerner can give Africa is by becoming a missionary right in the heart of the Western world, explaining to his own people what they have done to Africa."
Nobody expects the media to educate the public about Africa. The current coverage is consistent with the images found in the Tarzan movies. It's not going to change. I'll settle for missionary work among the American public. Free them from entrapment by the corporate media, which are causing their brain cells to atrophy. Teach them the other points of views that are smothered by the noise, and trivialized on You Tube. Then maybe they'll understand where the crazy Rev. Wright is coming from.
Ishmael Reed is a poet, novelist and essayist who lives in Oakland. His widely-accalimed novels include, Mumbo Jumbo, the Freelance Pallbearers and the Last Days of Louisiana Red. He has recently published a fantastic book on Oakland: Blues City: a Walk in Oakland and Carroll and Graf has recently published a thick volume of his poems: New and Collected Poems: 1964-2006.
He is also the editor of the online zine Konch.
Copyright 2008 Ishmael Reed