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April 26, 2008

Wright - Moyer Love Fest

I forced myself to watch the Wright-Moyer1 love fest last night on PBS. Here's the transcript. Knowing Moyer, and his talent for partisan obfuscation, I didn't expect much. My expectations were not exceeded.

If the purpose of this interview was to rehabilitate Pastor Wright for those whose only knowledge of him was based on "snippets" of his sermons "run in an endless loop," the interview failed.

Here's the Moyer-Wright argument, in a nutshell:

1. Pastor Wright is a good guy, and really smart.2

2. The "snippets" were taken out of context.

3. And besides, you wouldn't understand them anyway.3

When I first heard the audio of Pastor Wright's vitriolic sermons, the first thing I thought was "this guy shouts like a fascist." If you've ever heard recordings of Hitler or Mussolini at the crescendo of an oration, the tone is eerily similar.

I've since heard the context, and not only do I understand what he was trying to say, it's no different in context than it is out of context. The man is full of hate. Just because you can construct an elaborate argument to justify your hatred doesn't mean you don't hate.

I don't mean to equate Pastor Wright with Hitler or Mussolini, but their methods of proselytization are similar. It boils down to this: Out there you're a victim; in here you're safe because I will tell you the truth.

Many people naturally want to hear that they're victims, because it explains life's inherent unfairness in a way that relieves them of any responsibility. And many people are naturally attracted to conspiracy theories out of ego-gratification. I know the "truth" -- you believe the "lies." Therefore I'm smart and you're a fool. That's all it is.

So what if Wright's ministry did good work in the community? So does my church, and without all the race-baiting hate speech. It is possible to preach the gospel without dividing people into us and them. But perhaps not as profitable.

One passage from the interview stood out for its absurdity.

[A]fter every revolution, the winners of that revolution write down what the revolution was about so that their children can learn it, whether it's true or not. They don't learn anything at all about the Arawak, they don't learn anything at all about the Seminole, the Cheek-Trail of Tears, the Cherokee. They don't learn anything. No, they don't learn that. What they learn is 1776, Crispus Attucks was the one black guy in there. Fight against the British, the- terrible. "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal while we're holding slaves." No, keep that part out. They learn that. And they cling to that. And when you start trying to show them you only got a piece of the story, and lemme show you the rest of the story, you run into vitriolic hatred because you're desecrating our myth. You're desecrating what we hold sacred. And when you're holding sacred is a miseducational system that has not taught you the truth.
I don't know what schools Pastor Wright went to, but I was taught all that stuff in every single history class I ever had. In a good number of law school classes too. Pastor Wright, if he knew what he was talking about, should have no problem with the history curriculum of today's students.4 In that sense, Obama was right when he said that Wright's profound mistake was thinking that America hadn't changed. We have changed, and we can do even better.

In his Farewell Address, Ronald Reagan addressed the same question, with a very different take, and one that I think is superior and unifying in contrast to Wright's divisiveness.

But now, we're about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection.

. . .

And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do


1. I know there's supposed to be an "s." I omit the "s" because that's what LBJ did.

2. See, he uses the word "hermeneutic" in a sentence to show how smart he is. Even Bill Moyer doesn't know that word, which proves how smart the Pastor really is.

3. Wright said, "The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly." Again, he divides people into us and them. If you were there, you understand and presumably agree. If you disagree, well, you weren't there so you couldn't possibly understand and you're opinion has no value. Interestingly, Obama would have it both ways. He agreed, but only with the stuff he heard when he was there. He disagreed, but only with the stuff he didn't hear because he wasn't there.

4. A recent poll of 2000 High school students asked them to name the top ten "most famous Americans." The top three were: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. Oprah Winfrey came in 7th. And check this out, "when the researchers polled 2,000 adults in a different survey, their lists were nearly identical."

Posted by annika, Apr. 26, 2008 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


It was nauseating to watch a very soft spoken Wright explain how his words have been twisted to mean something else, almost like he never uttered them.

And all the while, Moyers nodding in agreement; shame on the press for replaying them and misconstruing his words..

Has journalism lost all of its integrity? Are they all in the tank for Obama?

Posted by: shelly on Apr. 26, 2008

I'm so upset with myself being a cracker that I'm buying mules to distribute.

Posted by: Stew on Apr. 26, 2008

Ochra who?

Posted by: Casca on Apr. 26, 2008

I lived in Chi-town for a couple of years. There's a lot of hate there, and a great deal of it is directed toward whitey.

Posted by: Casca on Apr. 26, 2008

I would have given ANYTHING to be there. I love Moyers and I absolutely REVERE Reverand Wright. I've bought ALL of his sermons and I wake up to them every day on my alarm CD clock. I've got my 13 year old trained - I say God Bless America, he comes back with "nah, nah, nah, God Damn America"!

Just too cool.

I don't know which Rev I worship more - Wright or Sharpton!

Posted by: KayInMaine on Apr. 27, 2008


I hope you get impregnated by a cactus and queef out a litter of porcupines.

Posted by: 08nagaer on Apr. 27, 2008

Greetings Annie (!), if that is your real nom de guerre...

It's so nice to visit with you and with my old friends in the comment section.

The Reagan quote reminds of a favorite Mona Charen:

Is it really arrogance, as the liberals would have it, to believe that the system and the culture we've inherited is superior to others? Or is it ingratitude to deny it?


  • ">I blogged about Dr. Wright's speech tonight to the NAACP
  • .

    Third, a celebratory Dr. Wright haiku is surely called for:

    Preacher of darkness
    Marx in a pressed summer frock
    Who won the Cold War?

    Posted by:
    gcotharn on Apr. 27, 2008

    here's the url to the Jeremiah Wright blogpost


    Posted by: gcotharn on Apr. 27, 2008

    "And when you start trying to show them you only got a piece of the story, and lemme show you the rest of the story, you run into vitriolic hatred because you're desecrating our myth. You're desecrating what we hold sacred. And when you're holding sacred is a miseducational system that has not taught you the truth."

    When Wright cites history to build arguments of racism and exclusivity, I love how he implies that things should have been perfect from the start, otherwise there's no good in them whatsoever, even up to today. That ignores the fact that humans are imperfect beings and have the potential to improve, and that the bad in history can be outweighed by the good.

    He also ignores that, for all the faults demonstrated in history, the US still managed to build a society where anyone can rise above their past. That seems to be missing from Wright's demagoguery; all you see is "It's bad, it's bad, it's evil". Nothing about the very American attitude of "work to improve". The hate takes precedence.

    It seems as though the Reverend Wright here has made Perfect the enemy of Good, and in doing that has denied all that is truly right about this country. And by the way, who's the one who only "... got a piece of the story"? Seems to me he's engineering an encompassing truth from a similarly sized piece himself. What does the Bible say about hypocrisy again?

    Posted by: ElMondoHummus on Apr. 28, 2008

    He's skillful at rhetorical trickeration. One sees the attraction for young B. Hussein Obama. Wright strings together truths, then adds the falsehood. And as we all know from C.S. Lewis, to adulterate the faith does not require that something be taken away. It requires only that something be added.

    Posted by: Casca on Apr. 28, 2008

    Luscious commentary.

    Posted by: gcotharn on Apr. 28, 2008

    Cas, let me remind you that he had six years in the corps to perfect that little skill.

    Makes you wonder sometimes, doesn't it?

    Posted by: shelly on Apr. 29, 2008

    Actually Shelly, that's not true. His military record is rather hazy. I'm not even sure that he was ever a Marine. He claims to have finished his active duty as a corpsman. All corpsmen are sailors. He may have been a corpsman who served with Marines, or he may have started life as a Marine, then transferred to the navy, and started life over in a new MOS as a corpsman. That's a pretty strange thing to do. As a rule of thumb, corpsmen tend to be flakes or queers. Every once in a while, you run across one who has his shit in one bag. I'll bet there's a lot of fiction in his bio.

    Posted by: Casca on Apr. 29, 2008

    Isn't there a way to check that out to some extent?

    Posted by: shelly on Apr. 29, 2008

    He's a pre-Vietnam vet, so someone would have to come forward, or he'd have to confess to something, or release his records. He's probably too smart to do the last two. In any case, his bio says that he, "went to the Navy", whatever that means. It's not a routine thing. I've known a couple of guys who did the reverse, but never what The Right Rev Wrong claims.

    My guess is that he wasn't happy in the Marines, because he was a malcontent, and everyone was more than happy to ship his ass over.

    Posted by: Casca on Apr. 29, 2008

    I honestly don't know which nauseates me more, RR's post or Moyers' sychophant simpering nodding while the clown pastor takes down the first black non-president on the grand tour.

    For those who speak a little Yiddish, as my sainted grandsmother used to say "Ken brecken."

    Posted by: shelly on May. 1, 2008