Work and Days

Is There a Pattern Here?

Here we go again with Wright Redux.

By now no one is surprised by what is said by a Rev. Wright (“KKK of A”, Israel is a “dirty word”, etc.) or a Rev. Meeks (“white people” as “slave-masters”), or that they have figured prominently among Obama supporters.

Now the latest is apparently Rev. Eric Lee (“What other kind of Rabbis are there, but Jews?” “The Jews have made money on us in the music business and we are the entertainers, and they are economically enslaving us.’”), one of the designated co-sponsors of a Feb., 2008 “Obama—Get Out and Vote Rally” in Los Angeles, who on April 4th went on a public unhinged anti-Semitic rant about Daphna Ziman, the recipient of the Tom Bradley award.

The point is not to what degree Rev. Lee is directly involved in the Obama campaign (the usual official distancing will follow), but rather three other considerations:

First, once Obama failed to condemn Wright and offered contextualization, the flood gates of extremism were thrown wide open. Now any hate-monger, it seems, can go on a public racist rant, with the expectation that there will be no credible and absolute public condemnation. You see, our potential next President has already weighed in on Rev. Wright’s hate speech by citing his past good works, the commonality of such talk among all our religious figures, the special nature of the black church, and the unfair snippets that are replayed–all of which, of course, will offer the same “context” of mitigation for the Eric Lee hatred. We can imagine the accolades to come in the next few days concerning Lee’s public benefactions.

Second, when one collates what Wright, Meeks, Lee, and Sharpton have said, and then compares those “snippets” and “loops” with the cheery characterization of the unique protocols of the black church by Obama, then one realizes that the public is supposed to accept that African-American pastors are exempt from the sort of no-go speech zones that everyone else rightly accepts. It seems that we are rapidly reaching a sort of scary situation in which the black pastor will say whatever he wishes, no matter how anti-Semitic and racist, and then almost dare anyone to challenge that hatred, knowing that his congregation will support him, African-American intellectuals will contextualize him on television, and politicians like Obama (cf. Hillary’s past hugs of Sharpton) will defend him.

Three, these incidents will only continue until someone of stature in the civil rights community issues a zero-tolerance speech of the sort Obama should have given but failed at. In isolation, each subsequent outburst is explicable; in the aggregate they paint a picture of a deep-seeded racism and hatred that have been encouraged by the absence of any censure—the appeasement that we know so well from the Obama/Wright controversy.

Three weeks ago I wrote, in a number of postings, that we would see more of such Wright-like hatred in response to the widely-praised Obama race speech, which was, in fact, one of the great regressions in civil rights history. I don’t think that anything I have written has received more angry emails in response; but the Lee case, I think, shows that I was correct—and we can expect more still to come in the next six months. I also stand by my second prognosis—that in Obama we are witnessing the slow formation of a McGovern candidacy, a disaster to come that won’t be fully appreciated by now starry-eyed Democrats until September or October when, as in 1972, it will be too late.