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Dennis Perrin on Jeremiah Wright and White Flight (bonus round: Lanny Davis)

April 30, 2008

It’s like this guy read my mind. I’ll reprint excerpts, but I implore you all to read this in it’s entirety.

You gotta love white liberals. They really are a special bunch. Just ask them — they’ll be more than happy to confirm the fact.

Their squirming and hand-wringing over Jeremiah Wright’s recent performances (running from softly-stated analysis to celebrity impressions and regional accents) has been quite a sight to see, and quite predictable as well, since white liberals find it hard to damn the nation state they believe is, under the countless mass graves, morally driven, if imperfect. Touring the various liblogs yesterday and this morning, I found much of this baby talk in evidence, proving yet again that if the Dems capture the White House, nothing will really change, save for the soaring rhetoric.
. . .
Listening to black talk radio yesterday was like entering a parallel universe. Rev. Wright’s comments were not controversial, nor were any of the hosts and callers surprised by white people’s reactions. Some actually pitied whites for being so deluded about the country they dominate.

I’m not sure which “black talk radio” he was listening to, but perhaps Perrin overstates the degree to which Wright has support. There are many, perhaps darker versions of his White Liberals, who think Wright was “showing out” on purpose. Despite African-American religious fealty, there remains a healthy skepticism about religious leaders, especially those who appear on TV a lot wearing nice suits and holding out one empty palm. Wright had not been that kind of leader before, however, now he appears to be taking on that role to some.

I think that skepticism may be the schism Perrin sees between reactions in the community and reactions overall. Part of the ridiculous overreaction to Wright’s comments and the link to Obama is some people assume a greater tie between Black clergy and church member than actually exists. Really, for the argument that Obama completely agreed with everything Wright said to work, you must assume that church members are literally a flock, and can’t exercise their own judgment, can’t disagree with the pastor and maybe stick around because the choir is really, really good.

Another thing Perrin is seeing is simply the parroting of talking points from Sen. Clinton’s team and from the right ‘vingers. Anyone who watched Lanny Davis’ Manchurian Candidate like performance on Larry King the last couple of nights, where, like any well trained campaign surrogate/android, he constantly repeated the message of the day. “Why,” he agonized, with deep furrowed brow, “Why oh why did Obama sit in that church for 20 years and remain silent?!?!” WHY GOD WHY, ASSUMING HE’D HEARD EVERY WORD WRIGHT EVER SAID? (Okay, Lanny, I wanna know why your former employer remained still while people were getting their limbs chopped off in Rwanda? Silly rhetorical game, ain’t it).

Liberals, supporters of Obama and Clinton continued hand wringing and demonizing of Wright only serve to give life to an issue that should have been dead weeks ago. The bigger Wright becomes as a villain in this tale, the more effective he becomes as an attack ad in the fall.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2008 12:28 pm

    I don’t know, maybe having listened to Conservatives condemn the Government for welfare and social policy for decades has numbed me…but I’m still having trouble finding a whole lot wrong with Jeremiah Wright.

    Yeah, the AIDS thing is far-fetched, and on further reflection I’m not sure I buy his argument about blacks and whites using different sides of their brain (though I haven’t studied the matter)….but ultimately, his rhetoric isn’t too far removed from something Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn might say, just with a hell of a lot more style.

  2. April 30, 2008 1:26 pm

    Yeah, when I was watching Wright’s NAACP “performance” with me Pa, he noted immediately the research Wright quoted re: different sides of the brain and said it had been thoroughly discredited. Of course you don’t have to be a former college administrator to see that it sounded fishy at least. That’s been the problem with “black liberation theology” which to me is another name for Afrocentrism, the bastardized version we heard about in the 80s.

    This is what many don’t get, there are Black bourgesoise folks like my father, like Obama essentially, who support Wright’s rhetoric because they recognize it’s value of uplift and questioning status quo, however they also think on some matters; come on, that doesn’t make sense. It’s a more complicated relationship. “I”m gonna stand with this brother because he’s helping our people even though he says some goofy shit sometimes.”

  3. April 30, 2008 2:15 pm

    Yeah, watching Wright impressed the heck out of me (despite his stray bits of lunacy) and if I were a Christian I wouldn’t mind having him lead my congregation, ya know? The guy has an impressive grounding in theology and history and is (duh) dynamic.

    But I do wonder … I know there are a couple of topics every rabbi has on which they drive me up the wall (not the same topics for each rabbi, just that everyone’s got them) and I will sit gritting my teeth during that sermon, but I wouldn’t leave the congregation over it unless this happened with some frequency, and I wouldn’t get up and storm out in the middle of the sermon unless I was personally called on to agree with the rabbi. But I’m not a white Protestant. Do white Protestants routinely do these things, or is the whole “why did Obama stay in the congregation” just completely disingenuous? Anyone have info on this?

  4. bridgett permalink
    May 1, 2008 10:47 am

    It’s long been an observations among southern Catholics that Protestant practice is a cult of personality. The saying goes that Protestants don’t actually believe in dogma; they just find some guy they like to hear and go listen to him. When they stop liking what he has to say or think the liturgy needs a refurb, they up and organize a new church around another minister who suits them better. This might be sour grapes on the part of Catholics, who are assigned their parishes based on residency and their priests based on whoever the Diocese sends and receive their liturgy more or less universally with little variation congregation to congregation. However, what you’re seeing in this “controversy” is a group of Protestants essentially acknowledging that they go to church not because they are worshipping God, but because they like their preacher. They are acknowledging that for them, church is politics and not faith. I’m surprised that no one is pointing that out.

    Thought of another grant possibility if you’re doing community work or are designing the project to involve local schools and museums, etc:
    http://www.history.com/minisites/saveourhistory/

    A lot of getting grant money starts in the project design and conceptualizing it so that you can play smallball on a lot of different pieces. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

  5. May 1, 2008 2:44 pm

    Bridgett, heh. Within denominations, in places where they haven’t gone to megacongregations (which is sadly the fact in Nashville), Jews choose their congregations not so much for the rabbi, but for the cantor and the style of service. Spoken or sung? Sermon or congregational discussion? More or less Hebrew? That kind of thing.

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