I Stand Corrected…Maybe

by Dax-Devlon Ross

I found this on a phenomenal blog, Skeptical Brotha.

It was hard to do, but I’ve saved my thoughts on the letter until the end

Dear Jodi:

Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a “Spiritual Biography” of Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met.

For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other whether or not she was going to run.

I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn’t I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout Christian, but who did not prejudge others because they believed something other than what he believed.

I talked about how rare it was to meet a man whose Christianity was not just “in word only.”  I talked about Barack being a person who lived his faith and did not argue his faith. I talked about Barack as a person who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to hell if they did not believe what he believed.

Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack’s spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that. When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to how God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?,” that Barack was like that when I met him. Barack had it “in his hand.” Barack had in his grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that.

As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack’s taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed “sound byte” and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.

I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation’s first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Oval Office.

Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me doubt your credibility, and I am looking forward to see how you are going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama’s “Spiritual Biography.” Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that Hannity of “Hannity and Colmes” is trying to trash, set the record straight for you in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which Barack has belonged for over twenty years.

The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator; and yet The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants to be the truth. I do not remember reading in your article that Barack had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did I miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way, you do not have to worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or “spin” because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.

Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party’s national “blog.”  The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior.

Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana.  Maybe it was my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!

Sincerely and respectfully yours,
Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. ,
Senior Pastor
Trinity United Church of Christ

the Hnic’s take:

Now, I wrote about this very NYTimes article a week ago I was skeptical about it, troubled by it. Bothered by it. Clearly, Reverend Wright had a stronger reaction than I did. I’m glad that he wrote this letter even though it flies off the handle towards the end. He made his point and his point spoke for itself: he was misrepresented in his mind. Nevertheless, he’s chosen to see his side of the story as the only side of the story. Underlying the entire tenor of the letter is Rev. Wright’s assumption that he is completely and entirely aware of everything he said and how it was interpreted. His truth, the letter resoundingly announces, is the only truth.

 I want to believe Reverend Wright was duped and I do believe he sincerely feels deceived, But I don’t feel sorry for him. If he knew the NY Times was little more than a “Bush ‘blog,’” he should’ve never returned the paper’s calls from the very outset. He could’ve just issued a statement and left it alone. Reverend Wright chose to run his mouth (yes, I said it) for two hours with a journalist from the world’s most vaunted paper. If he wanted to have his truth spoken and he already distrusted the mainstream press, then maybe he should’ve considered giving an exclusive interview to the independent press. Instead  he’s resorted to pulling the race card— a white church member! My goodness, has it come to this: black pastors using white congregants to vouch for the church’s absence of racism? How is that any better than trotting out a token “negro” to attest to the progress on the racial front? Certainly Wright remembers watching Jackie Robinson be called to testify against Paul Robeson by the HUAC? Using the opinion of one white woman – who we know absolutely nothing about otherwise, nor have any reason to trust as a reliable source – is a hypocritical move and if anything, shows us why Obama had to reel the good reverend in. Like all of us, his greatest strength –courage– is tied to his greatest weakness– pride.  

 On some level the reverend seems to be seeking this attention. It’s not just coming out of thin air. He welcomes the interviews, the opportunities to be on television, and he does so a little too unhesitatingly to be totally absolved of all responsibility here. From his use of the race card, to the letter’s underlying anti-semetic tone, to the rhetorical phrasing of the letter itself, I just don’t know if I can buy what the reverend is selling– a picture of himself as the victim and the Times as the ‘duplicitous’ bloodsucker. His uncritical praise of Obama sounds a little to unreal. It may even be dangerous to Obama at this point. At a time when we’re trying to understand not only who Obama is but what he might become (and this is crucial), painting him the virtuous, sinless saint is not helping his cause. The reverend’s praise has the ring of a man protecting one of his own from the rigorous scrutiny that comes with the territory. It’s honorable, admirable, but ultimately untenable. Senator Obama wants to be President of the United States not the rotary club. They say all is fair in love and war. Well, this is all the more true in a nation built off war. As long as there are people with agendas to push, no one will ever waltz right into the White House without being wounded by the daggers of doubt along the way. It’s time the good reverend doctor learns this lesson, and time he recognizes that he’s done all he can at this point. Now he needs to recede into the background, which, after all, was exactly Obama’s intent when he “disinvited” him to speak at his announcement address in the first place.