Sen. Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, Jermiah Wright, has recently concluded a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The AP's gloss:
"I served six years in the military," Barack Obama's longtime pastor said. "Does that make me patriotic? How many years did (Vice President Dick) Cheney serve?"
Wright spoke at the National Press Club before the Washington media and a supportive audience of black church leaders beginning a two-day symposium.
He said the black church tradition is not bombastic or controversial, but different and misunderstood by the "dominant culture" in the United States.
He said his Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago has a long history of liberating the oppressed by feeding the hungry, supporting recovery for the addicted and helping senior citizens in need. He said congregants have fought in the military, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"My goddaughter's unit just arrived in Iraq this week while those who call me unpatriotic have used their positions of privilege to avoid military service while sending over 4,000 American boys and girls to die over a lie," he said.
From a Wash Times article about a speech Wright gave yesterday in Detroit:
While the TV sound bites that were constantly played on news programs often used only brief parts of his most incendiary remarks, the full statements from which they were taken were often broadcast or published in full context by numerous newspaper and periodical accounts at the height of the controversy that they sparked last month in the senator's campaign.
Among the full statements Mr. Wright has made in his sermons:
· "The government gives [black men] drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."
· "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Mr. Wright said in a sermon five days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
Questions remain about Mr. Obama's relationship with the church.
Mrs. Clinton of New York raised the issue in her campaign and in their last primary debate with Mr. Obama in Philadelphia.
For "Pastor Wright to have given his first sermon after 9/11 and to have blamed the United States for the attack … would have been just intolerable for me. And, therefore, I would have not been able to stay in the church," she said.
For the curious, I recommend checking out the official version of the Wright-approved "Black Value System" which is a statement of principles for Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ. The BVS, among other things, pointedly rejects "the pursuit of middleclassness" as a strategy through which "captor" majorities neuter the threat of revolt by "captive" groups. The BVS represents a stark alternative to a more-integrationist model of social uplift of the sort originally espoused by the NAACP and others.
reason's Dave Weigel looked at the Wright-Obama kerfuffle here.