Saturday, March 22, 2008
paint a vulgar picture:
Not one of the quotes that Dayo Olopade chooses from Rev. Jeremiah Wright demonstrates her thesis that he's a shallow, preening attention hog. This is the closest she comes:
Dwight Hopkins, a church member and professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, told the Baltimore Sun that some refer to the blocks surrounding Trinity as "Wrightville." Hopkins added that Wright "doesn't like" the nickname, but, that Sunday, I was struck by how much of the sermon was about--well, him. During the address, he let fly with a verbal fusillade aimed directly at his detractors: "I don't care what nobody in the 4-H club says. Y'all know what the 4-H club is?" The church roared, and he explained: "That's Hannity, Hillary, Hobbes, and Haters." Later, while discussing his opposition to South African apartheid, Wright seemed to take another shot at his enemies: "I was talked about then, and I'm still talked about now," he thundered. "But I'm not going to stop being me because of what somebody says about me. [Jesus] set me free to be me and he set me free to forgive stupidity." And here he gets in one more jab: "So I forgive you, 4-H club; I forgive you, confused journalists; I forgive you, nervous negroes--I forgive you."
Gee, I don't know, maybe Wright is being performative in the service of a broader point about injustice. For instance: "I got to tell somebody what the Lord has done for my people. I'm gonna use my mouth! Listen to me and listen carefully: Neither Hillary, Hannity, nor Hobbes ever had a grandparent in slavery or on a slave ship beneath the decks, never had a grandparent in a slave dungeon on the coast of West Africa as a prisoner. That's my people's story, and if you think I'm gonna stop telling it, you got another damn thing coming!" And that's in her own piece! Come on, TNR! If you're going to smear someone, put your back into it!

So, look, Wright appears to be a bigot. I use the weasel word "appears" because I don't know: all I have to go on is the presentation of him in the media, which Olopade's piece takes to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. She quotes a letter from Wright chastising Jodi Kantor for misrepresenting him -- and that's it. No attempt to adjudicate, you know, whether she did. Kind of an important thing to grapple with if you're going to go after the guy.
--Spencer Ackerman