CNN has finally done some journalism on behalf of the public good by showing Rev. Jeremiah Wright's speech in its entirety, with plenty of commercial interruptions, to the Detroit branch of the NAACP. I promptly re-upped my membership. I found, on the one hand, that Rev. Wright can be just as sanctimonious and pedantic as most ministers, (Father Farkin, Padre Patro, and Rabbi Greenstein excluded), but in the context of an entire speech, he can be fascinating as well. The general theme was, "A Change Is Gonna' Come." How can you dislike someone who quotes from one of Clarksdale, Mississippi's finest poet laureates, Sam Cooke? The speech, though fiery and uncompromising, went a long way toward shaving the devil horns from Wright's head. And if you listened through the bombastic, roof-raising, preachers' style of oration, what Rev. Wright said was entirely conciliatory.
The Reverend pointed out that change will come when we alter the way we think of one another and come to realize that, "different does not mean deficient." He pointed out many differences inherent in African and European cultures, including the European tendency to keep rhythm on the 1st and 3rd beat, while people of African heritage clap on the 2nd and the 4th, but it's merely different, not deficient. I disagree with the Rev. on this point. I believe white people who clap on the one and three are inherently inferior and hopelessly Caucasoid, while the two and four are the enlightened beats of life. Other examples using various regional speech sounds and studies showing differences in learning patterns between the races were enlightening, and Rev. Wright can be very funny while making his points. His theatrical comparisons of the Michigan State marching band with the band from Florida A&M were worthy of a Cosby routine. Some pertinent observations were that whites do not understand the nature between the Black church and the community, and that Arabic is not a religion, but a language, as he repeated the name Barack Hussein Obama again and again, as if to exorcise it of negative connotations.
The audience of 10,000 was appreciative of Wright's digs at the mainstream media's obsession with his viral remarks, but emphasized the change that's coming "when we are committed to changing the way we look at one another," and understand that "difference is not deficience in all children of God." Of specific interest to me was Wright's statement that "We should understand that we are people of faith who share this planet with people of other faiths," and "We should commit ourselves to change the way that Christians treat Jews." That's quite a distance from the Christian Supremist teachings of John Hagee and his homophobic extremism. I believe that Barack Obama, as a young community organizer on Chicago's south side, joined an activist church where the congregants were the people he worked with, and the charismatic minister appeared, much as he did tonight, like an intelligent and insightful man and someone who would be interesting to know.
Reverend Wright will address the National Press Club later today, where I'm sure the audience won't be nearly as friendly, but I am happy that he has begun to speak in public again. Although he was introduced to the NAACP audience as "the hottest brother in the country," the more he speaks, the more he begins to sound just like another television preacher, and unless he starts asking God to damn America again, the average viewer will grow bored as quickly as an atheist in church. Like Hillary says, you choose your pastor, so you may as well pick one that keeps you awake. Personally, I miss Doctor Gene Scott in his funny hats, chomping on a cigar and cussing into the camera. Now play "I Wanna' Know," and you people in Indianapolis better phone in your damned pledges or I'm going to pull the plug on the satellite. Now get out there and speak your mind my brother, and Wright on.