Answering questions today at a press club breakfast, Jeremiah Wright was asked about his “chicken’s coming home to roost” comment. The fact that his response was not met with derisive laughter is telling of the media’s abdication of its charge: “Have you heard the whole sermon? No? The whole sermon?” he responded. When the reporter shook her head, he said, “That nullifies that question.”
I beg your pardon? No, it’s still a valid question. You don’t need to read Origin of Species to have questions on evolution. (Or, to reinforce Goodwin’s law, you don’t need to read Mein Kampf to raise an objection to the Final Solution.) Reverend Wright made a comment (he claims he got the idea from former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck) that some find objectionable. The fact that they have not taken the time to listen to all thirty-five minutes of the sermon does not mean we cannot ask questions.
The argument goes that we haven’t heard the whole sermon, only the 2 minute sound bite, therefore, we should not judge Reverend Wright based on that alone. Fair enough, so I have heard the entire “chickens coming home to roost” sermon. I have to tell you, that didn’t change my view of how offensive it was. The fact that Reverend Wright spoke at length about how America brought 9/11 on itself does not excuse the more provocative sound bite. It is that idea that is offensive. Is Bill Moyers and the rest of the media that blind? Can they not see that the idea that America deserved to be attacked is, in itself offensive? Do they think we are offended on behalf of poultry farmers?
Of course, Reverend Wright has grown accustomed to not having to answer difficult questions. I spent an hour this weekend watching Bill Moyer’s perform a nasal colonoscopy on Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I don’t watch Bill Moyers regularly, but I find it hard to imagine how someone can call themselves a journalist without ever asking a serious question. You have one of the most controversial people in America on your program and you don’t ask a single question clarifying his viewpoint?
For those unwilling to stomach the entire sermon, Reverend Wright equates the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Edomites to the fall of the Twin Towers and the pentagon (money and military). The sermon revolves around Psalm 137 and how the first 6 verses show reverence for Jerusalem, but then the Psalm goes on to ask revenge on the Edomites. Reverend Wright is arguing against American retribution for the attacks of 9/11. He clearly feels that America will go too far in seeking revenge against those who perpetrated the attacks. Violence begets violence.
Midway through the sermon, Reverend Wright switches tracks and calls out a “faith footnote.” It is in this footnote that Wright draws the moral equivalence between America’s past transgressions and 9/11. (He later goes on, at the 30:00 mark, to argue that money appropriated for rebuilding New York should be used for free healthcare, education, the poor and AIDS research.) This is exactly what we thought you said. This is not different and no less despicable than Jerry Falwell’s comments that 9/11 was brought on by moral decay. In the minds of many Americans, this is what is controversial. It is not that we assume you are unAmerican, it is that we know, from your words, that you blame America for 9/11. That, alone, is enough.