The inflammatory sermons of a south side Chicago preacher are currently outraging the media and public perceptions of black churches in general, thereby inflaming the very problem they claim to abhor. Pundits debate whether the problem is racism, in blaming “rich white people” for running the country in such a way as to screw over their former slaves, or treason for his “God damn America” prayer, and his listing of our crimes against humanity, from Hiroshima through South African apartheid and our current wars and military hegemony around the world. These arguments fail to deal with the harsh truths of Rev. Wright’s accusations and America’s failure to acknowledge them.
Beginning before our 18th century rebellion against the Brits, the invading white Europeans depended upon the labor of kidnapped Africans in most of the colonies. In the north the anglo-immigrants depended on impoverished victims or empire and war for their exploitation, notably the Irish, Italians and Jews, but it was in the south that the trade in human beings as property was most notable. It is reliably reported that the southern colonies joined the revolution to escape the British antislavery laws then being enforced on the high seas. The Civil War, which used freedom for slaves as a late justification for the struggle over federal power, the Jim Crow era and the rise of the KKK as a huge political force in the early years of the century just past all really happened, and ignoring the unpleasant truth only prolongs the racist divisions between the victims.
Some object to the strident tone of the sermons, but I submit that telling the truth gives one license to state the facts in as outrageous and angry manner as seems appropriate. Perhaps freedom of speech should linked to telling the truth in some manner, at least the right to offend the guilty. If Rev. Wright is truly a man of God, and America is guilty of even half of what he claims, then a prayer of damnation for those sins is entirely appropriate for believers in God’s goodness and justice.
Other examples of truth denied and punished include Bill Clinton’s statement that Jesse Jackson won in ‘68 in the first election after the voting rights act empowered the majority black South Carolina citizenry. The same applies to Ferraro’s observation that being black was an advantage to Obama, and Gov. Ed Rendel’s recognition that many west Pennsylvania voters were unlikely to pick a black candidate for president, both of which were dismissed for their racial implications without attention to the truth of their content.
The larger hard truth that we refuse to face, is simply that we are all stuck with each other on an increasingly challenging world, and lying and fighting between ourselves make victims of us all.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.