Archive for March, 2008

Why the Disparity?


Recently I was in a conversation with a couple of friends, who label themselves conservative, about the Rev. Wright sermon that has been a catalyst for much needed public discourse and renewed discussion on race and American culture in the past few weeks. They were offended that Rev. Wright would say that America had any responsibility for the attacks on September 11, 2001. First, I’m not arguing that America caused 9/11. Please don’t jump to your first emotional unfounded fore drawn conclusion that I’m blaming 9/11 on America. I’m only suggesting that our actions prior to 9/11 in the Middle East were not always the most innocent and that we’re not always forthcoming with our foreign policy in the Middle East. It was our own intelligence agencies who funded and trained public enemies number 1 and 2 – Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Most people with whom I discuss these complex issues are desperately and pathetically unaware of the politics of the Middle East and our foreign policy in the region. Our foreign policy isn’t promulgated on the foundations of moral responsibility, natural rights or grand notions of common good, rather it exists to serve our national “interests.” These interests are constantly shifting. For example, the Iraqi counter insurgents we’re training right now rightfully fear that in the not so distant future they might be left to fight their enemies without the support of the United States, should we have another shift in interest. I learned rather quickly that when you even try to raise a rational discussion about the role of American foreign policy in the Middle East and the attack on 9/11, you immediately illicit an emotional response of anger, frustration and disbelief that you’re “anti-American” for even raising such questions. Our invasion of Iraq and the devastating attacks on September 11, 2001 should cause us to reevaluate our foreign policy and raise questions about our role in the Middle Eastern region, rather than continuing to base our decisions on a failed neoconservative model of warfare and isolated national interests. I’m also not condoning all of what Rev. Wright said in his sermon. However, I would argue there is a disparity in the national response and standard we hold him to as opposed to other religious leaders in our nation who have spouted even worse rhetoric.

With that said, I enjoyed this piece by constitutional lawyer and civil rights litigator, Glenn Greenwald, who raises some thoughtful questions about the disparity between our nation’s response to the Rev. Wright in relation to other rhetoric consuming our airwaves: those made by such notable characters as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Rod Parsley, John Hagee and others in the right-wing white evangelical camp. Mr. Greenwald is asking, “Are the statements of white evangelical ministers subjected to the same standards of judgment as those being applied to Wright’s statements?”

The article can be found here: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/03/17/wright/index.html

The phrases “anti-American” and “America-haters” are among the most barren and manipulative in our entire political lexicon, but whatever they happen to mean on any given day, they easily encompass people who believe that the U.S. deserved the 9/11 attacks, devastating hurricanes and the like. Yet when are people like Falwell, Robertson, Hagee, Inhofe and other white Christian radicals ever described as anti-American or America-hating extremists? Never — because white Christian evangelicals who tie themselves to the political Right are intrinsically patriotic.

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