In his “A More Perfect Union” speech back in March, Barack Obama argued that he could no more disown his former pastor Jeremiah Wright than he could disown the black community because the Reverend embodied both the nobility and the pathology of African Americans. The truth of Obama’s analysis — at least with regard to the pathology — has been in evidence on the website of Black Entertainment Television ever since Wright’s loopy address to the NAACP over the weekend. Here’s a quick sampling, grammar intact as often as possible, of reaction from BET’s message board:
“Even though what Rev Wright spoke was the truth it just wasn’t the right time to say it. This makes me think that he is trying to sabatoge Obama’s campaign. Here we go again Black people . . . divide us and conquer us. When are we ever going to learn.” — Yvonne
“Rev. Wright IS NOT a disappointment, at least not to me. How is telling the truth a disappointment? If anything Rev. Wright has opened many eyes to the real America here and abroad. He has told the truth, so how is that ‘dirty work’ given the fact when he delivered the sermon Sen. Obama was not a senator let alone running for President? the Rev. is not betraying anybody via telling the truth now as he did in 1991.” — jfffn
“Its said that all this stuff coming up against Obama, but that was the plan of the white man all along! Can we as a society ever make change in the political arena?” — Truth
“I saw his NAACP speech yesterday on CNN, and i have to say he impressed me tremendously. This man has picked up the truth stick and he is not putting it down. And i love him for that and i thank God for him. Rev. Wright keep up the good works, god is watching and smiling on you.” — Robin
“Rev. Wright is only speaking on what Black Americans have been thinking and feeling for years. He should NOT apologize for telling the truth. The truth is White America has to face the music that they are more concerned with animal rights that human rights. Blacks were enslaved, raped, and beaten, but if you beat a dog, you can go to jail. I love Rev. Wright. His speech was awesome and made me even more proud to be black.” — Tee
“This Preacher is awesome and he speaks the truth!” — R. Austin
“Some white American do not like the truth, the truth is coming out, now the world can see how cover up America is.” — Dempsey
“racisum. white media. government. politics. or any of the seven deadly sin’s are in control of all that is taking place. rev right has done no more than speak the truth. the history of this nation tells a true story, it has been recorded good, bad, and ugly. and what most take place is that we most be more informed about the true history of where we have come from ,and where we are now. black, hispanic, asian, white. with growth in life comes change in life. rev right peace and blessings be onto you…” — Gods Child
“I’m so Very Very Proud that we still have some Black men who can speak, for our people. Here’s a well round Brother, who knows how to communicate the whole truth, so help us ‘God’. Someday-Whites will learn our truth, and not be afraid of a well educated, intellectural Black man. Some whites are just haters and always will be. But we know the ‘Lord who has always been on our side and I’m a sister that’s on Rev. Wright side’ May The Good Lord keep you in his strength!! Keep on telling it like it-tis!!” — LaWanda
“I’m so tried of listen to the media continuity targeting Rev. Wright as a threat to the U.S. This man is a pastor speaking the truth. What do you think MLK was speaking about in the 60’s. Rev. Wright please keep telling the truth because some people just can’t hear it clearly or there eyes don’t see what your talking about either. I have lived 60 years watching how the powers that be work, and it’s not pretty. We Black people might stay united regarding out church’s. I love the Lord and how our black pastor’s bring the word to my soul.” — Cynthia
“Why is it so hard for people to see that he ain’t doing nothing but telling the truth and if the truth hurts oh well! and what he says and thinks has NOTHING to do with obama, people hate to see obama making it as far as he has cause we all know that alot of people (especailly hilary) did not think that obama would make it this far and anything they see to try and bring him down, but it is what it is and obama is making it happen and she can’t handle it and wants to find whatever she can to try and tear him down, even though it’s nothing to do what what he has said or done, but what his former pastor feels which is the truth, go head and make it do what it do rev. wright, keep on dusting them haters off yo shoulders! go obama 08!!!!! it’s time for change.” — Keyia
“Let me just say i saw the conference when it first aired and the all the chitter chatter before hand. The Media put so much negative tension behind it from the beginning, I was so sure ‘they’ have thier minds made up. During his speech I felt like ‘they would reject his innovating words for an angry black pastor. The speech was BRILLIANTLY TRUE I think for me and most black people. At the same time though, we all know the truth hurts and some of the those whites are sick right now. Through all the media bias, will blacks and whites, better yet will America stand behind Rev. Jeremiah Wright and what he believes in, or will our racist ways get the best of us. I think this year may be the year when can move toward change. Only if we could understand our past together as a whole, especially black people. So in all I felt the Rev.’s speech was another weave in the basket, but much more is to be done on the behalf of our people to aid in the process of a more united America. ‘We make opinions and decisions based on what we believe in. At the end of the day do you know what you believe in, and how strong is it(belief)?’ — w1se.
“Lets be truthful here, its not just the Repubs who want Hillary to run it’s the good rev also! Unbelievable how someone who speaks about the whites is doing the work for them! He’s a hypocrite and he’s once again got the black community backing him up. While blacks are struggling he’s living high beside his white counterparts in a million dollar home! Get it yet? Why would he wait till now of all times to start speaking? Don’t let him get in the way of our chance at having a black man as president! He’s had all the time in the world to come out and speak yet he chose now! Don’t let another uncle tom ruin it with his words which are true but have another motive in which we’ll lose again!!” — Donna
“When a black person speak the truth about racism, they are criticize or consider a troble maker.” — Vince
“Rev. Wright gave the business, to be honest all Blacks feel that white people owe us an apology and until we get one we will always be on guard where they (whites) are concerned. This mess we in today goes back to our grandparents and their parents, women being raped and having bi-racial kids and things of that nature, why you think our kids have so much pressure on them and they resort to the streets because they can relate. First off pretty much all of the black men wherever they live are smart, Blacks pretty much invented everything we all use today. Read up on yo history. That’s one thing that our kids don’t get taught today in these damn schools is our history the real black history. I’m going to pray for you cause if we get another Clinton or a Mccain in that white house we are doomed. OBAMA is real and I’m sure this won’t be an easy road for him if he succeeds, but at least he should be able to look at people that looks like him for support. REV. Wright preach that word.” — Proud to be Black
“My People wake up wake up, this is not about the black vote this is about the majority vote, and Rev. Wright is destroying that, Of course we all know he is speaking the truth, but must he do that now!!??? Obama clearly has a big chance at winning, but do I think that now?? No…Rev. Wright killed it, with his ego!!! Rev. Wright needs to shut the trap so Obama can win!!” — Clint
“i think rev wright was write, we have been hear for 400 year. why do blacck folk always need white folk ok. you are so brain wash and you cant see. how do you see man ,you black amercia see white folk as giants you need some spitter rub over your eye, so you can see them as they are see than as they are. willie linch is still alive.” — June
“Racism is alive and well in Amerikkka, and as usual, black folks control nothing. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what Rev. Wright really said, because the powers that be will ensure that their version is what gets out on all news medias.” — Gigabyte
Keep in mind that these quotes are not cherry-picked. They represent the consensus view of contributors to BET’s message boards as of Tuesday night, which is that Jeremiah Wright spoke the truth to power in his speech to the NAACP in Detroit. The main bone of contention seems to be whether he should have held his tongue until after the election. Keep in mind, too, that the BET audience is decidedly not a radical community; the demographics skew young but mainstream.
Barack Obama is under a microscope that no other serious contender for president has ever been under. He’s trying to lasso in voting constituencies that are beyond the zone of rationality, constituencies that see malignant forces aligned against them and have pinned their collective aspirations on his candidacy.
Whatever his policy weaknesses — and there are many — how about cutting him a little slack on the racial dynamics of his campaign?
— Mark Goldblatt is the author of the novel Africa Speaks, now available in paperback.