Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Good Reverend Jeremiah Wright and “Them Jews”

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

There were two things wrong with the good Reverend Jeremiah Wrights’s grouse that “them Jews are keeping me from Obama.” Oops, I mean the Zionists, not Jews. That was Wright’s nimble effort to take some heat off him for the silly crack. One was that he said it. The other is that he meant it. Wright’s “them Jews” quip was vintage Wright. That’s his penchant to shoot from the lip, damn the audience and consequences, and knowing full well that it will get the tongues furiously wagging. The correction was a trifle which meant nothing.

It still confirmed what Wright loathers firmly belief and that’s that he’s a loose cannon, closet racist, and anti-Semite. The timing of his crack coming on the heels of the shoot up of the Holocaust Memorial Museum by neo-Nazi looney, James Wennaker von Brunn, couldn’t have been worse. Wright is no von Brunn. He has not turned his life into a crusade against the mythical Jewish domination, and has never advocated violence against anyone. He’s a down-home, plain spoken, Afrocentric preacher, who had enough charisma to attract throngs, and keep them coming back week after week to his one time Southside Chicago church. One of whom was a soon to be president.
That’s a big reason Wright made the silly, intemperate knock. Wright still thinks that he’s due a seat at Obama’s table. Never mind that the universal consensus is that one of the smartest things that Obama did was to dump Wright, and dump him fast after he became a political embarrassment. But it’s the seat at the table part that makes the Wright dig revealing. It’s not just Wright’s ego, although there’s plenty of that at work in the notion that Obama won’t see or have anything to do with him because of some plot by mythical Jewish gatekeepers to keep him away. It wouldn’t have mattered if not one member of Team Obama’s inner circle was Jewish. Wright would still be banned in Boston at the White House.

The Wright dig does hurt in another way though. There’s still the widely prevalent belief among much of the public that more than a few blacks are closet anti-Semites, and even in the more bizarre circles, a rumor to that effect is occasionally heard about President Obama. That was heard after his pointed admonition to the Israeli government to crack down on the building of the settlements on the West Bank. The settlement expansion has been widely and repeatedly criticized by diplomats, political leaders, two former American presidents Clinton and Bush as well as a wide section of Israeli public opinion.

Wright, though, went one step further and poured oil on the flame by branding the Gaza battles, “ethnic cleansing.” But it’s still the suspicion that many blacks are anti-Semitic that rankles and resonates the most. Two decades later, Jesse Jackson still takes hits for his “Hymietown” crack, and Al Sharpton takes a hit on occasion for some alleged anti-Semitic act. Former Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, is still virtually interchangeable with anti-Semite.

Anti-Semitism is alive and well in America, and it didn’t take the the murder at the Holocaust Memorial Museum by a deranged, delusional nut to prove that. The legion of neo Nazi websites, videos, and books, pamhplets, that rail against Jewish or Zionist conspiracies under every bedpost, even the bedposts in the Obama White House are ample proof of that. But African-American leaders, officials and organizations have always vigorously condemned and fought against anti-Semitism. The heroic sacrifice of Stephen Tyrone Johns, the African American security guard, who gave his life to save others at the Holocaust Memorial Museum was tragic and symbolic of the long history of blacks and Jews fighting against racial biogtry and anti-Semitism. The good Reverend Wright’s pithy, loose tongued crack won’t change that.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard weekly in Los Angeles Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on