On my way into work this morning, I caught a few minutes of a local radio interview with Barack Obama, during which he briefly addressed the media frenzy surrounding the Trinity United Church of Christ and his own self-proclaimed “spiritual mentor,” Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
In the interview, Obama dismissed criticism of Trinity United, saying that it is “not a crackpot church,”
“This is a pillar of the community,” he told WPHT-AM’s Michael Smerconish during session which had been taped before the weekend, “and if you go there on Easter on this Easter Sunday and you sat down there in the pew, you would think this is just like any other church.”
Now, if there was a title to the homily during yesterday’s 10:30 a.m. mass at my church, I couldn’t tell you what it was. From the front of our church, however, came a message about how faith transcends life, and about how a life lived in service to the Lord would be an everlasting life. We heard about how Jesus’ tomb was found empty, the burial shroud rolled up and tossed away from the rest of the coverings. We heard about an angel, telling the two Marys that they should not fear, that our Lord had indeed risen.
At Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, however, the message was a bit different. Rev. Otis Moss III, Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s successor, delivered a sermon entitled “How to Survive a Public Lynching.” Watch the video if you’d like:
Rev. Moss compared Rev. Wright to Jesus, claiming that the media coverage surrounding his overtly racist and anti-American rants was tantamount to a public lynching.
”No one should start a ministry with lynching, no one should end their ministry with lynching,” said Moss. “The lynching was national news. The RNN, the Roman News Network, was reporting it and NPR, National Publican Radio had it on the radio. The Jerusalem Post and the Palestine Times all wanted exclusives, they searched out the young ministers, showed up unannounced at their houses, tried to talk with their families, called up their friends, wanted to get a quote on ‘how do you feel about the lynching?’”
So, all this time, Rev. Wright was getting lynched? Color me dumb, but I had no idea.
Here’s a man who says “God bless America — no, no, no — God DAMN America,” who denounces the country as the “United States of the KKK-A,” and who regularly spews out racist comments like, “Barack [Obama] knows what it’s like living in a country and a culture controlled by rich white people. Hillary would never know that. Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger.”
Here’s a man who blames America for the September 11th attacks, saying just after that awful Tuesday that the attacks were America’s “chickens” coming “home to roost,” that “terrorism begets terrorism” and our actions in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and other theaters somehow justified the killing of those innocent people in lower Manhattan.
Here’s a man who wholeheartedly believes that the United States government developed HIV/AIDS “as a means of genocide against people of color,” and who does not hesitate to spread such dangerous inaccuracies to willing followers.
Yet, when the media exposes his racist and anti-American diatribes, it is somehow an act of racism in itself? It’s a lynching?
Imagine if Rush Limbaugh, if Sean Hannity, if some other white media personality–or even Imus himself, instead of jumping through hoops (no pun intended) to apologize–stood up and said that he was being lynched. Imagine the backlash, the augmented charges of racial intolerance.
Flash back to August of 2006, when Former Virginia Sen. George Allen, who many thought would be the hands-down frontrunner for this year’s GOP nomination, called an Indian volunteer working for his competitor “macaca.” Depending upon how it is spelled and used, “macaca” can either describe a certain type of monkey indigenous to South Africa … or it could be seen in some European cultures as an obscure racial slur against African immigrants. Allen was immediately labeled a racist and forced to apologize. The subsequent media frenzy–don’t call it a lynching!–was said to have cost him not only his seat in the Senate, but his status as a viable candidate for president in 2008.
Flash back to December of 2002, when then incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott made a joke at the late Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 167th birthday party, insinuating that the country would have been better off had Thurmond’s presidential bin in 1832 been successful. Immediately, people in the African-American community took the statement as a veiled endorsement of Thurmond’s former segregationist beliefs and labeled Lott a racist. After the subsequent media frenzy–don’t call it a lynching!–was over, Lott had apologized and relinquished his position as Senate Majority Leader.
I could go on and on and on, but it’s all the same.
In order to cure the racial divide in this country, we need to learn from the past and look to the future, not rehash the past and use it to define the future. In order to be truly post-racial, we need to understand the hardship faced by the African-American community without dwelling upon it, and we need to rejoice over the candidacy of a black man for the highest job in the land.
My God, how much more evidence do we need that people of all races, of both genders, of every possible background have all the opportunity that they can bring themselves forth to grab? A black man named Barack Hussein Obama could very well be the most powerful man in the world at this time next year. The opportunity is there; the glass ceiling has been broken.
America has come a long, long way. It’s high time that we all recognize such progress, that we quit making excuses for ourselves and others, that we take personal responsibility for ourselves, our family, and our country.
Thinking twice before delivering a sermon entitled “How to Survive a Public Lynching” in church on Easter Sunday is just a start. When Rev. Otis Moss’ Easter Sunday service can be just like any other Easter Sunday service, when places like Trinity United can truly be just like any other church, we’ll know that we’re finally moving in the right direction.