One of the things I think everyone is missing in the middle of all of this controversy regarding Obama and his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is the free speech issue. People are shocked and offended by Wright's request that "God damn America" but no one is talking (or apparently even thinking) about Wright's right to speak his mind. Also, no one is even considering that he might actually have legitimate concerns.
Granted, some of the things he says seem outlandish--I've seen no hard evidence for AIDS having been engineered by the USG, but if you take a hard look at the history and morality of America's leaders over the past two hundred years you might come to think that it's not impossible. The first thing that pops into my mind when someone talks about AIDS being created in a lab as a weapon is the practice of giving Native Americans blankets infected with disease during the early days of the colonization of North America.
Regarding his "God damn America" comments, I thought it would be a good idea to try to see past his anger and read his words. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a comprehensive transcript of his words, but I did find a bit more context in his Wikipedia entry (here: http://en.wikipedia.org/…iah_Wright ). Here's a bit more around Wright's "GDA" comment: "No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people...God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."
Hasn't America killed innocent people in Iraq? Hasn't American treated many Americans like they are less than human (Katrina victims, Jose Padilla)? Doesn't America march into countries that don't do what we want them to do (Afghanistan, Iraq)?
The answer is yes on all fronts. America does act like it's all-powerful and all-important. It's a depressing and frustrating fact, but it's a fact, nonetheless.
Do I think God should damn America?
I think America's already been damned with an inability to easily face depressing realities. The fact that no one is talking about the meat of Wright's comments is evidence of this (even "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" danced around Wright's words).
In the last interview Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh gave before he was executed he told Diane Sawyer that he blew up that building and those people because he was trying to communicate with a government that understood just one language: violence.
I'm not saying he was right to do what he did--but the argument could be made that we could learn from his comments--godforbidweshouldlearnfromakiller!!
Any time someone says "911 was an inside job" or even something as simple as "racism is alive and well in America" too many people just write off said comments as coming from the "blame America first" crowd.
The thing is, what if there are things America should take the blame for?
How are we ever supposed to fix our problems if every time someone speaks up and points them out we dodge the issue entirely by playing holier than thou?
Is everything Jeremiah Wright says true? Well, we'll never know until we look.
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