Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Public Enemy #1

I have to admit that before today, I had never purposed to read one of Dr. Martin Luther King's speeches. The "I Have a Dream Speech" runs every year in January and again in February for Black History Month. People of various backgrounds - conservative, liberal, black, white, male, female - all seemly have acquiesced to the notion that MLK is the greatest example of a black American to have ever lived. I'm amused when I read comments on blogs and hear media pundits exclaiming that MLK was a great American and that he taught love and tolerance. He was never divisive or anti-American.

The idea here is to contrast Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the profound pastor who has recently been thrust into the international spotlight (not of his own choice), with Dr. Martin Luther King who is the "American standard" by which the black church and black preachers are to be measured.

In reading an article in Time.com (excerpt below), my thirst for knowing more about MLK heightened.

Many Americans who were shocked by the clips of Wright's sermons have only known a Disney-fied version of the black church. We know about the good music,
but don't listen to the lyrics of pain and suffering. We praise the rousing preaching without paying attention to the words. Civil rights leaders have become aging wise men revered for their inspirational sayings, not radical activists who preached truth to power. "There is so much more going on in black churches than gospel music," says Emilie Townes, professor of African American religion at Yale Divinity School.

The poster boy of the reimagined black church is Martin Luther King, Jr. "King said America suffered from a 'congenital disease' and that disease is racism," notes Eddie Glaude, Princeton professor of religion. He says that King's speech against the Vietnam War, delivered at Riverside Church in April 1967, was not a feel-good speech. "It was a passionate cry to speak to these enormous problems that were linked to America's imperialism and militarism, and what he saw as the evils of capitalism." By that point int his career, King had been banned from Lyndon Johnson's White House. The New York Times condemned his speech, running an editorial calling it "Dr. King's Error." And Barry Goldwater said King "bordered a little bit on treason."

Everybody wants to have the race conversation, but no one wants to hear what's being said. Rev. Wright has been nothing if not consistent in his cry for unification despite our differences in race, faith, education, social class, or political preference. The media is on a daily mission to parse out certain statements that Rev. Wright has made and spin them into a series of whacked-out, hate-spewing, race-baiting rants of an angry black man stuck in a 1960s mentality. He has become the poster child for everything that's wrong in America. Rev. Jeremiah Wright is public enemy #1. This has nothing to do with Barack Obama. It has everything to do with the a sense of entitlement that tells certain people that they have a valid voice and that others who do not meet the media's approval or makes the status quo uncomfortable need to disappear or be exiled to outer darkness.

This episode in our history is riveting, stimulating, and infuriating all at the same time. The lack of objective reporting in the media is being revealed and exposed like never before. The accessibility of the internet is allowing us to seek out the truth for ourselves and make our own intelligent decisions. The media would have you believe that "mainstream America" is so outraged over Rev. Wright's remarks and ready to burn him at the stake, but I believe that is the furthest from the truth. They want us to think that he is wrong and they are right. They want us to believe that he is an elitist who is dividing this great nation and that poor and disenfranchised blacks now have an excuse to be uneducated, angry, and violent because Wright is stirring the pot. They would have you believe that he is a media hungry, arrogant, anti-Christian heretic. They are afraid that this intelligent, black, scholar who speaks 5 languages has 2 masters degrees and has influence beyond their control - will raise blacks and whites to a higher level of consciousness. Don't allow television to brainwash you into thinking that the FoxNews and CNN analysts are right and everyone else is wrong.

It's time to turn the tables on the media. Talk about it, blog about it, email about it, comment about it. Go on CNN.com, FoxNews.com, MSNBC.com, Time.com and any other site you come across and let your voices be heard. Gone are the days of objective journalism. There is no such thing as fair and balanced. Turn the tables on the media who is pushing their agenda on you and PUSH BACK! The time for silence is over. This is a call for change.

Tracking Hurricane Gustav