Character self-assassination

The victimization continues. The Trinity United Church of Christ accused the media of character assassination today in response to the coverage of repeated instances of controversial rhetoric coming from its pastor and confidante of Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright. But does it count when the victim provides the poison himself?

The Chicago church attended by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) issued a statement Sunday contending that coverage of his pastor’s inflammatory statements amounted to character assassination and “an attack on … the history of the African American church.”

Obama condemned inflammatory statements by the church’s retiring pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., after they circulated on YouTube last week and were played repeatedly by cable news channels.

Wright, condemning society as racists, said, “God [expletive] America” and referred to the “U.S. of KKK-A.”

The statement begins: “Nearly three weeks before the 40th commemorative anniversary of the murder of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s character is being assassinated in the public sphere because he has preached a social gospel on behalf of oppressed women, children and men in America and around the globe.”

The statement adds: “Trinity United Church of Christ’s ministry is inclusive and global.”

Inclusive and global? Even Wright himself admitted that wasn’t the case in one of the more infamous of his sermons passed around the Internet. He scolded his audience for its initially reticent reaction to the accusation that rich white people exploited the poor, saying that “I know we have a few white people in our congregation.” Calling the nation the “United States of white America” and the “US of KKK-A” doesn’t exactly sound “inclusive and global.”

This is just a tone-deaf way of fighting back against the exposure of Trinity’s senior pastor as raging demagogue and a hater. It isn’t the media delivering that message; it’s the Reverend Wright himself. It doesn’t count as an assassination when the victim exposes his own character, and the media simply rebroadcasts the suicide.