The Wright Stuff: ABC provides the context

Barack Obama needs another eruption of the Wright Stuff like he needs another video of him making fun of embittered Bible-thumping bigots, but at least the former appears inevitable. ABC News responds to Jeremiah Wright’s allegation that his words were taken out of context … by providing the context. And guess what? The context makes it look just as bad:

Rev. Jeremiah Wright says his sermons were deliberately taken out of context by the news media “for a political purpose” and to “paint me as some sort of fanatic.”

“When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public. That’s not a failure to communicate,” he told Bill Moyers in his first interview since ABC News Good Morning America first broadcast portions of his sermons. The Moyers interview will be broadcast tomorrow evening on PBS.

Wright says the use of the his controversial statements- -saying the US brought on the 9/ll attacks and that Black Americans should sing God Damn America instead of God Bless America—were “unfair” and “unjust” and were used “for some very devious reasons.”

Once again, we have the complaint that quoting someone accurately amounts to devious behavior. Selectively quoting someone to remove context can be devious, but the only one doing that is … Barack Obama, at least twice so far in the campaign. He flat-out misquoted John McCain in claiming that McCain said he would want 100 years of war, and he recently put out an ad that completely mischaracterized McCain’s view on the economy by cutting out a significant portion where he said that times had gotten tough recently. So far, Obama hasn’t apologized for either, although he has stopped using at least the first claim lately.

So did Jeremiah Wright get the same treatment? Let’s look at the fuller context of his more controversial remarks. The first is his infamous sermon delivered just five days after 9/11, when Americans crowded into churches for comfort and resolve. What did Trinity United Church deliver? Emphases mine:

I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday, did anybody else see him or hear him? He was on Fox News, this is a white man, and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out, did you see him John, a white man, and he pointed out, an ambassador, that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Mohammed was in fact true, America’s chickens are coming home to roost. We took this country by terror, away from the Sioux, the Apache, the Arowak, the Comanche, the Arapahoe, the Navajo. Terrorism. We took Africans from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism. We bombed Granada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel. We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenagers and toddlers, pregnant mothers, and hardworking fathers. We bombed Qaddafi’s home and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against a rock. We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to payback for the attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of hardworking people, mothers and fathers who left home to go that day not knowing that they would never get back home. We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye. Kids playing in the playground, mothers picking up children from school, civilians, not soldiers, people just trying to make it day by day.

We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and Black South Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

In other words, we had it coming. We have no right to complain about terrorism when America is apparently the greatest terrorist state in history. Do you notice whom Wright never blames? The actual terrorists who had just murdered 3,000 of his countrymen. And talking about context, notice that Wright never provides any context for the actions against Japan, Libya, Panama, and Granada. In his speech, we just up and decided one day to murder Qaddafi’s child.

Next up is the 2003 sermon in which he tells his flock to sing “God Damn America” in 2003:

The British government failed, the Russian government failed, the Japanese government failed, the German government failed, and the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese decent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. The government put them in chains. She put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton fields, put them in inferior schools, put them in sub-standard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education, and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America — no, no, no

Not God bless America, God damn America. That’s in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating her citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent. Think about this, think about this.

For every one Oprah, a billionaire, you’ve got 5 million blacks who out of work. For every one Colin Powell, a millionaire, you’ve got 10 million blacks who cannot read. For every one Condoskeeza Rice, you’ve got 1 million in prison. For every one Tiger Woods, who needs to get beat, at the Masters, with his cap, blazin’ hips playing on a course that discriminates against women. God has his way of bringing you up short when you get to big for your cap, blazin britches. For every one Tiger Woods, we got 10,000 black kids who will never see a golf course. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent.

The government gives blacks drugs? This is the conspiracy theory that the Reagan administration’s CIA acted to flood American cities with crack cocaine so that the wave of violence it inspired would give the government an excuse to imprison black men. Somehow in that same thought, the government has conspired to keep black kids from golf courses. While it’s mostly true about illiteracy — in 2003, it would have been closer to 7 million than 10 million — Hispanics had a far higher illiteracy rate (44% to 23%) and illiterate whites were double the number of illiterate blacks (over 14 million).

Wright is a conspiracist, a demagogue, and at heart someone who doesn’t much like America. Like William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, he spends his venom on the US and embraces dictators like Fidel Castro and terrorists like Hamas, whose screeds he publishes in Trinity’s weekly newsletters. Far from absolving Obama, the context once again forces Obama to answer for the company he keeps.