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    March 24, 2008

    Rev. Wright, Obama and me

    Posted by: Andoni

    Jeremiahwright It's time to inject a bit of sanity into the discussion of the video clips of Barack Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright that surfaced 10 days ago. After struggling with how to put Reverend Wright’s moments of hate and divisiveness into context, I decided that the only way to judge this man was to put myself in his shoes. I certainly wouldn’t want to be judged by the most outrageous two minutes of utterances in my career.

    The important observation in all this is that Reverend Wright served 30 years at Trinity United Christian Church. That’s a total of more than 15 million minutes as pastor and yet 10 days of intense media scrutiny has produced only these two minutes of offensive clips.

    As a gay man who lived through the 1980s, I saw our government ignore the AIDS epidemic while friends died. If the cameras were rolling on me, there would be hateful clips of me saying “God damn America,” too, and wondering if there were some sort of covert plan to rid the country of sodomites. I was also very angry at President Reagan for ignoring the AIDS epidemic not even uttering the word "AIDS" in public. If the things I said about the president had been videotaped and given to the authorities, it might have gotten me arrested.

    All in all, those words represented about five minutes of my 60 million minutes on earth. If someone showed you these clips of my words, you would think that I was a wild-eyed radical terrorist bent on overthrowing the government. Of course that's not the case at all, then or now. People who know me well will tell you that I’m a very level-headed moderate type of guy.

    So unless someone comes up with hours and hours of hateful speech from me, those five minutes of my life are not fairly representative of who I am or the work I have done, either then or now. The same goes for Reverend Wright. And those few minutes of ugliness don’t say a thing about the people who have chosen to remain close to me in spite of my brief moments of hatefulness over my 60 years. The same holds true for people who have chosen to stick close to Reverend Wright during his years of preaching, in spite a few minutes of his apparent hateful speech.

    Politics isn’t fair and the media scores points for playing "gotcha," finding shocking like these, whether or not they are representative or out of context. Those who played the video clips of Wright's sermons over and over knew exactly what they were doing. It was calculated. However, the answer to free speech is more speech. In an ideal world, someone would make a fair and complete video biography of Wright’s life and sermons and then pay for it to run over and over again on TV to give the public a fuller picture of the man. But that isn’t going to happen because of the time and expense.

    The next best “more speech” solution would be for some 527 organization to gather video clips of the worst two minutes of each of the TV and radio commentators who overplayed the Wright story and subject them to the same scrutiny and ridicule. Maybe we could give equal time to the worst two minutes of those who pastor to John McCain, Hillary Clinton and President Bush. That would be justice in my mind.

    None of us would want our entire life judged by our most outrageous two minutes of utternances. We should remember that when we're judging the words of Reverend Wright.

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    1. Scott on Mar 24, 2008 6:28:18 PM:

      "I decided that the only way to judge this man was to put myself in his shoes."

      Are you gay? If so, than you been in his shoes and than some. The history of gay people IS the history of inequality. No time in history have gay people been given the same chances as straight anywhere in the world.

      I wish gay people would read about gay history. Gay people are either very optimistic (unlikely), delusional (possibly) or ignorant (bingo) about their history. Everyone tells gay people you don't have it bad in some way because they believe we are less than them and therefore deserving of unequal treatment.

      Having an identity is a crucial part of everyone's humanity. Gay people's identity have been attacked, denied, or suppressed for so long. When gay people want to acknowledge and accept their sexuality they usually do it on their own. Black, white, Asian, jewish, muslim, male, female, christian, latino or straight people are born and raised (usually) into a family that is like them. The family is their identity. Gay people have to find their own gay family to relate to. Gay people never talk directly about how being gay in an all (or almost) straight family and straight-dominated society affects them. It is a unique situation.

      What I resent most about his comments that I've seen is his declaration that AIDS would have been cured if it affected white people. Americans when they learned that AIDS affected gay men were/ are delighted. I can't even go into the history it's too long. The AIDS epidemic is the open and obvious manifestion of anti-gay hatred that has occured for millenia.

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