Just What Did Rev. Wright Say?

23 03 2008

To be sure the upheaval over Jeremiah Wright’s statements will reverberate throughout this campaign. To be sure the statements we saw played over and over are inflammatory at best, and dangerous at worse. But I always find it a bit disconcerting when snippets of the whole are presented as the totality of what one believes and says. Think about it. The man does have 35 years as a minister, building a church and ministering to the poor. 15-20 seconds of ill-conceived statements cannot be all he is about.

The video below is one such example. It shows in context his statement after 9-11 on “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”  While I will not defend anyone’s hateful, racist, or derogatory speech, I will say that we all need to place things in context to better understand what is being communicated.






7 responses

23 03 2008

After seeing a damning snippet of this for weeks, I discover: Pastor Wright is QUOTING ambassador Peck!

And ambassador Peck (I have since read) was thrown off Bill O’Reilly’s show for saying these words.

Wright is quoting Peck as an aside to a sermon given in the aftermath of 9/11 in which he points out the insanity that can grip us when we –in my words– “see red”; he beseeches us to face some hard truth instead of seeking revenge.

I remember the many signs proclaiming “God bless America,” back then. And I remember dreading what was coming; a collective rush to vengeance. Also I was longing to hear a sane voice speaking hard truth.

I didn’t hear it, but the voice was there.


And I am glad.

23 03 2008

Jim (and I hope you are “my” Jim),

Actually, I don’t think Rev. Wright was “quoting” Amb. Peck. I think he was quoting Malcolm X. He stated that what he heard Amb. Peck say was in agreement with Malcolm X’s “the chicken’s have come home to roost” statement. That’s a subtle difference.

I would have a hard time quantifying Rev. Wright as a “sane voice speaking hard truth,” given the myriad other quite odd things he has said and inflammatory positions he has taken. Certainly, in the greater context of Black Liberation Theology in which Rev. Wright moves, sanity is a scarce and undervalued commodity. (I had the good fortune to hear an interview with Prof. James Cone, the acknowledged architect of BLT, this afternoon. Mind blowing.)

Regarding the clip: I wasn’t too bothered by this one, even in its shortened form, although I do think he misused Psalm 136 (137 MT) in making his point. I think “chickens have come home to roost” is a legitimate point of view, although I wouldn’t go so far as to use that sentiment to excuse the wrongdoers (and I’m not suggesting that this is what Rev. Wright did).



29 03 2008

David (Yep! it’s me.),

I wouldn’t insist on calling Pastor Wright a sane voice overall. In the chaos of voices following 9/11 I was missing the perspective expressed here.

You are right, I thinkabout who’s being quoted; Wright refers to Edward Peck as seeming to agree with (chickens coming home) Malcolm X, and then proceeded with his “faith footnote” quoting (I assume) Malcolm X.


9 04 2008
susan calderone

I can’t comment what Wright said if I don’t KNOW what he said. It seems to be impossible at this late date to find out. Can you enlighten me, or is that considered to be “inflammatory”?

15 04 2008


I am sorry I missed your question when you first commented. I only saw it this evening. The video in my blog is only one example of several controversial comments Rev Wright made. Back when I first posted it, the news shows were showing snippets of the most inflammatory statements over and over. This particular one was often played without the context you see here in the video. If you go to you tube and do a search you will come up with numerous examples, some of which are very divisive and unhealthy.

My point was only that while we are seeing 30 seconds of inflammatory and distasteful sentences strung together, the man has 35 years of ministry and doing a lot of good under his belt as well. Proper context is important.



15 04 2008

After hearing the entire speech, I understand the intent of the message. The snippet at least left some doubt. The full version reveals much more. In a word, disgraceful.

16 04 2008


As a pastor, I cannot imagine me saying this kind of stuff in a sermon (Although the book of Amos does so without restraint). I think it is as Obama has stated. Rev. Wright is coming from a different context than those of us who grew up in the last 30-40 years. Or put another way, some still fight a war using tactics that may have outlived their usefulness. As you said, “Disgraceful.” But to one who would have had to use a “colored” drinking fountain, waiting room, entrance etc. his passion is more understandable. Again context is important.



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