Comments from an interview with the Reverend Jerimiah Wright to be aired on PBS tonight indicate that the Reverend is feeling a little picked on. His contention is that the airing of excerpts from his sermons out of their original context misrepresented his position on key issues. "I felt it was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt ... those who were doing that were doing it for some very devious reason."
For those who have forgotten, some of those excerpts included a two-minute tirade (to loud applause) where he repeated "God damn America" over, and over again. There were accusations that the U.S. government was responsible for flooding the inner cities with drugs and for infecting the black community with the AIDS virus. Oh, and the statement that the 9/11 attacks were a case of "the chickens coming home to roost".
So, let's flash back six months or so to Don Imus' ill-fated comedy skit regarding the Duke womens' basketball team. That was also a brief excerpt from a man who is hardly a confirmed racist. The outcry from the media and from many public figures was immediate and without restraint. Barack Obama called for NBC Radio to fire Imus over the comments.
I'm not equating what Rev. Wright said to the comments that Don Imus made. But Reverend Wright's calls for understanding and balance, and the media's cooperation, form a stark contrast to the treatment that Imus received.
Our culture's view of racism and hatred is based on simplistic foundations. I'm reminded of a black friend in college whose roomate moved in a very insular African-American social circle. She hung a poster in her dorm room with the motto "Racism Sucks". One of her roomate's visitors, on seeing the poster, made the comment, "I thought you liked white people."
If you really want to be color-blind, then treat everyone the same.