I love my wife for many reasons. One of them is the way she can sometimes put everything into perspective in just a phrase or a sentence. On the weekend we were discussing the latest Reverend Jeremiah Wright ‘controversy.’ In an interview he had use the word Jews in a derogatory way, saying that those Jews around Obama wouldn’t let him get near the president. Of course this comes in the same week as the tragic shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. My wife looked at me and said, “If Lincoln had farted at Gettysburg that would have been what the media would focus on.” And she is right.
Responding to a question about his access to Obama and what he would advise him if they did speak, Wright inappropriately used the term Jews. I am certain he was really referring to White House Chief of Staff Raum Emmanuel who as part of his job does control access to the president. It was a poor choice of words, an ignorant remark, made in anger and frustration to lash out foolishly at someone standing between himself and a young man he had felt a kinship with, but it was not necessarily a sign of deep seated anti-semitism. Bigotry against Jews is a plague upon our society that is so ingrained that often people don’t realize they are perpetuating it. It is appropriate to point out that the Reverend Wright was wrong to use the word as a term of derision. But it is not a story that warranted several days of media buzz. I doubt it would have gotten as much attention as it did had it not been for the other, real story, that should have shocked America and made society examine its darker recesses. The rest of Wright’s remark stressing that he believed Obama should hold to the principles that led him to seek public office and not compromise to the political hacks who care only about winning elections at any price, is a more important story than the ill thought remark. Important not just in relation to Obama and whether or not he is really following his conscience, but for politics in general. If everyone who sought public office followed Reverend Wright’s advice how much better the world would be. Politicians acting on principle, doing what is right instead of acting on avarice and doing what is expedient. That would be worthy of a round table discussion.
Also note that no other evidence of active anti-semitism was reported against Wright. No investigative team of crack journalists scoured the Reverend’s past to see if a charge of anti-semitism was warranted against him. Rather the media was content to seductively lay out this one instance in virtually the same breath as the story of the Holocaust Museum shootings and let the audience draw the inference. Having never made the accusation of anti-semitism directly they maintain a comfortable deniability. Titillate the audience with innuendo but stop an inch short of defamation. And people wonder why I would sooner believe a story in the National Enquirer than the National Post.
I am sure, as my wife suggested, that had Lincoln farted during his famous speech on the battlefield at Gettysburg CNN would have been first out of the gate with the story. Video footage of screwed up noses and quick glances amongst those directly behind Lincoln would have circulated on YouTube by now. A panel of pundits would convene to ponder the political significance of the fart. Was Lincoln wafting a message to the retreating Southern army? Was the stench of this particular fart such as to raise concerns about the president’s health? Should someone with a flatulence problem be trusted with the most powerful office of the state? Oh yes I am sure Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper would devote an entire show each to this pressing news event. And Rick Sanchez would be calling for a dictionary to look up the word flatulence.