Massey Lectures, Toronto, Canada 1967
A daring explanation of how we arrived at the era of
REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT
Fr. Raymond J. de Souza -- a very bright and engaging young priest with a side-career in journalism (who often colours way outside the lines of both his vocation and his expertise, but always worth a read), posits a pretty daring take on the early origins of the fork in the road of American racial politics which brought us to the point that Barack Obama's church of recent decades preaches a "gospel" (let's not dignify it with a capital "G") of anti-Americanism and anti-white racism.
In today's National Post, Fr. de Souza reflects on his reading of the recently published Lost Massey Lectures, selections from a lecture series founded in 1961 by then Governor-General of Canada Vincent Massey [yes, elder brother of tv's "Dr. Gillespie", the actor, valiant Canadian veteran of both World Wars, and naturalized American Goldwater-supporter Raymond Massey!]. Among them is the 1967 lecture by Martin Luther King, which the reader expected to be something along the lines of the noble sentiments expressed in King's most famous speech, the 1963 "I Have A Dream" oration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
What Fr. de Souza found lurking there instead, to his immense disappointment, was the germ of anti-Americanism and statist dependency now thundering from the pulpit of Chicago's Trinity United Church (just as much under its new pastor as under its conveniently retired Pastor Wright), and, by all reports, from the pulpits of many other predominantly black churches across America.
Read it all. And wonder whether anywhere south of the 49th parallel there will be journalists who dare to make this unhappy connection on the anniversary of that day [as U2 would headline it] "Thursday morning, April 4th, shots ring out in the Memphis sky."
For King admirers, accustomed to his prophetic denunciations of violence and injustice, it is almost painful listening to him distinguish between the rioters' violence against property, rather than persons...
While the earlier King emphasized the virtue, discipline and community strength of black America as the means for achieving their emancipation, the later King takes a more statist tone, blaming an economic system that can only be changed by massive government spending... The Massey Lectures have the tone not of prophetic emancipation, but rather a campaign brief for the Great Society expansion of the welfare state.
In 1967, King is greatly preoccupied with the injustice of the Vietnam War, which he opposed strongly. But he has allowed himself to be seduced by the anti-Americanism that tainted the antiwar movement: "I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own Government."
It is painful to read that. Whatever American sins were in Vietnam, it is impossible to justify that claim, while hundreds of millions were imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain, while millions were starved off the land in the Great Leap Forward.
... in giving comfort to that view, he helped sow seeds that produced the vitriolic anti-Americanism that Reverend Wright demonstrated is now commonplace in parts of black America.
SPEAKING OF HEADLINES
Over at Jewish World Review, Jack Kelly reads the tea-leaves on purposely ambiguous headlines about the Iraqi army's Operation Knight's Charge against Muqtada Al Sadsack's Mahdi Army, and the subsequent call (by Mookie himself) for a cease-fire. Not quite outright deception in the Cronkite-Tet tradition, but sufficiently contortionist to disguise the increasingly good news coming (or not) out of Basra.
SPEAKING OF RACE IN AMERICA,
BARACK OBAMA, and all that
Ann Coulter, of all people, [I read her today so you don't have to -- I don't usually, but the headline drew me in] has been reading Obama's audacious autobiography. Well, at least one of them. We know that his 46-years have been SO remarkable that he merits TWO already!
I have my problems with Coulter, but her piece basically relates unvarnished quotations from Obama himself, and it would be hard to write anything more damning. Think he threw his white Grandma under the bus in his apologetic for Pastor Wright? [de-constructed brilliantly here by Mark Steyn] Well, he had long ago thrown Mama from the train in a much more vicious way. After reassuring his worried mother that he wasn't into drugs (was this even true?) with a pat on the hand, he goes on "to share with his readers a life lesson on how to handle white people." [Coulter]
It was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves. They were more than satisfied, they were relieved — such a pleasant surprise to find a well-mannered young black man who didn't seem angry all the time.He's talking about his mother -- like some stranger on a bus or in a shop for whom he needs to act out this soothing pantomime to check some reflexive panic generated by her own son based on his skin-tone! This is deeply twisted.
The most twisted thing about it is that one is left only two possibilities as to where this comes from. Either he has spent his entire rather privileged life as a seething vat of race-based resentment, expertly masked behind a face of moderation and benevolence (in which case we can't lay his attitudes at the door-step of Pastor Wright) -- or he has re-written a problematic but hardly agonizing, and in many ways quite ordinarily pleasant, youth into a saga of racial alienation and suffering, very much under the tutelage of the hate-mongering pastor who has regularly harangued him for most of his adult life.
Either way, Obama comes out looking bad-- he has phonied-up himself in one fashion or another. The only question is, was it for all of his life, or only the last half? A number of his school-friends say they do not recognize the angst-ridden youth of the books -- that they never had the conversations he relates which smolder with racial resentment and alienation. I'm inclined to believe them. Obama's recollections sound entirely too complicated to have been lived out in his boyhood, at least without having brought him to some kind of mental collapse or demonstration of rage long before his star rose at Harvard.
I'm inclined to think this is all post-Wright revisionism. Which is not to say that I think he really believes any of it. It may well be nothing more than the creation of a character that he thought would advance his political ambitions. Mark Steyn, as usual, has this aspect NAILED. [Listen here to his interview on Hugh Hewitt's radio show -- scroll down to #15.]