A Theology of Oppression

Anybody game for a new theology of oppression? –

On questions concerning what the Rev. Jeremiah Wright actually says or does not say in his public remarks, notice, if you will, the fixed and unmovable points of convergence that exist between the views expressed over The O’Reilly Factor (FOX News), Larry King Live (CNN), and Countdown with Keith Olbermann (MSNBC) — or in the editorials and opinion commentaries published by U.S. print dailies on Tuesday, April 29, the morning after Wright spoke before the National Press Club in Washngton, DC.

Points of convergence between Rachel Maddow and Bernard Goldberg, for example; between Bob Herbert or Eugene Robinson and George Will.

According to Maddow (over MSNBC): "I think that if Obama goes aggressive on this, it could actually be a [real] problem for John McCain. What Obama could do — I’m not sure I’ve seen an inclination towards this type of aggression in the Obama campaign.  But what he could do is he could say, listen, my personal private relationship with my pastor is now being dragged through the mud for political reasons.  I have no political alliance with Jeremiah Wright.  I disavow his political views.  He disavows my political views."

And Goldberg (over FOX): "You have liberal journalists making excuses for a man who, among other things, is a racist and they were only doing it because is he a black man who is a racist.  Proving, once again that there are no limits to white liberal guilt, I guess. As for the [Bill] Moyers thing, let’s look at it this way, let’s say you sent a high school journalism student out and they got an interview with the Reverend Wright, but you didn’t ask him about the reverend’s allegations about how the government is creating AIDS in order to kill black people or how the government is importing drugs in order to ruin the lives of black people. And he didn’t even say, you know, you are a minister but you seem awfully angry for a minister. He didn’t ask any of those questions. You give the kid an ‘F’. End of discussion."

Once again, the common denominator is to be found in the captive American’s rejection of whatever it is this Black Preacher says.  FOX News takes a collective dump on him; MSNBC’s Countdown pleads with the Black Candidate to run from the Black Preacher as fast as he can. 

Thereafter, this near-universally-performed rejection divides into two camps: One holds that the Black Candidate is irreparably contaminated by his past association with the radioactive Black Preacher, and this is all for the best; the other that the Black Candidate still might be able to rescue his campaign by cleansing himself and repenting for the sin of his past association. 

But at almost no place — with maybe a one or two percentage exception – is there any recognition among the denizens of the establishment media that there is or there even could be substance and validity to the remarks by the Black PreacherNor will a single substantive theme that he raises be permitted to contaminate the rest of this god-forsaken political culture

Nobody in 2008 will be permitted to hear or to consider the fact that 

African Americans have a surge of emotions as they see the color of poverty in a world of wealth, and begin to understand that it is no accident that the world’s poorest are one color, and the world’s richest are another color.  And when they tie together the pieces of 500 years of colonialism, racism, and slavery with what it is they see in 2001, a surge of emotions hits them, and the last three verses of Psalm 137 help them to understand what it they are feeling.

Nor will anybody — outside the congregation, that is — be permitted to understand that

Hermeneutic is an interpretation, it’s the window from which you’re looking is your hermeneutic. And when you don’t realize that I’ve been framed — this whole thing has been framed through this window, there’s another world out here that I’m not looking at or taking into account, it gives you a perspective that — that is — that is informed by and limited by your hermeneutic. Dr. James Cone put it this way. The God of the people who riding on the decks of the slave ship is not the God of the people who are riding underneath the decks as slaves in chains. If the God you’re praying to, "Bless our slavery" is not the God to whom these people are praying, saying, "God, get us out of slavery." And it’s not like Notre Dame playing Michigan. You’re saying flip a coin; hope God blesses the winning team, no. That the perception of God who allows slavery, who allows rape, who allows misogyny, who allows sodomy, who allows murder of a people, lynching, that’s not the God of the people being lynched and sodomized and raped, and carried away into a foreign country. Same thing you find in Psalm 137. That those people who are carried away into slavery have a very different concept of what it means to be the people of God than the ones who carried them away.


Herein we find evidence of how deep and how widespread run the founding lies upon which the Captive American Mind operates.  In the famous story of  the English gentleman walking the streets of London, stopping the passers-by to tell them the ugly truths about the British Empire, the reason he runs-afoul of his fellow Londoners is not because he happened to quit the Anglican church some years earlier.  Quite the contrary.  He runs-afoul of them because he talks to them about the British Empire, and about British crimes, and about how the crimes they commit prop up their very British way of life.  


This is the fundamental reason why the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is demonized today.  Not so much to carry out an "attack on the black church" — the Reverend’s own belief.  But to innoculate the political culture in a presidential election year against the virus of truths about the American EmpireAmerican crimes, and how the crimes we commit prop up our American way of life.  (See Thanksgiving in America, Ron Cobb, ca. late 1960s.)


Nobody is supposed to raise these issues.  Everything about them is forbidden.  The guardians of the political process are determined to stop the virus before it spreads.  


The attacks on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright are directed against someone who raises serious issues with honesty and conviction.  All of us should be discussing them.  Instead, we open our newspapers and turn on our TVs — and find them dismissed.  Go figure.


Therefore, whenever and wherever we find Wright or the issues he raises denigrated and attacked, we ought to be clear that we are confronting a kind of theology of oppression.  At bottom a secular theology, it worships American Power, and banishes its heretics to the wilderness.  In 2008, the Republican and Democratic National Committees and the Fourth Estate are struggling mightily to protect us from the threat of reality.  I say we don’t let them. 

The O’Reilly Factor, FOX News, April 28, 2008
Larry King Live, CNN, April 28, 2008

Countdown with Keith Olbermann, MSNBC, April 28, 2008 

"Wright says criticism of his views are attack on US black churches," Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, April 29, 2008
"Obama Adds To Distance From Pastor And Opinions," Jeff Zeleny, New York Times – IHT, April 29, 2008
"Rev. Wright Takes Battle to His Critics," Suzanne Sataline and Nick Timiraos, Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2008
"Preaching to the Choir, and Feeding the Fire," Hamil R. Harris, Washington Post, April 29, 2008
"Still More Lamentations From Jeremiah," Dana Milbank, Washington Post, April 29, 2008

Interview with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Moyers’ Journal, PBS – TV, April 25, 2008
"Black Churches, Black Theology, and American History,"
Bill Moyers’ Journal, PBS – TV, April 25, 2008

"The African American Religious Experience" (Rev. Jeremiah Wright at the National Press Club in Washington, DC), CSPAN II, April 28, 2008

"Reverend Jeremiah Wright: Religious Freedom Versus State Religion, Ethics, Politics and Strategy," James Petras, Dissident Voice, April 20, 2008

"Audacity and Hopelessness," ZCom, March 16, 2008
"Rev. Jeremiah Wright for President," ZCom, March 17, 2008 
"Audacity and Hopelessness II," ZCom, March 30, 2008
"‘The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall’," ZCom, April 4, 2008 
"A Theology of Oppression," ZCom, April 29, 2008

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