Monday, April 28, 2008

A life of its own

When the Jeremiah Wright videos (finally) broke in the media last month, some thoroughly embarrassed Obama supporters were quick to point out that, at least in the (arguably) most disgraceful part of his post 9-11 sermon, Wright was only "quoting the ambassador from Iraq." So he was taken out of context. Yeah. Wright reiterated this bogus excuse again this morning in response to a question at his National Press Club speech.

Well, it's true that he claimed he was referring to comments by Ambassador Edwin Peck (who was the U.S. ambassador to, not "from," Iraq, BTW). But at the time, he didn't claim to be "quoting" him. Paraphrasing, maybe? With a little extra reference to Malcom X thrown in? But, hey. Why speculate? Here's the full text of the pertinent part of Wright's 9-16-01 sermon (it's long and it's tedious and maybe you're read it or heard it before, but bear with me):

I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday did anybody else see or hear him? He was on FOX News, this is a white man, and he was upsetting the FOX News commentators to no end, he pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, he pointed out that what Malcolm X said when he was silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true, he said Americas chickens, are coming home to roost.

We took this country by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, Arikara, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism.

We took Africans away from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism.

We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel.

We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenage and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard working fathers.

We bombed Qaddafi’s home, and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against the rock.

We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of hard working people, mothers and fathers who left home to go that day not knowing that they’d never get back home.

We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye.

Kids playing in the playground. Mothers picking up children after school. Civilians, not soldiers, people just trying to make it day by day.

We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff that we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.”

So did Ambassador Peck say this or anything like this on Fox News on 9/15/01? Not according to Alan Colmes (yes, that Alan Colmes), who reported on Friday night:

... Hannity & Colmes can report exclusively tonight that after reviewing the Peck interview, Peck never used the phrase 'chickens coming home to roost' and that Wright went much further in criticizing U.S. policy than Peck did in his interview on FOX. So if Peck didn't say what Wright insinuates, are the ideas expressed in the sermon really Wright's and were they therefore taken out of context?

So what's the damage? Well, as with all lies, this one has taken on a life of its own and it will be interesting to see if the genie can be put back in the bottle. Take Sherri Shepherd, who parroted it today on "The View"

Well, you know, with the "chickens have come home to roost," it’s very interesting because he took that quote from Ambassador Edward Peck, who is a white man, who said that, that the chickens were coming home to roost.

Or take Bob Conway, a newly minted Obama supporter from Monroeville, PA, who was quoted (without challenge) in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a week before the Pennsylvania primary:

"The most inflammatory aspect of Rev. Wright's speech was a direct quote from a white Fox News analyst, who also saw our foreign policy chickens coming home to roost," Mr. Conway said, referring to a YouTube video. To view it, go to The video shows a much larger and in-context segment of Mr. Wright's "chickens coming home to roost" 9/11 sermon.

Mr. Wright was quoting former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Peck, and the minister's real message, taken in context, called for introspection and asked people what the proper response to violence should be, he said.

Poor Mr. Conway. Did he follow that link? Did he honestly think that tirade was a "direct quote" from anyone? And did he miss, by chance, the rest of that sermon about the "proper response" to 9-11? Because after the "first" part about introspection and self-examination comes the "second" part -- about "social transformation." The part that comes a few minutes after that particular video link cuts off.

... We have got to change the way we have been doing things as a society, social transformation. We have got to change the way we have been doing things as a country, social transformation. We have got to change the way we have been doing things as an arrogant, racist, military superpower, social transformation. We just can't keep messing over people, and think ain't nobody do nothing about it. They have shown us that they can, and that they will. ...

So who's that talking? Just Jeremiah Wright.

For the record, I doubt that Ambassador Peck found much to disagree with in Wright's remarks. Peck has, for example, opined that both the U.S. and Israel are have committed "international terrorism." But that's not the point. Wright is lying about his "chickens coming home to roost" remark (the true source of which is, as he actually suggested, Malcolm X, who said it in reference to the assassination of President Kennedy). And too many Obama supporters are mindlessly repeating the lie, praying all the while the the Rev. Wright will just STFU.

He won't, though. So much the worse for Obama. So much the worse for the racial divide in this country. It's a crying shame.