Bill Moyers Hosts Rev. Jeremiah Wright

When the infamous Rev. Wright sound bites began to dominate world news, I like many Americans really cringed. It was not only that his remarks were jarring--"Could he really believe that killing two thousand innocent Americans was just retribution for......... for anything?" I asked myself. And so on, and on and on and on as the news media relentlessly repeated the same story line.

But, I reasoned, whatever Wright's thoughts at the time, Barack Obama should not suffer from guilt by association, and his speech in Philadelphia was a strong affirmation of values that I treasured.

Now I can go further.

Bill Moyer's hour-long interview with Rev. Wright was an eye-opener. I only regret that I did not have the opportunity of attending his Church in Chicago. I see him now as a towering figure, genuinely in the tradition of Martin Luther King. It was clear from the discussion and excerpts from the "infamous" sermon that were presented in context, that Rev. Wright was making a profound argument against terrorism, not excluding the action of governments such as our own, when they willfully bomb civilian populations or in earlier times exterminated Native Americans. Never did he suggest that the terrorists who planned and committed the act of terrorism on 9/11 could or should be excused.

He spoke of how shocked he was when he particpated in civil rights demonstrations down South, in the 1960's. Here were racists committing violent acts against the demonstrators, in the name of Christ. Although he was the son and grandson of pastors, and had been preparing himself to follow in their footsteps, he was filled with doubt about his own religion. What God could allow these things to happen.

He quit school and joined the military, and then became a medical technician. Only slowly finding his way back to the church, as he came to the realization that the prophets did speak in God's name at those moments when they condemned the Israelites when they sinned--when in God's name they damned the Israelites for straying from the path of justice. He embraced the prophetic role of the ministry, and the important role of the church in continuing to lead the struggle for a better world.

He said that he actually witnessed the second plane hitting the Tower, from a NYC hotel window. Members of his church were killed there and in the Pentagon and that it was out of his own struggle to comprehend the outrage and deal with his own anger at the terrorist atrocity that he preached the following Sunday.

The Washington Post discusses the interview, in the context of an article on the campaign, and a video of the interview interview, and the sermon.

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