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Rev. Wright crosses line but is wrongly disparaged
By Ray Hanania — Barack Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., is only saying what many Americans who are victimized by ongoing American racism and hatred believe deep down. It’s just that when you are a victim of American-style hate, and when your voices are intentionally shut-out because of your race and your religion, you sometimes go a little too far, as Rev. Wright did in emotional sermons at his religious pulpit. Rev. Wright may have crossed the line, but he doesn’t deserve the attacks that question his patriotism or his sincerity in challenging growing racism and hatred that dominate not only American society but also our foreign policy conduct.
More importantly, Rev. Wright certainly doesn’t deserve to be attacked by professional hate-mongers like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck, all White men and conservative fanatics who hypocritically denounce anyone who tries to speak up for the victims of the society they continue to infect.
Did Rev. Wright cross the line when he said that the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were the result of American foreign policies? Yes. But was he completely wrong? No.
It was insensitive but there was some truth to the point he was trying to make, not just about Sept. 11, but about many past events that have been tragic and painful.
The fact is American foreign policy is replete with hypocrisy, double standards and even war crimes. Our governments have violated international laws, assassinated and murdered people without first seeking justice, and supported dictators until they have challenged our policies. To this day, American foreign policy supports oppressive policies and occupations of foreign countries that contradict our claim to be a nation that champions international freedoms and civil rights.
Americans love to point a finger at other nations, but rarely allow others to point a finger at them.
Yet, acknowledging our faults and even the illegal and immoral conduct of our government is a fundamental virtue of the very quality that makes this country so great.
We are not supposed to tolerate any form of torture against any prisoners, no matter how much we might hate those prisoners. We are not supposed to be like the dictators we denounce.
Americans must be allowed to criticize our government and leaders without being ostracized, or subjected to mob-like character assassination as being heaped on Rev. Wright.
The American Constitution is what makes America different from other oppressive governments, dictatorships we often support hypocritically when it is in our best interests, and topple with holier-than-thou moral outrage when we are in dispute with them.
Is our conduct based on issues of political convenience, or on principles, morality and international law?
Yet, when we condemn those for expressing views that should and must be center-stage to a full and open public discussion of the conflicts we face — not only from international terrorists but also from a growing and hateful cadre of racists and bigots right here on the home front — we become the very people we despise.
We don’t execute political dissidents the way they do in many countries that are our staunchest political allies. But we do destroy their lives. We do harass them. We do subject them to slander, name-calling or viciously oppressive ostracism.
The misconduct of our government and even the failings of our society to live up to the standards that we, as Americans, have set for ourselves, is what Rev. Wright is addressing.
He may have done it ineloquently. He may have been insensitive to events that remain open wounds in our hearts. And he probably could have focused his remarks not against an entire race of people, the American people, but rather at the henchmen in government who direct the policies that we, as Americans, have failed to fully challenge.
But we can’t excuse the American people. We demand that others denounce their extremists and fanatics, and yet we remain silent when our extremists and fanatics speak and act. We have failed to hold our leaders accountable and that failure fuels the anger of Rev. Wright and the anger of many Americans.
This country stood by for years when the government in South Africa oppressed, brutalized and murdered innocent people because they were black. It was because of accepted racist views and policies.
This country takes partisan sides in Middle East conflicts based on power associations, money and influence, rather than on principle, morality and international law.
When Israel was attacked by Hezbollah, we supported and encouraged the Israeli government to responds not by merely targeting Hezbollah fighters, but by inflicting a widespread campaign of punishment against the entire Lebanese people.
Politics, intimidation and even racism prevented us from stopping the war sooner and sparing the lives of thousands of innocent Lebanese civilians who were killed in Israel’s official policy of “collective punishment,” a policy condemned by most of the rest of the World.
This country is silent as Israel’s government responded to the firing of rockets by Hamas terrorists by killing scores of civilians in an uncontrolled, emotion-driven campaign to force an entire civilian population to stop Hamas.
More than 400 members of Congress endorsed a resolution denouncing the killing of civilians by Hamas last week, but defended the killing of civilians by Israel.
Collective punishment is the act of condemning innocent people for the crimes of a few.
In a way, Rev. Wright is guilty of doing that too, blaming all Americans for the excesses of our government and the conduct of the large groups of fanatics, hate-groups and militias that exist right here in our own American society.
But you can’t throw rocks from a glass house that has cracks in its morality, holes in its principles, and a cloud of doubt surrounding its embrace of international law.
Deep down, most Americans know Rev. Wright is touching on some truths. But they also know if they speak up to defend him, they will be punished.
They won’t be openly jailed or executed the way dissidents who challenge the policies of oppressive foreign dictatorships.
Rather, Americans who stand up to challenge the tyranny of the American majority are targeted by hate-mongers in our media, subjected to secret illegal investigations, and ostracized so viciously in our society that it costs them jobs, their livelihoods and their right to dignity and honor.
Rev. Wright may have crossed the line, but the hate-mongers criticizing him and the Americans who fail to denounce their own extremists, are no better.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and radio talk show host based in Chicago. He can be reached at www.hanania.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Arab Writers Group, www.ArabWritersGroup.com.)
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Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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