Rev. Jeremiah Wright has become Sen. Barack Obama's Willie Horton. Sadly, it shouldn't be this way.
America claims to be the land of free speech, but when someone say something we don't like, we are quick to condemn and criticize. I heard the entire speech that Wright gave Monday at the National Press Club in Washington. Some of it I may had some problems, but for the most part, I had no problem with he said because he got the chance to say his peace entirely, not in 30-second sound bytes. I also heard the entire question-and-answer period, in which many of the questions were asinine at worst, and sophomoric at best. The journalists there generally weren' t interested in hearing his side, but were mainly disappointed that Wright didn't fall on his sword, or came in on his hands and knees, begging for mainstream forgiveness.
All they wanted was some quick quips to use, to create more distractions from the campaign. To make news, when there wasn't any to make.
It proves two things: One, America isn't ready for a Black man or woman in the White House. And two, that all Black people aren't joined by the hip.
Why should Obama be held responsible for what his former pastor says? Should the Illinois senator run, tackle and mussel Wright?
Was Ronald Reagan held responsible for what the late Rev. Jerry Farwell said during his campaign? Did the press take Reagan to task for kicking off his presidential campaign at a Confederate landmark?
Of course not. We all know that all Whites do not think or speak alike. However, this right never has been extended to Blacks in this country.
The mainstream press, which too often serves as America's information gatekeepers -- a role too many Americans have allowed them to assume, doesn't want to present the entire picture, the entire speech, along with stupid questions, to put Wright's words in its entire context, and allow the public to decide what he said is controversial or not.
And even if it, report it and move on. When it is someone White, they do.
This has become a live version of "The Defiant Ones," a movie that had Sidney Politer and Tony Curtis shackled to each other, with Obama playing Poitier and Wright assuming the Curtis role.
During Monday's speech, Wright pointed out that journalists don't read. I agree. They certainly haven't read Voltaire, which I did in college.
I paraphrase: I may not agree with what you say, but I defend your right to say it.