Wright says criticism is attack on black church

April 29, 2008 3:33:20 PM PDT
For the second day in a row, Senator Barack Obama's former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, fired back at those who criticized his sermons and labeled him unpatriotic. Wright spoke before the National Press Club Monday morning in the nation's capital. He was just as controversial as ever.

Wright is continuing his cross country self-defense tour by telling several hundred people in Washington, D.C., Monday that he is not an unpatriotic anti-American radical, so there is nothing to apologize for, because the people who found some of his remarks offensive, including Barack Obama, didn't hear the entire sermons, so they don't understand the context, or they know nothing about the historic role of the black church in fighting against racism and injustice. His message Monday is to listen, learn, and understand in the biblical spirit of reconciliation.

Wright told a friendly crowd at a religious conference in Washington Monday that he has to come out swinging, in a PBS interview last week, at a church in Dallas Sunday, keynoting an NAACP conference in Detroit Sunday night, and Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, because the firestorm of controversy over his most inflammatory remarks about American racism, foreign policy, and military intervention, represents an attack on the black church from people who haven't heard or don't understand his sermons in the context of the biblical quest for a better society.

"If you think I'm going to let you talk about my mama and her religious tradition and my daddy and his religious tradition and my grandma, you got another thing coming," Wright said Monday.

So there won't be an apology for saying, among other things, America deserved the attacks on 9/11.

"You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright principles," said Wright.

Or that the government may have injected the HIV-AIDS virus into minority communities.

"Yes, I believe we are capable," Wright said.

Wright also criticized his most famous parishioner, Barack Obama, for suggesting that his former pastor fails to acknowledge that racial progress has been made.

"He did not denounce me. He distanced himself from some of my remarks like most of you, never having heard the sermon," said Wright. "I'm his pastor. I said to Barack Obama last year, if you get elected, November 5, I'm coming after you because you will be representing a government whose policies grind under people."

But Reverend Wright is saving his sharpest attack for those who are questioning his patriotism.

"I served six years in the military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?" said Wright.

The underpinning in all of this from Jeremiah Wright is that he is a preacher, not a politician, and he has to say what he has to say, he didn't have to be politically correct. As a result, there has been a political fallout. This had to have contributed somewhat to Barack Obama's problems with white voters in Pennsylvania. It may present a similar problem in Indiana. And it will definitely be an issue if he wins the nomination and faces John McCain, the Republican, in November.

For now at least, Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, is saying virtually nothing about Wright and Obama, staying silent on the subject. Obama said last week, however, that Wright is entitled to say whatever he wants just as he, Obama, said what he wants.

Some of Reverend Wright's Chicago friends were also there Monday. They are hoping by providing a context for his remarks, voters may actually understand why they shouldn't be offended, or reject Obama because of Wright.

"The sooner that this kind of conversation is engaged, the better. If you really look at it, it's better now than in September," said Rev. Marshall Hatch, Chicago minister.

"I don't think you apologize for the people that don't get it. I think you're trying to get the people to get it. Don't dumb down," said Fr. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina Church Chicago.

"If God intends for Mr. Obama to be the president, then no white racist, no political pundit, no speech, nothing can get in the way. Because God will do what God wants to do," said Wright.

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