Last Post on This, I Promise

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But I just read an article I had to share because it expresses, better than I could, exactly why the entire Wright debacle has bothered me so much, not to mention the latest Clinton salvo.  It’s the patriotism thing.  I have posted on this before, you know, hating patriotism in general, believing that it inevitably entails an imagined superiority over all those not part of whatever it is we are patriotic to, and my not buying into that at all.  But Kamiya makes a good point that, in particular, our current national discourse on patriotism is absurdly constrained.   Perhaps it was always thus, even before 9/11, that you weren’t allowed to question anything America did, but certainly the national witch hunt reached a fever pitch in the few years following 9/11 (remember what happened to my girls).

Here’s a teaser:

The great shock so many people claim to be feeling over Wright’s sermons is preposterous. Anyone who is surprised and horrified that some black people feel anger at white people, and America, is living in a racial never-never land. Wright has called the U.S. “the United States of White America,” talks about the “oppression” of black people and says, “White America got their wake-up call after 9/11.” Gosh, who could have dreamed that angry racial grievances and left-wing political views are sometimes expressed in black churches?

It’s not surprising that the right is using Wright to paint Barack Obama as a closet Farrakhan, trying to let the air out of his trans-racial balloon by insinuating that he’s a dogmatic race man. But beyond the fake shock and the all-too-familiar racial politics, what the whole episode reveals is how narrow the range of acceptable discourse remains in this country. This is especially true of anything having to do with patriotism or 9/11 — which have become virtually interchangeable. Wright’s unforgivable sin was that he violated our rigid code of national etiquette. Instead of the requisite “God bless America,” he said “God damn America.” He said 9/11 was a case of chickens coming home to roost. Now we must all furrow our brows and agree that such dreadful words are anathema and that no presidential candidate can ever have been within earshot of them.

This is absurd. . . . Wright isn’t the problem. Stupid patriotism is the problem.

I’m pretty sure Kamiya thinks there is a right way to do patriotism, just that we do it stupidly in this country at this moment.  Just so y’all don’t think he’s outside the American mainstream like yours truly.

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4 Responses to “Last Post on This, I Promise”

  1. alsturgeon Says:

    I love you, Sandi. Your ever-present willingness to be considered outside the mainstream endears yourself to me if no one else. 🙂

    I think you (and Kamiya) are on to something with the patriotism (more than racism) thing. I think folks were more concerned about how much Wright/Obama “loves this country” than anything else.

  2. DeJon Says:

    I agree that patriotism in America is twisted version of socially-mandated elitism.

    If you want to see a disgusting manifestation of this type of attack on Sen. Obama find the youtube video titled “Is Obama Wright.”

    I could provide the link, but I don’t want to appear as though I support such a disgusting and low blow.

  3. urbino Says:

    Martin Marty, now retired, has long been considered “the dean” of American religious historians. He knows about as much about the history of American religion as any one person ever has. He’s also a deeply religious man. (Not as common among religious historians as one might, perhaps, expect.)

    Here’s his take on Rev. Wright. It’s recommended reading.

  4. alsturgeon Says:

    Thanks for the Martin Marty link. Very good stuff.

    I once picked up a little book he wrote on baptism at a used bookstore (being a CofC guy, and having learned to respect Marty’s name, it was a must read). My favorite line was when he was talking about the trend to use less and less water in baptismal ceremonies, he surmised that someday folks would just use a humidifier! 🙂

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