"Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they've always made me glad." – Malcolm X, on the assassination of John Kennedy
"I meant that the death of Kennedy was the result of a long line of violent acts, the culmination of hate and suspicion and doubt in this country. You see, Lomax, this country has allowed white people to kill and brutalize those they don't like. The assassination of Kennedy is a result of that way of life and thinking. The chickens came home to roost; that's all there is to it. America—at the death of the President—just reaped what it had been sowing." –Malcolm X, in an interview with Louis Lomax, explaining his earlier remark.
"I was in school in Arkansas when Kennedy was assassinated. When the teacher announced the assassination to the class, practically the entire class stood up and cheered. They stood up and cheered." – a college friend of mine (who is white).
"Store closed due to assassination of nigger-loving President. (Will reopen at 2)" – from newsreel footage seen in recent ESPN documentary "Black Magic" about professional basketball players from historically black colleges.
Could a novelist have come up with a better name than Reverend Jeremiah Wright?
I've been thinking that I should write something about "The Speech," Barack Obama's speech on race and racism in the U.S., given in response to the furor over statements made by his pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. It was a speech that had some heft to it, and one that took some courage to make, when he could have said the platitudes, had a "Sister Soulja" moment, and maybe slid by that way. It took away some of my concern that Obama was a lightweight, running as a blank slate upon whom people could project their hopes and dreamy wishes that things could be better without effort, without confrontation, without recognizing that the past produces the future.
But it is Wright that draws attention, does he not? That is what a spiritual leader should do, after all. Wright does not say, as some/many on the Religious Right have said, that God smites us with supernatural intervention, sending hurricanes to lay waste to the modern day Sodom of New Orleans, or visiting a plague upon homosexuals for their sins, though Wright apparently does speak of HIV as a government plot, which is merely incorrect. But then people do tend to grant too much imagined power to those they perceive as enemies.
Wright vents an anger that many have felt, an anger that is hardly confined to the black community. Indeed, the anger is nigh unto universal, it's only the object of the anger that varies from place to place and person to person. The Republican Revolution has been attributed to the "angry white male," but that anger is supposedly not directed at "America," merely certain Americans, certain American laws and freedoms, specific American government officials and programs, plus assorted foreigners, ethnic groups, and, as nearly as I can tell various trees, other flora, and wildlife.
It's also been directed at me from time to time, but big deal. I'm better able to take care of myself than most, and I'm a white male myself. And, I do have my own angers.
So perhaps Wright is one of those "blame America first" people we hear so much about, though he has worn the uniforms of both the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy. It doesn't really sound like the "blame America" part was really topmost on his life agenda, nor the first thing that occurred to him.
I have a friend in Tennessee who has actually changed congregations over political and moral disagreements with a pastor or the congregation. My friend's support of Barack Obama has been tarnished, and may be withdrawn over this incident, to my dismay.
I said to my friend, "You're a Christian. If you find Pastor Wright's statements to be offensive, try forgiving him first. That is what Christians do, after all. And forgive Obama for perhaps thinking that this was a point of view he needed to hear, regardless of his own personal opinions.
I don't know how much good my suggestion did. In truth, it's harder to make an argument that one does not support with one's own mind. And I am not a Christian, nor do I think that Wright said anything that needs forgiveness.
But see for yourself.
Remember, whatever happens should not be a surprise. The entire nation is built upon an Indian burial ground. -- overheard on the street