Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thanks, Rabbi Lerner

Rabbi Michael Lerner gets it right in criticizing Jeremiah Wright while defending Barack Obama from the media circus:

The Network of Spiritual Progressives
A message from Rabbi Michael Lerner & the Tikkun/NSP Community

I'm sending you Eli Zaretsky's valuable analysis of the current dispute about Wright and some of the deeper issues that are now coming to the surface in the Obama campaign. I think it is an important piece, although in some minor respects I disagree with it, or at least disagree with some of what was left out. So I would like to add the following points:
1. It's important to note that Wright defended Minister Farrakhan again yesterday at the National Press Club talk. Farrakhan's anti-white, anti-gay, and anti-Semitic discourse has been challenged over and over again, so it seems quite incredible that an intelligent minister like Wright could not understand and fully internalize how dangerous such talk is, not only to the Obama campaign but to any hopes of reconciliation between Blacks and Whites in this society.
2. I don't think it is fair to blame Hillary for this wound. And I don't think Zaretsky is giving adequate attention to the strong misogyny which persists in our society. To suggest or imply that women have the psychology of the "ruling class" misses the degree to which patriarchy and oppression of women continues, even while that oppression gets misused by some upper class women to advance their narrow materialistic, power-oriented, or selfish agendas ,
3. It still remains completely unfair to blame Obama for Wright, particularly after his forthright statement again on Tuesday, April 29th, clearly stating that he finds Wright's statements offensive and the opposite of what he and his campaign are about.
4. Zaretsky talks about the circus clown that Wright has become-but that circus was created by the media. The media persistently refuses to inform the American public about the actual policy issues in the campaign, and instead insists that "the issues" concern the nuances of how each candidate is talking about the other, or nuances of their personal lives, or now, of former spiritual advisors.

So much as I think Zaretsky's points here are quite important, I think that the real culprit in all of this is the media and its systematic distortions of the political process in the U.S. We are in the midst of a war in which over a million have been killed and millions left homeless, many of them wounded or even scarred for the rest of their lives. We are facing the 21st century possibility of an end to human life on our planet either through nuclear war or most likely through environmental crisis. We have an economy that is collapsing around us. We are in a world in which twenty to thirty thousand people are dying of malnutrition-related diseases every day. It is in this reality that we face major choices about who understands all this and who has the vision and the courage to provide us a path toward peace, environmental sanity, economic well-being, and a world in which kindness and generosity replaces violence and hatefulness. In the midst of all this, the media has switched the attention to the nut-case rantings of an otherwise quite intelligent preacher whose recent teachings are distorted and rejected by the candidate on whom they seek to pin responsibility.

This entire reality is so crazy and so destructive that we need to speak out in anger at the distortions the U.S. media have fostered by focusing away from the discussions so badly needed in the U.S. today. And since this point would appear to be self-serving if made by Obama, then certainly it should be made by spiritual progressives and other rational people who haven't themselves gotten so caught up in the fun of mutual destruction that the media loves to foster as entertainment parading as news. Can't we just say "no" to this kind of stupid and quite evil media and refuse to let our attention be switched in this manipulated way?


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