Commentary Magazine


He Saw Black People

Andrew Sullivan has taken up the odious cause of defending Jeremiah Wright against conservative criticism. Now, if you want to defend Wright, you could argue that Obama shouldn’t abandon his pastor, out of loyalty, or that Obama turning his back on Wright would amount to his disowning an important segment of the American black population. But to downplay the poison of Wright’s 9/11 rant speaks to a pathological level of denial. Sullivan offers the familiar speech in its full context, and writes, “I still do not find it appropriate, and still do not agree with it. But it is not what Hannity and Ingraham and the other talk show thugs of the far right have been saying.”

He’s right. It’s worse. Try out this bit:

I saw pictures of the incredible. People jumping from the 110th floor; people jumping from the roof because the stairwells and elevators above the 89th floor were gone–no more. Black people, jumping to a certain death; people holding hands jumping; people on fire jumping.

Black people?

I suspect I speak for most Americans who saw footage of WTC jumpers in saying a) the race of these individuals was not decipherable; b) if it was, it would have been, at that time, beyond my ability to notice, because c) who cared? When the World Trade Center went down, the issue of race in America was as atomized as those two buildings. But not for Obama’s pastor, who seemed to think it was important enough to assure his congregation that black people had perished. In some sense, this is the most offensive (and telling) thing I’ve heard from Wright. It reveals a commitment to divisiveness so deep as to prohibit the simple registering of human (forget national) tragedy.

And Sullivan is worried about Sean Hannity.