Jeremiah Wright is back, and plastered all over the front page of today’s Hartford Courant. He appeared at Kingdom Life Christian Church in Milford under the auspices of Hartford’s Theological Education Institute, a rather rather conservative Protestant outfit, to give an address on “The Bible, Race and American History.” So far as can be told from reporter Rinker Buck’s story, Wright’s central point was that, as he put it, “How a country sees God determines how they see humans,” and that therefore, racism and sexism are inevitable in a country that sees God as white and male. It’s a proposition worth debating, including on empirical grounds. To what extent do Americans see God as white and male?
Naturally, it was the image of Wright the Inflamer that drew the media attention. Local Fox News was on the scene (its report embedded in the on-line version of the Courant story), and–perhaps to its dismay–found the pastor “devoid of demonization.” He only addressed the election of his former congregant in the q and a, and Fox showed a bite suggesting that he considered it not a bad thing: “We’ve come a long way but still have a long way to go.” Buck chose to quote a more typically Wrightian remark:
“My biggest fear is that we will take what’s just happened in this country and think a whole lot has changed,” Wright said.
“If you take a Tiger Woods, a Michael Jordan or a Barack Obama, their success should not lull us into thinking society has changed.”
But no white people were ever called upon to elevate Woods or Jordan to their positions in the firmament of national achievement. In 1960, only 34 percent of white Protestants voted for John F. Kennedy, but the election effectively wiped out anti-Catholic prejudice as a force in American public life. On Tuesday, 34 percent of white Protestants (and 43 percent of all whites) voted for Barack Obama. The question is not whether American society has changed, but how much it will.