The first black president of the United States is more likely to be someone like
Allen West than Sen. Barack Obama, thanks chiefly to Brian Ross of ABC News.
Mr. Ross is an illustration of the impact an honest journalist can have if he or
she works for a major television news network. The "Good Morning America" program
March 13 broadcast a four minute report by Mr. Ross on the rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah
Wright, Sen. Obama's pastor.
Mr. Ross is a skilled investigative reporter, but he didn't need to break a sweat to
break this story. The information about Rev. Wright's anti-American, anti-white,
anti-Semitic rants was readily available. Radio/television talk show host Sean
Hannity had been flogging the story for more than a year. But the "mainstream"
media didn't pay attention until Mr. Ross' broadcast made the story too big to
"Political reporters and editors were inundated with emails from red state friends
and relatives wanting to know why the brouhaha wasn't getting more instant and
constant coverage from every news outlet," wrote Mike Allen of the Politico.
Many in the news media were uncomfortable reporting the story, preferring to use
paraphrases and euphemisms to describe Rev. Wright's sermons, rather than his own
words. The New York Times has yet to report that he urged blacks to sing "G-d Damn
America." But first prize in the euphemism department goes to Wall Street Journal
reporters Suzanne Sataline and Douglas Belkin, who described the sermons at Trinity
United Church of Christ as "blunt, funny and often fiery."
"Blunt, funny, and often fiery." I don't think that's how most of us would describe
sermons declaring America got what it deserved on 9/11; that there is no difference
between America and al Qaida; that this is the "US of KKKA;" that the U.S.
government invented the AIDs virus to wipe out people of color.
Journalists want to paint a kinder, gentler portrait of Jeremiah Wright than his own
words do. But video of his sermons is on the Web; tens of thousands have viewed
them, and most are wondering how someone who sat silently in the pews listening to
this racist drivel can be the racial healer white Americans are longing for.
"Nothing could be more dangerous to Mr. Obama's political aspirations than the
revelation that he, the son of a white woman, sat Sunday after Sunday for 20
years in an Afrocentric, black nationalist church in which his own mother, not to
mention other whites, could never feel comfortable," wrote Shelby Steele, himself a
product of a mixed marriage.
I don't think the controversy will prevent Sen. Obama from winning the Democratic
nomination. More than a few white Democrats hate America, too, and many more are
terrified of offending blacks. The general election is another story. Sen. Obama's
oratorical skills cannot remove the tarnish from his carefully cultivated image as a
White America's search for a racial healer will go on. We yearn to support a black
man who is proud of both his ethnic heritage and his country. Which brings me to
"The flag that will one day drape my casket is not a rag to be burned in some
semblance of self-expression," said Mr. West, 46, a retired Army lieutenant colonel
turned public school teacher, in an interview last year. "I like to sing the
national anthem...and I detest self-loathing. It's a cancer I cannot tolerate."
"The West family is an example of the triumph of the civil rights movement, as well
as Ronald Reagan's challenge to the black community," he said. "My parents were
middle class, inner city Atlanta people. They were raised in the segregated South,
but had a vision for their three boys...They did not sit back and wait for anyone to
give them a handout, and that sentiment permeated throughout our extended family."
There are many blacks who share the sentiments of Allen West, more, I suspect, than
who share those of Jeremiah Wright. But they tend to be ignored by the news media,
who tend to view as "authentic" only the voices of anti-American radicals.
LtCol. West is running for Congress in Florida's 22nd district (Fort Lauderdale/Palm
Beach) against Democrat Ron Klein, who upset longtime GOP incumbent Clay Shaw there
in 2006. Rep. Klein is able and well funded. LtCol. West faces an uphill battle,
as he did in Iraq and Afghanistan. But if he wins, he'll do more for racial healing
than any speech by Barack Obama.