Left Wing and Wright Brained?

Here they go again.

Liberal media pundits are trying to excuse Barack Obama's 20-year ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright by suggesting that Wright's ravings are no worse than a single comment by Jerry Falwell. 

Among his many outrageous remarks, the radical Wright blamed the 9/11 attack on American foreign policy.  Conservative evangelical Falwell blamed leftwing groups for what he regarded as an act of God on 9/11.

On ABC's The View, Whoopi Goldberg played the Falwell card on April 30:

“We have all seen, Jerry Falwell said that, that the towers came down because of gay folks and, you know, the lesbians. And we said 'you know that's terrible' and that played on the TV for two days and then it was gone. This Reverend Wright thing has lasted and lasted and lasted. And I think it's because they couldn't find another way to get to Obama to scare people.”

Let's set aside the fact that the media were focused on other news right after 9/11, and that liberals have used the late Dr. Falwell's comment to beat him up for the last seven years. Obama's been fending off the Wright albatross for about seven weeks.

Here's another thumbnail comparison.  Jeremiah Wright: Advocate for more than two decades of neo-Marxist, “black liberation theology,” supporter of anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and a history of racist and anti-American rants, including the charge that the U.S. government cooked up AIDS to kill off African-Americans. He defended his most extreme statements at the National Press Club on April 28.

Jerry Falwell: On Sept. 13, 2001, he said: I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way – all of them, who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'” 

Falwell said this on Pat Robertson's 700 Club, after which Robertson replied, “I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government.”

Shortly afterward, both men apologized. Neither called a press conference to mock their detractors and dig in even deeper.

Wright continues as the Energizer Bunny of Bombast, while the late Rev. Falwell and the Rev. Robertson moved on after their apologies.

You'd never know it, though. In the Washington Post on May 2, columnist E.J. Dionne penned “Fair Play for False Prophets,” with a photo of Jerry Falwell, and said, “It's worth wondering why white, right-wing preachers who make ridiculous statements usually emerge with their influence intact.”

Dionne goes on to list several gaffes by well known, conservative preachers, giving special attention to Falwell's 9/11 comments.

He allows that, “It's entirely true that Wright's foolishness is a bigger deal because of his long-standing relationship with Obama.” 

Is that the only reason? Could it be that Falwell and Robertson are not in the same league with Wright, and were apologetic to boot? Or that the gaffes of the others were isolated offenses and not part of a two-decade pattern of abuse?

Dionne comes up with a quote from Episcopal Rev. William Danaher, who says, “The left black preacher is challenging the social structures that everyone lives in. The white preachers on the right don't challenge these structures. Instead, they talk about issues of personal morality and individual behavior.” 

Well, yes. And they don't typically express hatred toward their country.   

After making his absurd case of moral equivalence, Dionne covers it all with: “None of this absolves Wright.”  No, of course not.

But Dionne's final sentence returns to his original theme: “Now the question is whether we will be just as tough on false prophets who happen to be white and right wing.”

Given the nasty, vitriolic commentaries about Jerry Falwell in the days following his death on May 15, 2007—and since then— I'd say we know the answer to that already.

Robert Knight is director of the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.