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The Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s Downward Spiral

June 11, 2009

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic Monthly reacts to recent anti-semitic comments by President Obama’s former pastor. It’s a short blog posting, so I’ve copied it all:

I’m just going to be honest and say I didn’t expect this:

Asked if he had spoken to the president, Wright said: “Them Jews aren’t going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he’ll talk to me in five years when he’s a lame duck, or in eight years when he’s out of office…”

Feel free to pillory me, but I just didn’t see that sort of crude conspiratorial antisemitism coming. I guess it’s of a piece with his press club performance, last year. I’m amazed that he’s still talking to reporters.

Not to excuse anything, but I wonder if the blitz, from last year, hardened him. I say that because the worse stuff I’ve heard from Wright, actually aren’t in his initial sermons. With the exception of the government creating AIDS bit, I never found his sermons to be particularly egregious.

But in between this and the press club, it’s like he’s doubling down on the caricature–like he’s becoming exactly what they said he was. Maybe “they” were right. I also wonder whether you’re just seeing ego–a guy who had the megaphone for much of his life, eclipsed, and doing whatever he can to get it back.

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