Rev. Wright’s Record: 10 Wins, 1 Loss, 2 No Decisions

Rev WrightPolls show Obama on the rocks, with pollsters suggesting that his association with Rev. Wright is one important factor in his recent decline. (Note: these polls were run prior to Rev. Wright’s National Press Club talk and Obama’s subsequent repudiation of him.)

The media lens is tightly focused on Wright’s assertion that HIV was invented as a weapon of genocide against people of color. In a previous post, I said that I found his HIV comments laughable. But the punditocracy uses the ludicrousness of Rev. Wright’s position on this one issue to ignore his other indisputably correct rants.

Let’s tally up the assertions in his infamous “Confusing God and Government” sermon—better known to the TV-addicted public as the “God Damn America” speech:

This government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal. The truth is they did not even believe that white women were created equal, in creation nor civilization. The government had to pass an amendment to the Constitution to get white women the vote. Then the government had to pass an equal rights amendment to get equal protection under the law for women.Thomas v. Hill

Entirely Correct.

Uncle Clarence [Thomas]…sexually harassed Anita Hill.

An unproven, but very widespread opinion. It is a “he said, she said” controversy, and Rev. Wright is far from alone in this assertion.

The government lied about Pearl Harbor. They knew the Japanese were going to attack.Pearl Harbor Memorial

Unproven. This assertion is based on the fact that the United States had broken the Japanese diplomatic code before the Pearl Harbor attack. Roosevelt froze Japanese assets in January 1941 and issued ultimata that many political historians believe were impossible for the Japanese to accept. Some even argue that Roosevelt and his advisers deliberately withheld information garnered in this way from the commanders at Pearl Harbor to insure American entry into World War II. Books continue to be written on this subject.

The government lied about the Gulf of Tonkin. They wanted that resolution to get us in the Vietnam War.Tonkin Gulf incident

Sadly True. An NSA report declassified in 2005 stated, “[I]t is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. […] In truth, Hanoi’s navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on 2 August.And once you know this Lyndon Johnson lie, it makes inferences about Pearl Harbor more believable.

The government lied about Nelson Mandela and our CIA helped put him in prison and keep him there for 27 years.mandela’s jail

Treacherously True. Here’s what the New York Times wrote in 1990: “The Central Intelligence Agency played an important role in the arrest in 1962 of Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress leader who was jailed for nearly 28 years before his release four months ago, a news report says. The intelligence service, using an agent inside the African National Congress, provided South African security officials with precise information about Mr. Mandela’s activities that enabled the police to arrest him.”

The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African American men with syphilis.Tuskegee syphilis experiment

True, but a bit off the mark. The 399 African-American subjects were not infected by the government. They were selected because they already had syphilis; the horror was that they were neither told this diagnosis, nor provided with any treatment, even when penicillin was shown to be efficacious. And when some became eligible for the WWII draft and would therefore have been given anti-syphilis treatment, they were secretly exempted from military service in order to not compromise the study. This is disgustingly embarrassing, but true nonetheless.

The government lied about bombing Cambodia and Richard Nixon stood in front of the camera, ‘Let me make myself perfectly clear…’

Irrefutably True. We now know about the secret bombing. Why would it be denied by any sensible American?

The government lied about the drugs for arms Contra scheme orchestrated by Oliver North, and then the government pardoned all the perpetrators so they could get better jobs in the governmentOllie North.

True. Even Reaganolators know about the clandestine funding of the Nicarauguan Contras through US-funded Israeli arms sales to our loyal Iranian friends. While it seems unlikely that Ollie North’s operation actually ran drugs to fund the Contras, it is clear that North did nothing to stop it and in one case even undermined DEA efforts to bust the trade. Whether Reagan was unaware of this convoluted meddling is a controversy left to explore.

The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.

False. HIV began in Africa with the transmission of the virus from monkey to man. That’s scientific fact. Rev. Wright is just plain wrong.

Tcheneyhe government lied about a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein…


…and a connection between 9.11.01 and Operation Iraqi Freedom.


The government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States peace.


If they don’t find them some weapons of mass destruction, they gonna do just like the LAPD, and plant the some weapons of mass destruction.

True. Corruption in the LAPD is not even controversial.

Rev. WrightTally: 10 true, 2 questionable, 1 false.

Rev. Wright is an exhorter. You can and should disagree strongly, as I do, with his grotesque opinion about the origin of HIV, but don’t overlook our government’s misdeeds just because a strident, over-the-top preacher is the messenger. You don’t have to respect the man, but you have to respect the truth.

Instead of a blanket repudiation, Obama should have said as much.



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3 Comments on “Rev. Wright’s Record: 10 Wins, 1 Loss, 2 No Decisions

  1. Steve,

    Wright’s HIV/AIDS comments are not exactly incorrect either–or as incorrect as Tuskegee in that a case can definitely be made about a fundamental lack of needle exchange programs and the like in black communities. Anyway, keep soldiering, Citizen Cotler. And, also, check out this book–Tuskegee is actually the tip of the iceberg.

  2. The book Lackman mentions (Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington) was reviewed in Publishers Weekly thusly:

    “This groundbreaking study documents that the infamous Tuskegee experiments, in which black syphilitic men were studied but not treated, was simply the most publicized in a long, and continuing, history of the American medical establishment using African-Americans as unwitting or unwilling human guinea pigs. Washington, a journalist and bioethicist who has worked at Harvard Medical School and Tuskegee University, has accumulated a wealth of documentation, beginning with Thomas Jefferson exposing hundreds of slaves to an untried smallpox vaccine before using it on whites, to the 1990s, when the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University ran drug experiments on African-American and black Dominican boys to determine a genetic predisposition for “disruptive behavior.” Washington is a great storyteller, and in addition to giving us an abundance of information on “scientific racism,” the book, even at its most distressing, is compulsively readable. It covers a wide range of topics—the history of hospitals not charging black patients so that, after death, their bodies could be used for anatomy classes; the exhaustive research done on black prisoners throughout the 20th century—and paints a powerful and disturbing portrait of medicine, race, sex and the abuse of power.”

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