Zalaznick: Why’s the black guy always ‘radical?’ | VailDaily.com
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Zalaznick: Why’s the black guy always ‘radical?’

Matt Zalaznick
Vail, CO Colorado

White America and its news anchors are still afraid of black men. Especially angry ones who criticize the homeland.

I see bigotry, racism, xenophobia, antipathy and distrust in the hysterical reactions to the speeches of Barack Obama’s fiery pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and the guilt-by-association some hope will torpedo the Democratic frontrunner’s presidential aspirations.

Perhaps I’m paranoid, but I detect a slight trace of glee in the full-frontal assault on Obama’s connection to Wright by the likes of Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and other less-demented pundits’

They seem to almost be breathing a sigh of relief that, if the inflammatory pastor finally sinks his unflappable follower, the threat of a black president will have passed, and we can all move on to being worried about a female commander in chief.

While Jeremiah Wright strikes fear into the hearts of America (and its 24-hour news channels) when he suggests U.S. policy may have triggered the rage behind Sept. 11, white “men of god” and white politicians can bash gays without making a single headline.

And if they do make headlines, their “holiness” ” or their skin color ” seems to excuse their hate speech. Sometimes, the media and others turn the harmless white bigot into a victim when he or she is blasted and scorned for intolerance.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum used to call gays one of the biggest threats to America. Former presidential candidate and Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo has called other cultures a major threat to America.

But W. has never been vilified quite like Obama has for his ties to these cultural cavemen, or for his ties to leaders to the religious right who spew even worse hate speech ” all while visiting Denver prostitutes.

But a black preacher’s sometimes over-the-top anger at a nation that has, during its history, treated his people beyond dreadfully is portrayed as something dangerous, even seditious.

A key part of Obama’s riveting speech on race Tuesday was when he talked about the anger and bitterness still felt by blacks of his pastor’s generation. Wright still distrusts white America, and the progress made on civil rights hasn’t allayed his fears that there could still be backlash against blacks by the ethic majority.

If blacks could be enslaved in the 19th Century and lynched and oppressed well into the 20th, what’s to say it couldn’t happen again? It may seem unlikely, but that must be the fear that drives some of Wright’s anger.

As a Jew, I can’t compare my easy American experience to that of American blacks, but I can understand how an older generations’ memories of a harsh past can breed fears of future persecution.

Many Jews of my grandparents’ and parents generations’ ” some of whom may never have experienced direct anti-Semitism unless they tried to join the local country club ” have a lingering fear that, if our people could have been slaughtered and discriminated against for hundreds of years, Jews also could once again become the target of a tyrannical government, even here in the Land of the Free.

In fact, many Jews I know said the most uncomfortable they’ve ever been in their lives about their religion has been during George W. Bush’s presidency.

A few white Christian males have even adopted a sort-of “reverse victimhood.” They have dominated the nation for so much of its history that when their primacy begins to teeter a bit, they try to play the role of the persecuted when the true victims of the past ” such as Jeremiah Wright and his congregation ” express their anger and remind the majority of its crimes.

The most offensive aspect of the recent attacks on Obama and his pastor is the ownership the white majority takes of the United States when they brand people like Jeremiah Wright traitors because they’ve said very unpleasant things about the way we, as a nation, have behaved.

But the great thing about the United States is that ” unlike some nations where we are fighting wars (Iraq) or propping up shady regimes (Saudi Arabia) to ensure our oil supply ” the country does not belong to any single ethnicity, gender or religion.

To suggest otherwise ” and to levy even greater scorn on a member of a minority for criticizing Uncle Sam ” is to show a true lack of patriotism.

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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