Jeremiah Wright

March 23, 2008

Are you guys following this? It’s F’ing fascinating.

Within the context of his church, Wright is (must I say ‘from his point of view’?) blasting out truths that are concealed by dominant right-wing ideology. No doubt he has, all along, wished that these truths would be broadcast into every American home, to tear the veil of ideology from everyone’s eyes. And now, lo and behold, the right wing American media does it for him.

There is a great deal of talk on Youtube about ‘framing’ and ‘context’ and how the media is distorting Wright’s message, but let’s be frank, they’re not, or if they are, it’s pretty minimal. Which is to say, from an engaged leftist position, everything Wright says, even in the Fox news clip, is essentially the truth. (Personally, the accusation that the American government intentionally manufactured the AIDS virus seems a bit far fetched, but he’s at least not alone in thinking this.) Moreover, they don’t even have to interpret it. Apart from mentioning the phrase “anti-American”, they just show the clip, like “check this guy out…”

Isn’t this a prime example of parallax? The same object has completely different, non-reconcilable meanings from each engaged viewpoint. There is no real argument over what he said, only antagonism over what it means. One searches in vain within the text for the objet a that proves that it is finally either a thrilling indictment of right-wing ideology or an anti-American terroristic message.

Maybe I’m making too much of it, but isn’t Barak’s forced retreat from this antagonism into talk of unity precisely the liberal tolerant multiculturalist retreat from the universal struggle against oppression? An admission that things will remain the same? K. says he has to do this to have any chance of winning, that if he stood behind his pastor, he’d be killing his chances for victory. Does this mean that there is no revolutionary moment here, that he is compelled to compromise his desire? Or should we hope that he is repeating Lenin and seizing a momentary opportunity, lying if he must to get into power, so that he can then begin the real work of change?



4 Responses to “Jeremiah Wright”

  1. battleofthegiants said


  2. The Thing said

    This is good too:

  3. The Thing said

    I think what I am pointing to here is:

    “In our perception, today’s ideological constellation is determined by the opposition between neoconservative fundamentalist populism and liberal multiculturalism – both parasitizing on each other, both precluding any alternative to the system as such. And this enables us to propose the correct formal concept of a ‘revolutionary situation’: a situation in which, exceptionally and momentarily, the antagonism /appears/ as such, is directly ‘experienced’; in which the masks of the official ideological struggle fall off, the official opponents discover their ‘deeper solidarity’ and start to share their concerns, and the situation is reduced to its true underlying antagonism – there are no longer conservatives and progressives, totalitarians and democrats, legalists and populists, fundamentalists and liberals, and all other false oppositions – there is only Us and Them.” (Parallax 349)

    Contrast Fox’s essentially faithful (re)presentation of Rev Wright’s speech with the relentless explanation, interpretation, enframing, ‘imbedded reporting’, etc. involved in war reporting. War reporting HAS to be manipulated in this way because of the very real potential of offending liberal sensibilities. Whereas hard core right-wingers would be happy to see Iraqi civilians getting blasted to kingdom come as a necessary byproduct of the much more important war on terror, liberal eyes must be shielded from this spectacle, or they’ll get cold feet and ruin everything like they did in Viet Nam. Rev. Wright, on the other hand, requires no such doctoring, because even liberals will recognize him as one of “Them”. The masks of ideology fall of and O’Reilly ends up saying something perfectly true for once: this kind of rhetoric (that is, the truth – God damn America for killing innocents) is only acceptable to the radical left. Yes, I find myself exclaiming. Yes! You have identified me correctly! I am the radical left! The antagonism finally appears as such.

    The problem is that Obama must appear on the other side of it from me in order to win within the coordinates of the current system, to make the slow patient changes of liberal democracy that changes nothing as such.

    The next thing that’s interesting to be here is that, although this involves distancing himself as much as possible from “God Damn America for killing innocents”, Obama nonetheless is able attack multinational corporations for screwing the American people in pursuit of mere (mere!) profit. Ideologically, the consistency of the nation state seems to be the master signifier.

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