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Web Letter

"God damn America": saying it out loud is scary, writing it is even scarier. I think Rev. Wright had every right to say it, and given the context that he put it in, I think he was clearly justified. I don't understand why more of the so-called fourth estate didn't do more thoughtful analysis of the sermon. I hate to say this, but Greta Van Susteren from Fox did a better job when she questioned Rev. Al Sharpton on her show. What surprises me even more is that more priests, and ministers haven't been more vocal on this illegal Iraq war. The only other voice on the subject seems to have been Arundhati Roy and the Riverside Church.

We seem to think that if we can say, true or not, that we didn't vote for this war, we are innocent of all the deaths of civilians and soldiers. I don't think that is correct, regardless of party affiliation. We will be held accountable as, a country, by history like the Germans were held accountable, as a country, for the Second World War and the millions of people that Germany murdered. Empires sow the seeds of their own destruction, no matter how well intended they may be.

James L. Pinette

Caribou, ME

Mar 27 2008 - 2:57pm

Web Letter

The problem with Scheer's article is the problem with virtually the entire Nation publication these days: it's all a campaign for Barack Obama. Scheer manages (laboriously) to somehow indict Hillary Clinton for the Wright situation. And he does it, as many commentators have decided to do, by condemning Bill Clinton. My expectations of the liberal press have fallen to the level of my expectations of the mainstream media, which is that no reason will be exercised, only a hunt for ways to attack the opposition.

Where is The Nation article condemning the ostracism of Wright? Where is the article supporting Wright's stances on the issues (he's right most of the time)? Where is the article about Obama that finds something positive about him without finding something heinous about the Clintons (it can never be just something heinous about Hillary)?

Barack Obama has forsaken the minister who's views provide a real and important perspective of American society. How does that make him heroic?

Some day (maybe) The Nation will find a writer to add to Alexander Cockburn's lone voice. When they do, it may be possible for us to see editorial content at the front of the book that stops pandering to the Democratic Party and starts standing for something.

Randall Cooper

Turin, Italy

Mar 27 2008 - 2:25pm

Web Letter

If Barack Obama in anyway loses this year--either the nomination or the general election--the fault will once again lie with the media. The conservative fearmongers and demagogues who dominate TV and cable are destroying our nation. The MSM and its cheerleaders led us into the criminal occupation of Iraq, and with its lies and distortions on Obama may very well lead to the defeat of America's last great hope for leadership.

John Giarratana

Jersey City, NJ

Mar 27 2008 - 9:26am

Web Letter

What a wonderful article. I'd add two things:

1. The UCC has an evangelical tradition in which cadence and words act to build high drama into a climatic ending. This style of preaching, which includes "fire and brimstone," rhetoric is as American as apple pie.

2. The quotes are taken out of context. But it seems no one bothers to read the larger sermon. If they did, they'd find that Rev. Wright never said that America "deserved" 9/11 or that 9/11 was "justified" by American policy.

Rev. Wright, in the "chicken/roost" sermon, calls 9/11 a tragedy. In his speech he tells parishioners he was grounded in New Jersy in the days after 9/11 and asked himself "How should we respond to such an unthinkable event?" He asked the same of his parishioners. He urged them to use the tragedy to examine their own relationship to God. Do they pay him enough attention? Let Him into their lives? Reflection, not anger, was his counsel.

This has all been so distorted, ripped from its religious and African-American traditions even by those who consider themselves believers.

Yours is one of the few "echo-chamber" Internet articles with a different and more believable take.

Carlyn Meyer

Chicago, IL

Mar 26 2008 - 9:46pm

Web Letter

Mohatma Gandhi: "I like your Christ... your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

This is not just a war of words, but a war of behavior. Christian behavior. Barack Obama handled this issue like a Christian. He condemned the sin, without completely condemning the sinner. He sought higher ground and attempted to take us with him. He offered explanation and understanding to those who condemned him and others the most. There are some right-wing churches and pundits whose have displayed and are currently displaying abysmal behavior in the sensationalism of this issue.

Somehow "religion" and even "patriotism" have become synonymous with "cheerleading." If we analyze problems with this country and suggest improvements it is patriotic. Think of the strict parents who correct errors and strive to bring out the best in their children versus parents who offer their children nothing but praise. Can we assume the parents who offer nothing but praise love their children more? Of course not! I find a lack of patriotism in the recent comments of Dick Cheney, "So?" and "They volunteered," with respect to the opinions of American citizens and the fallen soldiers of this war. Those comments do nothing to lift up Americans and improve this country in any way.

We need a patriot who loves this country enough to do more that cheerlead. How many times have we heard George W. Bush utter "God Bless America" during his presidency? Hundreds or thousands. Invoking God and patriotism makes you neither godly nor truly patriotic. We need change.

Kim Stanley

South Riding, VA

Mar 26 2008 - 1:21pm

Web Letter

Would God ever damn America? Mr. Scheer asks, almost plaintively. (It practically makes you feel sorry for poor Mr. Scheer the way he struggles with these "big ideas" outside his secular progressive purview.)

The answer is: of course, God would obviously damn America if It wants to, that goes without saying. Why else would America be known so tenderly by anyone who pays attention as "the Great Satan"? Does Mr. Scheer believe this is just a play on words? Does Mr. Scheer believe God will not have retribution for a country not ironically dubbed "the Great Satan" by anyone with a whit of knowledge or wisdom? Mr. Scheer doth protest too much. Maybe he should get out a copy of Chomsky while he's at it.

Tell Mr. Scheer, as far as this witness can tell, God's damnation is just gettin' started. Just 'cause Mr. Scheer doesn't know how to read a Gideon, doesn't mean other people don't.

Sherlock Debs

San Diego, CA

Mar 26 2008 - 1:20pm

Web Letter

Robert Scheer is right. Historically, churches have believed themselves bidden to criticize political leaders on behalf of God. The Hebrew prophets did so, the Popes and many bishops and archbishops did so, and some became martyrs like Thomas of Canterbury. Unfortunately, kudos to Rev. Hagee, they have not criticized murderers like Hitler, only those who sought to reduce the power of the churches.

Still, defending Rev. Wright is a no-win situation. Had he been a mitred archbishop with Irish roots perhaps he could get away with it. But a self-proclaimed cleric who is a black cannot get away with this. Unfortunately, this may well bury the hopes of a man, Obama, who could have been the best President we have had since FDR.

Norman Ravitch

Savannah, GA

Mar 26 2008 - 11:26am

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