Reverend Wright, “Them Jews,” and the Holocaust Museum Shooting

Bigotry, murder and genocidal hatred are not left/right issues.  They are the product of the fringes of our society, outliers to the civilized political process.

Outliers like James W. Von Brunn, now in custody for today’s shooting at Washingtoon, DC’s US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

To perfectly illustrate how this type of bigotry is divorced from liberal vs conservative politics, earlier today, Politico reported some new crazytalk from Reverend Jeremiah Wright:

“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…They will not let him to talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is. … I said from the beginning: He’s a politician; I’m a pastor. He’s got to do what politicians do.'”

Wright has the bad luck to have made his statement for today’s news cycle, and I’m sure the coincidence will be lost on no-one.  What will be made of it, I can’t say, but I’m pretty sure it will be the wrong thing.

Also coincidentally, Melissa Clouthier advanced an extremely relevant hypothesis earlier today which illustrates how some will handle the Von Brunn/Wright coincidence.  The subject was the Left’s “ownership” of David Letterman, et al, in response to something I wrote this morning:

I include them with the Left, Tommy, and for one simple reason: how they vote. They vote Democrat. Every. Single. Time. They are on the Left. Like the major media organizations, they like to pretend at “being above” or “transcending” party affiliation. Bull crap. They are Democrats. They vote Democrat. They’re the Left.

Now, where does that leave Wright and Von Brunn?  While their actions are, by no means, equivalent, Wright’s comment betrays a bigotry toward Jews that would seem right at home in Von Brunn’s repertoire.  But, put to Clouthier’s voting booth test, how do we divvy these two up?

The answer is, we don’t.  If we do, we do so at our own peril.  While we waste time playing “pin the tail on the ideology,” we distract from the real enemies of freedom, who reside neither on the Right nor the Left, but beneath them.



  1. I disagree that it is entirely divorced from left-right politics. Just look back a few months at Chip Saltsman’s “We Hate America Christmas CD” featuring such racist accolades as “Barack the Magic Negro” and “Star Spanglish Banner”. This was the man who would be the head of the RNC. You would never see such blatant racism from the Democratic party. Jeremiah Wright is a clergyman, not a representative of the political left. Chip Saltsman is a high ranking party official. Whose actions are more aggregious? The man directly involved with policy making in the government or the man who spouts extremism to his followers but is not directly involved the act of governing?

  2. “You would never see such blatant racism from the Democratic party.”

    Well, Sotomayor isn’t blatant, but give me a minute and I can come up with other examples. How about Al Sharpton? Better, how about all those condescending liberals who give violent bigots a pass if they aren’t white? The soft racism of lowered expectations we call it

    Oh BTW Saltsman isn’t the head of the RNC, is he?

    The right & the left fringes converge, at that place there is no point in trying to parse them. The white supremicists and the Muslim jihadis are happy to use each other to bond over their common enemy. antiwar organizers are happy to let antisemites march with them as long as they are “people of color” whose Jew-hatred is expressed thru demonizing Israel. Do Muslim countries persecute gays and Israel lets them marry? Who cares? Queers for Palestine! (A real group)

    I am a classical liberal who believes in applying the same standard to everyone and that the Bill of Rights affirms individual human dignity against the tyranny of the state, and I support people all over the globe who agree with me and those who defend tyranny and bigotry or the soft racism of giving non-Western nasties a free pass. If the liberals don’t believe that anymore and the conservatives do, then the conservatives are my friends. I look at the behavior and beliefs, not the label.

  3. Not only is it divorced from Left/Right politics, it also serves as an example of the dangers of binary thinking.

    There is no single spectrum from which to view. No prism, no filter. Our mistake is falling into the abusive assumption that there are two buckets. (or even worse, two opposing sides at a high school football game chanting “We’ve got spirit, yes we do…”)

    There are many more dimensions to consider, and Tommy alluded to it perfectly with the imagery of “beneath” instead of Left and Right.

    @stillthinking — The better comparison to Wright would be someone like Falwell or Robertson. They got (deservedly) pilloried for statements far less blatant than Wright’s. While Wright did get pounded in some quarters, “pound for pound” the media was more apologetic about Wright, almost sorry they had to report it. (Fox excluded for obvious reasons.)

    As to your statement about “blatant” racism in the Democratic Party, your lack of seeing it is not a sign it doesn’t exist. Where I live, the racists are far more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. I wouldn’t have believed it either until I moved here.

  4. PS before anyone shows up with the tired “you shout antisemitism to shut up anyone who criticizes Israel blah blah blah ….” You and I both know the difference between responsible criticism and slurs and demonization. If you don’t know you are part of the problem. (That kind of comment shows up inside of 10 min of mentioning Israel without demonizing her, so i am pre-empting it)

  5. @Yehduit

    Any bets on how many comments it takes to trigger Godwin’s Law?

  6. Preempting what, exactly?

    I disagree with your statement, Tommy. While these acts can be divorced from the mainstream of left/right politics they can in no way be divorced the spectrum we refer to. The right has used race issues effectively since the Nixon administration when they co – opted George Wallaces’ American Independent Party movement. Why did the AIP virtually disappear? There was no need for it after the Republicans began to fulfill the needs of its’ adherents.

    It would be nice to say these people are ‘beyond the pale’, but that is not possible. They are merely on the fringe.

  7. You speak in codes.

    “Godwin’s Law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies)[1] is an informal adage coined by Mike Godwin in 1990. The adage states: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”[2][3]”

    Apropos of what, exactly?

  8. You guys have a point to make about racism. If you would just take it lightly perhaps you could make those points. Too often the only ones attempting to make those points end up chanting “white pride” in my ear. There are valid arguments if they are made honestly and not simply to promote the interests of ones own race.
    I have not seen this done as of yet.

  9. Oh, were you going to talk up the racism thing until somebody called you a nazi? That would make Godwins Law a handy thing to have around, wouldn’t it? You a catholic school boy? I smell a Jesuit.

  10. The reference to Godwin’s Law was a joke, mentioned because the story already involves Antisemitism..

    And as it happens, I am protestant who taught both Kung Fu and symbolic logic.

  11. Wait, it was the Israel thing. Wow, this is complicated. Here, I’ll help.
    So, Yehudit, how ’bout those settlements, eh?

  12. Wher’s everybody go?! Was it me? I’ll wash, I promise and no more farting indoors. I know I’ve said it before but this time I really mean it. Really. Hellooo…

  13. No more typos either and I’ll quit picking my nose! I;ll be good. Guys?

  14. Whoops, missed you there Ike.
    Please explain. The anti-semitism is all about the shooter, not part of the discussion, I couldn’t really understand what Yehudit was getting at.

    Interesting CV, Ike. I look forward to more of your participation and I will try not to be a smart ass, though that is my one talent. You’ll find I loose my juvenile wit on myself as well.

    I also have trouble reading the white letters on the black background which increases my typos. When I increase letter size the format goes flooey and paragraphs look like bad haiku.

  15. Yes, You can espouse racist viewpoints from any race. Korean Americans have been accused of blatant racism against blacks for decades. As a Korean American, I have witnessed it. However, I still believe that race cannot be ENTIRELY divorced from political spectrum. Race issues have been part of the Republican mantra of fear for decades. Even in last years general election, underneath all the political discord, was an undercurrent of white anxiety. I remember watching one disappointed McCain supporter bewail the “DEATH OF AMERICA” and another speak openly about blacks rising up against whites. This follower actually spoke of blacks “pushing whites off sidewalks” in retaliation for past discrimination.

  16. You missed ‘push whitey off the sidewalk’ day? It was great.

  17. Excuse me, you can be a Democrat without being “The Left”.

    I don’t advocate hugging trees if someone needs the wood, down the tree…I like my guns, and I want to own them, without someone having their nose up my butt over it.

    And Im a Democrat!

    Card carrying.

  18. Gee, Von Burr was a ‘Birfer’ (Burrfer?). What a surprise. Would have fit right in at a Tea Party.

  19. OOPS, here’s the quote from HuffPo

    “A man has posted under the name James W. Von Brunn on various online forums, questioning President Barack Obama’s origin of birth. A post under that name was pulled on the day of the shooting from the conservative website Free Republic; a cached version is here.”

  20. OOOPS! Too much reading and writing today.

  21. excusez moi,
    but my cousin is a priest of the jesuit persuasion, and I assure you he isn’t racist or xenophobic enough for me.

  22. Ah Louis, my Dad studied to be a jesuit priest, My problem with them is purely philosophical. I was never so proud as I was the day I figured their bullshit out. Other than that though, I’m fine with priests in general.

  23. Just thought I should add this as everyone is gone and this post may never be looked at again and I’m kind of a coward. I have a lot of contact with Asian cultures and in these cultures racial prejudice and stereotyping is the norm. It’s usually not overtly nasty and my friends here don’t prescribe to it too much, but many of them have traveled a lot and some did the whole refugee experience. Check out the controversy Google got in to when they released ancient maps of Tokyo showing the ‘baraku’ neighborhoods. Baraku are people who do jobs which are looked down on by Buddhists as being karmically yucky like tanner, mortician, butcher. The mortician thing is not based on any Buddhist teaching. Baraku means animal. I think. Even though these folks may be many generations removed from the professions the prejudice persists, hence the uproar when the maps were released and people were able to once again see where the Baraku neighborhoods are. The whole thing is a misinterpretation of the teachings but still the discrimination persists.
    Don’t get me started on China. Japans prejudices concerning foreign races is a bit lighter. China, forget about it. They were the only Asian country not impressed with my president. Wanna guess why?

  24. Oh, the Vietnamese, especially the hard line party members were very much pro McCain.

  25. TFitz: Your problem is that you trade in the same old collectivist mentality that breeds hatred. You divide people up into racial groups and stick neat little labels on them. Identity politics has harmed so many, yet people like you, in the Democratic Party, continue to encourage division. If only you would evolve.

  26. oh no, cher bon dieu,
    orientals are definitely racists.
    y’all should have heard the hilarious remarks my japanese neighbor made about “white peoples” for getting a japanese judge for the OJ trial.

  27. I really, really, really hate people sometimes. Forget identity politics, forget the Left, forget the Right, just for ten minutes: People are fucking stupid, attacking and killing others just because they’re different. Ever seen two different anthills attack each other? Same basic principle. We haven’t grown out of that fear of the Other, nor our crocodile brains. Hence, racism, religionism, xenophobia, etc., and all the discrimination and violence related thereof. And this includes party politics. We form into factions, and then we tar and feather the other side. Never forget that no matter how much you disagree with someone, they are still a human being and worthy of at least that much respect.

    I was at the Smithsonian yesterday (Hirshhorn and Air & Space – other side of the Mall from the Holocaust Museum), and my mother and I took the time to express our condolences to the security guards who lost a colleague. They appreciated it. So if you’re in DC and happen to be near the Smithsonian, take the time to talk to the security guards, if only briefly. Respect them as fellow human beings. Show sorrow for their loss and acknowledge the heightened sense of danger they are all feeling.

  28. […] the right continues to overreach in hanging this on “the Left.”  Melissa Clouthier and I had a little back-and-forth about this yesterday, but Conservatives4Palin ratchets it up: I’m sorry. I have seen the Palins […]

  29. You wrote “Wright has the bad luck to have made his statement for today’s news cycle, and I’m sure the coincidence will be lost on no-one. ”

    Respectfully, I disagree. It was quite fortunate. Very few are talking about it, not even Fox News are connecting the racist comments of Rev Wright and JVB. BOTH are antisemitic and BOTH promote hate. BOTH deserve condemnation.

    Hate isn’t a Liberal problem nor is it a conservative problem, it’s an America Problem. We all need to fight against it.

  30. […] to pervert. What matters is that we recognize the dangers of extremism, period. Too bad the only other blogger noting this point doesn’t have a job anymore. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Media Beatup […]

  31. Well, that was my point. Unfortunate for Wright.

  32. I’ll agree – I thought back in the day that Wright was salvageable. The context to his original statements made him not so much a hatemonger as an unfortunate speaker – easy to take out of context. But this latest “them Jews” crap is indefensible.

  33. In an interview this morning, Rev Wright said the “misspoke” and he meant Zionists?

    Does anyone know who, on Obama’s staff, is a Zionist?

  34. James Von Brunn turns out to be a registered Democrat. Yet some on the left choose to ignore that and continue to call him a right wing extremist. Dont tell us to take care of our own until you step up to your own plate and clean it.

  35. Oklahoma: Joe “I am a Zionist” Biden. Rahm Emmanuel. And there’s more.

  36. […] Jeremiah Wright rears his hating head. This is the man who influenced Barack Obama for twenty years. This is the man who was his inspiration and mentor. And this is the man spewing nonsense right during a delicate time in Middle East relations. As President Obama talks about conversations with Iran without preconditions, Reverend Wright’s words ring in everyone’s ears. […]

  37. por favor,
    a jewish friend at a banquet told me that once I entered that dining room that I would understand how hitler came to power.

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