Alan Jones on Wright and Obama

Alan Jones, the Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, has written a commentary on the controversy surrounding the statements of The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright and those of his parishioner, Barack Obama about him.

In the op-ed piece published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Dean Jones writes that the underlying reason for the nation’s reaction to the controversy is due to our inability to place the events into historical context:

“As a people, we are in great danger because of our poor short-term memories; our state of perpetual amnesia puts our fragile democracy at risk. Imagine, for example, what it was like for the parents and grandparents of Rev. Wright growing up in the 1920s. The worry then, among some white ‘intellectuals,’ was why America was growing stupid! There must, they thought, be a ‘scientific’ explanation.

Pseudo-scientific racism became very popular. Why were we so stupid as a country? Immigration, of course! Despite the evidence that the longer immigrants were in the United States, the better they performed on IQ tests, the aim of Princeton psychologist C.C. Brigham’s ‘A Study of American Intelligence’ was to show that the southern and eastern peoples of Europe, and Negroes, were of inferior intelligence.

[…] In the late 1980s, American Enterprise Institute Fellow Ben Wattenberg created a firestorm with his book, ‘The Birth Dearth,’ which forecast the dilution – even destruction – of Western culture by comparatively greater birth rates among non-white peoples of the world. Wattenberg, reflecting fear and disdain, wrote, ‘Will we worship cows? … Will the world backslide?’

It would be a great exercise in patriotism to place the Rev. Wright’s possibly-intemperate remarks in the context of history. Obama was right to comment on his pastor’s ‘memories of humiliation and doubt and fear.’

It’s hard to imagine now that many TV commentators or journalists have read any history. We don’t expect it of political strategists. It’s their job to exploit our ignorance, but journalists have no excuse. We need to know our history because the present is what the past is doing now.”

Read the full op-ed piece here.

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