Obama, Wright and Zombie Politics in Times of Empire

April 30, 2008

Their fangs still dug deep into the rancid carcass of the “Obama-Wright controversy”, the mainstream media and candidates Clinton and McCain have birthed yet another member of the army of walking dead threatening our political system: the Obama-Wright Zombie (And no, the word “zombie” is not being used with any racial connotations or subtexts……I don’t work for the Clinton’s).

Though the visibly weakened Obama has addressed the the issue in a manner that would slay other issues, the Zombie walks, it lives.

And while I feel for Obama personally and though I hope his candidacy doesn’t succumb to this frenzy of political flesh-eaters, my primary concerns are for what the zombie means for race, politics and religion in the U.S.

I watched Wright’s rather lengthy and often eloquent disquisition and defense and find in Obama’s knuckling under to pressure with today’s denunciation of his former pastor reason for concern. Say what you will about Wright, he is, as he stated in his speech, part of a powerful, anti-racist tradition of liberation and faith. Lost in most of the mainstream coverage of Wright’s speech was the Reverend’s contextualization of his statements and life in the very political tradition of the black church. Wright’s comments about the U.S. as an “imperialistic” power that suffered what military analysts like Chalmers Johnson calls “blowback” were taken out of context and fed the still-lingering appetite of a country that prefers reproducing racial superficialities to reconciling the genocidal acts of its history. Wright reminded his audience that Jesus also predicted that the fall of empire under the weight of its own sins. Had Jesus used metaphors that included “chickens” roosting, he too would be electronically whipped and visually stoned and stoned and stoned again.

Also saddening was hearing Obama “outraged” at Wright’s comments about the consequences of U.S. empire. While we can’t expect someone aspiring to to occupy the seat of imperial power to do anything but defend “American exceptionalism” and other Disneyesque myths designed to coverup the U.S.’s bloody history, we should expect Obama not to reproduce the lies and half truths about race, exploitation and violence that are a part of this history.”Hope” can’t serve as a cover for violence; And talk of “change” shouldn’t magically transport us into a state of amnesia.

Beware of zombie politics and the Svengali politics of Democrats and Republicans.

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