Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wright -v- Ferraro : A False Equivalence

On today's Meet the Press and on other news programs, a false moral equivalence has been made between the ridiculous remarks of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the controversial statements made by Geraldine Ferraro. Typically, the TV host asks an Obama supporter about some of Wright's comments, then turns to a Hillary Clinton supporter to ask about Ferraro's comments. Each surrogate tries to minimize the overall impact from both incidents.

The problem with this particular format is that Wright's and Ferraro's comments are not of the same fundamental nature. Simply, Wright's remarks are false and overtly racist while Ferraro's are essentially true and realistic about the role race plays in our society.

Wright thinks the government knew about Pearl Harbor, purposely feeds illegal drugs into the inner cities, has created HIV in order to suppress black populations around the world and in the US, and -often overlooked by news accounts- Wright claims Jesus was black and was kept down by the white Romans. Any sane human being should call this man a lunatic, and should rightly question any candidate for office who claims Wright was his spiritual mentor. (I'm not holding my breath waiting for a reporter to ask Obama if he thinks Jesus was black.)

Ferraro's comments about Obama's race being determinative in his political success are -in the opinions of myself and many others- essentially correct. If "Barack Obama" was "Barry O'Bannion" he would not have been viewed as a trans-racial political figure, and he would not have gotten 90% of the black vote in Democratic primary contests against another white politician. This is to say absolutely nothing about his oratory skills, policy positions, or overall fitness for office. Furthermore, nobody is claiming that Geraldine Ferraro was Hillary Clinton's spiritual advisor, or that she even spent much time in her company.

Promoting a false equivalence of the remarks uttered by these two personalities is a serious journalistic error and an injustice to the electoral process.

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