Dear Editors and Readers of The Atlantic,
The recent article by David A. Graham with bold, large headlines reading “Jeremiah Wright Is Still Angry at Barack Obama,”( The Atlantic ), left me wondering why Graham was so angry at Jeremiah Wright. Graham’s anger is obvious in the his article that misrepresents the congregation and community present at the retreat on Race and Reconciliation led by Rev. Dr. Wright the weekend of Sept. 19 and 20 at the United Church of Chapel Hill, N. C.
The tone of Graham’s article from the beginning was offensive. I am not a granola-eating Granny, though I have seven grandchildren. I also do not “slurp” my coffee. I am an ordained UCC clergy and a former English teacher familiar with the importance of the connotation of words. Graham is, as a journalist also aware, and he starts by demeaning the audience at this retreat.
Graham continued by misrepresenting Rev. Dr. Wright who spoke in our workshop about his job as pastor and Obama’s job in government as being distinctly different, and often opposed. This was the subject of the sermon which raised the furor in 2003.Rev. Dr. Wright is a prophet as well as a pastor, after his Biblical namesake. He is also a human being whose anger at the hurt and oppression of not only his people, but also all those who suffer because of our human love of power and wealth is reasonable. People including Obama, Rev. Dr. Wright, and Jesus are capable of anger. In fact, Rev. Dr. Wright asked for forgiveness within the sermon for his most angry statement about America. For some reason that phrase from the sermon does not get printed. Wright’s anger, however, is justified. Anger is healthy when it tells us something is wrong and unjust. Anger is not healthy when the action to change leads to misrepresentation, violence, and destruction. Rev. Dr. Wright’s message in 2015 during the retreat as well as in 2003 was that anger must be converted to actions of peaceful inclusion, respect, and equity for all people, not subjugation, dominance, or extermination. Mr. Graham seems to think revenge for whatever anger he has against Rev. Dr. Wright is justified. For what positive, just change in society does Mr. Graham argue? Rev. Dr. Wright advises learning peaceful methods of including even those we deem enemy.
Finally, Mr. Graham interprets an audience leaving quietly as an audience leaving with disinterest or disagreement, without, apparently asking the participants. My vision of reaction of audience is most concrete from Sunday morning, Sept. 20. The audience was on their feet, clapping and saying “Amen” to much of Rev. Dr. Wright’s preaching. I heard the comments of those shaking his hand afterward. They indicated respect, honor, and excitement. This included white members of our congregation in addition to black and white members and visitors
Graham seems determined to highlight words that remind me of media interested in drawing readers because of outrageous shock value rather than the quality of reporting truth. I read enough history of “The Atlantic” to realize it has fought hard to come back from near failure in a changing and competitive news market. Such tactics as those demonstrated in Graham’s article would not convince me to subscribe.
Signed, Rev. Jeanne Allen