Statements the Reverend Jeremiah Wright made regarding the government’s conspiracy to infect the black population with AIDS to his proclamation during a recent sermon that “God damn America!” stirred considerable media attention and have led Barack Obama to slowly edge away from the controversial minister.
In a recent Des Moines Register column, John Carlson pointed out various administrators on campus, including President Byrd and John Fuller, who have no regrets regarding the decision to award the medal to Wright.
It is important to note that there is a difference between saying Wright deserved the award and agreeing with his recent controversial statements. Carlson was quick to make it appear as if Simpson had an almost flippant disregard for the implications of Wright’s comments, but he left out several key considerations.
First, what Carlson-and most of the public enraged by the comments-have read and heard about Wright are sound bytes of his most radical comments, often taken out of context. They don’t take into account in Wright’s accomplishments.
The founder of a church in an impoverished neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, Wright took a neighborhood filled with hopelessness and created a congregation that swelled to 8,000 members in a matter of 30 years.
Much like a newspaper’s endorsement of one candidate or another, this endorsement doesn’t ensure that the person will prove to be of sound nature or that they won’t go on to do or say things which will darken their view in the public eye.
When the decision was made to honor Wright, it was made by looking at his accomplishments up to that point and his impact on the community, not his propensity to make controversial statements.