Falwell and Wright

Ezra Klein’s a smart guy, so I’m assuming this is a parody of liberal cluelessness rather than the real thing:

Does anyone believe a long association with Jerry Falwell's church would have done anything but help McCain in the Republican primary, and gotten Democrats tagged as anti-religion when they tried to point out Falwell's nuttiness in the general? It's fine to be a Christian extremist in America. It's fine to believe, and say publicly, that everyone who hasn't accepted Jesus Christ into their heart will roast in eternal hellfire, fine to believe that the homosexuals caused Hurricane Katrina and the feminists contributed to 9/11, fine to believe we must support Israel so the Jews can be largely annihilated in a war that will trigger the End Times, fine to believe we're in a holy battle with the barbaric hordes of Islam, fine to believe that we went to the Middle East to prove "our God is bigger than your God." What you can't believe is that blacks have suffered a long history of oppression in this country, that they're still face deep institutional discrimination, and that a country where 100 percent of the presidents have been rich white guys is actually run by rich white guys. More to the point, even if you do believe those things, you certainly can't be angry about it!

What horseshit. If John McCain were an evangelical Christian and a longstanding member of Jerry Falwell’s congregation, and if he had written a memoir describing, say, how he was “born again” under Falwell’s influence, he would not be the Republican nominee today. With a great deal of luck, he might – might – have done as well in the primaries as Mike Huckabee did, and of course you may recall that Huck had all kinds of difficulties winning non-evangelical votes, faring particularly poorly among Catholics; you may recall, as well, that the press delighted in lobbing him questions about evolution and wives submitting to their husbands and all the rest of it, without any fear of being tagged as anti-religion. And of course Falwell’s brand of evangelical Christianity is considerably more controversial than Huckabee’s. And considerably more apocalyptic, one might add: Imagine, for instance, how McCain’s support of the surge, and his hawkishness more generally, would have been treated if he attended a church whose pastor's foreign policy views are defined by a belief in the imminence of Armageddon.

As to Ezra's larger point, of course it’s “fine” to be a white Christian extremist in America; it's also fine to be a black Christian extremist like Jeremiah Wright. This is a free country, after all. Nobody in the national media was parsing the Reverend Wright's sermons before the 2008 campaign, and nobody would be parsing them today if he was just one minister among many supporting Barack Obama for President. I have no doubt that many, many Democratic politicians have put in an appearance at churches whose pastors share Wright's outlandish political views without anyone kicking up a fuss, just as Republican politicians have long accepted the support of figures like Falwell without taking too much heat about it. The distinction here, for the umpteenth time, is that Wright isn't just Obama's supporter; he's his pastor, his friend, and his spiritual mentor, which makes him exactly the kind of person whose views ought to be of interest to a public that's considering electing Barack Obama President of the United States. And as to the substance of those views, well, if Ezra really thinks that Wright's sermons have sparked controversy because he broke a taboo against getting angry over the fact that "blacks have suffered a long history of oppression in this country" and "still face deep institutional discrimination," I would suggest that he take another look at them, paying particular attention to Wright's remarks about 9/11, as well as what appears to be his suggestion that the U.S. government created not only the crack epidemic, but the AIDS epidemic as well.

(It's also worth noting that two of the specific examples of white Christian extremism Ezra nods to - Falwell's 9/11 comments, and General William Boykin's "my God is bigger than your God" remarks - both provoked controversies that ended in public apologies, albeit of the mealy-mouthed, "I'm sorry if you were offended" variety. Whereas I'm not holding my breath waiting for Reverend Jeremiah Wright to "clarify" his remarks.)