Eugene Kane has an interesting description of Jeremiah Wright's church. It is, he says, the kind of church that "many black people attend to hear black preachers talk the way black folks talk when white folks aren't around." By that, I take it he means bitter attacks on the United States, broad accusations of white racism, and crackpot theories about AIDS, drugs and Pearl Harbor.
I am, by definition, not in a position to know what "black folks say when white folks aren't around." I would not presume that it is the type of dime store sociology that we have heard from Reverend Wright but Eugene Kane wants to tell me that it is.
Let's assume that he is right. Kane's implication is that we ought not to make much of it. He quotes his barber's comments that "white folks" won't vote for a "black guy" and are "just waiting to trip him up." The suggestion is that raising things like Wright and Ayers and
bitterland and on and on are all just efforts to "trip him up" and somehow illegitimate; part of white America's refusal to accept a black President.
Is that right? Even if, as Kane says, this is the way that "black folks talk when white folks aren't around," does that mean that white voters are behaving in a racist or otherwise improper manner if they decide that they don't like it? Is some measure of tolerance of that type of talk the price of racial reconciliation?