Indeed, all governments are capable of anything, which is why America's was designed to permit dissent and reinvention through democratic elections. Nevertheless, there's just enough truth to Wright's remarks to create doubt in the minds of his parishioners and, apparently, among many in Monday's audience, including Princeton professor Cornel West, who nodded and whistled in affirmation.
Tuskegee, like slavery, happened. But if Wright really believed that the U.S. government were conducting genocide against blacks, wouldn't he have taken that message beyond the pews of his church?
And wouldn't millions of Americans of all races and creeds join Wright in solidarity against such a government?
In fairness to Wright, his sermons and his body of work are greater than the words that have made him famous. His church has done much good, feeding the hungry, helping the destitute, encouraging youth and families. Wright is also a Marine veteran, which he noted as a measure of his patriotism in mocking contrast to Dick Cheney's five military deferments.
But there's something else about Wright, whose attraction to fame is aggravating Obama's current difficulties. As Wright made clear Monday, he enjoys an audience and is a man practiced in the arts of emotion. He's been stoking the fears and anger of his own flock for 36 years. He once notably brought a confused young man to Christ and gave him the words that became the title of the young man's best-seller -- "The Audacity of Hope."
Now that same young man is running for president of the United States of G.D. America. Is it possible that Wright, privately or unconsciously, doesn't really want Obama to win?
It can't be easy even for a man of God to sit in the bleachers and watch his protege hailed as the new messiah. Given Wright's attraction to center stage -- and his own book due out this fall -- the only mystery is why he waited so long to speak up.
When a reporter asked that question Monday, Wright responded by paraphrasing Proverbs: Better to be quiet and thought a fool than to open one's mouth and confirm the suspicion.
Too bad he didn't stick to that advice.