« Wright: So right | Main | More on the Wright stuff »

Castor dicitur a castrando

By Michael J. Smith on Wednesday April 30, 2008 04:29 PM

I love the old mediaeval bestiaries, with their thoughtfully moralized natural history. The fanciful tales they tell convey a kind of truth that you won't find in a peer-reviewed journal. Here's the mediaeval take on the beaver, AKA "Castor":

Castores a castrando dicti sunt. Nam testiculi eorum apti sunt medicaminibus, propter quos cum praesenserint venatorem, ipsi se castrant et morsibus vires suas amputant.

[Castor is so called from castration. Because their testicles are useful for medicine, and so when they realize that the hunter is after them on that account, they castrate themselves and bite off their powers.]

-- Isidore of Seville

This is pretty much what Barack "Leave it to Beaver" Obama has done in repudiating Jeremiah Wright: sacrificed his testicles to the hunters.

* * *

I spent a very delightful hour today watching, on YouTube, Wright's tour de force before the National Press Club. It reminded me uncannily of the chap from Nazareth turning the tables on the scribes and Pharisees of his day -- though those old scribes and Pharisees threw much subtler and trickier questions at the Galilean Hassid than the "working press" could devise for Wright. In fact it was startling to hear the shallow and puerile schoolyard taunts that were, apparently, the best shot America's journalistic elite could take. Wright, of course, shrugged them off as Leviathan might deal with a jellyfish.

The best moment was a question attacking Christianity as such. Somebody had scribbled on a card a debased modern translation of John fourteen-six: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." The questioner added, "Do you believe that?"

Now Jeremiah Wright has been a minister of the Gospel for what, forty years? Did the smart-aleck who shot this feeble bolt really imagine that Wright hadn't fielded this question before?

Actually, I'm sure that's exactly what he or she imagined -- thinking of him- or herself as Clarence Darrow, pinning William Jennings Bryan to the wall with a contradiction in scripture. (There's a movie scene that needs a revisionist treatment, by the way. Over to you, Owen.) The questioner, undoubtedly a merit-class secularist whose Greatest Conceivable Being is the Scholastic Aptitude Test, felt quite sure that any poor fool who reads the Bible, and prays, actually prays -- like Dante and Milton and other such pitiable imbeciles -- couldn't possibly be any match for the smart-alec's superior research skills.

It was wonderful to watch. As the question was read, a slow small smile appeared on Wright's face. When the pinch-faced, brazen-voiced, squinty-eyed, sheep-haired hag who read the questions relinquished the microphone, Wright leaned in and, without missing a beat, cited an earlier chapter of the same gospel, John ten-sixteen: "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold."

The crowd went wild -- not the deeply illiterate "working press", of course, but the "guests", mostly black, who had actually read the book.

* * *

Jeremiah Wright is Obama's real daddy -- a guy who perhaps filled in for the AWOL Kenyan, and gave Obama much of what is real, and appealing, and thoughtful, and humane about him. Because he has, or had, all these qualities.

I'm not quite cynical enough to think it was mere opportunism that got Barack's butt in Wright's pew for all those years. I think he got something in that pew that nourished him and helped make him the rather impressive human being he became.

Until the hunters wanted his balls -- and he bit them off.

Comments (7)

Nicholas Hart:

I agree--the more I watch this spectacle unfold the more respect I gain for Wright and the more I lose for Obama (not that there was much left).

Wright has certainly been the subject of much liberal hand-wringing of late. The invective and criticism being heaped upon Wright by Obama, his starry-eyed supporters and the mainstream media reminds me of that which was dished out for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he spoke out against the Vietnam war. What do principles, truth or justice matter when there's a candidate to elect and a corporate ruling class to appease?


Fox news, fair and unbiased... Thanks for embedding the youtube clip.


Damn, but that's a good essay.

Preach it brother!


the herbert screed n hart linkinizes
is pure
"i be an oreo too " pig piling

i heard juan williams wade in
who else ??

who else
wants to bail the talented tenth's
minor moca merit class hero boat
of black bilge

pass for white obama
with his gaggle of banjoing
white facers
has reefed baby reefed up river

his paddle wheeler to the white house
ain't lookin jamboree ish
nope t'is in...
" a heap a trouble "

Huh? Why the sudden reticence about denouncing dem-exploitation? And even if you're right that Obama ever had more than a stepping-upon relationship with Wright, doesn't that, if anything, increase the repugnance of what just happened?


I'm really only starting to get a grasp on authoritarianism among progressives.

It baffles me. As a good liberal type, I of course was taught that the conservatives all value authority, while we lefties love Democracy and self-determination.

So... whence the Wright bashing? The attitude here is that it's somehow Wright's job to muzzle himself in order to aid Obama, or, in other words, he should recognize that authority is all that matters and shut the fuck up when in the presence of his betters.

How dare he act like a human when his real job is to be a mindless stepping stone for Obama?

Besides the fact that it's bizarrely authoritarian, a lot of these Obama supporters don't seem to have much of a grasp on the relationship between a Pastor and his flock. A good Pastor doesn't stop criticizing one of his followers just because that person has political power, and why, on any planet, would you want a Pastor to do that?


Despite the fact that the broad mass of the
black electorate bandwagoned on the Obama
express once they grokked that he might be
electable, a not insignificant chunk of said
mass will jump head first off the party train
now that the opportunistic BO has betrayed his
true chameleonic colors by irreversibly
denouncing his radical prophetic pastor. Only
those who first flocked to Obama, self
congratulating caucasians of the centrist
liberal variety, will stick by him. But this
was the watershed moment... it is OVER (to
quote Lennox Lewis when overzealously
"commentating" on the 2006 Maskaev-Rahman
heavyweight tilt)!

Afro-America's disaffection will be redoubled
by the 2008 incarnation of Swift Boat lesser
life forms, as any cursory tour of the
internet's seedier provinces will verify. OB
folded under the irrepressible contradictions
that characterized his candidacy, as Adolph
Reed so astutely ordained.

The 63-car pileup that has been the DP
nomination/fratricide/media feeding frenzy of
the last few months should bring great
satisfaction to SMBIVA's steeled hard-core.
Jeremiah Wright and armageddon coming to
fallen Amerikkka aside altogether... talk
about prophesy deliverance!

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Wednesday April 30, 2008 04:29 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Wright: So right.

The next post in this blog is More on the Wright stuff.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31