Inflammation vs. Inspiration

Published: April 30, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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Yesterday, Senator Barack Obama spoke out against the inflammatory remarks made by his former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Last Friday, Wright gave a performance before the National Press Club in Washington that can politely be described as all show and no substance.  He blustered, he shouted, he postured and puffed, he drifted, he wandered and along the way he alienated most everyone else left on his “friends” list.

Among his most recent remarks, the Reverend Wright “…suggested that the United States was attacked because it engaged in terrorism on other people and that the government was capable of having used the AIDS virus to commit genocide against minorities…” the New York Times reported.

At a news conference in North Carolina, Senator Obama called Wright’s comments not only, “…divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate…”

Meanwhile, back in New York, “pop-teen-sensation” Miley Cyrus AKA Hannah Montana, created her own controversy when the new issue of Vanity Fair magazine revealed a picture spread that shows the 15-year-old star wrapped in a bed sheet.

What makes these two stories more significant that they evershould be is the fact that they made the national news media from newspapers to cable to network news.  Senator Obama blamed much of the news media for focusing too much attention on an individual that he has distanced himself from.

Clearly, the news media is in love with celebrities and controversy, as they have for decades.  Put the two together and they’re in heaven.

However, this is only one side of celebrity.

Rosie O’Donnell established the For All Kids Foundation, which gives grants to support the social and intellectual development of underserved kids. The foundation has awarded $10.2 million since 1997.  The Michael J. Fox Foundationworks to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease by 2010.  U2 lead singer Bono has been involved in many issues throughout the years and supports the work of GreenpeaceWar Child andAmnesty International.  His latest project, Project Red, is a partnership with several large corporations to increase awareness of AIDS in Africa.

Paul Newman and his Newman’s Own Foundation donate all profits and royalties after taxes from their food products to a variety of educational and charitable groups. Newman’s Own Foundation has given over $200 million to thousands of charities worldwide since l982.

These are just a handful of celebrities that bring their name and commitment to an issue in much need of attention by the rest of us.  As a result, the rest of us learn about our responsibilities to each other and that’s inspiring.


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