I'm absolutely sickened by the idiocy that rears its head in the United States with every election cycle, but the whole Rev. Jeremiah Wright story is so overblown and beside the point that I'm left utterly unconvinced that the U.S. any longer has the intelligence to continue as a democracy, given that the basis of a functioning democracy is a well-informed, educated electorate.
Preachers in the U.S. have a long history of using the Jeremiad form. It used to be and perhaps still is standard practice to have students in high school read Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," which dates all the way back to 1741 (and technically is a colonial rather than U.S. text, but generally it's taught in American literature). More recently, it's popped up most frequently from right-wing politico-preachers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, the latter of whom actually made a run at the Republican presidential nomination back in 1988.
While Wright argued that the September 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. were an example of the "chickens coming home to roost," a riff no doubt inspired by Malcolm X's very accurate description of the social unrest prevalent in U.S. cities in the 1960's, Robertson -- on his wildly popular cult television broadcast -- agreed with fellow moron Falwell that 9/11 was the result of America's moral decay. In other words, God allowed the attack to punish a society that accepted the ACLU, abortionists, feminists, gays, and the People For the American Way. Not nearly as logical as Wright's argument that U.S. foreign policy caused blowback, but in the same sense a Jeremiad.
However, it would be no balm to Wright to be excused simply on the grounds that mean-spirited, hate-mongering wack-jobs like Falwell and Robertson also harshly criticize the United States. The media has been pouncing on the catchphrase, "God damn America," and has been ignoring or casting into the shadows the rhetorical contrast he was making between the jingoistic "God Bless America" with its assumption of holy approval for the nation's actions and the nation's actual actions as regards race relations. Anyone with half an ounce of honesty would have to admit that the promises of the Civil Rights era have not been completely fulfilled, what with police commanders in Washington, DC, in 2006 arguing that Georgetown and Blacks don't mix (or more recently, last year the Washington Post found evidence of racial profiling in Georgetown and Adams Morgan...the reader comments are actually more revealing than the article).
Media outlets are too self-centered and sensationalist to treat sermons for what they are: rhetoric aimed to excite and exhort the audience to probe their situations in life. I'm not much of a defender of religion, since it is primarily used as a tool of control, but even the master's tools can be turned against the system on occasion, as with Liberation Theology and Martin Luther King's appeals to the same religious tradition that one hundred years earlier was being used to justify slavery as a "christianizing influence on the heathens."
Bottom line: all I see in Wright's sermons is basic fire-and-brimstone modern-society-is-corrupt rhetoric, and I can't figure out why the hell this story has legs, except for the very cynical explanation that the media, as Don Henley once sang, "they love dirty laundry."