The corporate media feeding frenzy in the wake of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s question-and-answer session at the National Press Club is the latest example of how desperate right-wing and ruling circles (yes, the real elite) are to suppress any movement for progressive change.

Our country is dealing with the consequences of an illegal and costly war, record gas prices, the most home foreclosures since the Depression, rampant economic, racial and gender disparities, mounting unemployment and growing crises in education and health care, yet the corporate-run airwaves focus on this retired minister’s remarks.

What most people saw was an ill-timed press conference where Wright dealt flippantly with sensitive issues. It opened up even more space for the forces of reaction to try and crush the aspirations of millions to elect the first African American president.

We can debate Wright’s views on issues, but we cannot let the corporate media dictate that this is what the election is all about. And we especially cannot allow them to divert the majority anti-Bush, anti-right-wing movement.

The whole frenzy smacks of racism. One simple definition of racism is prejudice plus power. Racism is not simply individuals’ racial prejudices; it is a system of discriminatory policies and the power — whether political, economic or electronic — to push those policies. Racism has been an integral part of the far-right GOP’s strategy to hold onto power as much as racism has been an integral part of the system of capitalism.

Conversely, the struggle against racism is key to unifying the working class and its allies to be able to make any kind of social and economic progress. It has to be taken on through action and argumentation. It is in the self-interest of all people, including and especially white workers, to struggle against it. The Obama campaign has enthused millions precisely because it has this unifying theme at its heart.

Therefore, a major push by all fair and open-minded people is needed to insist that our public airwaves and other media focus on the profound issues, including ending racism, that are before our country and people.