Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not this time.

Barack Obama's speech on race today is really good. It was partly a disavowal of the controversial Rev. Wright's beliefs, and I think it did a decent job of that. But it went far beyond that. It was direct, it was compassionate, it was extremely well written, and it was just generally awesome. It also did a good job of addressing the issue of race without highlighting Obama so much as the candidate of a certain race, or however you want to put it. It wasn't about his background or his ability to unite people because he has a diverse heritage, but about clear sightedness and empathy. I wish I could have seen him deliver it live.

Plus, I really liked how he candidly addressed some of the bigger controversies of recent times (Ferraro, and the issue of whether he was "too black" or "not black enough," the idea that his "candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap") without seeming to jab at anyone, just being honest. Some highlights:

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

It goes on. Really a great speech. Rumor is he wrote it himself.

P.S. Just found this:

I will be watching it later.


Anonymous said...

I am an Obama fan and I know you are too... but what about this...


is that picture REAL?

Emily said...

That's a real picture from what I understand but there has never been a clarification of when it was taken, i.e. before the anthem, after, etc. Also technically you're supposed to face the flag when you have your hand on your heart.

That said, I actually don't care even if he just didn't feel like putting his hand on his heart. I don't put tons of value on outward shows of patriotism. He also doesn't wear an American flag pin.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarification... wasn't meant to put a damper on the post you wrote [which I loved] just need some clarification...thanks!

D said...

that picture is NOT during the pledge of allegiance. Its during the national anthem. and I have been to a shitload of ballgames in my life and you don't put your hand on your heart during the song. You look towards the good ol stars and stripes, and sing the song...thats it
what is this country coming to?
The issue of the preacher dude is worth addressing, which he did. But that hand-on-heart thing is not worth talking about.
His speech was great . Compare that to ANY speech by our current president.

bethany said...

what's funny is that i ignore all things political, that way i don't have to have an opinion. it works really well for me. but another friend of mine got really excited about this speech also and linked to the youtube of it, so this morning i decided to see what all the hype was about.

and now i'm thinking, crap. i really liked that speech. do you think this means i'm going to have to come up with opinions??