Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama and the Elephant in the Room

I can't remember the last time a speech brought me to tears. Wow. Just... wow.

Obama's speech today was only supposed to repudiate the incendiary statements of his former paster Rev. Wright. He did so, but he also put Rev. Wright's sermons into the context of the lingering bitterness and cynicism in the black community over past and present injustices. He condemned the remarks as "not only wrong, but divisive" without completely condemning the man. In one memorable statement, he said that he could no more disown Rev. Wright than he could disown his own white grandmother, who despite her love for him had been known to make racially biased comments that "made him cringe".

Instead of just trying to put out the fire of this one controversy, however, Obama took the opportunity to confront head on the entire history of racism and racial inequality in America. Instead of just dancing around the issue or dismissing it as irrelevant, he explored it and explained it from both black and white perspectives. Then he spoke about how America might finally get past it's history of racial division and bitterness and move forward as one people, by recognizing how unemployment and crumbling schools and crime and poverty are issues that affect everybody of every race which can only be solved by working together.

I cannot begin to do justice to this speech. It was remarkable and courageous, and spoke directly and intelligently to a complex issue that American politicians have been avoiding for decades.

Go read. Even better, go watch. I dare you to stay cynical.


Hilary's reaction:
"I did not have a chance to see or to read yet Sen. Obama’s speech, but I’m very glad that he gave it. It’s an important topic."

Hasn't seen or read it?! Guess what, Hilary: I DON'T BELIEVE YOU! I don't believe Obama got more than five minutes into that speech before someone, somewhere, buzzed your Blackberry with the message, "Turn on CNN. Now."

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