Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama Takes the Racial Bull by the Horn

It is a long address (37 minutes) but worth listening to in its entirety. Some significant excerpts:

The man I met more than twenty years ago (the Rev. Jeremiah Wright) is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much a she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

...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.

The man is exceptional and remarkable. I wonder if we are ready for him? I wonder if we deserve his leadership?


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Even when he speaks out against others' actions, he doesn't speak against the person involved. He doesn't incite anger. We very much need Obama's ability to lead without being divisive. I am convinced that concerning Obama, we are in the presence of greatness.

Dr. Fallon said...

When this whole thing started, Katharine, I was holding out hope for a Draft Gore movement. In time, I gave that up and supported John Edwards (he was the only talking about poverty as a compelling social problem).

I am beginning to agree with you about Obama. This kind of candidate doesn't come around too many times in a person's life.

"Greatness." I'm beginning to agree.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Gore would make a wonderful head of the EPA or secretary of the Department of the Interior. And Edwards would be a good attorney general. Wouldn't that be a dream team?

Dr. Fallon said...

I also think Gore would make a great Secretry of State. I've actually been talking about Edwards as AG to people (who'll listen to me).

And why don't we throw in Bill Clinton as a Supreme Court nominee, just to...um...upset the extreme right?

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Anonymous said...

The real dream team would be Al Gore as President, Obama as VP, and Edwards as Attorney General. I would also like to put Hilary in there somewhere, but she doesn't seem to be able to play nicely with other children.