Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Not This Time."

In this speech, Mr. Obama reveals a amazing grasp of the American racial divide. He is a sophisticated thinker, and in my mind he cuts to the chase about the reality and the politics of this election in this excerpt:

"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.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned."


Blogger Zamboni said...

I find it disappointing (but not surprising) that in 2008 race is still an issue. I realize we're only 40-50 years removed from the Civil Rights era, but I expect a lot more out of people.

I don't care if our next president is black, white, purple, or whatever. As a country we need to reach the point where we see someone on t.v. or on the street and say "there's a person. Not a white person or a black person, but a person person. Unfortunately, I believe we are a looooooong way away from that.

Watching the news last night, I saw Obama's comments to the effect that his "grandmother is like every white person. She sees someone she doesn't know and she crosses to the other side of the street."

I found his comment very powerful, and very accurate for a lot of white people (and perhaps people of other colors, who I won't pretend to speak for). I was disappointed when the newscaster went on to say that Obama clarified his statement to indicate that he only meant white people of his grandmother's generation. While I do think that Obama's clarification is more accurate, I don't believe he was entirely off in his original statement. There is definitely a significant percentage of the country, young and old alike, who feel the way Obama's grandmother does. I would rather see honesty about the current racial situation. Not complaining and fighting, but actual open, honest conversation. To paraphrase Obama in the speech you quoted: there will always be some sort of distraction. Let's talk about it now.

10:53 AM  

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