Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Responses to the Obama Speech



How you view yesterday's speech will depend on how you view Barack Obama. If you don't like him; if you're uncomfortable with a person of color as President; if you just can't get beyond Jeremiah Wright; then probably yesterday's speech won't go far with you. If you like him, if you think the time is ripe for a non-white President, or if you are able to separate him from Wright, then you probably heard the speech differently.

My sense is that the American people are all over the place. I also recognize in comments in the news and in personal conversations that race remains an issue for this nation. Many people want to think that we got beyond race in the 1960s, but that's not true. We may bury it, suppress it, etc., but it's still there and Obama's candidacy has surfaced this issue. White America didn't care much one way or another about Jeremiah Wright or his church until Obama came along. Now its an issue.

In the interest of furthering the conversation I'm trying to post responses I think are helpful. Time has posted six short responses by political scientists, including a couple from Pennsylvania. Some of these observers see this as a crowning achievement, others think he is unelectable and can't get beyond the issue. That race will bring him down. That may well be. We'll have to see. Click here to read their views.

The Chicago Tribune posts a piece by Shawn Taylor, an African American woman married to a white man raising a bi-racial child who happens to have been a member of Trinity UCC. She talks about the complex issue that is race and how it is addressed in that church. Yes, Wright goes off on occasion about White America, but she makes a good point -- if the message was "hate whitey" then having White friends or being married to a White man wouldn't happen. It is a piece that gives an inside view of the issue -- worth reading. Click here to read.

Here is an article on the Bloomberg news that addresses the parallels to JFK's speech about Catholicism. The response here is that Obama's task is much more difficult and complex. Indeed, a quote of Ralph Reed shows that for the Right Obama must essentially condemn his own community. He must become as some Blacks fear -- culturally White. This is also an interesting article that can be read by clicking here.
Maureen Dowd sees this event as an important step of removing Obama from the saintly pedestal, and invest in him a bit more "gray," which in the end may be more helpful. She accuses him of being naive about Wright and Tony Rezko and how those relationships taint his efforts. It's a challenging piece, but is an interesting viewpoint.
The conversation has begun and will continue for the foreseeable future. Again, how Obama's campaign fares is unknown.

1 comment:

Stushie said...

My response to the whole incident is drawn on my political cartoon site...

www.stushietoon.blogspot.com

I've also posted it on the presbyterian bloggers page