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Wow.

March 18th, 2008 · 7 Comments

The Speech is really quite impressive—a richer, more thoughtful, and more honest speech on race than I recall hearing (or expecting to hear) from an American politician. I can pick out in advance the ones that are going to be flagged and quoted by angry conservatives and angry progressives. Watch for those; they’re probably the importantly true ones.

Update: Argh. How f**king obtuse can you get? If you listened to this speech and heard some kind of blame-whitey boilerplate… well, then you didn’t listen to this speech. Apparently there are plenty of white Americans who simply tune out the instant anyone dares to suggest that the past is still with us, that contemporary racial disparities are not entirely unrelated to our unlovely racial history. (“Why you always bringin’ up old shit?” might make a good slogan.) In a way, this just underlines Obama’s point: We’re so segregated that the crew linked above just cannot conceive how someone might utter the words “God damn America” out of anything other than sheer depravity.

I wrote a while back about feeling uneasy when some feminists react as though you must, ipso facto, be engaged in “victim blaming” and “slut shaming” if you observe, on the heels of a well-publicized rape, that there are parts of American cities where it is, tragically, not safe to be alone, intoxicated, and female at 3 am. I feel even more uneasy when I see folks like these guys treat it as whitey-bashing anytime someone observes that black anger at American institutions is (in certain quarters) real, deep, and not completely irrational. This is actually so maddening that I don’t know whether I have much constructive to say just now, but I hope to circle back to all this later in the week. In the meantime, I’ll endorse Jesse Walker’s take.

Tags: Journalism & the Media · Sociology


       

 

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Erstwhile // Mar 19, 2008 at 8:42 am

    I’m really surprised to hear that you’re impressed with that speech. Given the (admittedly high) oratorical standards of Obama, I thought it was a crashing failure.

    The comparison of Reverend Wright and his Grandmother was inane, dishonest, and execrable. The difference between what a highly educated man says on a pulpit before thousands in recorded sermons and what an ordinary woman says in private, unguarded moment is beyond obvious.

    One subtext of this speech was to placate the racialist left by not having a “sistah souljah” moment. Mission accomplished.

    His facile equation of Black Rage and White Resentment was meant to appear nuanced, magnanimous, even-handed. On the contrary, it struck me as utterly disingenuous if not uncharacteristically dense.

    I don’t have time to go through all of my many problems with the speech. But Kip’s take is a good one. Also see Glen Loury’s remarks in this RBC post.

  • 2 JasonL // Mar 19, 2008 at 8:45 am

    There is no hope of good faith collaboration with someone who hears honkey hatitude in that speech. If you can’t talk about race like that, you can’t talk about it at all.

  • 3 Davd T // Mar 19, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    “One subtext of this speech was to placate the racialist left by not having a “sistah souljah” moment. Mission accomplished.”

    Huh? Are you reading the same speech I did? The one that said

    “But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam. ”

    That’s not a Sister Souljah moment? Sure looks like one to me. Maybe Obama has to preside over the execution of a self-lobotomized black man to prove he’s not part of the “racialist Left.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricky_Ray_Rector

  • 4 Laure // Mar 20, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    I think it’s good to have a dialogue about race- no doubt. But the fundamental issue I have with Obama still stands- ambiguity.

    Let’s see. He thinks we need to “invest in our schools”, work for “equality” in the justice system, and follow the golden rule. Man, this guy has some amazing ideas- I say, let’s do them right away!

  • 5 Roach // Mar 20, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Yes, this oversimplifies things too much, but, blacks behave badly and cause there own problems today, and there are no white racists anymore. Obama’s speech dodges these essential realities, and his proposed solution–socialism–has been tried to death since the 60s.

  • 6 Gryph // Mar 20, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I was impressed as well. It was a fairly honest speech. But if my Dad is a typical undecided moderate conservative, Obama has a problem. From email just now: “Obama is toast. Did you hear what he said about his grandmother?”

  • 7 steven crane // Mar 22, 2008 at 3:53 am

    Yes, this oversimplifies things too much, but, blacks behave badly and cause there own problems today, and there are no white racists anymore. Obama’s speech dodges these essential realities, and his proposed solution–socialism–has been tried to death since the 60s.

    wow, really?

    there’s no legacy of institutionalized racism?

    you’re a moroon.

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