Thursday, March 20, 2008

Not a dry eye in the house

I just read the full text of Barack Obama's speech on race. It made me cry. Let me rephrase that, it made me bawl.
I'm trying to figure out why I could not stop crying. I did not see him deliver the speech; I read the words first. Then I saw him deliver the speech, with incredible poise, clarity and restraint.
I think that the main reason for my uncontrollable bawling is because it was such a relief, after 8 years of the most humiliating and undignified, illiterate, debased presidency in the history of the United States; after 8 years of letting an ignorant, uncaring bully misrepresent us hideously in the world, we are now on the threshold of choosing someone who can truly reverse the terrible damage to our dignity and our moral fiber as individuals and as a nation. That this may be a black man, is, as Obama mentions in his speech, a story that, despite the hate and the ignorance and the stupidity surrounding it, could only happen here.
I am not bereft of cynicism when it comes to politicians, including Obama, and I can see why some people think this speech is a masterful, if politically expedient, way of handling the accusations. However, it speaks very highly of the man who chose to handle this scandal in this particular way. He may be a consummate politician, but he just raised the bar to the mature, intelligent place where our political discourse should be starting.
As for Reverend Wright, all I can say is that this should be a lesson to Obama, and to all politicians, to stay the fuck away from religion. Obama can be a man of faith, but his faith should not have anything to do with his job as an elected official. I'd love it if he stopped parading it around, but after the evil rumors of his being a Muslim (and then again, exactly why should this be a problem?), I guess he has to. Still, he should remember to keep these two things very separate, in his life and, if he becomes president, in the land.
It amazes me that those commenting in the NY Times on how it is possible that Obama did not repudiate this man for 20 years, are clearly not getting the memo. The explanation is in the speech. He is spelling it out for you.
If I were a black person in America, I would not find it so farfetched. Plenty of black charismatic preachers talk shit like this. It is unfortunate that, as Obama points out, they don't say more helpful, wiser words to their congregations. As someone pointed out, the Reverend's speeches are no worse than the appalling, offensive nonsense that comes out of the mouths of some preachers in the far right. That hateful stuff, people brush off as the quirky blather of some harmless, evangelical nutjobs . But if it comes from a black pulpit, all hell breaks loose.
But really, why shouldn't black people feel rage in their hearts? Why are they expected to adore America, no matter what? Why are they expected to stop complaining about slavery and racism? Why in political silly season all of a sudden criticizing certain unsavory things about the country you love becomes anti-patriotic? Because this is your country, because you may even love it, it is your duty as an American to not love it unquestioningly, as fascists and so called patriots would have it.
This is the same idiotic controversy as when Michelle Obama spoke candidly about feeling proud of the US for the first time in her life. Everybody had a conniption. Garments were torn and hairs pulled out, and that most revolting of distorted concepts, patriotism, was bandied about like the soiled underwear of a harlot (I'm on a tear, people). But if I was a black person in America, I'd probably feel the same way as Michelle Obama, who should not have to apologize for saying what she said.
What has this country done to redress the horror of slavery and the subsequent years of prejudice and marginalization, mind you, not until the mid 1960's? Some progress has been made, but clearly not enough. I have one word for you: Katrina.
We shouldn't be patting ourselves in the back yet.
As for Barack Hussein Obama: Mister, you had my vote before today, but today, my vote for you has been cemented (unless you screw up royally from here to November).

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