by Jeremy Young | 3/18/2008 05:38:00 PM


I'm speechless.

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15 Comments:


Anonymous Rodi Tekin on 3/18/2008 6:27 PM:

why would u be speechless anyway? it was his first major test in front of the media for one of the most contraversial issues at the root of the country. He seemed pretty composed against a tough jury not of his colour except at the intro. basicly he cleaned himself as much as he could from the dawnation of USA,which is not a moral stance for him in this case for most african-americans and in my opinion. Still for such low level but very effective predicament in the big-leagues, it is never easy to cool the already heavy flames and for now he seems to roll over it and continue on his successful campaign. he only got one major challange left in the short run, the BUSH Family backed McCain who seems to assume that he already won since he is already visiting his office plans overseas. I guess the corporate emporer already has decided who will be hired for the opening position. Also not to forget, it is very interesting when Bush was praising his cousins at the Federal Reserve. one can say that he might have another job again after all.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 3/18/2008 6:32 PM:

He had the opportunity to throw his friend under the bus, and he rejected it. He had the chance to gloss over issues of race as he has so many times before, and he advanced a complex argument instead. It is the first time I have ever seen him show political courage.

 

Anonymous Rodi Tekin on 3/18/2008 6:53 PM:

very true about the courage piece but the rest i can not completely agree.

 

Anonymous Geschichte Grad on 3/18/2008 8:13 PM:

Agreed, Jeremy: a great speech. And readers at Progressive Historians should particularly appreciate Obama's use and understanding of the history of race in the United States. My mind goes to Katznelson's excellent book When Affirmative Action Was White and Katznelson's discussion of LBJ--maybe the last time a president took on, in all of its seriousness and complexity, the issue of race in our country.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 3/18/2008 9:26 PM:

GG, I was also thinking of Thomas Sugrue's The Origins of the Urban Crisis.

 

Blogger Lisa Pease on 3/19/2008 12:49 AM:

I have been swamped ALL DAY but I did hear the speech this morning, and was in tears driving to work, because THIS is the country I want to live in. THIS is the president I want to have lead us into a new future. THIS is the kind of discourse my soul hungers for.

As soon as I had a minute I had to come running over here. I know how you like transcendent speeches, and it doesn't get any more transcendent than that. I'm so glad you liked it, Jeremy. I was, of course, certain you would.

The best comment I've heard all day re the speech was this, and forgive me - I didn't get the name of the commentator. Saw it on TV, and I'm paraphrasing, but this is close:

"Before this speech, this was a test of him. After the speech, this is a test of us."

Indeed it is, and I hope very much we pass.

A good friend of mine who originally preferred Hillary Clinton but has been turned off lately by her negative campaigning just swung to Obama tonight. Over on DK I saw another person saying this speech won her over. On the radio, I heard a host telling listeners don't tell me to stop talking about race. We don't talk about it enough, and it's time we start.

Obama really is the one we need at this point in time. He continues to prove himself calm under fire, intelligent, persuasive. No wonder he has won the respect of both Democratic and Republican legislators in Illinois and DC. He is an original, the likes of which I have never seen in my lifetime.

 

Blogger Ahistoricality on 3/19/2008 2:31 AM:

I listened to the speech (while trying frantically to finish grading before class, etc.) and I want to go back over the transcript later (or listen with my spouse, one or the other).

I was pretty impressed. But then I'm an historian: Obama's historical contextualization and narrative of progress, etc, are precisely the kinds of things we do, the way we think. (I was unimpressed by the recycling of his stump speeches, especially that anecdote at the end; it's a great story, once.)

I'm afraid that Rick Shenkman may be right, though, that it's not going to be enough to move past the faux outrage/pseudo-scandal. We need, ironically, a strong set of talking point sound bites about nuance, or else the subtle challenges of the speech will get lost in the loudmouth, nitpicking, demographic-parsing, short-sighted horse-race commentary.

 

Anonymous Sansouci on 3/24/2008 12:07 AM:

I am glad Geschicte Grad mentioned Katznelson's marvelous book and LBJ's "To Fulfill These Rights" which I think along with Lincoln's Second Inaugural address are the only two speeches given by white politicians that resonate at the same level as Obama's speech. Interestingly despite the Wright controversy and the understanding and mis-understandings about Trinity UCC under Wright, Obama's discussion of white working class consciousness is more of a lefty move than one normally taken by a Black Nationalist. I have not seen any recognized Afri-US leader speak so sincerely about white working class consciousness. That move alone has placed this discussion on a different plane. It's amazing after, "All in the Family" had such an effect of US popular culture in the 1970s we have forgotten that Archie Bunkers and George Jeffersons remain among us.
I would also say that of all the historical figures I most respect I believe that El Hajj Malik El Shabazz would be most proud, not necessarily about the exact content of Obama's speech but at the very least, proud of Obama's honesty about Black anger and frustration. El Hajj always critiqued "negro" leaders for not being honest with the whites about the deep anger within Black communities.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 3/24/2008 12:36 AM:

Sansouci, I'd also note that Obama's discussion of white working class consciousness is probably what Howard Dean was trying to say when he talked about Southern good ol' boys with confederate flags on their pickup trucks having the same economic needs as latte liberals. Of course, Obama is a whole lot more eloquent than Dean is.

 

Blogger conefor4200 on 3/28/2008 3:52 PM:

Obama is very Un-Deak.

Ferenc Deak 1803-1876 was a true hero of civility.

He was probably the only leader in history who objected armed insurgency against a foreign oppressor, and at the same time worked on internal reforms for a very modern and civil society.

Obama lacks the vision and class for such an act.

He should stop the demagoguery of the Wrights by all means. Those leaders are inflicting trauma and damage on the unfortunate defenseless black Americans.

Wright is not advocating civility. Has he lined up good examples of white and black leaders who steered America into the right directions? Wright is a genocidal preacher, and a tragic failure.

Obama should know better than Wright that such people caused genocides in Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, and forge ahead with such plans in the office of the Iranian president.

In light of this failure of Obama, I do not feel well after the "Race" speech.

Just the opposite. It was sheer demagogy.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 3/28/2008 9:37 PM:

Conefor, I'm not entirely sure what you're advocating here, but I don't see how Wright is "genocidal" by any means, or why "civility" is a good thing.

 

Blogger conefor4200 on 3/30/2008 6:51 PM:

I am afraid, Obama has not recognized how un-Deak and un-MLK was his pastor.

The Wrights usually spew incitement in place of constructive suggestions.

The empowerment of the community in its bitter complaints is very attractive to the individuals, who will feel superior to the just trashed and inhumanized all other Americans.

This is the recipe for hatred, frustration, which leads to killing, lynching, and occasionally genocide.

Obama is either cynical or innocent not to recognize the gravity of the crime this pastor inflicted on his followers.

My communication skills are the one of an engineer. So, can you be patient with me?

 

Anonymous Sansouci on 3/30/2008 10:34 PM:

Conefor said,

"The empowerment of the community in its bitter complaints is very attractive to the individuals, who will feel superior to the just trashed and inhumanized all other Americans.

This is the recipe for hatred, frustration, which leads to killing, lynching, and occasionally genocide."


How about you do some research before you commence the smear campaign. Rev. Wright's stewardship of the Trinity UCC in Chicago, has built a church that provides scholarships for college students, outreach to HIV/AIDS victims, support for the poor and a prison ministry. In short it functions like so many other Black Churches. A little research will show that Black churches have had to be the governing body for a community that has historically been without governmental support. In the tradition of those early Hebrew prophets, Jesus himself and a long lineage of religious activists for social justice and racial equality (Henry Highland Garnett, Alexamnder Crummel, Henry MacNeil Turner John Brown, Sojourner Truth, Vernon Johns and, yes, MLK) and vested with a mission to comfort the afflicted and as Wright demonstrated afflict the comfortable, Wright's comments, though questionable when taken out of context of, African American experience, the African American church and the tradition of progressive Black pastorship, are merely one side of the coin of community development.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 3/31/2008 3:21 AM:

Conefor, fair enough, but I think we simply do not agree on Wright's comments. I don't condone what he said, but I see its context in centuries of racial inequality that Wright is simply sick and tired of. I can't condemn him in the same way I condemn, say, Pat Robertson.

 

Anonymous Sansouci on 3/31/2008 12:43 PM:

That's always been a big question of mine in comparing White ministers and Black prophetic ministers, aside from their "theological" questions what the hell do these privileged pastors have to be mad about? At least the Black prophetic experience is grounded in very real sociological and historical questions. Which if we understand the Old Testament Jeremiad is in alignment with the God of the Old Testament, a deity which expresses and manifests itself through interventions in human history. Jehovah was not abstract and neither should be those that claim to serve him/her/it.