Please read the text of the speech or better yet, watch the whole video of Sen. Barack Obama delivering an historic speech on race. Between the seemingly opposed but morally congruent positions of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the yip-yapping pup terrier, Michelle Malkin, there fortunately exists a much broader and thoughtful spectrum of commentary and reaction to it all over the Western world, especially Britain and the rest of Europe. I agree with Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, who called it "A Thinking Man's Speech"--
For me racism is an equal opportunity mental illness which afflicts people of all races in America. Barack Obama's speech represents a brave diagnosis of a social mental cancer that metastasized from the virus of slavery and discrimination and spread to every cell of the American body politic. As Filipino-Americans we are familiar with such widespread illnesses, how complex they are and how difficult to uproot and destroy.
I thought Barack Obama's speech was strong, thoughtful and important. Rather beautifully, it was a speech to think to, not clap to. It was clear that's what he wanted, and this is rare.
It seemed to me as honest a speech as one in his position could give within the limits imposed by politics. As such it was a contribution. We'll see if it was a success. The blowhard guild, proud member since 2000, praised it, and, in the biggest compliment, cable news shows came out of the speech not with jokes or jaded insiderism, but with thought. They started talking, pundits left and right, black and white, about what they'd experienced of race in America. It was kind of wonderful. I thought, Go, America, go, go.
What is remarkable is that all of these people in America including us, all of these issues that divide and unite and torture the American society and psyche, all of this history and experience are genetically imprinted in the person of Barack Obama.
Perhaps because of that RACE will become, NOT the issue to be avoided or ignored in 2008, but one of the deciding factors of who gets to be America's next president.
Who can rise above the issue the highest and lead America to redemption from its Original Sin? Who can inspire a divided nation to banish the disease that has been exposed at the steps of the temple, into the sanity of the kind of society that will one day unite all of humanity in Liberty and Justice and Prosperity for all?
As Abraham Lincoln once declared, "A house divide against itself cannot long endure...for either we shall all be slaves or we shall all be free."
How will John McCain and Hillary Clinton rise to this challenge. What do THEY have to say about RACE? Can they really afford to say nothing and thus LOSE to the Thinking Man?
IDEAS -- powerful memes -- have always been American's greatest contributions to the world. As Patty Noonan say, Go America, go, go!