Sunday, March 23, 2008

Barack Obama Tackles Racism--America's Equal Opportunity Mental Illness

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"--

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.

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.

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!


Loki said...

Barack Obama is a liar,,,

To all
Obama speech ,,,, Not sure if you caught Not only did Obama,,, Refuses to denounce him,, but even More,, He say in his own words,,,
Barack Obama was in church when Jeremiah Wright,, was spewing Anti-American, Racist ism ,,,, Those were his own words,,, barack was there
After going on keith Oberman ,Show obama said he would denounce that if he heard that language he would leave and not tolerate it , and denounce it
After he went on MSNBC,, he went on FOX CNN ABC< all the news station saying he was never there,,, in his church when he said these things,,
But Now today during his speech,,He states flat out Say’s HE was there,,, Last week Barack Obama Lied,, went on all the news stations, and Lied,,
But your not reporting that,,,, You can rest assure,,, cnn ,,, Fox , ABC,,, Msnbc,, are getting more on this ,,, they will be reporting on this, and we will see
If you chose to report, Obama Lying on tv,,, If this was Hilary clinton lying and caught lying on all the new station,,, you can be sure,, you would talk about it every hour
people will be on your station debating this,,,, people analysing , if it is hilary clinton but it was not her it was Barack Obama, ,, it bad enought He lied, about being in church
With Jeremiah Write, when he said these anti american ,,,,,and still refuse to denounce him…all the news agency want to do is speak on how good his speech was,
Not that he lied,,, Last week on all the news agency ,, He was never there today in how own speech He say I was there,,,,should play all Obama videos from last week
stating he was not there,,, or heard any of the anti-american Jeremiah Write, said in his churc then play his speech today saying he was there and he did hear him in church and refuse to denounce Jeremiah Write,,,

Loki said...

Well MSNBC doing it again,,,I see Bill Oreilly,, “Oh I mean Keith Oberman who acting like Bill Oreilly”
OutRage, just out rage,,, about OBama Passport,,, He more up set about it than Michelle Obama..
Get a grip,, Everyone know you have this love feast with Obama,, but know as Always Billo ops I meant Keith.
Speaking out of term again,, It no just Obama Passport,, it Hilary McCain. Barack .
But Of course in your eyes , it only going to be about Obama try to make the public,,, give only him
Sympathy ,,, You’ve always wrong lately,, Your not wrong about bill OReilly maybe you should just stick with him..

LOOK at the blunder you did with your special comments on Hilary and Ferarro… how she was out of line for her comments
But when Obama Racist pastor does something or its a different story,,a man he knew for 20 year,, not only did he lie on your
Station,,, saying he never Heard those remarks or ever hearing him saying those remarks,,, then he came out a week later say yes he was in church when he said some remarks,,,and then he will not denounce Jeremiah Wright ,,, Yet he He did say last year, Imus should get fired for those remark against the woman basket ball team,,, but Jeremiah Wrights comment are alot worst,,, And still yet Billo Oberman, Now he is saying,,, talking about his grand mother, she a Typical white woman,,,, all the racism coming from Obama camp.
Obama want to unite everyone ,,, it will happen but not by Obama,,, the Obama camp been on CNN and Msnbc & Fox saying if the Super Delegate give Hilary the delegates, The obama Voters are going to vote for McCain,, Well that a big to blog out there,,, Most of us are learning from the Obama camp,,, If Obama wins the Primary,,, Hilary voter will vote for McCain, ,,,What goes around comes around,,, there many blogs on this,,,Why don’t MSNBC Just call them selfs MSNBC Barack Obama head Quarters.who who will be the main Anchor,, Billo Oberman. The Worst Person in The World,

Loki said...

Bill Richardson,,,
Is 1 delegate,,, after his interview,,, then bill oberman told him what clinton said word for word ,,, Richard tried to change what bill clinton said,, and tried to make it more about race,, Then later on the show ,, Richardson,,, He voting for Barack Obama because,,,it what the voter want,,,, That is so funny,,,for Richardson to say that,, Since Hilary clinton won his state of new mexico,, the people have spoken,,, and he saying someithing completely different,, You can bet assure,,, he not going to get re-elected,, Hope he made that back door dealing with Obama,, ,,,

Richard said...

"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'm afraid you've screwed the pooch on this one, dude. Racial hatred works in two directions, and the good Rev. Wright's ideas work in only one direction. If you don't get that, then forget any speeches to America about 'Can they really afford to say nothing and thus LOSE to the Thinking Man?'. The real 'Thinking Man' does not consider race. Remember, Obama is the 'Post Racial' candidate...but he's using the same old weapons and old ideas of the past...and it's ugly stuff. BTW, if you can't get past the concept of slavery 150 years after is was abolished, when will you ever?
As you just said yourself, in direct contradiction to the substance of your post 'IDEAS -- powerful memes -- have always been American's greatest contributions to the world.' Since when are ideas an exclusive domain of race?

Richard said...

Just to leave this unpleasantness with an informed view, please consider the following:

That is what Obama ignored for the past 20 years. Oh, wait, no he just heard about this, after attending this man's sermons for the past 20 years, a couple of weeks ago. I stand corrected in advance.

DJB Rizalist said...

Racism has very little to do with slavery in my opinion. To ignore the problem or to deny it, means that one is still in the throes of the illness itself. Like any mental illness, recognition is the first step out.

I agree that ideas belong to no particular race but the human race.

But we must choose among only three that have any chance of becoming President.

I will judge them all by their ideas when it comes to choosing who will receive my tiny particle of the national sovereignty.

Amadeo said...

I’m sorry to dispute your statements, Dean. Having read Noonan’s piece a few days ago, admittedly only once and hurriedly too, I found that she had become too “cerebral” with Obama’s speechifying as to miss the fact that the issue is not about his speechmaking but as a way to find out what Obama thinks and how he acts about racism in the US, whether perceived or actual.

While the speech was admittedly both oratorically eloquent and seamlessly delivered especially to high-placed political pundits like Noonan, Obama came out more as a lecturer on race and race relations rather than somebody who can transcend race as he so passionately claims to be in front of his prospective diverse constituents. He did not even mention any personal lapses in judgment in his almost 20 years with his church and his particular pastor after all the damning revelations.

Richard said...

"Racism has very little to do with slavery in my opinion."

Well, again, I have to disagree. It is, by definition, not possible to hold another in bondage who you see as an equal. While, strictly speaking, that may not be a racial qualification, in all of human history, race has always been been an almost perfect delineation for the lines between slave and slaveholder. If you are tending toward the much more lenient Marxist definition of slavery (i.e., anybody who works for another in exchange for money is a, defacto, slave), then you may have a point, but based on a cursory glance of year general philosophical outlook prevalent on this excellent blog, I don't think you'll be too hasty to claim that mantle.

DJB Rizalist said...

Richard, Amadeo,

During my quarter century living in various places in the US, whether it was Florence, South Carolina or Cambridge Mass, or Berkeley, California, there was never a moment when I felt inferior to anyone, about anything. I learnt at my mother's knee how fragile every human being actually is, how short their lives, how nasty their existence and terrible their fate. And how empty to judge one's life by what category of skin color he fell in.

But it always struck me how guilt and anger and fear seemed to dominate the reactions of all my acquaintances whenever the issue of race came up.

Now as you point out Richard, slavery was abolished 150 years ago. This I always knew, and so concluded that for most people their reations, whether guilt or fear or anger, or a professed indifference, could not be coming from any objective reality in society, but only in how people still feel and think about what happened.

Yet there was never a human being, that I could not make some kind of human contact with, and to discover how truly shallow and ephemeral their expressed guilt or fear or anger really was. Often the more successful among blacks were the angriest, and the most guilty among whites, likewise.

The challenge to America now is how to lead the world by example about how we handle differences--that we know the difference between the real things that divide us, such terrorism and social systems, liberty and democracy, versus the things that ought not divide us -- but do-- like the color of our skin and how we react to it.

No one, not even Barack Obama, has good handle on how that is to be done. Here is a problem with no easy answers. Anyone who claims they have that answer is a liar.

I did not get the impression from Barack that he claims to have that answer. It was his most UN-SELF-CONFIDENT speech.

Only politicians who are thinking men can reveal such self-deprecation and uncertainty in themselves.

I think Amadeo, that is really what Noonan meant by "a thinking man" -- someone who is willing to admit he is not sure of the answers, yet is obviously dedicated to discovering them, even if he suspects it may actually be an impossible task.

I praise him for the effort and encourage the other two to follow suit!

Richard said...

Well Dean,
Good debate here on this subject. I know you are well acquainted with America and have spent some time living here. And, believe me, whether you have a vote or not, you are entitled to support any candidate you wish as President of the US. I will say, that guy will never get my vote. He sat quietly in the presence of a confirmed America hater and confirmed race-baiter (of the Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton mold, only more extreme) and said nothing for 20 years. He then stood before a national TV audience and dissembled (first claiming that he had never heard about any of these statements util a few weeks ago) and then finally defiantly claimed something to the effect that 'could no more disown the reverend Wright, than he could disown black Americans'.

I'm sorry, but the first point strech's credulity beyond the breaking point and the second is to claim that racism is his major agenda...not the opposite, as he has claimed so often before. Race before country, no matter what. Well, I won't even go into his other political deficiencies (his views on Iraq, weak foreign policy ideas and a generally socialist economic agenda).

To talk about race issues in America as if this is something that is uniquely American both illustrates a profound understanding about America and a profound lack of understanding about the world. America is one of the only TRUE non-racially composed countries in the world. The very fact that we accept people of any race means we have to deal with this issue like no other country does. Admittedly, the slaves had no choice in the matter, but almost all of their decedents chose to stick around and they did have a choice. To be American has nothing to do with race. America is an idea.
What about China...the Han Chinese dominate that country so perfectly they have a mini-apartheid going there. Just ask a non-Han (or better yet, Tibetan) Chinese citizen about race relations in China.

We have a guilty past, but we've done a darn good job of fixing it. Some people use that for personal gain. We can do away with race issues the day that those who make multi-million dollar careers (Rev. Wright, or Jesse Jackson or *cough* Al Sharpton) or seeking high political office exploiting it grow a conscience and get a real job. Until then, the race baiters will continue to divide and tear this country apart. I live for the day when a non-white (I'm not even going to say black...could be any color) is sworn in as President and declares that he is an color prefix attached. He's not Afro-American or Latino-American (no white person can ever call themselves an Ango-American, so I won't bother to even mention that one) and that his (or her) only allegiance is to the American ideas forged by the founding fathers. Then we will have finally healed. That won't happen this election cycle and Obama's opportunistic, evasive, CYA speech has ensured that it would not.

BTW, the entire mental-illness thing is way over-wrought. The racists in this little passion play (the Rev. Wright) aren't mentally ill at all...they just know that stirring this pot is a very lucrative business...being absolutely corrupt is not a mental illness, just moral deficiency.

DJB Rizalist said...

No one around here believes that racism is a "uniquely American problem".

If it helps expand the discusssion, let me tell you that Filipinos in the Archipelago are definitely a racist bunch, even against those who look exactly like them! Which is to say our racism is founded on something even shallower than skin color. Or deeper I'm not sure!

Oh and I know no country that does not have the same problem.

But that is why America must lead, first because it long ago admitted having this problem by fighting a Civil War over it, overturning a century of Supreme Court decision making supporting slavery, and finally abolishing it.

No country has a better chance of doing so because America's greatest virtue is this:


btw the ancient Filipinos also practiced real slavery on persons of their own race and still do to some extent...I have five maidservants happily living in my house you know who have no where else to go nor would want to because I do treat them like my own children!

Am I a slaver? Should I feel guilty for not speaking out on this. Would I be unworthy to serve the Public because I do not abolish a system that exists and has existed forever.

Freedom is a dangerous thing. America imperils the unjust and discomfits even the Just because it might attract my maids to New Jersey or South Carolina!

DJB Rizalist said...

I shall have occasion on this blog to examine the record of speech and action of Hillary Clinton and John McCain're comments will be welcome then as well...btw, i haven't met a politician yet who was NOT a liar, to some extent. We shall simply have to determine the lesser of the evils in that regard. But it may not be the decisive factor for many people, for it is our estimation of what they will do in the future that ought to weigh heaviest in our judgment.

There's months to go yet, Barack Obama is very new to me, which may account for the fascination with such a uhmm colorful candidate, whereas I've known Hillary and John for a much longer time...

DJB Rizalist said...

Not to put too fine a point on this, but I just realized that since I started living in the Archipelago again in 1995, I've not even ONCE done my own laundry or taken out the garbage!

DJB Rizalist said...

Damn! Even my underwear is ironed neat and clean after disappearing from the hamper, and appearing magically in the drawer. And I'm not really even rich by certain American standards.

Loki said...

Well again ,, you miss understood what I am saying,, I have a lot of friend who are black & guess what I don't think of them as black,, I live in California,, the Racial divide is not as bad as you think here,,, people except who they are,, But Obama is a Hypocrite ,, when you can make a speech saying let get past this to a bigger picture, but then get caught in lying he never heard Jeremiah Wright, say those thing,,, then a week later go on the air and say yes He has heard him say those words in church ,,, but refuse's to denounce, Jeremiah Wright,,,, Even tho last 6 month ago or so,,, Don Imus said those things, about woman basketball team,, Obama said on the air he should get fired, And I thought he should get fired,,, But what jeremiah wright said is a thousand time worst than what Don Imus said,, and refuse to denounce him,, Barack is nothing more than a hypocrite,,, he has a double standard,, that goes way beyond,, To me does not have to do with Race,,,Obama crew making it more and more about Race, and then blamming the clinton campaign,, I also telling the truth How on CNN & Msnbc Obama supporter,,,where say on tv if they give Hilary the delegate their going to vote for McCain,,, Well He needs the other half of the Democratic vote and he not even going to get it,,, This race is lost,,, People will not stand together,,, their not going to,,, If Obama don't win they wont for for hilary,,, And if Hilary wins obama wont vote for her,,, Plus still over and over again,,,, Obama supporter Are so darn stupid,, They really think He can win with out winning any big states, That just not a Mathamatical posibility,, It just not going to happen,, He is not going to get the other half of the demcratic votes,,,, just like Hilary not going to get them,, At least Hilary won all the big states,, Obama suppporter Really really beleive he can still win,,, this so hard to fathom,,, It is mathamatical impossible for Either to win the Primary,,, Obama supporter beating Hilary by a land slide,, He only winning by a little over a 120 delegates,,, its a even Race by those odds,, Obama supporter should use there head,, look before they speak, Obama supporter think and really think we need to look beyond,, and over come Race,and by doing that,, you must vote for him to do it,,, WEll like I said,, it never been about race for me,,, me and the other half of Hilary supporter will vote for her to the bitter end,,, barack win never get the other half of the Democratic vote,, I would rather vote for jesse jackson then barack

DJB Rizalist said...

if hillary is the candidate, am definitely going for John McCain.

btw, are you familiar with what happened to the GOP in 1912? That was when Woodrow Wilson beat Teddy Roosevelt AND William Howard Taft, because the latter heavyweights could not get it together even if they were ex-President and incumbent President at the time.

Let that be a warning to the Dems!

Richard said...

"btw the ancient Filipinos also practiced real slavery on persons of their own race and still do to some extent...I have five maidservants happily living in my house you know who have no where else to go nor would want to because I do treat them like my own children!"

Do they have a decent dental plan and prescription drug coverage? If so, then yes you may be a slaver, but a really, really kind one.

"Freedom is a dangerous thing. America imperils the unjust and discomfits even the Just because it might attract my maids to New Jersey or South Carolina!"

Or perhaps that would only be trading one form of enslavement for tell them to stay put.

Loki said...

You don't get it,,,I am a democrat,, And if Obama win I am voting for McCain my self so are 80% to 90% rest of hilary supporter We already lost both Hilary & Obama,, Obama not win with out hilary votes,,Hilary can not win with out Obama Votes,,both sides won't budge on this issue,,,this race is over,, republican got it for another at least 4 years,,, democracts are split down the middle, yes barack is winning in delegate but only by a little more than a houndred delegates, that is nothing,, But here another fact,,,Barack has not won a single big state,,,,if he had Hilary votes he still wont win,,, because of the big states but never the less Hilary voter are not going to throw thier vote away,,like me it hilary or McCain,,, I wished Powell was running I would vote for him he has integrity,,,for a republican, and a black man,,

DJB Rizalist said...

well, like someone said, only the democrats can beat the democrats this election season. hehe. serves 'em right if they can't get it together.

I just want the best from both parties to run in a real honest to god race involving ideas, policies and directions. Mighty big problems on America's plate. Whatever happens, the world can't afford for the American public to make the wrong the choice now.

There is just too much at stake. I want to be convinced by someone that he or she is the right choice.

Ain't no one done that yet with any kind of finality for me!

Loki said...

Well said,, djb
this race is lost,, Democratic Civil War,
I do think Barack is far worst than Hilary but no reason to hash it out neither side going to win,,,,

Amadeo said...

Here's a gem of a tidbit since race and California were mentioned in the comments.

Late in the 90's once met a young black man straight from the south visiting an uncle here in No. California. He had wanted to try what looked like a better life here in sunny CA.

After a few months he was all packed up and ready to go back, and when asked, I paraphrase his curt reply:

It's bad here, Man, when you move around people just say and do nothing but stare at you. At least in the south they tell you to your face that they do not like you and your race. And you move along.

DJB Rizalist said...

hahaha. it's been my own experience, strangely enough that I felt right at home in Florence, South Carolina, where all the folks I got to know, black or white seemed to make sure of that. Of course it helped that we wuz building million dollar superconducting magnets down there, but there's an awful lotta nice people everywhere that believe in live and let live, many more'n them that don't. That's the tribe I wanna belong to!

The EQualizer said...

See the new "The Tide is Changing" U-tube song version of this speech