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March 18, 2008

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He forcefully distanced himself from Wright’s words, but spoke movingly – and unapologetically – of his connections to the man. He didn’t run and hide in Kerry/Daschle-esque cowardly fashion. He stood right up and said, “yes, he’s my friend.” He cast him as mired in the old world, to be sure, but he didn’t give into the Russert-style pressure to do some sort of Maoist confessional disavowing all association with the man.

Seems to me that's a model for all of us to emulate in political discourse...

....Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience — as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze....

That is how to talk about race in the US.

i thought it was awesome.

of course, people who were never going to vote for him in any case will continue to insist that Obama MUST throw Wright "under the bus". and, unfortunately, many of those people staff the news media.

I'm alarmed by the insistent questions "What's the sound-bite?", "What's the one-sentence takeaway?" that's the main tenor of discussion of the speech even at places like Talkingpointsmemo.com

It was a Lincoln-at-Cooper-Union speech not a Mr-Gorbachev-tear-down-this-wall speech, and that's O.K.

I am very, very glad that our generation, at least, is prepared to elect him president.

The TPM discussion is extremely depressing. They're falling into the same trap during the primaries that the MSM does during the general election: we don't want to appear biased, so we'll just obsess about the horse race, & we won't discuss anything on the merits.

I thought it was a great, wise speech, but then I'm sitting in the choir, nodding along, whirlpool-eyed.

Whatever anyone says about the man, no one can deny what a brilliant orator Obama is. Of course this is not new news, but I found this to be his best speech yet. Very powerful I thought.

I loved -- loved the text. Does anyone know if there's video?

Based on the text, I thought it was a great, great speech.

msnbc usually gets the video up quickly

and i too think is kurtz (david) is way off on his insta-analysis.

It's worth checking out The Corner, if you are a conservative, or for that matter a citizen, and want to be depressed. Example:

"Blame whitey, and raise high the red flag of socialism. This is a serious candidate for the Presidency? Toast, toast."

Did Derb read/see the same speech I did?

Hilzoy, it's up at crooksandliars

I didn't take it as blame whitey at all. It looked to me like he was saying essentially: in all races we have misguided and paranoid reactions to real problems. Let's deal with the real problems.

Thanks; off to watch.

I don't want to sound pretentious, or totally in the tank for Obama, but if this speech doesn't put this issue to rest for the majority of Americans, I don't think its Obama who is indicted, I think its this country.

I thought this was the heart of it:

"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love."

Exactly what I hoped (and expected) Obama would say yesterday when I heard he was giving a big speech on race & politics & this controversy. And I don't mean this to dismiss it as predictable--I mean, it's a very nice change to support a candidate who you entirely expect to go out & give the best, most honest, most decent speech in recent memory on race & America, and to have him go out & do precisely that.

Great speech. I thought it was necessary, well crafted, and well delivered. 9 out of 10.

Anecdotally – bandwidth issues at the office because so many people are trying to watch it on their lunch hour…

hmm... i wonder what The Corner has to say..

    It's hard to imagine how someone who listened to this speech, and who had followed at all the controversy of the last few days, could still view Obama as somehow transcending politics. It's a speech, and a controversy, that are predictable and dispiriting — that with minor changes one could imagine attributing to Hillary or Jesse. This is not damning, but the problem for Obama is that he had promised more, and now that's clearly not what he's going to deliver.

WTF ?

I have been leaning toward Obama and as the Wright controversy has sparked over the past week or so I have been somewhat discouraged as it has seemed that there might be some chance that he could get derailed by what I consider to be a nonsense issue. But I feel differently now.

For sure, there is still some chance that Obama could lose this on the basis of what I consider to be an absurd controversy but it doesn't matter so much to me anymore. Whatever else happens from here on in, I feel that Obama has taken the opportunity to raise the level of discourse. He has made me believe and truly feel that a real discussion on substantive issues is possible in American politics. We might not be there yet but it is no longer possible for me to believe that we are not capable of getting there.

For me, what that means in the long run is that we actually have a pretty good chance at achieving a lot of the promise of justice and equality that we so often hold out as our ideal.

So even in the unlikely event that Clinton manages to finagle this thing somehow, our national debate has still been moved to a better place. And if Obama loses and goes back to the Senate or whatever he does in his next political career move (I hope like hell he will never even consider a VP stint), we will still have some opportunity to take advantage of this higher discourse. At least that is what I hope and I think this speech solidifies this hope for me.

OCSteve: Great speech. I thought it was necessary, well crafted, and well delivered. 9 out of 10.

One point off for it being given by a Democrat? ;-)

SERMON
The Audacity to Hope
Jeremiah Wright
http://tinyurl.com/yp5xqm

READ IT

It's not hard to find audio and transcripts of entire sermons on of Rev Wright the web. I've read and listened to them. They aren't racist, anti-American at all. Sometimes Wright talks about oppression and pain, usually with reference to the history of racism in this country.

Don't base your whole assessment of his preaching on the 45 seconds of clips shown on TV, and some vague sense that there are "hours" more.
I'm telling you now, I'm not seeing those other hours, and I've looked pretty hard. Everything else I've seen or read has been pretty focused on Jesus, and applying the lessons of Jesus to daily life.

I just read the text on the NYT site.

Everything publius says is so, but IMO he went beyond just defending himself effectively. He articulated both what was right, and what was wrong, not only in Wright's sermons and point of view, but in that of those who are critical of, or threatened by, Wright's words.

In the end it wasn't especially about Wright, or even about Obama. It was about finding a *better way* to live together.

I have no idea what Obama's political future is, or whether he would be a great president should he be elected. He hasn't been in the national public eye that long. Everyone has their failings, and his are sure to come to light.

But his ability to articulate, in a fair and clear-eyed way, both what is valuable and what is harmful in so many different points of view is a real gift to this nation. His candidacy, I think, is a gift to the nation, whether he wins or not.

I don't think political rhetoric gets any better than this. And when I say "political rhetoric" I don't mean spin. Quite the opposite. I mean articulating a vision that respects everyone's point of view, warts and all, while giving them a way to move on toward something better.

Well done.

Thanks -

It's up at Obama's site (donate $$$ while you're there!) and at YouTube...

And OCSteve: I'm really glad people are watching it. Not because he's my guy and so on, but because I think that when you see whole speeches, especially the really important ones, it's so different, and your opinions are so much more informed, than when you just see whatever tiny snippet CNN decides to show. And the idea that a lot of people are doing this is a wonderful thing, for me.

it's funny (read: sad) that MSNBC has Pat Buchanan on as a commentator. asking Buchanan to comment on an issue of race is like asking...eh, i can't even think of a good metaphor. its just ridiculous.

i hate that the media keeps making the assumption that Obama being so accepted by african-americans is so threatening to whites. that's a ridiculous, blinkered argument.

heck, when i saw that Obama got 92% of the black vote in Mississippi, all i could think was "what's wrong with that 8%?"

"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. "

Barf.

A good speech in some ways, though. About as good as could be expected.

Can someone please explain why Obama never lives up to the words he throws around. The man can give a great speech. But that is about all there is to him.

Case in point: If Obama really believed any of what he said about healing the racial divide then why did his campaign use racial smears against Hillary Clinton? Why didn't he immediately fire Jesse Jackson Jr?

Unlike the pointy headed liberals I am a working class liberal who does in fact resent being called a racist by black people. I have for decades defended affirmative action hiring, preferential admission policies and other liberal policies designed to give minorities a boost up the economic ladder. It is not enough for me for Obama to just give a speech condemning the words used by Wright but to demonstrate in action that he does not tolerate them. He could have started by getting rid of Jackson. That he didn't speaks far louder to me than all the pretty words that he so convincingly delivers.

Obama lost my respect long ago and this speech just cements my distain for him.

Further good news: two weeks, much less two months, from now, even the Obama haters will be tired of flogging this thing. In October it'll be the oldest possible news.

Hi All: I think you've said it all really. Brilliant in its nuance. Who says a politician has to talk down to us in simplistic sentences like "tear down the wall." Yes, he threw a bone to white folks when he dismissed white racism as endemic and structural, and focuses more on its ideological dimensions. But, I can live with that for statement since the rest of what he said actually counters that caricaturing of how racism operates in this society.

This just came across my desk; check out page 10 of the bulletin. Where it all began...

http://www.tucc.org/upload/tuccbulletin_mar18.pdf

For those of you who are concerned about the corporate media's inablity to deal with integrity (example: MSNBC's headline is "Obama: racial anger is real"), please get on the email and start complaining.

I wrote to MSNBC at [email protected],com to complaing about and suggest a correctin for their stupid headline.

Most people won't read or watch the whole speech. the soundbite issue is important. The corporate media has a need to get the soundbite wrong. They can't tolerate the idea of reconcilliation or respectful communication. must have controversy!

I only read the speech and found it quite good. Seemed well grounded in history to me.

And you know was good when Weekly Standard and Clinton Fans are reading off the same talking points to bash it.

And now, your surreal moment of the day:

"Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I'm concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols.... But you know me. Starry-eyed Obama groupie."

-- Charles Murray.

Jes: One point off for it being given by a Democrat?

Nah. Just because it was great but not the new greatest of all time. Insert your “greatest of all time” speech here and then compare. Hmm, based on that I may have to lower it to 8/10.


NRO – its not all bad:

Charles Murray:

I read the various posts here on "The Corner," mostly pretty ho-hum or critical about Obama's speech. Then I figured I'd better read the text (I tried to find a video of it, but couldn't). I've just finished. Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I'm concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols.... But you know me. Starry-eyed Obama groupie.

This from the author of The Bell Curve

Great minds, etc?

Charles Murray always prides himself on being able to say uncomfortable truths. (Whether or not the things he believes are ACTUAL truths is a totally different topic). But his statement is well in line with that self-concept. He sees (IMO correctly) that Obama made a great speech. He sees (IMO correctly) that his compatriots resist its greatness for reasons that have nothing to with the speech. And he calls them on it.

I think he is absolutely right that the speech captures a lot of nuance about race in America and the counter-productive directions that the discussions about them often take. And if he can do even a small amount to change that, he will have done the country a great service.

Hah. Darn it Jes, I would have been first by a minute if you hadn’t distracted me with that crack about Democrats. ;)

I've said I think this is a winning issue for Obama, and I believe this will do. Much as they would like to they won't be able to lie effectively about his speach.

However, the media will continue to endeavor and intensify their efforts to destroy him. I expect them to have raised their game since Clinton impeachment days.

I would have been first by a minute if you hadn’t distracted me with that crack about Democrats. ;)

Hey. I am Hilzoy's sockpuppy. ;-)

Nah. Just because it was great but not the new greatest of all time. Insert your “greatest of all time” speech here and then compare.

:-D I was actually interested to know, when you said "9 out of 10" if you were taking points off a possible perfect score or adding points to get a score of 9. All of this would be a good open thread topic.

(I have not actually listened to the speech, figuring Americans should get priority and the bandwidth is not infinite. Someone link me to a transcript? I'll listen later.)

a lot of the secondary debate regarding obama on blogs or elsewhere seems to be not "this is why you should vote for obama" but "yeah he's great isn't he". Problem with that is that if your heading for a minor loss to McCain in the head to heads you do actually still have to convince few more of the population if you want to win.
In the meantime the counter argument "he's a Demagog" or "he talks so good no one realises his plan to kill our first borns" or something like that does present an argument not to vote for him. Anyway its a bad balance if you want Obama to win.

First solution is to finish off Clinton (or Obama but I think Clinton is far behind) and get hard onto the attack against McCain. Demand every other sentance that she should get out of the way. And then get hard onto democratic talking points - strong policy differences that exist in a dem/repub debate but may not in a obama/hillary one.

Transcript and video both available on Barack Obama's web site.

I don't think there can be any talk about "finishing off Clinton" until Pennsylvania. Which she is likely to win. The question is "by how much."

Obama took a hit in PA this past weekend, in the polls, but this might turn it around.

If Clinton does "worse than expected" (less than 10 points) in the last big state, the argument can and will be made that the superdelegates should exercise their discretion and ratify the popular choice.

If Clinton blows Obama away, the argument can and will be made that Obama's momentum is ephemeral and the superdelegates should go with a proven 'closer' like Clinton.

Clinton has to convince the superdelegates in the next five weeks that Obama won't close the deal and that she has the grit and guts to see this through. It's a hard needle for her to thread.

I made up my mind today to vote for Obama in PA. So if there's a shift from undecideds to Obama over the next week, I'm part of that wave.

As a side note, a Filter reference? Really? Man, publius, I thought you were too young for your pop culture references to be quite that stale... :)

Yglesias had a whole post on Filter, last week.

As far as the impact of the speech is concerned, straws in the wind: Intrade has Obama's chance at the nomination up three points since this morning - and his chance at the Presidency up by 3.6.

tgirsch - the allegations of my youth are increasingly greatly exaggerated (sadly)

For me, the most impressive part of Obama's speech wasn't the fine words (although it is, IMO, a stellar example of modern political rhetoric); or the man's excellent delivery - being able to stave off boredom in a 37-minute address is no mean feat - but the fact that Sen. Obama wrote it all himself. That a politician can address an issue articulately is one thing; that a politician can deliver a good speech is another; doing both these days is a rarity: and doing both well is little short of astonishing.

This is the sort of stuff, IMO, that makes Barack Obama look Presidential: now all that's needed is for him to reduce it all to a nifty soundbite, and hell be set.

Pub, did you know that Filter song was an homage to Budd Dwyer?

Um...duh. I didn't check tgirsch's link, which already goes into that.

Regarding my earlier barf comment--I read through the speech again. Most of it is very good--I don't need to tell people that. But I am disgusted that he chose to insert that cynically one-sided comment about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict into this speech. The speech was about race relations in America. Wright said a number of controversial things and if Obama wanted to go into a point-by-point discussion about what was right or wrong about them, which he clearly did not, why choose that comment and respond with something that kicks the Palestinians in the teeth? And Muslims too, to the extent that moderate Muslims care about that issue.

Obama's a politician. Possibly one with great potential, but this just reinforces my basic understanding of politics--no one gets to the Presidency without showing an aptitude for kicking people when they are down.

Donald,

I noticed that too...my guess is that since Wright did mention IP issues in a way that is totally unacceptable in public discourse (i.e., he refused to accept that Palestinians bear 110% of the blame for the entire IP conflict), Obama felt the need to preemptively defend himself against the upcoming Likudnik attacks.

After all, if he effectively defused the public's discontent with the racial component of Wright's speeches, the GOP or Clinton would no doubt use Wright's IP comment to push their "and he's still trying to kill the Jews!" attack in the media. I doubt those attacks would gain traction, but I do think that Obama doesn't want to be on the defensive over this issue in the next media cycle. If the media reaction focused on "that was nice, but what about the fact that you want to destroy Israel?", Obama won't be able to capitalize on the media moment. So in that sense, I can see it as necessary to head off a forthcoming attack, to play the game a few moves ahead of his adversaries.

Or maybe not.

Parish: Give it time to sink in. When people make speeches like this they tend to signal a change in strategy, tone, and agenda going forward.

It's certainly the most significant political speech I can remember in my adult lifetime (which has not been that long, truth be told).

Even my mother, who voted for HRC, wrote me an e-mail to say that she was touched.

I don't think you can do the nuanced, honest, thorough race speech & the nuanced, thorough, honest Middle East speech in the same day. Speaking of nuanced, I have very little patience for a simplistic, blinkered, "they're all alike" view of politicians. They are all disappointing, yes. But it's not because only bad people go into politics; it's because there are a lot of very powerful people who benefit from the way things work in Washington right now, & they exert constant, powerful pressure on politicians. It's necessary for people who want things to be different to exert equally constant pressure in the opposite direction, rather than kidding ourselves that we only have to elect a good person president and he or she will fix it for us. But that doesn't mean that everyone running for president is a bad person, and it certainly doesn't make them all equally good or bad. I didn't like that line either, but he needed to reassure Jewish voters, & there wasn't time to deliver the 40 minute honest, nuanced, brave speech on the Middle East the same day as the 40 minute speech on race in America.

Obama has shown less "aptitude for kicking people while they're down" than any potential president I can remember in my lifetime. And to take away "Obama, like every other politician, kicks people while they're down" as the primary lesson it teaches requires you to zero in on the worst sentence in a 40 minute speech the same way the press has been doing to Wright's sermons for the last 5 days.

It is posts like this one that made Legal Fiction my very favorite blog.

It's nice to read someone who expresses those things that you know implicitly, but haven't found the words to express.

Hey man, nice post

Speaking of nuanced, I have very little patience for a simplistic, blinkered, "they're all alike" view of politicians. They are all disappointing, yes. But it's not because only bad people go into politics; it's because there are a lot of very powerful people who benefit from the way things work in Washington right now, & they exert constant, powerful pressure on politicians. It's necessary for people who want things to be different to exert equally constant pressure in the opposite direction, rather than kidding ourselves that we only have to elect a good person president and he or she will fix it for us.

Hear, hear.

And that goes for whoever is office...

Katherine, I don't feel an obligation to be considerate to politicians, not even the best ones. Yes, Obama might in fact be the greatest politician in the US in 50 years or more--I'll be thrilled if that is the case. (Yes, really.) He might be the next FDR, and I'll love having the opportunity to complain solely about certain problems, while taking for granted that Obama is working hard to solve others.. But all politicians, even the better ones, have to be pressured to do the right thing on some issues and I think that when someone tells a blatantly one-sided whopper in an otherwise good speech, he should be called on it. He could have left that line out entirely. It was gratuitous, having nothing to do with the rest of the speech. He did it in a calculated way, the same way he's spoken on this issue before.

Actually, on rereading your post, Katherine, I agree with most of it and just restated it in my own words. If I could reword my post in a way that wouldn't get under your skin unnecessarily, I'd do it. But how is one supposed to pressure a Presidential candidate one supports if he (or she) says something disgusting on a specific issue? I think one starts by saying "That's disgusting". I haven't really gotten past that stage yet, other than giving money to certain human rights groups and writing the occasional letter.

I don't object to saying "that line sucks" but I think your overall portrayal of this speech & Obama in general are inaccurate and unfair.

Here's the good way to pressure a candidate. Schakowsky is a strong Obama supporter from way back, & Scahill seems to prefer him, but they'll pressure him on a specific, important issue, & if Clinton decides get to his left & sign on as a co-sponsor, they'll take it. I'm pretty sure Schakowsky will NOT start talking about how Obama is just like everyone else & doesn't care about mercenaries & she can't support him, because that would actually be false--he's still probably the best candidate on the race on that issue.

(His record on Israel is less impressive, but it's if anything clearer that he's the best candidate left in the race on that issue.)

I don't object to saying "that line sucks" but I think your overall portrayal of this speech & Obama in general are inaccurate and unfair.

Here's the good way to pressure a candidate. Schakowsky is a strong Obama supporter from way back, & Scahill seems to prefer him, but they'll pressure him on a specific, important issue, & if Clinton decides get to his left & sign on as a co-sponsor, they'll take it. I'm pretty sure Schakowsky will NOT start talking about how Obama is just like everyone else & doesn't care about mercenaries & she can't support him, because that would actually be false--he's still probably the best candidate on the race on that issue.

(His record on Israel is less impressive, but it's if anything clearer that he's the best candidate left in the race on that issue.)

Did someone in here really say that Obama had used racial slurs against Clinton? Wow.

Seriously, though, what a speech.

Did someone in here really say that Obama had used racial slurs against Clinton? Wow.

I've seen people, not here, but in all seriousness, claim that Clinton has done more for the black community than Obama has.

But I said the rest of the speech was good (on rereading it, when I got over the Mideast line and looked at it more calmly). And you're putting words in my mouth* when you say I say he's just like anyone else--if I thought he was precisely like everyone else I wouldn't much prefer him to the alternatives (including my previous and now defunct favorite among the serious candidates, John Edwards). I just don't get wildly enthusiastic over him. Maybe I will, if he wins, which I hope he does.

Anyway, I'll read your link.

*Not that it much matters if you put words in my mouth. You're just exaggerating a tendency I show, not totally making it up.


Turbulence--I forgot to respond to you. I think you're probably right about the motivation. A fair number of progressives I read seem to think Obama is more fairminded in secret on the I/P conflict than he lets on during the campaign. I hope so, though I would think he's painted himself into something of a corner if he wins and then wants to be fairminded. If he wants to try for something like a solution along the lines of the Geneva Accords and put pressure on both sides , he'd have to act either long before 2012 or in his second term.

Its amazining how effecting mocking the press is to make them love you. Almost as effective as making them your BBQ buddies.

I've seen people, not here, but in all seriousness, claim that Clinton has done more for the black community than Obama has.

Sure. That's why Bill is the "first black President" whereas Obama may not be black "enough". Dick Gregory **NAILS** it!

In terms of effectiveness – if you can gauge that by how batsh*t the right-o-sphere is going over it then I’d say it was very effective.

In a short stroll around:

-He is now caught in a lie because he admitted to being present for some controversial remarks after previously denying that.
-He continued to expose his young daughters to those remarks. (I have some sympathy for this one).
-He didn’t distance himself far enough from Wright but he made his dear old white grandmother sound like a racist bigot.
-He said black America = Trinity.
-He called for Ferraro’s scalp for less.
-He called for Imus to be fired for less.
-He realized his lack of patriotism was a problem because he said “God bless America” yesterday and he had 8 count them 8 flags up there today.

Anyway you get the idea. Some of that I can take seriously but a lot of it seems to be foaming at the mouth frustration that he seems to have done a good job recovering from something that should have brought him down.

I’ve watched it twice now and read the transcript once – I have to say that you really have to watch it and not rely on the transcript. Great speech.

That is how to talk about race in the US.
---
"Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one?

The speech was very good and inspiring. I can't believe it will not have a good effect for Obama and I hope it will stop most people from attributing Obama with some of Wrights ideas (some fanatics will never stop of course).

But this one wasn't bad either:

White America must understand and acknowledge the roots of black pain. It began with unequal treatment first in law and later in fact. African Americans indeed have lived too long with a justice system that in too many cases has been and continues to be less than just. (Applause.) The record of abuses extends from lynchings and trumped up charges to false arrests and police brutality. The tragedies of Emmett Till and Rodney King are bloody markers on the very same road.

Still today too many of our police officers play by the rules of the bad old days. It is beyond wrong when law-abiding black parents have to tell their law-abiding children to fear the police whose salaries are paid by their own taxes. (Applause.)

And blacks are right to think something is terribly wrong when African American men are many times more likely to be victims of homicide than any other group in this country; when there are more African American men in our corrections system than in our colleges; when almost one in three African American men in their 20s are either in jail, on parole or otherwise under the supervision of the criminal justice system -- nearly one in three. And that is a disproportionate percentage in comparison to the percentage of blacks who use drugs in our society. Now, I would like every white person here and in America to take a moment to think how he or she would feel if one in three white men were in similar circumstances.

And there is still unacceptable economic disparity between blacks and whites. It is so fashionable to talk today about African Americans as if they have been some sort of protected class. Many whites think blacks are getting more than their fair share in terms of jobs and promotions. That is not true. That is not true. (Applause.)

The truth is that African Americans still make on average about 60 percent of what white people do; that more than half of African American children live in poverty. And at the very time our young Americans need access to college more than ever before, black college enrollment is dropping in America.

On the other hand, blacks must understand and acknowledge the roots of white fear in America. There is a legitimate fear of the violence that is too prevalent in our urban areas; and often by experience or at least what people see on the news at night, violence for those white people too often has a black face.

It isn't racist for a parent to pull his or her child close when walking through a high-crime neighborhood, or to wish to stay away from neighborhoods where innocent children can be shot in school or standing at bus stops by thugs driving by with assault weapons or toting handguns like old west desperados. (Applause.)

It isn't racist for parents to recoil in disgust when they read about a national survey of gang members saying that two-thirds of them feel justified in shooting someone simply for showing them disrespect. It isn't racist for whites to say they don't understand why people put up with gangs on the corner or in the projects, or with drugs being sold in the schools or in the open. It's not racist for whites to assert that the culture of welfare dependency, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and absent fatherhood cannot be broken by social programs unless there is first more personal responsibility. (Applause.)

The great potential for this march today, beyond the black community, is that whites will come to see a larger truth -- that blacks share their fears and embrace their convictions; openly assert that without changes in the black community and within individuals, real change for our society will not come.

This march could remind white people that most black people share their old-fashioned American values -- (applause) -- for most black Americans still do work hard, care for their families, pay their taxes, and obey the law, often under circumstances which are far more difficult than those their white counterparts face. (Applause.)

Imagine how you would feel if you were a young parent in your 20s with a young child living in a housing project, working somewhere for $5 an hour with no health insurance, passing every day people on the street selling drugs, making 100 times what you make. Those people are the real heroes of America today, and we should recognize that. (Applause.)

And white people too often forget that they are not immune to the problems black Americans face -- crime, drugs, domestic abuse, and teen pregnancy. They are too prevalent among whites as well, and some of those problems are growing faster in our white population than in our minority population. (Applause.)

So we all have a stake in solving these common problems together. It is therefore wrong for white Americans to do what they have done too often simply to move further away from the problems and support policies that will only make them worse. (Applause.)

Finally, both sides seem to fear deep down inside that they'll never quite be able to see each other as more than enemy faces, all of whom carry at least a sliver of bigotry in their hearts. Differences of opinion rooted in different experiences are healthy, indeed essential, for democracies. But differences so great and so rooted in race threaten to divide the house Mr. Lincoln gave his life to save. As Dr. King said, "We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish as fools." (Applause.)

Recognizing one another's real grievances is only the first step. We must all take responsibility for ourselves, our conduct and our attitudes. America, we must clean our house of racism. (Applause.)

To our white citizens, I say, I know most of you ever day do your very best by your own lights -- to live a life free of discrimination. Nevertheless, too many destructive ideas are gaining currency in our midst. The taped voice of one policeman should fill you with outrage. (Applause.) And so I say, we must clean the house of white America of racism. Americans who are in the white majority should be proud to stand up and be heard denouncing the sort of racist rhetoric we heard on that tape -- so loudly and clearly denouncing it, that our black fellow citizens can hear us. White racism may be black people's burden, but it's white people's problem. (Applause.) We must clean our house. (Applause.)

To our black citizens, I honor the presence of hundreds of thousands of men in Washington today, committed to atonement and to personal responsibility, and the commitment of millions of other men and women who are African Americans to this cause. I call upon you to build on this effort, to share equally in the promise of America. But to do that, your house, too, must be cleaned of racism. There are too many today -- (applause) -- there are too many today, white and black, on the left and the right, on the street corners and radio waves, who seek to sow division for their own purposes. To them I say, no more. We must be one. (Applause.)

Long before we were so diverse, our nation's motto was E Pluribus Unum -- out of many, we are one. We must be one -- as neighbors, as fellow citizens; not separate camps, but family -- white, black, Latino, all of us, no matter how different, who share basic American values and are willing to live by them.

When a child is gunned down on a street in the Bronx, no matter what our race, he is our American child. When a woman dies from a beating, no matter what our race or hers, she is our American sister. (Applause.) And every time drugs course through the vein of another child, it clouds the future of all our American children. (Applause.)

Whether we like it or not, we are one nation, one family, indivisible. And for us, divorce or separation are not options. (Applause.)


He continued to expose his young daughters to those remarks. (I have some sympathy for this one).

There's more I'd like to say about this but a thread on HoCB might be a better place...

Thanks to Donald Johnson and to Katherine, two of my favorite commenters anywhere, for a civil and instructive exchange.

I have the same reaction that Donald did to the quoted sentence, and it stings all the more for being gratuitous in a speech that accomplishes so much else that needs to be accomplished.

My expectations of what either Democratic candidate can and will be able to do in office are extremely (and, I believe, appropriately) low; they're based on long experience. But I don't have a moment's hesitation in saying that, given this reality, the country needs someone who can do what Barack Obama did in this speech.

Neither his primary or potential general election opponent is playing in the same league. I hope that came across to the country. I am old and defeated/cynical enough to doubt it.

He continued to expose his young daughters to those remarks. (I have some sympathy for this one).

Yeah, god forbid two black children should be brought up thinking badly of Americans who treat other Americans badly on the grounds of race. Black kids ought to know their place and respect white Americans.

But aside from that:

Children who are brought up by parents who encourage them to think, to be active, to inquire, to read, to argue, to have ideas, may when they're 7 and 10 have a bunch of half-baked ideas picked up from both parents and preachers, if they go to church regularly. By the time they're 18, they will have challenged, sorted, sifted, rejected, accepted, according to their own moral values - which are unlikely to be identical to their parents, and very unlikely to bear any resemblance to those of a preacher in their parents' church.

From all I've heard of Barack and Michelle Obama, they're bringing up their two girls splendidly, and it's pretty stupidly patronizing for all those right-wing bloggers to display faux-concern over whether Obama can bring up his kids right when the same bloggers, I don't doubt, displayed zero concern over the Cheneys or the Bushes.

Completely OT, but there's not an open thread anyone's reading: Both Anthony Minghella and Arthur C. Clarke died today. The world of arts & letters is the worse off for the loss of both.

It wasn't gratuitous in the sense of unrelated. Wright is very, very harshly anti-Israel.

Donald, I did exagerrate your reaction a bit; sorry.

Katherine,

What specific things did Wright say that are anti-Israel? I've found a few of his statements regarding Israel and none of them strike me as problematic. Could you explain in more detail please?

gwangung: I've seen people, not here, but in all seriousness, claim that Clinton has done more for the black community than Obama has.

For example...

What I liked about it in particular was not so much the arguments themselves (which were good), but the unwillingness to fold in the face of media pressure.

What I liked about it was that it was true, and that it expressed something far too seldom said plainly.

matttbastard: I had to click through to see that that was an actual column in an actual newspaper. I am speechless.

I loved DnA's response.

I mean, Central Florida is a lot more like the south than one might suppose. Rosewood is not that far away from Tampa/St. Pete. But still.

Hil: I think it's supposed to be an example of the Charlotte Allen school of op-ed fragging, minus the B.S. re: 'tongue-in-cheek'.

Turb: Done

matttbastard: I had to click through to see that that was an actual column in an actual newspaper. I am speechless.

Well, yes.

I am reminded of my college years (long ago as they were). I lived in an Asian American theme dorm, devoted to...Asian American culture. There was one night that a local Asian American comedy group came down and did a short show, riffing on American imperialism, institutionalized racism and the like (One typical joke started with the white casting director, talking to an Asian American: "Why are you here? This part called for a lawyer, not an Oriental"*).

After the show, the white members of the audience were mortally offended. How DARE they say that? How could they be so RACIST? (And every single bit was aimed at institutions, not individuals). How could they be so THOUGHTLESS to present such offensive material? And, of course, the Asian folks in the audience were just sittin' back and nodding all the time, thinking, "Yeah, that's how it is."

That night, it struck me just how pervasive white privilege was, when white audience members thought thought it was incumbent upon the Asian American group to take the WHITE audience members' sensibilities in mind, while presenting in a dorm devoted to Asian American culture.**

*this joke became progressively less funny over the years as I heard it in real life for the next three decades...

**though, thankfully, this sort of reaction has gone down through the years as more white people seemed to have gotten clues....

Ah. Hadn't gotten that far.

I've read the other linked columns, looking for something that would illuminate the question: could he possibly have been kidding?

I hadn't read Too Sense before. Thanks.

I also liked this, which I found via a link there. Wright on Obama going to an annual Congressional Black Caucus meeting:

"He had gone down there to get support and find out who would support him and found out it was just a meat market," the pastor said in an interview, breaking into a laugh. "He had people say, 'If you want to count on me, come on to my room. I don't care if you're married. I am not asking you to leave your wife - just come on.' All the women hitting on him. He was, like, in shock. He's there on a serious agenda, talking about running for he United States Senate. They're talking about giving [him] some pussy. And I was like, 'Barack, c'mon, man. Come on! Name me one significant thing that has come out of black congressional caucus weekend. It's homecoming. It's just a nonstop party, all the booze you want, all the booty you want. That's all it is.' And here he is with this altruistic agenda, trying to get some support. He comes back shattered. I thought to myself, 'Does he have a rude awakening coming his way.'"

For some reason, I found that totally endearing.

My last comment was to matttbastard, which I should have actually, you know, said.

There's a full transcript here. (Plus a link to Youtube: I'll leave bandwidth to Americans for a day.)

But that is a damn impressive speech, even in transcript.

Jes,

Based on what I know about youtube's (i.e., Google's) bandwidth, I think I can assure you that watching the speech right now won't deprive any Americans. I'd guess that we're far more likely to run out of bandwidth on the transatlantic links than we are between youtube and the internet core.

I had somehow missed Jerome Armstrong's reaction: "I believe the campaign has reached a new low."

Impressive speech? Right, like Americans needed to be scolded by Obama about the wrongs committed by whitey.

I can honestly say that I never disliked Obama until this speech.

Obama thinks:

I need to acknowledge what ails the African-American...

I'm required to realize that my dreams do not have to come at the expense of his...

I neeed to back up my words with more deeds.

Thanks Obama, now let me tell you what you need to do. Go jump in a lake. Fix your own house before you start trying to fix mine.

Armstrong had to find something to pick on. Others at other sites have picked on the same thing. Ir is too bad that their reading or listening comprehension is that bad. At least Armstrong did say it was a great speech other than that.

I first read the transcript at work (can't get video or audio on my computer) and then read a lot of comments. Although I have not had the opportunity to see the speech in its entirety, I have seen some rather extended segments and I noticed something I have not heard anybody comment on and I think it is important.

In his normal campaign speeches, Obama has a certain inflection, tone and delivery. There is a jauntiness to him.

This was not that. It was a very sober dleiberate presentation. It did not come off as a campaign type of speech. There was no reaching for votes. It wasn't Obama against Clinton or McCain. This transcended the campaign. You got a sense that Obama wanted to make a point and the campaign didn't matter at that point in time. (Not saying that is true, but there was that sense).

To Donald's point above, I do think it was in rsponse to what some people have called anti Israeli comments by Wright and the reason I tend to think it may have come across as gratuitous is that it almost seemed like a throwaway line. It would have been better if he haad made a comment about attacking our staunch ally without looking at all sides of the equation, whatever.

Finally, this will not stop a lot of people who say that he needed to throw Wright under the bus. Nothing short of presenting Wright's head on a silver platter would have done that. And even then there would have been complaints.

But the comment I have mad eot some is to remind them of Enron and how all of a sudden Ken Lay was no longer a good buddy of George Bush and people were saying that for Bush loyalty goes only one way.

What we are seeing from Obama is a two-way kind of loyalty which is very rare in the world of politics.

Seems like a great speech. We know the blogosphere likes it, now let's see how it plays with working class whites - that's the demographic that matters most, both now, in the general election, and in the overall dialogue about race relations in America.

Thanks Obama, now let me tell you what you need to do. Go jump in a lake. Fix your own house before you start trying to fix mine.

are you sure you heard/read his speech ? 'cause... well...

We know the blogosphere likes it,

Well, only for certain values of "the blogosphere."

are you sure you heard/read his speech ? 'cause... well...

Well, as with a lot of things with race, a lot people see what they want to see....

Hil: Too Sense is one of my fav political blogs (and I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm on the blogroll ;-)). dnA also posts @ Jack and Jill Politics and guests @ Steve Benen's place on occasion.

This post on the Wright controversy is one of (one of ;-))the best takes on the subject that I've come across.

I had somehow missed Jerome Armstrong's reaction: "I believe the campaign has reached a new low."

[Insert astrology snark here.]

Cleek,

Here's the full quote:

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

He's not asking, he's telling.

gwa,

Well, as with a lot of things with race, a lot people see what they want to see....

More moral superiority... why am I not surprised. First Obama, now you.

He's not asking, he's telling.

So, is it a bad thing? Because enforcing laws on the books and saying that achieving your dreams does not have to come at the expense of others does not seem to be a bad thing at all.

More moral superiority... why am I not surprised.

Well, since you're seeing things that a lot of other people aren't...

Grey, he also said:

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

So where is the moral superiority?
Do you have a different solution to the problem, because your very response does indicate the problem exists.

This was a decent honest and courageous speech, and showed a lot of character. I think it was impressive as much for the fact that it was easy and politically expedient for him to throw his pastor under the bus, but instead he did not back down and showed his basic decency. Given the behavior of most politicians and the stakes for Mr. Obama, this is pretty impressive. I was not much of a supporter of his candidacy because I thought that while he was great at giving speeches, I did not think he was very different from his opponents in that he was also more willing to do what was politically expedient than what he thought was the right course of action. I think this speech removes such doubt, and shows his character as a person, and puts him in a slightly different class from his immediate opponents. It augurs well for his presidency , which I think he will have without too much difficulty.

Well, I find it interesting that grey immediately zeroes in on the part that he thinks applies to him and ignores other parts.

I noticed an interesting comment over at The Field. Soemone who grew up in central PA said the most significant thing, at least there, about the speech may not be anything he said as much as what the speech didn't do. He says the fact that he didn't throw Wright under the bus despite pressure to do so will resonate with many middle and upper-lower income people in that area because they can appreciate the loyalty factor.

There's something familiar about that grey character...

Matttbastard: checked, but no evidence (though s/he has used at least one other name.) His appearance so soon after I banned the person whose name I can't type because then this message would be blocked, who turned out to be the much more notorious person whose name I can't type for the same reason, is somewhat suspicious, but not more than that.

Very well said. I felt the same way.

Thank you.

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