Obama's Speech On Race In America
The Huffington Post has the transcript.
Obama: I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
That is a very truthful statement about many people's ethnic backgrounds in this country.
The speech get sidetracked with Obama doing damage control over the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy.
Obama does a good job explaining the black church experience. Will that play well with the general public is a serious question for the campaign.
Obama: But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
It is a gutsy political move on Obama's part to directly address the issue.
A good moment in the speech is Obama discussing how both blacks and whites blame other races for their problems. This has polarized Americans and hindered efforts to solve problems.
Obama: 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.
The Southern Strategy is alive and well in the Republican Party.
The speech is presidential in how we wished are presidents behaved. Obama faced a controversy and talked candidly about the matter and the bigger problem of racial tensions in America. John McCain and Hillary Clinton have hardly shown this level of political courage in dealing with their racial and religious controversies.
Obama: We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
I have never heard a presidential campaign speech like this. I like to get feedback from readers on what they think. This speech is a big deal and I like to start a discussion on it. Lurkers start commenting.