Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Profoundly distorted...

A friend recently asked me what I thought about the "Obama issue." The answer: I don't think of it much or much of it.

The fact is, I don't have much of an opinion on the whole Obama-flap. I think this is/has been little more than a media-created non-story. The Clinton's have convinced much of the press that they have been to easy on Obama, so they are searching for something to smear him with.

I didn't get to see the entire 'A More Perfect Union' speech, although I read the transcript. The speech itself was courageous and genuinely exceptional. Just an all-time great American Speech. He said exactly what is truth - we all know folks who are good, nice, "non-overtly-racist" people...who when pressed, when frustrated, or just because they are from another generation drop some really horrific phrases or stereotypes on occasion. Then, of course, it's uncomfortable and awkward...but you don't necessarily throw that person under a bus because they are not perfect.

Kind of like he mentioned, I know "older" people whom still sometimes refer to "black-town" or "the blacks" or something ridiculous like that. That does't mean that I completely abandon a relationship with such people. I just think they are unenlightened and insensitive. Recently, I met a guy in the airport while I was waiting on a plane. We talked about work, kids, even church stuff. He seemed a really nice, family guy. Then later, the conversation turned to politics and in discussing Clinton/Obama he said something about how he didn't want to see either one of those "types" of people - a woman or a minority - become President. ... Okay, awkward. But that doesn't mean that I unloaded on the guy right there or self-righteously refused to talk to him anymore. I just think he's wrong and comes from a profoundly distorted perspective.

My family goes to what would generally be considered a very conservative church and a lot of the things that people in my church believe - both religiously, and socially/politically - I don't support, or believe in, or adhere to. Even some things that have been said from the pulpit, I squirm at and feel completely uncomfortable with. But we still go to church there because on the whole the "core" beliefs are shared. Our family has found a place there. My son has friends, we have friends, we are involved with the youth group, etc. We believe that it is the church family for our family. Just because something gets said, or just because a leader in the church has an 'opinion' that I disagree with doesn't mean that I'm going to disassociate myself from my church. I may well think they are wrong and/or nuts and/or misinformed, but I'm going to keep showing up and, yes, making my contribution each Sunday.

He also addressed the flip side of that issue:
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 handed them anything, they built it from scratch. . . . 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 . . . when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

[These resentments have] helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns -- this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

He was brave enough to acknowledge the resentments and "profoundly distorted views" on both sides, while urging America to transcend. It was a great speech.

That doesn't, however, mean this should have been a front-page story in the first place. Oh, No!!! Someone Obama knows said some atrocious things some years ago!!!! That has never happened to a politician, or anyone else, ever!!! [Yawn]


Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

And the speech while good certainly did take attention off of the Rev. Wright's sermons.

If we are going to have an honest conversation about race, will Senator Obama admit that he manipulated people's ignorance about Lyndon Johnson's role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act?

Dr. King made great speeches and he spoke a lot of truth, but he did not work Congress the way LBJ did to pass the Civil Rights Act. The issue would not have been on the agenda had LBJ not revived Kennedy's legislation.

It was not factually incorrect for Senator Clinton to acknowledge that it took LBJ's leadership, not speeches and rioting, to pass the act.

If we are going to get to an honest conversation about race, it is going to take an honest look at history whether it offends people or not. I think Obama actually said that we must reach out and hear each other's grievances.

I really do have a grievance against lying and calling a campaign a new approach to government when the campaign is built on old style lying and manipulation.

Gary said...

Last few times I have been with my father and step-mother to see preachers they like I have almost stood-up and demanded equal time. The most ignorant Republican propaganda and even on non-current stuff getting the facts all wrong.

I am now trying to remain being silent in private situations where the speaker is flat-out wrong and spreading ignorance or bigotry, but it can be hard to speak up.