Obama's Speech is Watershed in Political Discourse

By Ed Smith of Gresham, Oregon. Ed is a 65 year old father of three children in college. He is a native of Texas, and currently is the Director of Curriculum with Reynolds School District.

Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday in Philadelphia will not be fully understood in its importance until long after this presidential race has ended. His words will not truly resonate with our national soul until we have the advantage of hindsight and clear heads that dismiss us from our current trivialization of our national debate on leadership. But there will come a time when we will have the opportunity to recall this thoughtful and perceptive commentary on the truth of our national condition and be inspired to remember the one great speech that has come out of this presidential contest or any campaign in recent history.

I am a sixty-five-year old white man who grew up in deep southeast Texas in segregated schools. I learned early to refer to blacks with derogatory terms and I was steeped in the mythology of racism that explained the relationship of people in terms of “God’s plan” for mankind—a dominant white race and a subservient underclass of less deserving. The concept was reinforced in schools, churches, and local governments. For the white population, our comfort level with racism was remarkable. Our confidence in our superiority was sure and certain. We were blind to the truth and resistant to any change. Fortunately, history is never stagnant but perpetually dynamic. We did not change ourselves so much as we were overcome with an inexorable evolution of civilization that compelled the acceptance of a humane and logical reevaluation of our souls. During this time there were “touchstones” and reference points that became opportunities for a dramatic shift in thought and attitude that gradually eroded resistance to a new order. Elderly racists died off and others began to assert a different attitude, at least publicly if not behind closed doors. What had been proper dogma became the content of a history that we pretended we had not been a part of, and what defined our culture was suddenly a part of someone else’s past but not ours. After nearly a half century in Texas, I moved to Oregon in 1992 and found that racism, bigotry, and prejudice were not peculiar to the Deep South but an ingrained feature of our national identity. We all struggle collectively with the ghosts from our past that haunt us and often reveal themselves in our weakest moments. Obama’s words have offered us an opportunity to confront these personal demons and, although we will never exorcise them, a prospect of a national self-examination that will revive our evolution to a better society.

To fully appreciate what Obama has done with this one dramatic moment in history, we only have to lay these words up against the mindless and mean-spirited comments of the likes of Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Rick Lowry, and Sean Hannity, who look for a way to diminish the conversation that we must have and to replace it with a “gotcha” commentary that serves no purpose but to divide the people and evade the reality of a difficult truth that needs confronting. To fully understand the value of Obama’s entreaties to find a better way forward, one only has to compare his elegant and graceful response to this controversy with Hillary Clinton’s disappointing and childish insistence that “reject” and “renounce” are somehow different responses to Obama’s denial that his pastor speaks for him. To fully recognize the value of what Obama has offered to us as a society one only has to compare the richness of his ideas with the bumbling and incompetent behavior and words of Bush, Cheney, McCain, and politicians who don’t seem to have a clue about where we are and have no plan for what we can become. Obama may not be elected president but in this campaign he has left a legacy that will distinguish him for future generations as the voice of our national conscience as opposed to the platitudinous babble that emanates from other politicians. The corporate news media will fail to seize this moment as a momentous benchmark among empty descriptions of non-events that pass for news, but history will recognize this speech as a point of reference in our ever-evolving American story.

I have three children—a twenty-one-year-old daughter and eighteen-year old boy-girl twins. All will vote in this election along with my wife and myself. I am proud of the compassionate, loving, and concerned citizens they have become. They will watch and listen to this speech by Obama and each will make an individual decision to vote for and support him in this election. They will be excited and hopeful that they can be part of a generation that will learn from the mistakes of its elders and create a more open and compassionate society. How do I know they will make this decision? Because I understand and have learned from them what it means to hold a belief that what we can become has no constraints beyond our own choices of limitations and that what we decide to value can be greater than ourselves if we choose to listen.

Comments

  • Katy (unverified)
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    Thank you for getting us one step closer to bumping the novick/merkley argument off the front page! It was making me tired reading through all the comments... And I've heard from a few folks today that the Obama event was great:)

  • BCM (unverified)
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    Thought provoking column, Ed. I personally was stuck on this part:

    To fully appreciate what Obama has done with this one dramatic moment in history, we only have to lay these words up against the mindless and mean-spirited comments of the likes of Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Rick Lowry, and Sean Hannity, who look for a way to diminish the conversation that we must have and to replace it with a “gotcha” commentary that serves no purpose but to divide the people and evade the reality of a difficult truth that needs confronting.

    Earlier this week the Pew Research Center released its annual "State of the Media" report. It echoes much of your sentiment from above. 'When it came to specific stories, cable news showed a tendency to take the biggest stories of the year and make them bigger, particularly stories that lent themselves to argument, predictions and political divide.'

  • Menlo Bob (unverified)
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    Watershed? You felt him pissing down your leg?

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    that could very well be the most well written commentary I've very seen at Blueo. Very nicely done!

  • Gloria (unverified)
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    Ed Smith, your words are so right on, very clear and speak to a deep and level on this very important issue. Keep it up and say it again!! Thank you.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Thank you so much for this column!

    As I was watching Obama in Salem on the computer, I took notes on a few of the things he said. This country has a problem with division.....not even Democrats always want to listen to the American people

    We need a system of government that is transparent

    You and I together can change the country

    For those hungering for an inspirational campaign, the Obama speeches today are it!

    Now, if someone wants to get into petty arguments about some other campaign, they need to prove why they believe Oregonians want that rather than the man from Illinois who appeals to "the better angels of our natures".

  • Steve Buel (unverified)
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    Ed, a great post which clearly illustrates that one man's reach for greatness can inspire others to reach for greatness too.

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    For the white population, our comfort level with racism was remarkable. Our confidence in our superiority was sure and certain. We were blind to the truth and resistant to any change.

    I wasn't raised in Texas. Instead I spent the bulk of my formative early years in and around the Rogue River Valley in Southern Oregon. And while I only know what the culture and environment were like where I grew up, it seems to me to differ from your South Texas upbringing mostly by degree rather than substance.

    Although I have no memories of anything nearly as overt as what you describe, it nevertheless was there and as a young boy I just accepted it as... normal. It was never spoken of in church or even at home. To be honest, I'm not really sure where I got the idea that telling racist jokes was okay. It must have been subtle cues from a wide variety of sources which gave me that... understanding.

    I rather suspect that most of us caucasians who were raised in predominantly white culture, particularly rural or semi-rural environments, will identify with most of your description. It was, as you say, an unthinking prejudice.

    Fortunately, history is never stagnant but perpetually dynamic. We did not change ourselves so much as we were overcome with an inexorable evolution of civilization that compelled the acceptance of a humane and logical reevaluation of our souls. During this time there were “touchstones” and reference points that became opportunities for a dramatic shift in thought and attitude that gradually eroded resistance to a new order.

    Yes, exactly. It's been very like a reversing of how it was acquired in the first place. That gradually eroded resistance to a new order. Except that we had the invaluable assistance of maturity to help us see through the blind prejudice of ourselves and others.

    Thank you for this touching column, Ed. It's very much appreciated.

  • joeldanwalls (unverified)
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    I was quite struck by this speech--indeed, I had only been mildly leaning towards Obama previously--but sadly the fact is that the right wing pundits and even many of the more rational ones are calling Obama's speech a distraction or even a fraud.

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    Ed:

    Great to see another former Texas resident who now lives in Gresham.

    Racism was a big reason why we moved away from Texas. Our daughter is of mixed race and is a first generation American (on my husband's side). There's no way we would have had any kids while still living in Texas.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Obama's speech on race was an excellent one. That's why the Republican leaning talking heads are so desperate to discredit it. I believe they will end up doing more damage to their own credibility than they do to Obama. Imagine how a clip of a newsreader dissing Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech would look today.

  • Larmont (unverified)
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    As for me, Obama's speech made me weep. True poetry that our children's grandchildren will be reciting in Elementary Schools generations from now. Ed Smith will become an Oregon icon for calling attention to Obama's greatness.

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    Imagine how a clip of a newsreader dissing Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech would look today.

    Better yet, here's UCLA public policy prof Mark Kleiman channeling Ann Coulter on the Gettysburg address.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Apparently Americans like being treated like adults. NYTimes/CBS says 70% approved of the speech. And equal number says the whole Wright issue doesn't affect their vote either way. Majority said that Obama has the ability to help unify the country, down slightly from the last time polled. Most said his views reflected their own.

    You know Obama has lived across these divides. He has a brilliance in articulating the wisdom traditions we draw on, "Love your neighbor as yourself." It's not an ideal it's a practice of life. - In Salem today someone asked him about healing the racial and other divides. He said we all are complicit in the problem, and if we're going to address the big problems of our time( war and peace, health care, energy, economy, etc.) we have to find a way to see the world through one another's eyes and stop insisting that our own grievance is the only one. He said, "it's not only good for our soul, and our relationships, it's good for our politics." Pretty good stuff, it's a way beyond guilting, blaming, and marginalizing one another.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Even Peggy Noonan,seasoned Bush I speechwriter and propaganist, liked Obama's speech, hard to believe.

    <hr/>

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120604775960652829.html?mod=googlenews_wsj A Thinking Man's Speech March 21, 2008

    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.

  • LT (unverified)
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    The Washington Post has a guest opinion by Mickey Edwards (a thinking person's Republican) which says this is the "straw that broke the camel's back" with regard to his opinion of Cheney.

    On Wednesday, reminded of the public's disapproval of the war in Iraq, now five years old, the vice president shrugged off that fact (and thus, the people themselves) with a one-word answer: "So?"

    "So," Mr. Vice President?

    Policy, Cheney went on to say, should not be tailored to fit fluctuations in the public attitudes. If there is one thing public attitudes have not been doing, however, it is fluctuating: Resistance to the Bush administration's Iraq policy has been widespread, entrenched and consistent. Whether public opinion is right or wrong, it is not to be cavalierly dismissed.

    Believe it or not, there is a school of thought which has a single standard for the behavior of everyone--children, adults, public figures, ordinary folks.
    Peggy Noonan is showing she believes in quality, even from an opponent. Being able to praise an opponent is one sign of maturity.

    The single standard I mentioned includes: That there are at least 2 sides of any debate if not more. That gracious, diplomatic remarks should be rewarded ("not always on message with the truth" as opposed to calling someone a liar---and that from a political consultant known to be as outspoken as Rove or Carville or Novick ever was). That people like being treated as individual adults whose intelligence is being respected. That there is value in law, rules, tradition.

    The opposite of that point of view is what we saw from the Minnis/Scott crowd--power is not the most important thing -- it is the only thing, rules don't apply to them, it is good to be queen and boss others around, etc.

    Problem is, no matter how powerful someone is, how attractive politically they and their "true believer" supporters think they are, there are going to be people with a different point of view who refuse to be bullied.

  • S. Nelson (unverified)
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    I am a person of color, a Hawaiian female. I have been the victim of racist comments and behavior living in a white society, here on the mainland. That being said, I will not vote for Obama, as his speech did not move me at all, those sentiments have been better expressed by other black authors, who did not grow up privileged like Obama. I will also not vote for him as he intends to push through a bill that will class Hawaiians as Native Americans so we can be "federally recognized," and so that Republicans, who are lining up to support the bill, can get their big business cronies to put casinos in Hawaii, who have twice voted to keep casinos out. How many Native Americans do you know will say they like the deal they got from the US government? You want to talk about racist, Obama says he'll push that bill through first thing, even though many Native Hawaiian groups don't want it passed. Thanks, all you wonderful white folks who think you can get absolve your guilt by voting for a black man because he soothed your consciences with a speech, and without looking, and I mean REALLY looking and READING to see where a candidate stands on the issues. My three beautiful, compassionate and concerned grown children of mixed race will not vote for him, either, out of respect to their heritage on my side, and what they see as a racial divide by someone who pretends to the voters to be better than that.

  • LT (unverified)
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    S. Nelson, you write a very intelligent comment. Whether or not I agree, we could use a lot more such well reasoned, "this is what I believe and why based on specific instances" commentary here.

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    S Nelson:

    I did some further research on the bill which you mention, and I find your comments to be misleading. First, the bill explicitly states that it does not confer gaming rights to the native Hawaiian government which it would create. Second, the bill was supported by the Democratic caucus and some Republican senators, but the majority of Republicans in the Senate do not support the bill. So in reality, Republicans have not been lining up to support the bill for their casino-building cronies. And third, the Congressional delegation of Hawaii, all Democrats, and the Republican Governor and Attorney General of Hawaii all support the bill and have lobbied hard on its behalf.

    As for the original topic, I echo the sentiments that this is an extremely well written column. And what a speech by Obama, I certainly can't do it justice.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Ed, I am also a white, 50 something man raised in the South. I was raised in South Carolina. My three children were born and spent formative years in Louisville, KY. I could write of my own expereinces and transformation and that of my children, but that isn't the purpose.

    While I've read Senator Obama's speech and am listening to his Medford speech now, I remain sceptical. I was taught to watch a person's deeds to see if they match up to their words. Unfortunately for me, Senator Obama's deeds don't match his wonderful speech. It is easy to say he distances himself from a pastor's hate speech now, but for 20 years he was a member of the church, married his wife there and raised his two daughters in that church.

    I will need more action rather than excellent oratory to overcome that apparent dichotomy.

  • CJ (unverified)
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    So all of us are supposed to cut ourselves off from anyone that we disagree with?

    If that were the case I wouldn't have any Republican friends or any Christian friends, but I'm happy to say that I have both.

    It's obvious that Obama is "damned if he do, damned if he don't" here. Had he thrown his pastor under the bus people would be criticizing him for that, too.

  • BCM (unverified)
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    I will not vote for Obama, as his speech did not move me at all, those sentiments have been better expressed by other black authors, who did not grow up privileged like Obama.

    Don't be ignorant. Obama's childhood was hardly 'privileged.'

    Early life and career of Barack Obama

  • Lani (unverified)
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    As a middle-aged non-Christian of mixed backgorund, I have grave misgivings about Hillary Clinton's close association with the group known as The Family. when she makes statements like she wants to "inject faith into policy." Who's faith?

    The Family takes credit for some of Clinton's rightward legislative tendencies, including her support for a law guaranteeing "religious freedom" in the workplace, such as for pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics.

    How do I square that with her claims of being pro-choice?

    She's been involved with the Family since 1993. How does she defend their philosophy with the idea of a just and democratic society? They believe Family's leaders consider democracy a manifestation of ungodly pride) and “throw away religion” in favor of the truths of the Family. or when they say "The Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God's plan."

    How could anyone be comfortable when Hillary went to weekly bible studies there for years. She also attends most of their meetings and functions. How can she support a group that promotes an extremist form of theocracy with some of the most powerful people in this country?

    What about muslims, jews, buddhist? Isn't it time she cut ties with this anti-democratic, elitist, theocratic, and extremist organization?

    Can anyone explain to me her on-going association with this group?

  • J. Fredman (unverified)
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    From: June [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Friday, March 21, 2008 2:51 PM To: '[email protected]' Subject: You're a Fraud

    Dear Mr. Krauthammer:

    I am writing in response to your column in The Washington Post in which you allege that Barack Obama’s speech concerning race was a “brilliant fraud.” In my humble opinion, you are not one to throw stones.

    First of all, most people go to any given church not because of the pastor, but because that’s where their friends and the bulk of their relatives go or because it’s the most accessible to where they live. I have run the gamut of exposure to virtually all the Christian denominations and to Jewish groups as well, and I can tell you that I have come away from both types of services on many occasions mad as an old wet hen. I sometimes passed out the door at the conclusion of a Protestant service and purposely spurned a pastor’s hand stuck out to be shaken. Only on one occasion during the Civil Rights struggle did I lock horns with a Methodist minister over the fact that his congregation was lily white and apt to remain so and, as a result, got kicked out of his office. It is not in most ordinary people’s makeup to confront their “spiritual leaders” with opposition any more than it is that of Congress to confront the president!

    You deride allegiance to a “man of the cloth” who would do such a dastardly deed as suggest that God might justifiably not bless America but damn it for its bloody sins of the past, but King David’s egregious violations of Mosaic Law and any reasonable person’s inherent sense of morality has not stopped generations of Jews from lauding him to the skies and displaying his star on their national flag. As far as we know, Pastor Wright has not screwed someone else’s wife and sent her husband off to war to be killed to get rid of him. I might add that we have not been told that any of the parents of altar boys sexually abused by Catholic priests ever went to the offending clergymen himself and raised Cain. You can’t tell me that not one of the myriad victims ever told someone in his family what had happened to him. We do know that superiors in the Church merely transferred the abuser to another parish when word got to them in a few instances, thus merely perpetuating the threat somewhere else.

    I assume from your name that you’re Jewish, so perhaps you don’t need reminding that the most flagrantly biased collective people are religious Jews, and that their prejudice extends not only to Blacks but everyone of every hue who is not Jewish. I was literally forced to leave the home of my Jewish finance’s parents many years ago on first meeting them simply because I was a Gentile. His mother likened such a union to that between a Black and a White, the difference being that no one would be able to detect the racial divide when we walked down the street. At that time, anti-miscegenation laws were still on the books of my native Missouri. Anyone “one-eighth” Negro could not marry a Caucasian, the proportion of such blood in the veins being based on appearance if a family tree was not available. This statute was not repealed until ten years later in 1966. In fact, when I was first told as a youngster about the requirement for blood tests by prospective marriage partners, it was explained to me that the purpose was to determine if one or the other had “Negro blood.” I could tell you more about discrimination by Jews against Gentiles, but that would turn into a novel.

    As far as the basis for Rev. Wright’s excoriated remarks is concerned, anyone who has bothered to inform himself about America’s slavery, and then Jim Crow, days and her brutal history of intervention in other countries’ affairs and still believes in a God who doles out retribution that hurts guilty and innocent alike (as “God” does consistently throughout the Torah and the historical books of the Bible) has to wonder if 9/11 was not such a retribution. My first remark on learning what had happened was “Well, we got a little of our own back.” That did not mean I condoned the killing of 3,000 people or thought it should have happened to even an old score; it was a simple acknowledgement that for the first time we had experienced the kind of tragedy in one fell swoop that we had visited in less dramatic and public ways upon countless innocent people throughout South America and elsewhere. Karma catches up sometime. It’s the old wheel-of-fortune scenario. I was so vehemently opposed to our war in Vietnam that I actually investigated the possibility of moving with my two very young sons to Canada. I took absolutely no pride during that period at being “American,” nor do I now. One of the most meaningful and, I thought, appropriate actions back then was the quiet removal of the American flag from the Finney Chapel at Oberlin College in Ohio. I applaud Barack Obama for not wearing a flag pin on his lapel. It would be endorsement of everything our country is doing, and thus would express not pride, but hypocrisy. I don’t think you appreciate what many of us out here feel today towards the war in Iraq and the government that has been responsible for that debacle. Do we hate America? The dirt under our feet, no. The collective image imposed by the policies and attitudes of our Administration? Yes. Let’s be sure we distinguish between these two aspects that add up to who we are before questioning anyone’s “patriotism.” The true patriot is sickened by what he or she has been called upon to support for years now, which has been a blatant violation of everything on which pride in our country traditionally has been and should be predicated.

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    I have to say that if I had to distance myself from every pastor who said something I disagreed with (anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, etc.), I don't know that I'd have ever been able to attend church.

  • NO Dem (unverified)
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    I agree with Obama's pastor's comments, so no problem there. However I can't possibly vote for someone with Obama's abominable voting record ( way too many times he abstained from voting):

    Since taking office in January 2005 Obama has voted to approve EVERY war appropriation the Republicans have put forward, totaling over $300 billion.

    He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her complicity in the Bush Administration's various false justifications for going to war in Iraq. Why would he vote to make one of the architects of "Operation Iraqi Liberation" the head of US foreign policy? Curiously, he lacked the courage of 13 of his colleagues who voted against her confirmation.

    And though he often cites his background as a civil rights lawyer, Obama voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act in July 2005, easily the worse attack on civil liberties in the last half-century. It allows for wholesale eavesdropping on American citizens under the guise of anti-terrorism efforts.

    And in March 2006, Obama went out of his way to travel to Connecticut to campaign for Senator Joseph Lieberman who faced a tough challenge by anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. At a Democratic Party dinner attended by Lamont, Obama called Lieberman "his mentor" and urged those in attendance to vote and give financial contributions to him. This is the same Lieberman who Alexander Cockburn called "Bush's closest Democratic ally on the Iraq War." Why would Obama have done that if he was truly against the war?

    Recently, with anti-war sentiment on the rise, Obama declared he will get our combat troops out of Iraq in 2009. But Obama isn't actually saying he wants to get all of our troops out of Iraq. At a September 2007 debate before the New Hampshire primary, moderated by Tim Russert, Obama refused to commit to getting our troops out of Iraq by January 2013 and, on the campaign trail, he has repeatedly stated his desire to add 100,000 combat troops to the military.

    HIS ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS TO ME. Though I admit it's getting old Nader will get my vote again.

  • MCT (unverified)
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    One needn't be a person of color to feel the sting of bigotry. In the early 50's my family immigrated to Alton Illinois, from Oxford England. They already knew something about race relations in the U.S. They'd had African American neighbors in Oxford, a US Airman and his wife who'd been serving on after the war. Lilly used to babysit me sometimes. Warm and wonderful...really GOOD people. When they were coming back to the states, home to Harlem, Mum asked for their address so we could stop and visit when we arrived in New York. Lilly said, "oh honey, you won't want to know us in America"

    In Alton our neighbor was a psychologist who taught at a local college. She used to throw rotten plums from her tree at our window...screaming 'dirty rotten foreigners'. My first day of school I was sent home with a note saying I needed to see a therapist for my impediment...a British accent. My parents could feel the racial tension growing by the late 50's, did not understand the deep divide and poor treatment of blacks. In the heat of the summer little black children would come and watch us swim in the community pools from outside the fence, they couldn't come in the whites only pool, and were run off by the lifeguards. That was it for my folks...witnessing the mistreament of those children. We moved north just before the civil rights movement kicked into gear. They've told me since that they didn't want their children exposed to, even taught, prejudice as a moral or civic stance.

    It wasn't that long ago. As Obama says, great strides have been made. But we have a long way to go and he is absolutely right that we have to start the conversation, and recognize the problems before we can solve them. We've been patting ourselves on the back for instituting legal means that should create equality, while hiding behind politically correct semantics we use to fool ourselves into thinking we've done enough....that we have reached the goal. Some of us, all colors of us, are harboring some deep, sometimes subconscious, resentments and mistrusts that cannot be legislated away. And how can we think about celebrating diversity if we cannot achieve tolerance?

    Wonderful piece you wrote Ed!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Thanks, all you wonderful white folks who think you can get absolve your guilt by voting for a black man because he soothed your consciences with a speech, and without looking, and I mean REALLY looking and READING to see where a candidate stands on the issues.

    I'm one of the white folks voting for Obama but am not doing so to absolve some guilt. I have been on friendly terms with blacks all my life. There are two reasons I'm voting for Obama. Of the three remaining candidates, I dread the thought of Hillary or McCain becoming president. They have both proved they will do whatever they think they can get away with, right or wrong, moral or immoral, ethical or unethical to become president. Obama, despite his shortcomings, is not yet in that league. The second reason is that he offers a message of hope, and with lots of luck his supporters will stick with him and to him if he is elected and demand that he live up to his promises, factual and implied. I wouldn't bet my next social security check on that happening, but it is the best option we have.

    Make that four reasons I'll be voting for Obama. Hillary and McCain both reneged on their oaths to defend the Constitution which proves that to them the Constitution is just a piece of paper only to be used when it is in their interests and ignored when it doesn't suit them. They both voted for this disastrous war that has evolved into a crime against humanity. They and everyone in Congress who voted for this war should be impeached which helps to explain why impeachment is off the table.

  • Diane (unverified)
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    Bill:

    I believe you have been taken in by yet another politician who you know little about.

    You state you are voting for Mr. Obama simply because he “did not vote for the war.” He continues to indicate he was opposed to the Iraqi Freedom military action when he wasn't even in the Senate and did not have the opportunity to vote for OR against the war. He was not elected into the Senate until 2004!

    Please remember that Colin Powell in 2002, as Secretary of State under our current president, argued before our political leadership that the Sunni Muslim dictator Saddam Hussein and Sunni Muslim terrorist Osama bin Laden were in cahoots! He presented testimony before the United Nations Security Council that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical weapons, biological weapons (ie: anthrax), and working to create nuclear weapons in Iraq for the purpose of terrorism. He drew the picture to ask our political leadership to consider a nuclear bomb being detonated on US soil. Colin Powell had a lot of credibility as he was a General and had served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He convinced our leaders that the best decision to insure our safety from terrorism, under these circumstances was to go directly onto Iraq with military action.

    Presented with this information, our political leaders overwhelmingly supported General Powell’s recommendations.

    Mr. Powell was the first black secretary of state. He held substantial credibility at the time of this presentation. Unfortunately, his credibility has been diminished as a result of his part in bringing our country to war. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Powell

    I doubt that Mr. Obama would have voted against the war under these circumstances. He has even been quoted as being pretty wishy-washy on the topic. “In a meeting with the Chicago Tribune reports at the Democratic National Convention, Obama said, “On Iraq, on paper, there’s not as much difference, I think, between the Bush administration and a Kerry administration as there would have been a year ago. There’s not much of a difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage.” (Chicago Tribune, July 27, 2004.) This was during the time he was running (uncontested because his opponent dropped out following allegations of an affair!) for his first (and only) Senate seat.

    Mr. Obama is the worse kind of liar. One who hides behind a fuzzy truth. It is a lie when he says, “I didn’t vote for that War!” He was not in office and was not offered the opportunity.

    He is a Johnny-come-lately, with a swagger big enough to fool many. However, he is the fool and will be uncovered as such.

    Thank you.

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    Diane-

    I think we all know who Colin Powell is and about the lead-up to the war.

    Your argument would have a lot more weight if the Senate had voted unanimously for the resolution, but in case you have forgotten, they didn't. 23 Senators (including both of mine at the time) saw the same information as Hillary, and more if they actually read the NIE, and somehow managed to vote "No" on the resolution.

    <h2>The whole "Obama wasn't there" line has been used over and over by the Clinton campaign but it's disingenuous and irrelevant. Clinton was there, and she made the wrong decision (which interestingly enough she said was due to her "experience" in Bill's administration), and maintained that it was the right vote for years afterwards. She stills refuses to admit it was a mistake. Obama may not have been elected to the Senate yet, but he advocated against the war as a candidate for office at a time which it was still very popular. There's absolutely no reason to believe that Obama would have voted for the resolution despite publicly opposing it at the time.</h2>
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